Sue’s Excellent Adventure
Friday, August 17th
Day 14: Friday August 17th
Bowman, North Dakota to Beemer Hill ~ Palmyra, Wisconsin 861 miles
HOME! From my hotel room on Thursday night, after looking at the weather report for the upper Midwest for Friday and Saturday, it was an easy decision to push hard on the last day and shoot for home by Friday night.
I was on the road before 4 AM (Mountain Time) and within a few miles was treated to road construction. With no daylight to help me navigate the gravel, it was a bit of a challenge. There were no white lines on the edge of the road, no road-sign markers, just the occasional yellow flashing warning lights which indicated something EVEN MORE exciting was coming up.
I rode about 40 miles of intermittent hard-packed gravel, pot-holes, and several times … WASHBOARD gravel.
What is “washboard” gravel, you might be asking…. Basically, it’s gravel that compresses unevenly, causing a series of bumps that feel like and look like an old-fashioned washboard. If a motorcyclist rides across these bumps too fast, it can literally bounce the bike into the ditch, or the other lane… basically, the rider looses all control.
So I slowed down and felt my teeth rattling, as my fingers slowly lost feeling as I gripped the handle bars. Finally I crossed into South Dakota and the road smoothed out. Hurray!
While I was watching for deer in the predawn darkness, what actually jarred me a couple of times were the jack rabbits that would dart out of nowhere in front of the bike. Man - - those guys are BIG! Maybe they were trying to commit “Hasenpfeffer” …. J
As the sky slowly lightened, I realized that I was riding straight into a very large storm. (Of course, out in the Great Plains, ALL of the storms seem to look very large.) I took time to be sure that everything that wasn’t waterproof (like my cell phone, radar detector, and camera) was securely stashed and wrapped up. And then I rode into the wind and rain.
I rode on, staying in the leading edge of this storm for about 2 hours. At times, the wind gusts and the hail made the ride almost intolerable, but then I would hit a momentary break in the storm where I could relax my grip and take a few deep cleansing breaths before it would start again.
Oh - and did I say there was more road construction where they were doing bridge repairs on Hwy 12? Ooooh - THAT was even more fun!
Sometime in the middle of this, I stopped at a small diner (in Mobridge, South Dakota) and took a one hour break hoping the worst would pass. There I met another BMW rider (Gary Plush) who told me all about his trip to Prudhoe Bay in June. What an interesting character! It was nice diversion, and the break must have helped because I only had to ride in the storm for another 45 minutes before I pushed out in front of it.
This storm cloud stayed in my rearview mirror throughout the day, always threatening to catch me if I stopped or slowed down. ARGH!
I stayed on Highway 12 until I reached Minneapolis, where I hopped on I-94 for the last big push to get home. I was pulling into our driveway at 8:30 PM.
Total today was 861 miles in 15½ hours.
The photo below was taken at sunset, about 10 miles from home. The sun was just starting to drop behind the storm cloud that had been my persistent companion all day.
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