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The continuation of our sport touring motorcycle trip from Miles City, Montana to Lemmon, South Dakota can be summed up in one word: miserable. Waking up in our tents, we’re greeted by 40 degree temperatures and rain. I crawl out of my tent to find that Robin’s missing. Figuring he went to breakfast, I walk a few blocks through light mist to the 600 Café on Main. It turns out that he’s elsewhere grabbing coffee and we’ve just missed each other.
This classic small town diner is just cozy enough to make me almost forget about the bad weather. Hot coffee and country fixin’s get me up and moving. I’m doubly energized by the availability of side pork, a childhood favorite of mine that’s a bit of a rarity. I settle up and get some foil to wrap what’s left of this copious amount of fried pork. It’s mostly salt and fat so it’ll keep for a bit and be good on the road. As I leave, my spirits and everything else are dampened by steady, heavy rain.
Back at camp I find that Robin’s already packed up and enjoying a hot shower. He’s fortunate to have done so. Here I am packing up in the downpour. My gear won’t get a chance to dry until I get back to Madison four days later. We return to the 600 Café so he can eat before we leave town.
Cold, wet and windy is our fate today. We continue east via US-12 with Aberdeen, South Dakota as our intended destination. That’s 390 miles away. After about an hour, we stop in Baker, Montana for gas and to warm up a bit. The tiny J&A Mini Store provides shelter for the moment.
Mini’s right. This place is a hut. Still, the entire town seems to wander in over the 20 minutes or so we’re there. We monopolize their single restroom between locals to throw on warmer layers. My “waterproof” pants are proving adept at pooling water into my crotch but at least that’s warmed by the bike’s engine. Robin’s without waterproof gloves, so even his heated grips aren’t keeping up.
As dry as we’re going to get, we head back out. The rain lightens up and eventually stops but the cold and wind remain. Already drenched, we make a second stop at the Frontier Travel Center in Bowman, North Dakota. At this point we’re both exhausted and miserable, so we decide to wait until tomorrow to make it to Aberdeen. I pull out the Nokia and find a motel with a hot tub about an hour away in Lemmon, 200 miles short of our original goal.
That hot tub is of the utmost importance.
Robin and I slam coffee to take the edge off from the chill and press on. I’d comment on the scenery through this part of the country but nothing stands out. Today’s either too misty to see, not interesting enough to remember or I’m too miserable to notice (possibly all three).
Once in Lemmon we check into the Dakota Lodge and, as soon as we’re unloaded, we’re cookin’ in their hot tub. I don’t think a hot tub has ever felt better. After 20 minutes of soaking in the heat the chill’s finally gone and we ask the clerk about local food. She mentions a family style, catch-all type pizza place and two steak houses. We opt for steaks as we’re in the middle of cow country.
A short cruise down the streets of this sleepy hamlet and we’re at the local eatery. Passing what is apparently the world’s largest petrified wood park, we agree to check it out before we leave town. Double checking to be sure we have the correct address, we enter what looks like it should be a store, bowling alley or laundromat. It’s a dining room. We both order exceptionally large steaks at ridiculously low cost along with cocktails and beer. Fed and content (perhaps a little too “content”), we take a moment to mishandle the sexy robot pinball machine on our way out the door.
Back at the motel we crash out early, falling to sleep before we even hit our beds. After such a terrible riding day, we just hope that tomorrow will take us to Aberdeen without further difficulty.
Ready for more? Day Fifteen: Lemmon To Willmar
Has Bad Weather Ever Caused You To Re-Route?
There are plenty of good reasons to alter your riding plans. What circumstances have caught you off guard? How did your solution resolve the matter? Your input is invited. Post an article!