Sunday, July 20, 2008

Going Home the Long Way - Enchanted Highway

In my never-ending quest for national park stamps and big things, I routed myself about 500 miles out of my way so that I could ride the Enchanted Highway and get a national park stamp in North Dakota.

So I headed east on I-90 to Spearfish, where I turned onto US-85 north. A few zigs and zags north and east got me to Regent, at the south end of Enchanted Highway. Gary Greff, an artist from Regent ND, creates these very large metal artwork sculptures and has been leasing land from the farmers along the 30 mile stretch of CR-2117 between Regent and Gladstone.

Along the way, I came up on a deer who was shoulder deep in a field of wheat. All I could see was her head and neck, as she walked slowly through the field. I saw her and slowed down, and as she got closer to the road, she sensed my presence and froze. I continued to slow down, as I watched for her next moves. We were at an impass when she finally turned and bounded over the wheat towards a line of woods along the edge. This was one of those moments when I wish I could photograph on the fly. It was a magnificent sight!

The sculptures were great! The first one, closest to Regent, was the large metal farmer and family. These were followed by a large pheasant family, a large Teddy Roosevelt on rearing horse, large fish, large grasshopper, large deer, and finally the large geese in flight. Well worth the detour.

Roosevelt National Park Painted Canyon Visitor Center is about 40 miles west of Gladstone on I-94, so I pulled off the interstate and got behind a very slow-moving 18-wheeler who was also pulling into the visitor center...this center also serves as a rest stop.

He was going so slow that when I crossed the cattle guard, my rear wheel started to spin on the slick metal. Yikes! That's not a pleasant feeling!

I parked, went inside to get my stamp, and then took some photos of the overlook. It sort of looked like a cross between painted desert (south of I-40) and the SD Badlands. It was cloudy so the colors weren't as vivid as they probably would be in sunshine. As I started to get back on the bike, a fellow from Canada on a red sport bike (something like a VFR or similar) and in full racing leathers pulled up next to me, stopped, and took off his helmet. His first comment to me was, "This is the first motorcycle I've seen all day that's not been a Harley." Now, I'd been seeing BMW's all day, headed home from the rally, and I said that to him. He responded by saying something along the lines of "so was there lots of drinking and partying?" That sort of hit me wrong, so I just ignored him, put my helmet on and rode off.

I wanted to also get the stamp at the park entrance in Medora, so took that exit and went into town. It's a cute town, mostly turned into a tourist trap, with quaint log cabin buildings turned into gift shops and various museums. I wandered through the little streets, taking it all in, but decided to skip this visitor center since I already had the stamp, and headed back to I-94. The sky was looking a little black to the west, and it was another 128 miles to Miles City, my stop for the night.

One more gas stop before getting to Miles City and I saw three Harleys sitting at one of the pumps. They'd gotten gas but were obviously going to wait out the rain, since it had started just as I was getting off the interstate. I said Howdy as I walked past them to go inside, but they did not respond. When I returned to my bike it was raining pretty hard, but that didn't deter me. I put my jacket and helmet back on, plugged my speakers into the GPS, saddled up and smugly rode off. Rain doesn't stop me.

Tomorrow: Pompeys Pillars then south to Colorado.

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