After 5 days in Minnesota it was time to get back on the road. From this point on I would be completely solo! Unfortunately, my luck with weather was continuing. Minnesota was experiencing the largest storm cell in the country that day! However, I was just in the edge and it didn’t look too bad, figured I would ride right out of it. Plus, it was over 60 degrees, downtown pleasant compared to what I’d ridden through to get this far!
With my trusty rain gear on, I hit the road. Expecting to live in peace and harmony with the rain. Then everything changed when mother nature attacked.
Ten minutes after leaving town it was raining so hard I felt like I was swimming, wind gusts up to 60-70mph. This shit was dangerous. It wasn’t cold, but water was coming down in sheets and flowing across the road. But I was halfway between two towns so I kept on riding.
My mom was staying in a hotel in that next town, so I stopped to say goodbye to her and realized that my rain gear doesn’t double as scuba gear. I was almost completely soaked underneath and the weather was just getting worse. So we went to have breakfast at a diner. Killing time until the storm blew past.
When it did I rode back to the town I had just left, to my dad’s house. Took off all of my wet gear, helmet pads, gloves, even my shoes, and threw all of it in his dryer for a couple hours. We had to duct tape the drier door shut so the shoes wouldn’t knock it open!
As luck would have it, by the time my stuff was dry, the storm had passed and the sun was even peeking out between clouds every now and then.
I had planned on heading south to Des Moines to visit some cousins but they had a bad storm the night before and were still experiencing flooded and closed streets. Not something I wanted to tackle on a bike. So I headed west, back to the Badlands, and despite leaving my dad’s house around lunchtime, I still managed to make camp by nightfall.
But it was the last bit when the fun finally started. Sage Creek campground was my destination for the evening and getting there required riding 15 miles of gravel through the western edge of Badlands National Park.
I was going along about 25mph in second gear, up a hill I couldn’t see ever the top of. That’s when it happened.
I crested the hill, and there they were, a whole herd of buffalo right on the side of the road! There had to be 50-75 of them, the closest being at most thirty feet away. One step and they could be in my path. So I downshift and plan to slow down. Now, you should probably know, my bike isn’t exactly quiet despite having stock exhaust and it makes a nice little rumble. Well, downshifting means the engine revs up, which makes the exhaust louder.
Right when it revs, their eyes dart towards me betraying their fear. And they were off, all at once, running for their lives from the scary Monster! STAMPEDE!!! I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a fully grown buffalo in person, but they’re not small. So as soon as they all looked at me... Almost a code brown. They’ve been known to be aggressive to humans and have trampled some to death.
Somehow, I managed to survive this clearly harrowing ordeal, and made it safely to the campground soon after. It was just a big circle with open space in the middle. Basically the whole area was open to camp wherever you want.
After setting up camp, we had a visitor! That cute little guy in the top photo. He walked along the road, maybe only 15 feet away from it, about a quarter of the way around the campground, starting about where the Monster is parked (1 o’clock if the circle were a clock).
Everything about this place was beautiful. Have a potato pic of the night sky as proof!
The next morning I went hiking up into the bluffs around the campground. There were more buffalo grazing in the area, and a ton of prairie dogs chirping at me.