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Black Hills Badlands Medley—Day Five

395 miles

I started the day with a westward jaunt from Atlantic to see a private motorcycle collection near Omaha called The Kamikaze Museum with the group from the club. There, in the middle of nowhere, down a gravel road in a couple very large barns were row upon row of all types of motorcycles, with a definite bias toward Japanese bikes, packed like sardines from wall to wall, parts hanging on the walls and incomplete bikes outside. I jealously spied a nice Suzuki GS550e, like I have at home but with a perfect tank, unlike mine.

A Small Part of the Collection at the Kamikaze Museum

After a quick bite provided by the owner of Nishna Valley Cycle of Atlantic, I said goodbye to the VJMC crowd and headed out on more gravel to get to the interstate, which I followed through Omaha and into the Nebraska countryside. Corn was king there, and you’d think it was the only thing Americans eat by the looks of so many fields covered in it.

Here and there were little copses of trees in the rolling farmland. About the middle of the state the corn gave way to grain, and then the grain gave way to cattle in the panhandle in an eerily similar landscape to the one in Dances with Wolves.

In little Merriman I stopped to look for a place to camp as the sun was getting close to the horizon. There was a sign to a state park north of town, so I rode there to see if I could camp, but the sign didn’t mention camping but that it was closed on Sundays, anyway. Back in town, I spotted a man outside his garage, and I stopped to ask him if there was a place to pitch a tent in town. If not, it looked like stealth camping might be my only other option, as the next town of any size was too far away. But the man said there was a city park and that I could camp there; “Lots of people do.” So, I was in luck.

I found the park and another fellow traveler who was riding from the west coast to the east on a bicycle, and for the second time that year, having already completed a run through the south. Just as soon as I was feeling like some hard-core biker, I met someone much harder core than me! And he was going to do a northern route across after he finished this middle route!

I set up camp as the sun was setting, drank the last warm beer I had saved from the hotel fridge, and soon hit the sack. I was only five miles south of the South Dakota line, and the next day, in less than a hundred miles, I would be in South Dakota, farther west, and among the Black Hills.


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