This is the second major event in the Blazer. It took place on the second trip- the big one, that went around Canada and America. 10,000 kms in three weeks. Edmonton to Columbus, Ohio and back.
Ostensibly we were going for a Lycos chat meet, so that's why we went to Columbus. But the meet isn't the story.
We drove into Saskatchewan so that I could visit Batouche National Historic Park. This place represents one of the key event in Western Canadian History- the Riel Rebellion of 1885. I'd never been there, so The Wife and I went there in early August as part of the trip. After enjoying the site, we we drove to Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, a beautiful lake and area for the night. This is just outside Moose Jaw.
And now that you have the background, we can begin our story.
We left Buffalo Pound at about 8am.
We crossed the border in 2003, At the time of the Mad Cow Crisis, and so, the border guards took all my beef. They weren't going to let The Wife in because they thought her entry visa had expired- but there was still a month or more to go. I had to argue with them to keep my case of beer. 11 bottles (I'd had one the night before) of Big Rock's Grasshopper wheat ale. Beautiful to drink. They did, eventually, let her in.
And so, we drove on. The goal that day was ambitious. To the Black Hills of South Dakota. I thought we could visit Deadwood and Mt. Rushmore. That meant crossing 2 states and part of one province.
It was a long drive.
We made it to Sturgis that day., Driving into town about 8pm, only to discover it was the height of the annual Biker Rally. The town was bursting at the seems with bikers from all over. There must have been 50,000 bikers in the area. Only, they weren't just in Sturgis. They were everywhere. Crawling through the town every hotel, campground and motel had no vacancy signs. And I had already been on the road 12 hours. I stuck out like a sore thumb. A blue Chevy Blazer riding high in amongst the motorcycles.
The Wife pipes up," Be very careful, hun. You hit one of them bikes and we're roadkill."
I was already exhausted but that comment made me nervous. With no where to stay in Sturgis, we drove through. On to Deadwood. But everywhere was full to bursting and I'm not sure I wanted to camp anywhere near there, and ruled camping out. It was going to be a Hotel or Motel. I was tired, stressed and nervous. The Wife, after all, was right.
And the Hills, 9, 10, 11pm at night were swarming with bikers roaming in packs.
We crossed into Wyoming that night, about 11pm. We had crossed two full states and entered a third. 15 hours or more on the road. And then we saw a motel in Newcastle. The No Vacancy sign was not lit. I decided to pull in
We got a room, only because 5 minutes before we pulled in there was a cancellation.
Driving around the bikers is easier during the day, and we did see Mt Rushmore, though the crowds were huge that day. I think Bikers are a very patriotic lot.
We also had breakfast in Custer.
Driving out of the Black Hills, I felt lucky to be heading away- while no where near fast enough- unscathed. I could also finally hear my truck over the roar of the bikes- and it was loud. Very loud.
When we got to St Louis, Missouri, I decided to get it checked. When I went to pick up the truck the repairman says to me,"Is that a Canadian truck?"
I said,"Yeah, drove it from Canada a couple days ago."
He says," I though so. I took it onto the Freeway and got up to 75, but everyone was blowing their horns and passing me. The Speed limit here is 75 MILES per hour. I had to get it over 140 to keep up with traffic."
The exhaust pipe had snapped just behind the engine.
It made it all the way to Columbus and back. On the drive back, we went north into Ontario and around Lake Superior. When we stopped for the night just over the Manitoba border, we were treated to a very spectacular display of Northern Lights. It awed The Wife, and me. I had seen em before, but not that bright.
The following January, I sold the blazer to my brother for $500 less that I paid for it, and moved to Australia.
Next time in A Driving History: The Ford Falcon Longreach Ute, my first Australian Car.