Sturgis Rally 2010
The Sturgis Rally has been on my bucket list for ever, and this year I finally had the opportunity to go! My friends Dave, Lynn, Marlena and Chico (Jeremy) left Nanaimo Thursday morning on the 5:15 am ferry from Duke Point, and were on the mainland by 7:45 am. I always hate going through the border lineups into the USA, as anyone who has crossed into Washington State would agree. One of the people in our group decided to stock up on cigarettes from the duty free shop, and as she bought twice as many cigarettes as allowed, their bike was sent for the thorough check out by the immigration guards. The border guards spend about an hour interviewing this couple and went through everything that was packed on their bike. This was only one of several delays on our first day.
As we approached the turnoff for I-405 on I-5, I caught up to Dave and motioned to take the next exit, but he had decided to follow I-5 straight through to the I-90 exit. Half an hour later, we found out that the bridge on I-90 was closed for security reasons as the Blue Angels were doing a “fly over”. We then had to wait for another hour for the bridge to open before we could continue on.
When we eventually got going on I-90, we had smooth cruising all the way until we were greeted by rush hour traffic in Coeur d’Alene. Note to self: When travelling through Idaho during the summer, make reservations if you want a motel room in Coeur d’Alene in August! We were able to book a room by cell phone at the Wallace Inn in Wallace, Idaho (about an hour down the road), got a nice room and had a great time talking with Mike the security guy while having a few beers in the driveway.
Friday morning we were on the road right after breakfast, and were into Montana within an hour or so. Soon after entering Montana, we had to remove a few layers of gear as the weather was getting warmer, and by mid afternoon the mercury was hitting about 100 degrees F. I always find it amazing to be able to see the weather ahead of you, as that is not possible out on the west coast. We road through a couple of rain storms, but as you could see bright skys about 10 miles ahead, we didn’t bother to stop and gear up. My batwing fairing on my Street Glide keeps me from getting very wet at highway speeds, but I did get soaked from the knees down. This soaking dried out within a few miles after leaving the rain behind and getting back into the heat.
We had made reservations at the Hilltop Inn in Billings for the night, but a few miles west of there, we managed to ride right into a hail storm. Not a great idea when you are not wearing a jacket, and are riding in a tee shirt and vest. Man that hail stings at 75 mph! I’m glad the hail stones were only pea sized.
The Hilltop Inn is right beside the hospital in Billings, and because it shares a driveway with the hospital and is surrounded by quite tall boulevard trees, turned out to be really hard to find. My GPS indicated that we were at the hotel, but because of the trees and lousy signage, we had to phone them for directions…………we were right across the street!
Across the street from the hotel and hospital is a bar called the Rimrock. There was a band playing in the parking lot of the Rimrock and they were having a free barbecue. Dinner was good, and they even had beer for a buck that night!
Saturday morning, we were on the road again after a quick stop at Wallmart. We decided to take I90 and then take US212 for the rest of the trip to Sturgis. We stopped for lunch and a couple of beers at the Stoneville Saloon in Alzada Montana. The Stoneville Saloon is a must stop for all bikers travelling US 212 on their way to Sturgis. The bar’s moto ”Cheap Drinks – Lousy Food” is partly true, as the drinks are cheap compared to up in Canada, but the food was great. I didn’t try the “Prairy Oysters” like our buddy Chico, but he said that they tasted just like chicken. I don’t know about that guy sometimes!
The Stoneville Saloon is open all year, but owner Diane Turko says that she makes most of her year’s income in the 10 days of the Sturgis Rally.