High Plains Drifting
Touring the Rocky Mountains and South Dakota Badlands

After a long dry spell I was back on the road in the summer of 2014.  Much has happened since my last tour west.  I am in a different life chapter than that of 10-12 years ago.  In those days I rode with a sense of urgency, that if I didn't ride it, or see it this year, I'd never get to.  I was going places, meeting people, and visiting famous landmarks.  It was a great time.  I've been occupied the last few years with home projects, running marathons, and in 2013 a part time job.  But I grew to miss long riding, and by 2014 it was raging in me to get out and ride.
This tour I got a dose of how most people do it, of having to ride within time frames.  A deadline when I MUST be back.  It was a foreign concept to me.  Even in my fire department career, I did not worry about when I had to be home.  I was top of the food chain, I had 8 weeks vacation a year, more if I wanted to be creative.  I took 3 weeks off for a 2 week tour.  In 2005 I retired and I had all the time I wanted or needed to ride and tour.  I came home when I felt like it.

But now I have a part time job, and though I only work 20 or so hours a week, I'm accountable.  I have to be there at a certain time and day, and I only have 2 weeks leave a year.  I like the job, I'm paid well, have full time benefits and can pick up another pension check after a few short years.  But mainly I can retire with good insurance for Debbie and I.  The opportunity was too good to turn down.  The price is 3 more years of service.  
I would be remiss if I denied I didn't miss my freedom.  This has been one of the biggest adjustments I've ever had to make in my life.  For 8 years I did only what I wanted to do.  But I asked myself, "this doesn't mean you can't ride at all, do what you can, something is always better than nothing."

So with that in mind, I planned this tour out west with two specifics in mind.  I wanted to ride Rocky Mountain National Park, and The Badlands of South Dakota.  I'd been by both parks on prior tours, but did not take the time give them the justice they deserved.  I was going to fix that on this ride.  I looked forward to the tour for weeks.  

I'd been able to do a Fall ride each year, but this was my first tour out west since 2009.  In my eye riding in the East does not much compare to out West.  I missed the vast openness of the West, I find the open skies out there intoxicating.  Nothing like the feeling of riding 80 miles of nothingness to the next town.  I got plenty of that this tour.

The trip started with a quick jaunt through the Ozarks, then across the Plains of Kansas to Colorado, then North to South Dakota and the Badlands.  Home was a long trek South along the Mississippi River, stopping to check out Shiloh National Battlefield.

It was a tour of small towns, unique people, majestic mountains, lonesome prairies, great leaning, and the surreal Badlands.  What started as a routine night at a Kansas campground, turned out to be the greatest challenge I ever faced on the road.  I'll cover the details in the journal.

The mount for this ride was the new Yamaha FJR 1300 ES.  It started the trip with less than 1000 miles on the odo.  I barely managed to break it in before departure.  What a great bike this is.  I can say right now it is the best motorcycle I've ever owned.  It is fast, agile, sleek, and comfortable.  I'll offer more thoughts on the Yamaha as the days add up in the journal.

So time to load up, and settle in for a long ride, and see what adventures lie ahead.

Guy- August 29, 2014

Day 1-  Long Ride to the Ozarks

Day 2 - Flint Hills, Big Brutus

Day 3-  Kansas to Colorado

Day 4- Rocky Mtn  National Park

Day-5 The ride to the Badlands

Day 6- Nebraska Sand Hills

Day 7-South to Missouri

Day 8 -Riding Home

Day 2- Flint Hills, Big Brutus

Day 1