The day was cool as we did our normal morning packing routine. We just about have it down to a science now. The jackets were zipped up but we were expecting bigger and better things as we left Billings, MT. The plan included some interstate driving but then we get our share of 2 lane roads. The bikes fired up and we headed down I-90 far enough to hit US-212. It turns out, that intersection occurs at the Custer Battlefield Site. We had been there 2 years ago and I doubt if it has changed much. We did however pull in at the Battlefield Gas and Convenience Store which is inside the local reservation boundary. I am pretty sure Custer nor Crazy Horse got gas here.
US-212 is a great sampling of why I like Montana. The pictures don’t come close to matching the beauty of this place. If you have never been here, you should put it on your list only if you like wide open spaces, lots of antelope, nice gentle roads, friendly people, and 70 MPH speed limits (on the 2 lane roads).
After the battlefield gas stop we rode about 100 miles and I wanted a break. I saw on the GPS that a small café was coming up in Broadas (motto: the waving town – no explanation offered). When I tried to down shift – I couldn’t find the shifter. I’ve been riding for 40+ years and I’ve never had a problem knowing where the shifter was. I pulled in the clutch and stopped in an awkward spot but off the highway and on the café parking lot. Crap – I thought the transmission was history. It turned out the shifter linkage had come loose and the shifter had dropped down against the floorboard. No problem I thought – I can fix this. I pulled out the universal “thing” that Harley calls a tool kit and it is junk. Here I am broken down in Broadas, Montana in dire need of a 3/16 allen wrench. I headed for the door of the café to start asking for help when we noticed that right next door was the “Broadas Hardware and Lumber” store. If you have to break down, you could do a lot worse than breaking down in the parking lot of the only hardware store in the area. The hardware store had a complete set of allen wrenches for $10 and Loctite for $4. This was an old time hardware store that had everything normal people need. It is not a big box Menards or Lowes. I really like this store. The clerk was friendly and fun.
I was laying in the parking lot trying to find the right angle to put things back together when a golf cart pulls up. The lady on the cart (who worked at and maybe owned the diner) told us that she lived right behind the diner and would open her house up for us in case we needed to call or get out of the sun or just figure things out. I love the generosity and kindness of people toward complete strangers, especially strangers in need of an allen wrench.
The bike was fixed in short order. I had time to eat a salad and we were off on the last 1/2 of our days run. We have been in this part of the country several times so none of us had a burning desire to take more pictures so we just rolled. We ended up the last 40 miles or so back on I-90 through Sturgis and into Rapid City where we had reservations.
I turned the radio off today. The road and the antelope required my complete attention. Besides, as I mentioned earlier this is one of my favorite parts of the country. The people out here are quiet and reserved but as good as it gets. If you’re willing to take the first step in starting a conversation, you’re likely to quickly make connections to the Montana residents.
The hotel has a lounge / casino but no food service. I asked if we could eat pizza in the lounge. “No problem” was the answer. We carried hot pizza in a bar that does not provide food service. As expected we had offers to sell for a profit but we decided to eat it anyway. We ended up with a few slices left over and had no problems giving away the rest – our goodwill gesture to the lounge people.
It’s a relief that I could set in the motel and easily get room reservations for the next 2 nights after the struggles of the previous 2 nights. The bike is a little worse for wear – so am I physically. We’re still 1100 miles from home and the pull to get there is getting stronger. For now, I’m enjoying the Big Sky Country that has been pretty good to me.