Wednesday, 17 August 2016….hot and clear with highs in the upper 80s
Last week the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was going on here in the Black Hills. All summer we have been hearing about how crazy the traffic is, how busy the towns are and how completely miserable the locals are during the rally (other than those that run businesses and probably make a large percentage of their profits during this period). Last year was the 75th anniversary of Sturgis and the attendance was approximately 739,000 people. The population of South Dakota is only 858,000 people so this was a big influx of tourists to a very small area of the state. This year the numbers aren’t in, but the estimate is 40% smaller than the big anniversary year last year. Dave and I did not think it was too bad.
There were a lot of motorcycles in Custer and in the campground, but the bikers are cool. Most of them are quite jolly, enjoying their true American vacation and their chance to visit the Harley Davidson Mecca of the world in the Black Hills. Many of them fly American flags from their bikes. They play hard on their vacation but they are not disruptive, and they pick up after themselves. We really liked the biker crowd.
The Sturgis Rally wasn’t the only Thunder in the Hills this month. Wednesday we were getting cleaned up and ready to go down to the build site when we heard a loud and consistent roar of diesel engines. This continued for several minutes and we went outside to check it out. There was a huge parade of tractors going North on Sylvan Lake Road, right next to the campground. I ran up to the road to snap some pictures and spent the next 30 minutes or so watching farmers drive by on their machinery…..New Holland, John Deere, Farm-All, Allis Chalmers, Case, Massey Ferguson, Ford, old, new and everything in between. Many of the tractors had a passenger seat attached for Mom and kids to ride along. Everyone was happy and waving and flying the Stars and Stripes in true South Dakota fashion.
Later we ran into one of the tractor drivers stopped at ShopKo…he said they were doing a 100 tractor parade and they meet up every other year to tour the Black Hills. They went up to Needles Highway all the way to Mount Rushmore. It was the 2016 Southern Hills Tractor Ride and it was spectacular. We love it here! Never a dull moment.