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I’ve been riding motorcycles for a mere eight years and only during the summer months. During that period of time I’ve averaged about 12,000 miles a season. In each of the eight year seasons I have taken a spring ride into the Southwest and a late summer ride into the Northwest. Last year (2005) I thought it might be interesting to actually begin to document my travel and produce a sociologically oriented motorcycle travel guide. The travel would begin and end at the center of the universe (according to Black Elk). Well, the project started out well but it wasn’t long before my Participant Observation became mostly Participant. What survived was more of a “tip” sheet than a guide accompanied by pithy sociological insights. That’s o.k. If the tips prove useful, then all is well. I will, no doubt, be continuing with the tip sheet as long as there is an interest and Dr. Simmons remains tolerant (both could give out at any moment).

   Dan Peterson
   Chair of the infamous motorcycle group, the
   Sons of Sociology, and occasional road scholar

Spearfish S.D. to Ten Sleep Wy.—
Approximately 300 miles

Begin by getting on highway 14. Highway 14 will take you through Spearfish Canyon and to Cheyenne Crossing. From Cheyenne Crossing turn south on highway 85 to Newcastle Wy. and Moorcroft. Ride through Moorcroft and you will see a sign on your left that is county road 51. In reality it is old highway 14/16 and it parallels the interstate all the way to Gillette Wy. Stay on highway 14/16 and it will take you through Gillette and on to Leitner and the Leitner Country Club (distance from Spearfish is 200 miles). You’ll want to stop here for a short game of golf and a beer before you head on to Buffalo. If you decide you want to stay at Leitner for another round of golf and a few more beers, they provide five cabins in the back that range from $45.00 to $55.00 per night. You will want to check their availability by calling 307-758-4343. Nine miles down the road is the small berg of Clearmont. Clearmont has the only gas station between Gillette and Buffalo. If you decide to stay in Buffalo, go to the old city center and take a look at the Occidental Hotel (and museum). Attached to the hotel is a very fine eatery and saloon.


Dan Simmons Introduces Dan Peterson

Dan Peterson has been a close friend since we met in the long, hot summer of 1977 while traveling and studying in India together on a weird group Fulbright Fellowship trip for educators. It was Dan Peterson I talked into going with me when I wanted to explore the dark back alleys of Calcutta, peer into the Monkey Temple, or swim – fully clothed – between masses of sharks in the Bay of Bengal.

In the decades since we – and our families – became friends, Dan and I have gone on other odd trips together, usually to places our families didn’t want to risk. When I needed to go research Bangkok and its AIDS-infected sex industry in 1992 for a story I wanted to write for PLAYBOY (“Dying in Bangkok”), it was Dan Peterson who suggested we spend weeks wandering all around Japan and Hong Kong on the way there. It was also Dan P. who said “Let’s go for it” when we flew into Bangkok on the last plane allowed in during a shooting revolution. If a place has beer, Dan Peterson will go to it. (And we were only a little non-plussed when we were greeted at the Bangkok airport by our driver from the Oriental Hotel carrying a sign saying – MR. AND MRS. DAN.)

In real life, Peterson was – until 2005 when he retired – a PhD (“Dr. Dan” I like to call him) professor of sociology (and head of the Department) at Black Hills State in Spearfish, South Dakota. In decades of traveling there to hang out with Dan, I’ve discovered that Spearfish – and the nearby Black Hills – are some of the Best Least Known Wonderful Places in America. It’s also near Sturgis, S.D., which every summer – as most of you know – becomes the site for the largest motorcycle (read Harley, read Hawg) rally in the world. Peterson first started studying the biker subculture as a sociologist – producing learned papers and videos on the subject – but very quickly he went over to the Dark Side (as in dark beer). He bought his first motorcyle around age 50, before he knew how to ride one, and his ride home from the store, so local legend in Spearfish goes, was a case of . . . BRRRMMMM . . .FLOP . . .. BRRMMM . . . FLOP . . . . BRMMM FLOP. Now his bikes have grown into Harleys too heavy to lift if he flops.

The retired Dr. Dan Peterson now spends a good part of each year motorcycle-touring America and Canada. His trips are rarely without adventure. In these installments, he’ll share some of his tour tips with those of you who might want to ride hard, see much, eat well, drink deep, sleep cheap, and die young. (Scratch that last part.)

You may wonder why all such tours have to start from Spearfish, South Dakota, but – besides that being the place Peterson lives and has to start from (duh) – he reminds us that the great Sioux prophet and visionary, Black Elk, discovered that Harney Peak, very close to Spearfish, happens to be the center of the universe.

Some of you may also be wondering what a sociologist’s Harley tours are doing on a writer’s web site. To those of you, I say only . . . BRRRMMMM . . . FLOP . . . BRRMMM . .FLOP.
-- Dan Simmons

The only problem with the Occidental is that the rooms are on the pricy side. They range from $110-$165 a night but the proprietor has been known to negotiate. You can call for reservations at 307-684-0451 or 307-684-8989. If you decide to ride on to the destination point of Ten Sleep, you will find two more places for lodging before you reach Ten Sleep. About forty miles out of Buffalo, on the left hand side of the highway is Meadowlark Resort. They charge $75.00 per night on the week-days and $85.00 per night on the week-ends. You can reach the resort by calling 888-Big-Horn. Two more miles down the road from the resort, on the right hand side of the road is Deerhaven Lodge. They can provide you with either a motel room or a cabin for the same price as Meadowlark Resort. You can contact them for reservations by calling 1-888-244-4674 or 1-307 366-2424.

Eighteen more miles down the winding canyon road you will come to my designated stopping point-Ten Sleep. Ten Sleeps has two motels, a RV/camping area, a gas station, several bars and restaurants. Of the two motels, I would recommend the Log Cabin Motel. They charge $40.00 to $60.00 per night and you can call them at 307-366-2320. The other motel is called the Valley. You can also rent a primitive cabin in town at Broek’s RV Park. Cabins here cost $35.00 a night or you can camp for $14.00. Call them at 307-366-2250 for vacancies.

Ten Sleep to Red Lodge, Montana—
approximately 230 miles

As you leave Ten Sleep you will see a sign on your right that says highway 31 (Washane County #47), take it. This county road will take you to Manderson and Grey Bull. About mid-way on this road you will come to a stop sign. You will want to turn left to Manderson however, if you want to take a short detour (about ten miles each way), turn right and ride to Hyattville.

The ride is scenic and so is Hyattville. Hyattville also has a diner, bar and cabins for rent. Check it out if you have the time and inclination. If you take the turn to the left to Manderson you will come upon highway 31 to Grey Bull. Upon reaching Grey Bull you will turn west on highway 14 that will take to Cody and beyond. If, for some reason, you decide to stay and play in Cody, check out the Erma Hotel. You can call the Erma for reservations at 307-587-4221. Their rooms will cost you about $85.00 per night. If you choose to go on to Red Lodge, you will want to get on highway 120. About twenty miles down 120 you will turn onto highway 296 and a few miles down 296 you will turn onto highway 212. Highway 212 will take you over the Bear Tooth Mountains and Bear Tooth pass into Red Lodge, Montana. Red Lodge has many places to stay however I will recommend a few that I have experienced. First, in the center of town, is a fine but a bit pricy hotel-the Pollard. The Pollard does have a few single rooms for $85.00 but the others move up from there to $280.00. A good clean motel that isn’t far from downtown Red Lodge is the Yodler. Rates here are $89.00 plus tax. You can call them at 406-446-1435. Another interesting possibility for a nights lodging is the Rock Creek Family Resort outside of Red Lodge. They charge $112.00 for a Lodge room and $98.00 for a cabin. Call them at 1-800-667-1119 for reservations.

Red Lodge to Seeley Lake, Montana—
Approximately 300 miles

Find highway 78 out of Red Lodge and take it. This highway meanders through and near a number of interesting bergs until you reach Columbus. You will come upon a stop sign and intersection when you get to Columbus. Turn left (a right turn will take you directly to Interstate 94) where you see a sign pointing to Rapelye. A mile or so down the road there will be a turn to the right to Rapelye, DON’T take it. Instead, continue straight and the road you are on will parallel the Interstate for about ten miles. Eventually you will have to get on I 94 but this road will save you about ten miles of Interstate frenzy. Once you get on me 94 wests you will travel for about thirty miles until you see an exit sign to White Sulpher Springs. However, if you should get hungry or thirsty before you reach the White Sulpher Springs exit, I would suggest pulling of the interstate at Reed Point. Here you will find the funky Old West Hotel and Saloon (the Wild horse). Should you also need a room, they will provide you with one for either $45.00 or $65.00. Exiting at the White Sulpher Springs exit will put you on highway 89 to Clyde Park and Wilsail. Eventually the highway will meet highway 12 west to Townsend. Highway 12 will take you through Townsend and on to Helena. Stay on highway 12 upon reaching Helena to Avon. At Avon, turn north onto highway 141. Highway 141 will turn into highway 200 west. You next turn will be off of highway 141 and onto highway 83 to Seeley Lake. Once you get to Seeley Lake you will want to stay for the evening (or two) at the Double Arrow Lodge. This Lodge is just off highway 83 and offers a very nice golf course, cabins and lodge rooms and some of the finest dining in Montana. The cabins range from $80.00 to $126.00. Call the lodge at 406-677-2777 or 800-468-0777. An alternative to the Double Arrow is about fifteen miles down the road. The Holland Lake Lodge is off the highway, on a gravel road, about five miles. It is the oldest lodge in Montana and it also offers some of best dining in Montana. Their rates are around $115.00 a night but that rate includes breakfast, lunch, a four course dinner, etc. Call the Holland Lake Lodge at 877-925-6343 or 406-754-2282. You might also like to take advantage of a great steak house and bar that is only two miles down the highway from the Holland Lake Lodge turn off. It is called the Hungry Bear Steak House.

Seeley Lake to Creston, British Columbia
approximately 300 miles

As you leave the Seeley Lake area on highway 83, be aware that the highway is notorious for the number of deer that are hit every year. Stay alert! Once you get to Big Fork, Montana, turn west onto highway 82 and shortly, onto highway 93 north going to Whitefish and Eureka. You will cross into Canada at Roosville and highway 93 will turn into highway 3/95 at Elko. Continue on highway 3 through Fernie and Cranbrook until you reach either Yahk or Creston. Both towns offer interesting accommodations but I think Creston would be your best bet for the nights stay. I don’t have any specific recommendations for Creston so you’re on your own.

Creston, B.C. to Lumby, B.C.
approximately 250 miles

As you leave Creston, find highway 3A north. This highway will take you along one of the most memorable rides of the trip. At the end of the road you will find a ferry that will take you across the lake. It’s free and takes about 45 min. to cross. Continue on 3A (you have little choice) until you reach Nelson. Nelson is a beautiful town with three small colleges, one of which is an internationally known Art Institute. You will not be staying there but a cup of coffee or breakfast is a good idea. The Hume Hotel has about everything one could ask for, including a first rate restaurant and if circumstances dictate, their rooms are first rate and very reasonable at about $80.00 U.S. dollars for two. Call them at 250-352-5331 for reservations. From Nelson you should travel north and catch highway 6 north to Naksup. Eventually, you will reach Fourquier where you will take another ferry but this ferry ride is only about twenty minuets. Before you get on the ferry, gas up and have a beer at the Mushroom café. Across the lake continue on highway 6 to Lumby (or Cherryville). Cherryville (a couple of miles before Lumby) has a number of places to stay the night. The first is the Gold Panner Campground and Café. The Gold Panner has cabins that you can rent for $47.00 Canadian but you will need your own towel. Call them at 250-547-2025 or 250-547-2185. Other possibilities are Kokanee at Sugar Lake (a lodge and resort) and the Keefer Lake Wilderness Resort. Call Kokanee Lodge at 250-547-6517 and the Keefer Lake Resort’s number is 250-878-5548.

Lumby, B.C. to Spraque or Loon Lake
approximately 300 miles

Today might prove a bit tricky in terms of finding a good spot to stay the night. After you leave Lumby and begin to get closer to Vernon on highway 6, the traffic begins to pick up and the ride becomes a bit more frantic. However that too shall pass. Ride from Vernon south to Kelowna. At Kelowna you need to turn east on to highway 33 that will take you to McCulloch. Eventually highway 33 will meet up with highway 3 that runs east to west. Turn west on highway 3 to Osoyoos. You will turn south at Osoyoos on highway 97 and cross back into the United States and the state of Washington. Continue on highway 97 until you reach Tonasket and turn east onto highway 20. This will take you through the towns of Republic and Kettle Falls and Colville. Highway 20 will meet highway 395 south just past Kettle Falls. Take highway 395 south through Colville, Chewelah to Loon Lake. There are a few places to stay the night in the Loon Lake/ Deer Lake area. Two that you might want to check out are The Inn at White Pine (a bed and breakfast) where the rooms go from $75.00 to $85.00. Their number is 507-233-0255. The other spot is the Deer Lake Resort (on Deer Lake). They also provide cabins and you can call them at 1-509-233-2081.

P.S., If you are interested in Western history be sure to read what you can about the Nez Perce, Chief Joseph and White Bird before you leave. For the next four days you will be riding through the country where the drama of the Nez Perce meets the U.S. military played it out.

Loon Lake, Washington to Lowell, Idaho
approximately 230 miles

Highway 395 out of the Loon Lake area will split of onto highway 231 south to Ford, Reardon and Davenport. At Davenport you need to pick up highway 23 to Harrington, Spraque and St. John. St. John has a nine whole golf course and a good bar. There is a nice ride from the bar at St. John to Colfax and you can find the trail by riding from St. John to approximately mile marker 3 where you will see a sign that says Green Hollow Road. Turn right on this road and follow it to Colfax. From Colfax, take highway 195 to Lewiston Idaho. Highway 12 out of Lewiston will take you on a memorable ride along the Snake River (about 200 miles). You will have to take about ten to twelve miles of interstate highway before you can turn off on highway 12. About half way up the Snake River and highway 12 is Lowell, Idaho. On your left is a motel and restaurant and on your right are a number of cabins, some of which are right on the river. Stay here. The cabins range from $79.00 to 99.00 and the hotel rooms are $55.00. Call for reservations at Three Rivers Resort 208-926-4430 or 888-926-4430. If you want to ride another thirty-three miles up to Lolo pass there is the Lochsa Lodge on the right hand side of the road. This lodge charges between $60.00 and $75.00 for a cabin and $58.00 for a room in the lodge. Call them at 208-942-3405 for reservations.

Lowell, Idaho to Jackson, Montana-
approximately 200 miles

From Lowell, Idaho continue up highway 12, over Lolo pass and down into Hamilton and Sula. Ten miles or so down the road from Sula you will turn east on highway 43 (highway 278) that will take you through the Big Hole (a large “battle” took place here between the fleeing Nez Perce and the pursuing U.S. military) area of Montana. Wisdom and the Antler bar is a wise stop but you will want to continue on to Jackson on highway 43 south until you reach the Jackson Hot Springs Lodge. Stay here but get reservations. Call them at 406-834-3151.

Jackson, Montana to Bozeman, Montana
approximately 170 miles

Ride out of Jackson toward Dillon on highway 41. Highway 41 will take you through Twin Bridges and highway 287 south. Riding highway 287 south will take you through Adler, Virginia City and Ennis. At Ennis, turn onto highway 80/84 (Norris Hot Springs) and on to Bozeman. Check out the Blue Sky Motel on the east end of Bozeman. Their rates are reasonable ($53.00-$65.00) and it’s nicely located. Call them at 406-587-2311 or 800-845-9032.

DAY 10
Bozeman, Montana to Spearfish, S.D.
approximately 400 miles

Ride out of Bozeman until you get on Interstate highway 90 east. Ride for about 170 miles, through Billings, until you reach the Crow Agency just down the road from Hardin, Montana. This is the same exit at the Custer Battlefield and exhibit and it is highway 212. Ride highway 212 through Lame Deer until you finally reach Bel Fouche S.D. Take highway 34 from Bel Fouche to Spearfish. The end.


P.S., If you have the energy and day light, turn right (south) on highway 112 about a half mile from the Alzada Mont. Saloon on the right hand side of the road. You can’t miss the saloon in that the sign announce “bad food and cheap beer”. Highway 112 will take you to Hulett Wyoming (not far from Devil’s Tower). From Hulett, ride highway 24 to Aladdin Wy.. It’s worth a stop at the Aladdin store so that you can sit on the front porch and listen to the Son’s of the Pioneers. While you’re there, pick up some of their freshly cut bacon. You won’t be disappointed. From Aladdin it’s on into Bel Fourche and finally Spearfish.

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