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My Ride Out West (Part One)

I was vacationing in South Dakota in 2012 for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and decided to keep going west, extending my trip from my original destination of Richfield, Wisconsin to pass through two historic parks, Custer and Devil’s Tower. Since I was doing this ride solo, I was averaging around 600 miles per day and resting at preplanned motels that my wife, Michelle, found online and reserved a room for me each night. I had a restful night at the motel I stayed at in Sheridan, Wyoming and was about to leave when I met two riders from Wisconsin at the same motel. We exchanged friendly greetings and they saw the “Watch for Motorcycles” sticker on my tour pack.  I told them that I worked for Hupy and Abraham, S.C. as a property damage investigator and offered bumper stickers that they gladly took. I told them to stay safe and left Sheridan.

Hupy and Abraham, S.C. Investigator Drew (Doc) Webb

It was a cool August morning. The day before the temperature had reached over 90 degrees. This was not unusual since I was entering the northern section of the Rocky Mountains. It was amusing to me that I had to put my chaps on in August as I prepared myself, making sure I had what I needed before I resumed my ride at the entrance of Big Horn Canyon. Big Horn Canyon National Park extends from the plains and Great Basin area of Wyoming northward into south central Montana.

The view was spectacular as I started up the winding mountain road and I was excited with anticipation of what I might see around every corner. I did not encounter any traffic for quite some time and I felt the road was all mine.  The landscape is so vast and rich with wildlife within the National Forest area, you can encounter grass prairies, evergreen forests, mountain meadows, rugged alpine peaks, dramatic canyons, arid desert lands and cascading waterfalls all within a day's journey.

As I was ascending, I could see a herd of cattle and ranches in the distance. I soon realized the cattle were free-range because putting up fences would be an enormous effort to construct. I’m always aware of my surroundings when I’m on my motorcycle, but I was not prepared to encounter cattle around the next bend. What I saw was about 30 head of Angus cattle in the middle of the road and quickly braked to a stop. They were startled at me as I was at them. We stared at each other as if one of us were in the way. I stood there straddling my motorcycle waiting for them to move. Of course they didn’t. I had to rev my engine and beep my horn and then they parted like the Red Sea. I had a chuckle and moved on.

By this time, I moved on another 10 miles and stopped at Cloud Peak Wilderness Area with a rest stop and waterfall. It was a good spot to peel off most of my leather riding gear since the weather was warmer as I started to descend. It was a great day of riding and, of course, I did not see the entire park because my destination for that day was to get to Cody, Wyoming and on to Yellowstone National Park. What I experienced that day, including the cattle on the road, scenic passes, snow-covered peaks and a big bull moose, took me away from the stress of my daily routine.

Continue reading... (Part Two)