My day in South Dakota started from the bad news. Ended up I couldn’t volunteer for just a few days in the reservation in Eagle Butte, first timers are required for at least 6 weeks. I guess it’s pretty usual for places like that, I’m sure that they don’t have time to deal with people who just coming by because probably they have just a few paid positions and always busy. I think that what created the problem of volunteer agencies that basically turned to be another tourist agency and using the good will of people who want to help and make an impact. I think it’s ridiculous that you need to pay to volunteer. It should be free, but it’s so difficult to find something like that. Well, I hope I will have a better luck when I’ll get to Latin America and will not have time limits (thanks again US government for all the visa limitations).
So I needed to make one more stop before western SD. I have found a free camping site near Fort Thomson and was surprised to find a nice and quiet spot on the bank of the Missouri river. But before I got there I had another boring day of riding because there is nothing to see on the way, but I had my lesson from the previous ride and uploaded lectures of Allan Watts to my iPod so the ride was at least educational and gave me a lot of food for thought. If you’re not familiar with his philosophy I really recommend to check it out, he explains Eastern philosophy in general and Zen in particular in accessible for Westerner way to understand.
The next day I started very slow with morning swim in the river and breakfast on the beach there. I forgot to mention that North Shore Recreational Area is the main place for Sioux tribe to chill (it’s in the middle of Lower Brule reservation), I just started to learn about Native Americans and it was fascinating for me to talk with young people there, but also for them because many of them saw a biker for the first time.
The plan for the day was to get to the Black Hills and to drive through the Badlands and I was excited because finally I was going to see something else than just cornfields. I was right, after few hours I arrived to the entrance of the national park, paid a 10$ fee (another benefit of traveling on the bike, car fee is 15$) and started to ride through amazingly beautiful area of sharp rocks.
I loved that place so much that I took a longer route through the unpaved road and even considering to camp there, but I was almost out of water so I needed to keep going anyway. When I got out of the park and entered Pine Ridge reservation I noticed that it’s getting late. I spent much more time than I planned in the Badlands and no wonder why – it reminded me Judean desert (one of my favorite places to hike in Israel) and it was the first time I took my bike out of paved roads, so I was full of nostalgia and adrenalin.
In order to save some time I decided to take another unpaved road along the southern side of the park instead of the long detour and it was very bad decision because this road had much more gravel that makes it more difficult to ride. I had 30 km to go (18 miles) and was going slow because my bike was shaking all the time, gravel tried to take it not exactly to the place I wanted it to go. After 10 km the gravel won and I flipped on the side. It’s not enough that it was very hard to pick up the bike (it’s pretty heavy – 350 kg), when I started the engine nothing happened. I simply didn’t have any power so I needed to take my entire luggage off the bike to be able to take the seat off and find out what happened to my electrical system. After a short search I discovered that the problem was easy to fix, I just needed to replace one of the fuses. But all the procedure took a long time and when I looked west I saw the sun getting low and also the storm coming from the same direction. I needed to find a place to stay for the night.