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Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

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Day 14 ride map

Today is day  14 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list.

Everyday, except one or two, we have been up at 5:30 getting the bikes and us ready to ride. We are usually on the road around sevenish. This has been an amazing ride, not only because of all the wonderful scenic country and great people we have met all along the way, but also because we have felt good both physically and mentally. We are not getting any younger and this is always on the back of our minds. All of this makes for some enjoyable riding…

Five years ago we rode up this way for the first time. It is good to be back and to be able to ride some of the places we didn’t have time to ride on that last ride.

The front desk clerk at the motel gave us some good information and a map about riding today. Due to some confusion on my part we rode the route backwards from what he suggested. I may have just misunderstood his directions. It ended up being a good mistake. We rode the loop counter-clockwise instead clockwise. I think this is the best route (counter-clockwise)  because when you ride Iron Mountain Road, Mount Rushmore is framed in the tunnels. A picture perfect view of Mount Rushmore. If we had ridden in the clockwise direction Mount Rushmore would have been behind us when riding through the tunnels. I was also given some misinformation by a friend, who said Needles Highway was the road where you could view Mount Rushmore through the tunnels. Needles Highway does have 3 tunnels just like Iron Mountain but there are no views of Mount Rushmore. That caused us some confusion since we rode Needles Highway first. Larry asked a park ranger to help us. He got us straightened out about Iron Mountain and showed us how to get there. We got some good pictures riding Iron Mountain to prove it.

If you would like to ride the loop we rode, these are the directions.

  1. From Rapid City take US-16 south to US-16A
  2. Left on US-16A to SD-244
  3. SD-244 follow the signs to Mt. Rushmore
  4. From Mt. Rushmore continue on SD-244 west to US-385
  5. Left on US-385 for 0.2 of a mile to SD-87 (Needles Highway with 3 tunnels)
  6. Follow SD-87 for about 16 miles to Highway 753 (Playhouse Road)
  7. Follow Hwy 753  for about 4 miles to US-16A (Iron Mountain Road with 3 tunnels)
  8. Left on US-16A for a little over 9 miles to SD-244 (Take the pullouts and take pictures of Mt. Rushmore through the tunnels)
  9. When you reach SD-244 you have completed the 41 mile loop.

Below is a map of the ride around the loop.

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41 Mile loop with views of Mt. Rushmore

If you like narrow twisty roads you will like the Needles Highway. It is a must ride if you are in the area. The best part of the loop was riding Iron Mountain Road with views of Mt. Rushmore through the tunnels. Because of the speed limits and stopping to take pictures it takes about 1 hour and a half to 2 hours to ride. It is well worth the time.

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View of Mt. Rushmore from highway

After finishing the loop we doubled back on part of the loop to stop at the Crazy Horse Monument. I was interested to see how much progress they had made carving Crazy Horse into the mountain over the last 5 years.

The Needle rock formation the Needles Hwy is named for...

The Needle rock formation the Needles Hwy is named for…

Mount Rushmore viewed tunnel on Iron Mountain Hwy

Mount Rushmore viewed tunnel on Iron Mountain Hwy

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear officially started Crazy Horse Memorial June 3, 1948. The project continues to this day. 63 years and they have a lot more to do before they finish. Korczak died October 20, 1982. The work continues today under the guidance of his wife Ruth and their children, together with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation board of directors. It was and is a monumental undertaking.  The most amazing part of the project has been accomplished without any public funds.This is a must stop if you are in the area.

Crazy Horse Monument a 63 year work in progress

Crazy Horse Monument a 63 year work in progress

It was lunch time when we got to Crazy Horse.  We had lunch here at the Laughing Water Restaurant  on the Crazy Horse Monument campus. I had Buffalo Stew the last time I was here and since it was so good I had Buffalo Stew again. They have other Native American specialities you may want to try. The dinning room has a large picture window with  a good view of the Crazy Horse carving. The waiter staff was good and as pleasant as last time. They take the time to answer any questions you may have about the campus.

Heading South to Nebraska

Heading South to Nebraska

After a good meal at the Laughing Water Restaurant we headed south to Alliance, Nebraska, our destination for the day. We thought this was going to be just another leisurely ride. When we reached Alliance it was still early so we decided to ride another 37 miles to Bridgeport for the night. We stopped at the first motel to get a room but they were full. We asked where we might get a room in Bridgeport and was told all the motels were full. I asked why… The son (who plays football for the University of Nebraska) of one of the wealthy families in Bridgeport was getting married and anyone who was someone was there for the wedding… Hence no rooms… They said the nearest town on our route that would probably have a room was 80 miles away… No big deal except… we were also told there was a big storm headed this way… We did notice dark clouds as we rode into town. We jumped on the bikes and rode like the wind to try to beat the storm. Forty mile down the road we came to Oshkosh, Nebraska. What luck there was 2 motels and we were able to get a room for the night. Not a chain motel and nothing fancy but a room to get us out of the weather… which never came… We have been so lucky with the weather…

For more pictures of our ride click here and don’t forget to like “The Texas Rambler” Facebook page. Look for the “Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” at the bottom left column to receive notifications of new posts by email. Also please take some time to leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all…

Tomorrow we will be heading home… Larry back to Georgia and me back to Texas. I can’t believe this ride is almost over… but it will be nice to finally get back home to Janet…

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument

Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument

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Devils Tower & Spearfish Canyon ride map

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Day 13 Leaving Gillette, WY early morning…

Today is day  13 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list.

We were up early and on the road. Another short day of just 200 miles. Our first stop is Devils Tower National Monument. We were here on a ride in 2008 and it’s nice to be back. It seems like it was last month… I was here with Larry T. and Larry C. Today it is just Larry T and me. Larry C. is missing a great ride… 🙁 I love riding this part Wyoming.

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Day 13 Almost to Devils Tower

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Devils Tower National Monument entrance

Situated in the rolling prairie of the Black Hills, Devils Tower towers over the surrounding area. Devils Tower is sacred to the Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Lakota, and Shoshone. The name Devil’s Tower originated in 1875 when Col. Richard Irving Dodge’s interpreter misinterpreted the Indian name to mean Bad God’s Tower. Maybe the tower should be called God’s Tower instead… It sounds good to me. Stupid white men…

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In the shadow of Devils Tower National Monument

We arrived at Devils Tower early morning. The air was still cool and made for a nice hike around the base. Even without climbing the tower you have good views of the scenic surrounding area as you walk the perimeter. It is an impressive sight, with unique geologic history and Indian ties. We watch more adventurous visitors climbing the tower. You need a permit to do any climbing. In my younger days I would love to climb the tower. Today we will just be observers. There are many interesting stories of former climbers. The fastest climb was just over 18 minutes… An amazing feat because he didn’t use climbing equipment! Then there was the a guy who parachuted onto the top of Devils Tower and he was stuck there for four days until he was rescued! There was one big flaw in the plan.

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Climber on Devils Tower National Monument

From Devils Tower we rode on to the town of Spearfish and rode through Spearfish Canyon. Butch Kay, an old school friend, suggest the canyon to be a must ride 5 years ago. It was a bit warmer this time, 80’s vs. 30’s.

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Riding through Spearfish Canyon

The last ride we just rode through Deadwood, but this time we stopped to have a closer look. The street was blocked when we got to Deadwood. There was a parade… For what… We had no clue… We turned down a side street and parked so we could check it out. It was the ’76 Days parade.

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’76 Days Parade in Deadwood, South Dakota

The official reason given for ’76 Days is…  “The Days of ’76 began as a way to honor Deadwood’s first pioneers – the prospectors, miners, muleskinners and madams who poured into the Black Hills in 1876 to settle the gold-filled gulches of Dakota Territory. Since the first celebration in 1924, the Days of ‘76 has grown into a legendary annual event with a  historic parade and an award-winning PRCA rodeo.”

The unofficial reason is… Wild Bill Hickok was killed in Deadwood on August 2, 1876…

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’76 Days in Deadwood South Dakota

The parade ended just as we walked up the street to it. The streets were filled with people who were there for the parade and the ’76 Days events. We leisurely strolled up and down “Upper and Lower” Main street taking in all the sights of the day’s festivities.

Afterward we back tracked to Lead, SD. We rode Hwy 385 five years ago but this trip we are riding Nemo Road to Rapid City, our destination for today. I saw several posts on the web about Nemo Road being a good motorcycle road. They were right, it is a great ride with nice scenery.

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Riding Nemo Road in South Dakota

Everything on our ride has gone as planned… until today… Because we have been riding during the peak tourist season I had made reservations at all the popular tourist areas. No problems until today… Wyndham Rewards lost our reservation at the Ramada… The Ramada was full and we could not get a room! We were not happy campers… And we weren’t prepared to be campers. After a hour or so of trying to resolve the issue with Wyndham to no avail, Ramada did help us find another motel near by. Apparently, the Wyndham reservation system did not send the information to the Ramada reservation system. Note to self: Call motels to verify the reservation well in advance of your arrival…

Today was another great riding day with more beautiful weather… 13 great days and counting. We are not wanting this ride to end… It is almost over… 🙁

For more pictures of our ride click here and don’t forget to like “The Texas Rambler” Facebook page. Look for the “Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” at the bottom right column to receive notifications of new posts by email. Also please take some time to leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all…

Tomorrow we will be riding to Mount Rushmore and riding  Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road.

Ride safe and I hope we see you somewhere down the road.

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground

Billings, MT to Little Bighorn to Gillette, WY

Billings, MT to Gillette, WY Ride Map

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Fast Eddie’s ’57 Chevy… 8 years and thousands of dollars later. Very nice car…

Today is day  12 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list.

We have put a lot of miles on our motorcycles since we left on this adventure ride. Today we are taking time to get the oil and filter changed at Hi-Tech Motor Sports & Marine here in Billings. Before we left on our ride, we called ahead and made an appointment so we could get in and get out and back on the road as soon as possible. Tyler took good care of us. If you are in the area and need service give Tyler a call at (406) 652-0090.

We were back on the road by 11:30 heading for the Little Bighorn Battleground.  We ate lunch at Blondie’s before we hit the road. We met a guy there called “Fast Eddie” who had restored a ’57 Chevy that was a jewel… A really nice car and nice guy. Eddie had a lot of stories about restoring the car and when he raced cars… I guess that’s how he got the name “Fast Eddie”…

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Leaving Billings, Montana after lunch heading to Little Bighorn

While at Hi-Tech one of the sales people told us we should see Pompey’s Pillar National Historic Landmark before heading to Little Bighorn. Lewis and Clark stopped here and signed their names on the rocks. Again we crossed the path of Lewis and Clark… but will have to save seeing it for another time. It would be 50 miles added to the day’s ride. If we had left Billings sooner we could have made the visit… So if you are in the area make plans to stop and visit…

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Monument atop “Last Stand” hill at Little Bighorn Battleground

The last time I was at Little Bighorn was 41 years ago. There have been a few changes since then, but all for the good. There were more visitors than when I last visited. The Battle of the Little Bighorn is one of the most famous battles in American History. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument preserves the site of the June 25 and 26, 1876, Battle of Little Bighorn. Standing at this site takes your mind back to a different time. It is very emotional to think what must have gone through the minds of the men on each side of the battle. The U.S. Seventh Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a severe defeat. The total U.S. casualty count, including scouts, was 268 dead and 55 injured. It was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull.

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Area of Indian encampment along Little Bighorn River

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“Last Stand” hill at Little Bighorn Battleground

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Where Custer fell on “Last Stand” hill at Little Bighorn Battleground.

The granite memorial, built July 1881, stands on the top of Last Stand Hill. Soldiers’ remains were re-interred  near the new memorial. Stakes were left in the ground to mark where they had fallen. In 1890 the stakes were replaced with marble markers. On Memorial Day, 1999, the first of five red granite markers denoting where warriors fell during the battle were placed on the battlefield for Cheyenne warriors. On June 25, 2003, an unknown Lakota warrior marker was placed on Wooden Leg Hill, east of Last Stand Hill.

As I stood on top of “Last Stand Hill”, looking across the prairie grass-covered hills, with a slight breeze at my back, it was hard to imagine such a battle could have happened in this place… a place today that seems so peaceful.

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Heading to Gillette, Wyoming with rain in the distance… More beautiful ranch land…

From Little Bighorn Battleground we headed to Gillette, WY, our destination for today. Today’s ride is just 233 miles. Because we didn’t know how long the oil and filter changes would take, and we didn’t want to be rushed seeing Little Bighorn, we limited the mileage for today. Our route was more great plains riding of mostly ranch land.

Today was another good ride with more great scenery and perfect weather. There was a little rain in the area this afternoon, but we managed to miss riding in it. We have been very fortunate with good riding conditions since we left 12 days ago. Four more days to go… I’m not ready for it to end. We have ridden over 4,000 miles and we are feeling great physically and mentally… We aren’t getting younger and feel blessed to be able to do this ride… The only thing that could be better is if Janet and Shirley (our wives) could have come along. They are missing one great ride… 🙁

For more pictures of our ride click here and don’t forget to like “The Texas Rambler” Facebook page. Look for the “Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” at the bottom right column to receive notifications of new posts by email. Also please take some time to leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all…

Tomorrow we will be riding to Rapid City, SD via Devils Tower National Monument, Spearfish Canyon and Deadwood, SD.  Ride safe and I hope we will see you somewhere on the road…

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument
Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO

Dalhart to Pikes Peak to Georgetown, CO

Dalhart to Pikes Peak to Georgetown, CO

Today is day 3 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list. Today we are headed to Pikes Peak.

We were up early and on the road. Today’s ride was 469 miles from Dalhart, Texas to Georgetown, Colorado via Pikes Peak.

From Dalhart we rode Highway 87/64 to Raton, New Mexico. It was a pleasant 62 degrees with cloud cover that looked as though it could rain at times. It was a scenic ride through the great plains of Northern New Mexico. Miles and miles of ranch land with rolling grass-covered hills and Prairie. Everything is “few and far between” with the occasional barn, home, windmill, cattle and pronghorn antelope.

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Rest stop heading to Raton, NM

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Capulin Volcano in the distance through the misty rain

100 miles out of Dalhart we rode past Capulin Volcano National Monument. Because of the number of miles we are riding today, and since we stopped here 5 years ago on another ride, we elected to ride on. If you are in the area I would suggest you  and stop. Capulin Volcano began over a million years ago. Recently,  Capulin has been a hub of activity as native people  traversed across the Great Plains. The ride to the top of Capulin spirals around the volcanic cone and has spectacular views.  It’s not for the fain of heart as the road is narrow and fairly steep with a shear drop off on your right going up. The panoramic views from the top are incredible.  There are views of other extinct volcanoes,  snow-capped mountains, and views of  New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. All around Capulin are large volcanic fields with over a hundred recognizable extinct volcanoes. At the top you will gain insights into 10 million years of the geological history. So take some time to see this unique site.

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Riding over Raton Pass

The ride over Raton Pass is always a highlight on this route. My first time  to ride Raton Pass was  36 years ago. Raton Pass’ elevation is 7834 feet/2388 meters and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

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Riding I-25 heading to Colorado Springs & Pikes Peak

We have finally made it to the mountains and cooler temperatures. On Pikes Peak the temperature was 37 degrees and the hottest it got on our ride was 85 degrees. For most of the trip it stayed in the 60’s. Hopefully, we can enjoy the cooler (not cold) temperatures for the rest of our time in the mountains. I know we will have to eventually return to the hot temperature of Texas but for now we will just enjoy…

From Raton Pass we ride up I-25 to Colorado Springs and  to the top of Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak Highway is a breathtaking scenic 19 mile ride  to the summit. The terrain and scenery varies along the ride. The road is a tollway. When you pay the toll you receive a map and brochure. You need to take a look at the map to see where there are pullouts for photo opts.

Me and Larry at Pikes Peak

Me and Larry at Pikes Peak

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View off Pikes Peak… Noting to see due to cloud cover

The last time I was  at Pikes Peak was also in July, many years ago. As soon as we reached the summit it started snowing so hard we were unable to see anything beyond a few feet. Today it was cloud cover that spoiled our view. Part of the ride to the top was difficult in spots for 2 reasons… 1) The clouds made it difficult to see very far ahead. It was nice to see the hair-pin-curves on the GPS ahead of time. 2) We were following a car that slowed almost to a stop in the hair-pin-curves. After the first one I put a lot of distance between us to give them plenty of time to get through the curve.

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Heading to Georgetown, Colorado for the night

From Pikes Peak we headed to Georgetown. Yes, Georgetown is a popular town name. It seems that just about every state has a town named  Georgetown.  When Janet and I lived in Colorado Georgetown was a favorite day trip for us. This is why I picked it as the destination for today. We took Highway 67 to I-70 to Georgetown. This is a very scenic route which took us through Evergreen another favorite day trip destination for Janet and me.

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Our home for the night in Georgetown, Colorado

Georgetown, Colorado has many attractions that include the Georgetown Loop Railroad, Hamill House, and Hotel de Paris Museum. Georgetown is a quiet little town, just off busy I-70 an hour west of Denver.

My old friend Jimmie and his wife Diann with Larry and me in Georgetown, Colorado

My old friend Jimmie and his wife Diann with Larry and me in Georgetown, Colorado

In Georgetown, I met Jimmie and Dianne . Jimmie and I have been close friends ever since we worked together beginning in June of 1965.  We lost contact years ago and I just reconnected with him recently through Facebook. We had a lot to catch up on…

 Today was a great ride through some beautiful scenic country and I got to finish the day catching up with and old friend. Tomorrow we ride on to Pinedale, Wyoming through more beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery.

More post coming so check back…

Ride safe…

 

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument
Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

Texas Independence Trail Motorcycle Ride Day 4 May 2013

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Map of Day 4 Ride Route

Today is the last day of my “Texas Independence Trail” ride. I was up early this morning. I spent the night with my sister, she and her family were up getting ready for work and getting Tavy their granddaughter off to school. We had breakfast and said our good-byes before I headed out. It was another nice cool (cool for Texas) morning with a few clouds which burned off quickly as the day progressed. Before day’s end it did get rather warm at 90 degrees but still not a bad day for riding.

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Rolling down Hwy 59 to Fannin, Texas

My first leg today was down Hwy 59 to Fannin, Texas the historic site of the “Fannin Battleground”. This leg to San Antonio is typical “Texas Coastal Plains”. It is mostly flat covered with Mesquite trees. As you get closer to San Antonio you start to see gently rolling hills… covered with more Mesquite… Fannin, Texas is just off Hwy 59. The battleground is a bit further south on FM 2506. On this site in 1836, brave soldiers fought the Battle of Coleto Creek. The Texans eventually surrendered to overwhelming Mexican forces. Col. Fannin and his men were taken to Goliad and held. This morning was peaceful but somber as I thought about what had happened here so very long ago. I can only imagine what emotions the men must have had in their dire situation…

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Fannin Battleground

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Fannin Battleground Monument

From the battleground, I continued a short distance to Goliad and the site of the massacre of Col. Fannin and his men. At Goliad I rode Hwy 183/77 1.6 miles to Presidio La Bahia. It was here that the following happened.

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Final Resting Place of Col. Fannin and His Men.

The pervious evening, Colonel Portilla had received word directly from General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna to execute Col. Fannin and his men. It was a foggy morning on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836. Fannin and his men had been held captive for one week. Fannin’s men were told to gather up their things. They thought they would be sent to New Orleans but were lead out in groups and executed instead. Colonel Fannin was the last to be executed. Fannin made three requests, not to be shot in the face, his personal possessions be sent to his family, and that he be given a Christian burial. He was shot in the face, an officer took his personal possessions, and his body was burned along with many of the other bodies. There were 342 men who died in the Goliad Massacre. Twice the number of men who died at the Alamo and San Jacinto combined. It was a senseless massacre by the brutal Mexican leader Santa Anna. This massacre inflamed the Texan’s cause and spurred the battle cry, “Remember Goliad!”

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Presidio La Bahia

There was some good that happened that day… Twenty-eight men did escape the massacre and seventeen men’s lives were spared. Because of the accounts of these men who escaped and were spared we know what happened that day. The Angel of Goliad, Francita Alavez, and General Urrea’s wife saved the lives of a number of men.

Texas Independence Trail, motorcycle, ride

For more than two months after the massacre, the ghastly remains of the massacred men of Fannin’s Command were found in the partially covered trenches where they had been dumped and burned. General Thomas J. Rusk, had the remains gathered and buried in a mass grave with military honors. At the grave General Rusk delivered a short, but eloquent address.

FELLOW SOLDIERS: In the order of Providence we are this day called upon to pay the last sad offices of respect to the remains of the noble and heroic band, who, battling for our sacred rights, have fallen beneath the ruthless hand of a tyrant. Their chivalrous conduct entitles them to the heartfelt gratitude of the people of Texas. Without any further interest in the country than that which all noble hearts feel at the bare mention of liberty, they rallied to our standard. Relinquishing the ease, peace, and comforts of their homes, leaving behind them all they held dear, their mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives, they subjected themselves to fatigue and privation, and nobly threw themselves between the people of Texas and the legions of Santa Anna. There, unaided by re-enforcement’s and far from help and hope, they battled bravely with the minions of a tyrant, ten to one. Surrounded in the open prairie by this fearful odds, cut off from provisions and even water, they were induced, under the sacred promise of receiving the treatment usual to prisoners of war, to surrender. They were marched back, and for a week treated with the utmost inhumanity and barbarity. They were marched out of yonder fort under the pretense of getting provisions, and it was not until the firing of musketry did the shrieks of the dying, that they were satisfied of their approaching fate. Some endeavored to make their escape, but they were pursued by the ruthless cavalry and most of them cut down with their swords. A small number of them stand by the grave-a bare remnant of that noble band. Our tribute of respect is due to them; it is due to the mothers, sisters, and wives who weep their untimely end, that we should mingle our tears with theirs. In that mass of remains and fragments of bones, many a mother might see her son, many a sister her brother, and many a wife her own beloved and affectionate husband. But we have a consolation- yet to offer them: their murderers sank in death on the prairies of San Jacinto, under the appalling words, “Remember La Bahia.” Many a tender and affectionate woman will remember, with tearful eye, “La Bahia.” But we have another consolation to offer. It is, that while liberty has a habitation and a name, their chivalrous deeds will be handed down upon the bright pages of history. We can still offer another consolation: Santa Anna, the mock hero, the black-hearted murderer, is within our grasp. Yea, and there he must remain, tortured with the keen pain of corroding conscience. He must oft remember La Bahia, and while the names of those whom he murdered shall soar to the highest pinnacle of fame, his shall sink down into the lowest depths of infamy and disgrace.

On June 4, 1938, in celebration of the Texas Centennial, a massive pink granite monument marking the grave site was dedicated.

There is much more to this story. You can learn more by following the links above.

Texas Independence Trail, motorcycle, ride

Mission Espiritu Santo

I was making good time so I stopped at Goliad State Park to tour “Mission Espiritu Santo”. The park is just a short distance from Presidio La Bahia when heading back to Goliad.

The mission was established in 1722 by the Spanish. It is one of the many missions in the area. Following decades of unsuccessful treasure-hunting expeditions in the southwest, led by Coronado and others, the Spanish turned to colonization. The system that emerged in the colonization process entailed the establishment of a mission, a fort or presidio. The system was intended to have the character of Spain’s system of feudal estates. Soldiers guarded the inhabitants to repel incursions from the French.  The mission housed the staff, native peoples, families, and others.

Texas Independence Trail, motorcycle, ride

Mission Espiritu Santo

The mission had moved several times and lay in ruin. Archeologists from the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Archeological Society have done extensive excavations to the site. The church and other buildings have been fully reconstructed and furnished to provide a glimpse of the site’s colorful past. Interpretive exhibits help to tell a story not only of life at the mission but aspects of the archeological investigations and restoration process.

If you enjoy history and have some time to explore the rich history of the mission it is well worth you’re your time. I have plans to ride to all of the missions in the area some day. Stay tuned for that.

Texas Independence Trail, motorcycle, ride, battle

The Alamo

When I left the mission it was starting to warm up. From Goliad I picked up Hwy 239 to Kenedy where I rode Hwy 181 to San Antonio the site of the Alamo. As you get closer to San Antonio you start to see more gently rolling hills… covered with more Mesquite… It was a nice ride.

The Alamo is located in downtown San Antonio. Many people are surprised by that. I was pretty warm by the time I got to San Antonio. All the concrete and asphalt help to collect the heat and make it even warmer. That is one reason I try to avoid city riding… that and all the cars, trucks and traffic…

Texas Independence Trail, motorcycle, ride, San Antonio, battle

The Alamo Grounds

The Alamo is probably the best known story about Texas’ battle for independence. There are many more stories that could have been told. It is an amazing story about courage and overwhelming odds. Santa Anna thought it would be a quick victory and he would be moving on to wipeout the remaining Texas army.

The arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army outside San Antonio, on February 23, 1836, nearly caught the Texians by surprise. The Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held off against Santa Anna’s army for 13 days. There were about 200 defenders at the Alamo. The defenders saw the Alamo as the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. The best known among the Alamo’s defenders were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.

The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836. Mexican soldiers headed for the Alamo’s walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. The Mexicans regrouped, scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.

As many as seven defenders survived the battle, but Santa Anna ordered their execution. Though Santa Anna had his victory, the common soldiers paid the price. Accounts vary, but best estimates place the number of Mexicans killed and wounded at about 600.

People worldwide remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against impossible odds… a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. For this reason, the Alamo will always remain hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

Texas Independence Trail, motorcycle, ride, battle

River Walk in San antonio, Texas

While in San Antonio I took the time to have a late… very late lunch on the “River Walk”. There are many restaurants all along the river to eat. To me it is the only place to eat in downtown San Antonio… particularly if you like Mexican food.

I had planned to ride to Gonzales to visit the Memorial Museum. The museum houses a large collection of objects, documents and photographs pertaining to Gonzales’ role in the shaping of Texas history. If I had rode there I wouldn’t have had much time to tour the museum and get back home in a timely manner. So after lunch I headed home via I-35… San Antonio to Georgetown via I-35, for the most part, parallels the Balcones Fault which is the boundary between the Texas Coastal Plain and the Texas Hill Country. Riding north you have the start of the Texas Hill Country on your left and on your right the terrain is much flatter with gentle rolling hills.

I made it home around 4:00. My only regrets were not having Janet along to share all the sites. My cousin W. D. supposed to have rode with me on this ride but wasn’t able to ride along due to putting his scooter in the shop. W.D. would have really enjoyed the ride and all the people we would have met would have enjoyed meeting W.D. W.D. is… how, should I say this… very entertaining… You just need to meet him to know what I am talking about…

The last four days was a fun ride. I’m glad I was finally able to do this ride. Click here for more information about the “Texas Independence Trail”. Weather you ride or drive you will see some beautiful scenic Texas countryside and explore many historic Texas sites.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this ride as much as I have sharing it with y’all (you). We Texans are a proud bunch and are very proud of our history. Making this ride gave me the chance to revisit the history and learn a few things that I previously did not know. Visiting these historic sites brought the history and sacrifice into focus like it never has been before.

You can read the other posts about this ride here…