Now, mind you, it isn’t Ole and me that are having troubles and problems. Are you kidding? We’re back in the campground by late afternoon and in bed by 10 o’clock. Believe me, you don’t find trouble like that. We keep our nose clean and stay away from situations that get out of control. Every year there are “issues” that take place and of course, this year has had its share.
First off, I have to tell you that the attendance, according to the news media, is down about 14-20% this year. It’s quite evident by the traffic on the streets, the number of empty vendor spaces and the number of hotels/motels/campgrounds that have had vacancy signs and space available signs hung out. I think this downturn is due to a number of reasons — first the economy, and secondly, Sturgis is choking the goose that laid the golden egg. Greediness. This sums it up in one word. It’s also called price gouging.
Last week Ole and I went into a place called the Night Owl. We ordered one beer and one margarita, which came to $8. The following Tuesday, during the OFFICIAL rally, we went back to the Night Owl and ordered one margarita and one beer. This time it came to $12. You do the math. What percentage of increase is that? Same thing with hotel rooms. A room that normally charges $68/night is now going for anywhere from $130 to $150 a night. Burgers without fries are running $10 to $12. A beer in Sturgis is going for anywhere from $7 to $10 apiece. I don’t have a problem with people making a profit, but I really feel this is price gouging and it’s showing in the attendance. People are getting tired of this and are spreading out into other areas of the Hills and doing business.
As I said before, there are a lot of empty vendor spaces in Sturgis itself, but you’re seeing more and more vendors spreading out through the Hills where the licensing is much cheaper. They’re going to places like Hill City, Custer, Keystone, Aladin and even out into Wyoming. Enough on that – I’m sure you get my point.
And of course there are always the tragedies that take place during every rally. Two days ago there was a terrible situation that took place on Hwy. 79 north of Sturgis. There was a biker driving south on 79 just north of Sturgis when a red Honda pickup came up behind him and hit him 4 times from the back, ran him into the ditch and then left the accident scene. There were multiple witnesses to this accident. The biker was airlifted to Rapid City but died the next day. Today, due to the info from the witnesses, the driver of the pickup was taken into custody and is charged with homicide. Upon interviewing the driver of the pickup, the police determined that it was due to road rage.
Then there has been the gang issues. A couple of nights ago the Mongols and the Hell’s Angels got into it over some issue and the police had to intervene. No one was killed but there were several people that were taken to the ER due to knife slashes. This took place during the wee hours, or course.
Then there was the issue of the Gypsy Jokers, who are apparently a group of bad guys out of Australia. 30 of them decided to raise trouble down at Mount Rushmore. Just what exactly they had in mind I don’t know as it hasn’t been published in the paper yet, but 9 park rangers surrounded them and escorted them off the property, guns drawn.
Now, there are advantages to being old and gray and being in bed by 10 o’clock at night. The advantage is that you miss all of this excitement, but then you don’t have the blood pressure raises that this sort of stress causes either.
So today is the last OFFICIAL day of the motorcycle rally, although I’m sure there will be many folks hanging around for a few days yet. We’re pulling out tomorrow, heading for Red Lodge, Montana and planning on doing the Beartooth Pass. It’s quite a fun trek on a motorcycle – 11,000 feet with lots of “twisties”
So this will be my last official entry under “Heading for Sturgis.” If you’re interested in following The Adventures of Ole and Lena just click on this link to see what happens next. http://oleandlena.areavoices.com/