Sheridan, WY to Smith Center, KS
The morning of day 3 was again nice and sunny. One advantage of America's Best was an attached gas station, so I didn't have to go far to get gas.
Once on the road, it was pretty much a straight shot over to Rapid City with only a stop for gas along the way. Once in Rapid City, I headed straight for the Post Office to pick up the "R" in MERA then a few blocks away to find a statue of a President. Rapid City has statues of every president on street corners along Main and St Joseph Streets. I pulled off at the first random president with an easy place to park, (later determined to be William McKinley) took my picture and headed out. There were a total of 3 bonuses in the Rapid City area and my next would be the Tic-Tac-Toe playing chicken at Reptile World. Unfortunately, I'd learned through the MERA list-serv that the chicken was broken and therefore all that was needed was a picture of the sign out front.
That turned out to be good as this place was quite the tourist trap and I'm sure it saved me a butt-load of time not having to go in. I got my picture of the sign, then headed for Mt Rushmore.
I'd heard horror stories about law enforcement around Mt Rushmore overly concerned with revenue generation. I was very careful to not speed in the multitude of 25 mph speed limits and of course I didn't see a single cop. It was however, a fun little road that wound up through the hill/mountain south of Mt Rushmore. In several places, tunnels had been blasted into rock outcroppings which were directly in line with the sight line of Mt Rushmore, the last of which was a bonus location. Google Street View once again provided excellent assistance, as I'd already figured out exactly where I could park along the narrow road.
It was along this slow winding road is when I discovered something that allowed me to have something to obsess about through the remainder of the trip. Since I was going slow, there was much less wind and engine noise. This allowed me to key in on a sound coming from my engine, which sounded very much like a belt slipping. Knowing that the only belt on the R1200GS is for the alternator, this didn't overly concern me. I knew that it would probably not leave me stranded, but briefly considered looking up a BMW dealer to call. Then I realized how stupid that was...It was either going to hold out or it was going to break. Or, more likely, it was nothing at all to worry about. Logical me won out, at least in theory, over emotional me, and I turned up my audiobook and ignored it.
The next bonus was the original Cabela's store in Sydney, NE. This involved a straight shot south through the remainder of South Dakota and the majority of Nebraska. It was...not exciting.
I arrived in Sydney and headed for Cabelas. A Cabela's had recently been opened near me, and I was amazed how small the original location was. I ran in and took a picture of the dead animals and on the way in asked the rent-a-cop if there'd been many other people wearing motorcycle gear running in with towels to take a picture. He just kind of looked at me funny and said, "ah, no." Not wanting to make his day, I didn't press the matter..
Next stop, was Kearney, NE after a jaunt across half of Nebraska on I-80. The wind was blowing fairly good out of the south, so this trip became one long right hand turn. I was leaned over for so long, that I actually wondered if my tires were going to have uneven wear.
I arrived in Kearney around dusk at which point the majority of the town was celebrating our country's independence by blowing up a small part of it. I headed to the bonus location, a monument to the Oregon Trail, got gas then got the heck out of Dodge, well Kea.
On the way out of town, did call an audible upon seeing Nebraska Highway 10. My next planned Highway 10 sign was in Utah, but if I had to implore my "bail-out" route I'd miss it. Since the specific location of this bonus didn't have to be declared, I figured it was worth the 30 seconds to take the picture.
It was some time around here that the battery in my Sena SMH-10 Bluetooth Headset died. The previous two days I hadn't been on the thing all day, but today I was definitely enjoying one of the three Tom Clancy audio books I'd brought for the trip and spending a fair amount of time on the phone with my wife and friends. Long story short, it died and my feeble attempts to plug it into my tank bag while it was still on my head proved futile. No worries. This just meant there would be lots of songs made up about roadsigns along my path.
The rest of the night was long, straight and dark. During this time I came to the realization that living in the northwest had predisposed me to assuming when the side of the road is dark, it is because you are driving through a forest. Not so much in Nebraska. To my surprise upon looking to my right, i saw a ton of stars, not trees as I was assuming. The positive part of this trip was that I did not see a single deer.
After several hours in the dark and a few 90 degree turns on to equally straight roads, I finally arrived at the "mystery bonus." This was a bonus that we were only given coordinates for. It was only mysterious during the time when I cut and pasted the coordinates into Google and learned that it was the Geographic Center of the Continental U.S. I arrived around midnight and took several pictures of the monument.
After this I headed to the US Center Motel in Smith Center, KS, a short ride away. I rolled in around 1:00 and unfortunately had to wake up the manager who was very nice and got me set up.
Indicated mileage: 825