Can it be...silence?
For the last ten days there's been a low drone in the air...constant...ominous.... I've been trying to figure out how to describe it, and the closest I can come is to have you imagine a jet taking off - for ten days straight. Always in the background, like the roar of a waterfall when you're canoeing down a river, or standing at the edge of Niagara Falls.
The 74th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was in town.
Let's start with a few stats:
- Between 450,000 and 500,000 bikers attend the Rally each year. That's just an estimate. Since there is no registration, officials use hotel and campground reservations to estimate the numbers. This year's numbers won't be out for a couple weeks. Last year's estimate was around 483,000.
- The population of the Black Hills (including all cities and rural population) is around 150,000. That means that every year, at the beginning of August, our population quadruples for ten days.
- This year, about 40% of the attendees were women. Biker girls come with their boyfriends, husbands, sisters, or friends. At home they're moms, teachers, nurses, waitresses, doctors, accountants....
- Our local hospital and emergency personnel don't have planned disaster drills. The Rally is a planned disaster every year. Think of it as knowing a hurricane is going to strike a year in advance.
- One big draw to the Rally is the variety of concerts. Every night. This year we had Skillet, Josh Rogan, The Cult, Montgomery Gentry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Zac Brown Band, Bret Michaels, Motley Crue, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, Randy Houser, Cheap Trick... and those are only the names I recognized :)
- Not everyone rides their bike across country for the Rally. You can rent a bike for around $400-$500 a day. Or you can hire a specialized transport company who will pick up your bike, deliver it to the Rally, and return it to your home afterwards for around $900. Of course, you still have to get here somehow.
- There are events for every taste. Everything from a ride to commemorate fallen law officers to the Roller Derby, to the Budweiser Clydesdales, to stunt-cycle demonstrations, to the hill climb, to the Weber Grill Burger Cook-Off, and more.
- Waitresses at the bars (and there are many!) average about $300 a day in tips. Of course, you can earn more. I've heard if you take advantage of the "skimpy clothing" option during the Rally, you can increase your tips. A lot.
- Next year's Rally will be the 75th. Hotels and campgrounds are already maxing out on reservations. One official estimates a million bikers will head to Sturgis next August.
BUT! When the Rally comes, we know tourist season is beginning to wind down. Schools are starting up again, families are staying home, and the bikers go back to their real lives of being teachers and accountants.
And we get our Hills back. I can't tell you how sweet that is!
Of course, we enjoy the tourists! It's an exciting time when Memorial Day comes. It's almost like someone flips a switch and the area is filled with excitement and anticipation. I love meeting our visitors, chatting with them, helping them find their way around.
But in August, after the end of the Rally, it's kind of like the feeling you get when visitors leave. It was fun while they were here...but it's nice to have the place to ourselves :)
But it isn't winter yet! It's time to grill some burgers :)
Jan's Favorite Burgers
My family never gets tired of these....
Easy ingredients - ground beef and seasoning. I like to use the "Worcestershire Pub Burger" spice mix from McCormick, and a little Worcestershire Sauce.
Mix ground beef - a pound makes four burgers - and the seasonings (about 1 teaspoon of the spice mix and about 1 teaspoon of the Worcestershire Sauce) in a bowl. Using my hands to mix the beef is the only way I've found to make sure it's all mixed in evenly.
I use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to make 1/4 pound burgers. Measure the meat mixture, and if there's any left, divide it evenly between the lumps.
With your hands, form the lumps into patties a little bit bigger around than your buns (they'll shrink during cooking.) Make a little depression in each patty to ensure even cooking.
Cook on the grill until they're done. You can tell they're done when you pierce a burger and the juices are clear.
I like to sear the burgers on high heat, and then turn the gas to low to let the meat cook low and slow.
When the burgers are done, add any cheese of your choice - I like Tillamook Sharp Cheddar - and let it melt.
I've been eating my burgers Trim Healthy Mama style - either bare or in a low-carb wrap - with a big salad.
My dear husband eats his the traditional way - and with a nice bit of Gruyere cheese and a big slice of onion.
So, let's chat. How are things in your part of the world? Is summer winding down yet?