Monday, September 25, 2023


Expect the unexpected when traveling

Dear RV Shrink:
One time we were camped in Deadwood, S.D., in a commercial campground. The second day the manager gave us hospital band IDs to wear on our wrists. He said it was going to get very busy and we would need this ID band to leave and enter the campground. He said it was the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. We had no idea what to expect.

By nightfall the campground was packed to capacity and the partying went on all night long. One woman came over to our site and asked for ice. I thought she was wearing a skimpy halter top but soon discovered she was topless with a tattooed halter top. We left the next morning but my wife thought we deserved a refund. It still bugs her. Should I have demanded my money back or just moved on? —Harvey in Hog Heaven

Dear Harv:
I think it was worth a night’s fee just to have the story to tell about the woman with the tattoo. You are always going to run into the unexpected while traveling. It is part of the adventure. You will often stumble onto festivals you didn’t know existed. Sturgis is the Mother of all motorcycle rallies. The Black Hills are alive with rally-goers and most campgrounds are filled to capacity with people “letting their hair down.” There are so many boomer bikers now (with no hair to let down), so the rally gets bigger each season.

I would suggest you go with the flow and move on if you can’t fit in. The campground owners had no idea you weren’t there for the festivities. They probably could have rented your space ten times over. It sounds like they are trying to manage the crowds as best they can with the ID bands. You pay your fees and take your chances.

Odds are in your favor that most of the time you are going to get exactly what you are looking for. I’m just curious, how long did it take to figure out it wasn’t a halter top? —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

NOTE: 79th Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™, August 2-11, 2019. (500,000 participants)

(Disclaimer: Article previously published in August 2017)

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.



  1. I went to college in the 1960’s during the hippie era. Nothing surprises me. If a male came up to me asking for ice and was nude I would just give him some. But, maybe I would need the ice to cool off.

  2. This happened to my 75 yo in-laws a few years ago. They were traveling across country and stopped for a few days. Don’t know how they got a site, but they did. Then they found out they were close to Sturgis and it was coming up to bike week. The bikers started pouring in. The parties started. They don’t drink anymore, but they were invited to every party at the camp. They roamed from group to group, ate & drank sodas. And had a complete show. They still talk about how much fun it was. No they didn’t get much sleep at night, but then they could sleep all day. I envy them.

    • It must have been 30 years +/- ago that we camped near Sturgis not knowing anything about the festival. We had our small pop -up and our two boys 3 and 7 with us. When the bikers started rolling (roaring) in we were scared to death. Turns out we had instantly and unfairly judged these individuals. They were the most courteous group of campers we have ever met. They were wonderful with our boys, inviting them to their campfires and helping them with their s’mores. Sure they were having their fun, but they did nothing that would embarrass anyone in church. I still feel guilty at times for the way I pre-judged them. This is one of our most cherished camping memories

  3. I used to own a campground in the Black Hills and am wondering how you even got a site. Most campgrounds in the Black Hills during Rally Time are booked up 6 to 8 months or more before the Rally. Because most of the campgrounds in the Black Hills are seasonal they rely on the Rally to bring in needed income. Consider yourself lucky you were even able to get a spot.


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