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Greetings!! Or as we say here in Texas, "Howdy". Let me introduce myself, my name is Socko The Monkey, I am a full-blooded red-heel sock monkey, born right here in the USA. My story though, has humble beginnings. For years I sat on the shelf of a dreary old bedroom gathering dust, not so much because I wanted to, but because that’s what I thought all good sock monkeys did. We just…well, hang out. Then one starry night I was talking with my girlfriend Jessica (Jess) and good buddy Tim Jr. (TJ) and the topic of "what we wanted to do with our lives" came up. Jokingly, I said I wanted to buy a Harley and ride it to Sturgis (I had seen a TV special that morning on that very subject). Well, TJ had no idea I was kidding and he said he had always wanted to do the same thing. I was about to tell him I had been joking, when I had one of those life-changing, shake-you-to-the-core-of-your-being epiphanies.  I thought to myself and almost said out loud, why the heck not?
 
In the past I would have given dozens of reasons on “why not”, including the fact that I had been outdoors only twice in my life (a dog mistook me for his squeak toy during the first time), I didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle, people in Sturgis might not accept a sock monkey, and so on and so forth. But at that moment, I couldn't think of one legitimate reason not to do it and I have to tell you, I felt as weightless as a string attached to an over-sized helium balloon headed straight up into the clouds. It was exhilarating.
 
That exhilaration carried over to the next day, and so I made a call and signed up for motorcycle lessons. However, when the day arrived to take the lessons I almost chickened out because I kind of knew I’d be the only sock monkey in class. Jess was as usual very supportive and said, “I will love you either way, but I do know you will be happier if you do it”. That was exactly the kind of motivation that I needed to drag my butt out the door. As it turned out, not only was I the lone sock monkey in the class, but I was the only stuffed animal. But you know what? In the end it didn’t matter because I aced the class and waltzed out with my motorcycle license.
 
From then on I was a monkey on a mission. I went to the Harley Davidson dealer and plunked down a king’s ransom on the counter and yelled, “show me what you got”. That day I rode home on a brand new Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe. Why that model you ask? It was the lowest riding Harley on the market and with my stubby legs I needed exactly that. Plus I like the white-walls.
 
One thing I failed to mention until this point is that I live in Dallas, Texas and Sturgis is in South Dakota, which is about 1,100 miles away. So before TJ and I hit the open road, Jess and I took a practice ride to the one place every American should visit at some time during their life, Graceland - the home of the king himself - Elvis Presley. Imagine if you will, two sock monkeys headed for Graceland, strapped to a hog and screaming down the highway at 80 mph. I don’t know if the people were staring at us because they had never seen such a sight, or because Jess is such a looker. But I tell you what; that was the first day we felt we earned those big sock monkey grins on our faces. We were free at last!!!
 Resting at Sturgis
The day finally came for TJ and me to head north to Sturgis (oh, Sturgis is the site of one the world’s largest motorcycle rallies, attracting nearly a half million visitors a year). Within 30 miles of home it began to sprinkle, which turned into a steady drizzle, and then the heavens opened up on us and we felt we were riding through a never-ending cascade of Niagara Falls. Completely soaked, but undeterred we pressed forward and made it to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. From that point on it was sunny skies all the way to the motorcycle mecca.
 
 We spent the entire week taking day trips to the Badlands, the Black Hills, Devil’s Tower and Mount Rushmore among others. It is beautiful country up there. We camped out at the Glencoe Campground, saw several concerts there and at the Buffalo Chip Campground – and I’ll admit, had a few drinks at the Full Throttle Saloon as well. It was a week of too little sleep and too much partying, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I also recognized that my fear of the Sturgis people not accepting me was quite unfounded. They are actually great people. The week flew by and so did the miles while coming home. Back home it was fantastic to see Jess again and it was then that I realized I loved coming home as much as I loved leaving on a trip.
 
After being home for a few days I wanted to write about my experience and inspire other sock monkeys to follow their dreams. What originally seemed so monumental now seemed strangely small now that I attained it. I'm not taking anything away from the experience; I just woke up one day and realized I wanted to achieve even bigger goals, something more substantial and significant. The shackles that I myself had put around my mind had been broken and I was finally free to dream big. That very day I made a vow, to visit all of the great tourist attractions in the USA and write about them.
 Sturgis Sign
So…, here we are 50 states and the District of Columbia, 2 foreign countries (Canada and Mexico), 2,000 locations (1,200 documented) a quarter of a million miles, 30,000 photos (4,000 with me in them) and three years later – I’m still alive to talk about it. Let’s see, I rode airplanes, cars, motorcycles, jet skis, downhill skis, motor boats, mopeds, bicycles, ferries, trains, trams, carts, elevators, escalators, a stock car, canoes, parasails, parachutes, a horse, a cow and a crazy ostrich. I also swam, hiked, and ran several miles to some destinations. And through it all I’ve learned so much and appreciate life even more. My hope for you is that this Socko Was Here website inspires you to see something you’ve never seen before and do something you’ve never done – all with that big sock monkey grin on your face.
 
Socko