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Bag Lady Tuesday at the Flying V Cambria Inn

Written by  August 31, 2004

This year was the coldest Sturgis rally I have ever experienced, so I chickened out on camping and stayed in a nice heated room in Spearfish. It was the first year I hadn’t camped, but since I’d dragged all my camera gear, laptop, and other gear with me, I was glad for the change. The weather was less than hospitable, so it worked out fine.

I have camped or stayed at the Flying V on every one of my other trips to Sturgis for the past seven years. My riding buddies from California introduced me to this place just as they had been introduced to it in previous years by our mutual friend, Hammer. From the first visit I was welcomed with open arms and have been in love with this little known secret ever since. I have been keeping it a secret; but no longer as this isn’t fair to my friends, Larry & Twylla, the owners of the Flying V.

A little Flying V history: In 1923, The Cambria Coal Co. started construction of a resort/retreat type facility for the town of Cambria and its surrounding area. With more than 40 laborers, it took five years of construction to complete the facility. Hand cut sandstone; quarried a mile away by 10 to 12 stone masons was the reason for such long construction time. When completed in 1928, the facility was first known as Cambria Casino Park. Unfortunately, that same year the mine closed because the coal had run out. The mine had numerable land holdings and leased the facility to the Flying V Ranch, which ran the operation as a cattle outfit.

Through the years the landmark operated as a bible camp, casino, dude ranch and cattle ranch. Today this historic 10 guest room facility still operates with the same intentions of its original builders, and is known as the Flying V Cambria Inn. The inn currently operates as a bed and breakfast, restaurant, and a wedding/reunion facility. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Now that you know a little of the history of the Flying V, let’s talk about Bag Lady Tuesday, in honor of Marla. Marla was a freelance writer for quite a few biker publications and traveled all over the country on her bike. She was a frequent visitor to the Flying V. Approximately tweleve years ago, Larry, the owner of the Flying V and Marla started Bag Lady Tuesday as a party during the Sturgis rally. The joke was that Marla packed everything she owned on her Harley and considered herself a 'bag lady’ on a Harley: hence the name, Bag Lady Tuesday. Unfortunately, Marla was killed in an accident about seven years ago. Her friends, Larry and Twylla thought it only fitting to honor her with this biker bash.
So every year during rally week, the Flying V has their Bag Lady Tuesday party - on Tuesday, of course. The rally features an outdoor stage and bar, four to five outstanding bands, hog and beef roasts, and a few local vendors selling their wares. There’s even a massage therapist for your road weary bones.

The food at the 'V’ is definitely the best in Wyoming and in South Dakota for that matter. Fresh beef and all the trimmings are Larry’s specialty, but they also have seafood and a lot of other great entrees. Bottom line excellent food, great atmosphere and good company – it’s more that you can ask for all in one place.

One year, having partied like a mad man on the last day of Sturgis, my riding companions and I only made it that 60 miles south to the 'V’ and I was done; I needed to recharge my liver from a week of alcohol abuse. By recharge, I mean with more hair of the dog. It was late, so Twylla put us up in rooms and left the kitchen and bar open for our personal use if we got hungry. But food was not on our menu as our consumption of alcohol was still at the top of the list. When we got up the next morning there was Twylla in the kitchen making us breakfast and Bloody Marys. Thank you, God!

During the rally, the Flying V opens daily at 6 a.m. They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, cold beer as well as all your favorite drinks 'til 2 am. Free camping and hot showers are available to those of us who still like to camp out under the stars. There’s also a nightly bonfire to warm you up while warming your innards with your favorite poison. As I previously mentioned, they also have 10 awesome rooms, but since Bag Lady Tuesday is during rally week you’d better book a room early.

So here’s to you Marla, and here’s to Larry and Twylla and the Flying V. If you don’t make it by on Bag Lady Tuesday, stop in anytime on your next trip to Sturgis or Wyoming as this place is very friendly and so cozy that I always look forward to returning to every year.

Story and photos by Wayne Thompson