View Full Version : Big Bend III

05-16-2007, 02:08 PM
Big Bend III

Big Bend III started a long time ago with a conversation between myself and a friend / business associate.

He completed some work for me on the Annie Riggs Memorial Museum (http://www.tourtexas.com/fortstockton/ftstockriggs.html) in Fort Stockton (http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/FF/hff2.html), Texas and there were punch list items remaining. This gathering had been scheduled and cancelled a number of times.

This time, it was destined to happen. Wednesday evening found Gary and I in Fort Stockton, watching the clouds and rain to our south. Wondering what the future would hold, we fell asleep to the booming sounds of thunder.

05-16-2007, 02:09 PM
Big Bend III

Thursday - May 04, 2007 - Fort Stockton and Points South

Thursday morning served up a fair meal at the Comanche Springs Truck Stop and it was off to Annie Riggs, for a quick determination as to what to do.

Gary abandoned, I headed to the City Offices for meetings and lunch.

I wrapped up the meeting and lunch and headed back to find Gary on the porch with a Coke in hand. He was done! A quick walkthru with some museum board members and we were off to Big Bend.

After a stop for supplies at Wal Mart and the liquor store ... cough cough ... for ice, beer and a bottle of booze.


The worlds problems are more easily solved when conversations are properly lubricated.

Soon we arrived at the Chisos Mining Company and found Skinny already porchside at Cabin 13. Uhhhhh ... 13 ... mmmmm ...

Oh well, dinner beckoned.

Back to Terlingua Ghost Town and the Starlight. Now, for those that have never been to Terlingua and wonder if the Starlight is the only place to eat there, it is not. That being said, the entire nightlife scene in Terlingua revolves around the porch and the Starlight is on the porch.

A localís ride ...


Inside looking out ...



The bar

Moonrise, it was almost a full moon. Off by a day, if I remember correctly.


[ ... more in a bit ... ]

05-16-2007, 05:20 PM
What a teaser.....I haven't been able to find any Basil's for almost two weeks now!!!!!


05-17-2007, 10:36 AM
Friday - May 05, 2007

Don’t you like the thought of getting a ride in on a work day? For me that is kinda like stealing back one of the days that was stolen from me when I was part of corporate America.

So, we were off ... well almost anyway.

If you have been following this thread, you have likely learned something about us ... we like our vittles.

Rolling out of the sack about 6:45 AM, we quickly dressed and headed to the Fina / Store / Restaurant for breakfast. Discussion ensued as to the goals for the day. Skinny had plotted a number of potential connector routes that hopefully would connect the dots and allow us to drop 5 miles of asphalt from the Terlingua ride this fall. I agreed that this would be the goal for the day. What about Gary? Gary kept saying that he was along for the ride and would simply follow us.

While we were partaking in breakfast a truckload of folks pulled in with DS machines tagging along behind them. We chatted briefly and they indicated that they would be headed into the National Park. An aside ... we heard the next day that they went around the barriers on Old Maverick Road and ended up getting caught and ticketed for their efforts. Way to go Park Rangers!

Back at the Chisos Mining Company Motel, we geared up and loaded up.

First up is the prerequisite photo of my bike at stage II of the transformation from mild mannered street machine to DS able to leap small ditches and fly gracefully through time.

El Petrolero ... which loosely translates as The Oil Tanker

Isn’t she pretty? I think so, but like most proud parents, I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

We quickly formed up the squadron and slid northward on South County Road. The first 15 miles were over well understood and often traveled roads. Kind of like Zork. Remember Zork? You typed in a series of commands ... FFLFRUFFRFL ... as you moved through the maze. We had ridden this section of the road so many times that blind corners and hills, were not blind. In a way, it was like a 15 mile long motocross course. Of course, there was that pesky thing called ONCOMING TRAFFIC to keep you alert, but it was still fun.

Hitting the intersection of Hen Egg Road, we headed west towards the start of the route charted on our GPS units.

Speaking of GPS units, Skinny was using his Street Pilot for one last ride and had forgotten to load the maps. He had brought a new 276 to play with, but opted for the SP as it was more familiar. He also did not have a mount for the 276. I had my trusty GPSmap 76CS that has been my constant companion for almost 3 years now. I did have the maps in my unit, so we were not flying completely blind.

Well, we continued westward with me in the lead. There were stops and consultations at many forks in the road, while trying to ascertain which fork would lead to the start of the route.

Left to Right: Me, Gary, Skinny

The rides and the roads

Digressing for a moment ... the rides.

I have already introduced you to El Petrolero, my ‘06 DS650. Gary was astride a ‘06 XR650L that was stock down to the tires, while Skinny had his trusted TE610 that had left him stranded in Mexico with a dead ignition module. Yes, he did have a spare on board. Skinny was also sporting the new IMS wondertank that had taken so long to get to production. Thank you Mark aka bigdogadventures.com for pushing that rock over the finish line. Skinny appears quite happy with the tank. It make the TE as hippy as my DR, which my DR appreciates ... You know how women are about their hips.

In any case ... here are a few shots of the canyon we stopped in for a pee break.



As I said, instinct became the byword, as we passed through the forks of the road ... until finally it happened.

A dead end!

Now, I long ago learned that backing up is bad karma and turning around equals backing up in my book, so off I went into the sands of time ... OK, a bit dramatic perhaps, but I did strike off among the pucker bushes looking for a way to connect to the road at the bottom of the hill.

Only one more drop off and an easy downhill remained between us and our goal, and then it happened ... El Petrolero decided to take a NAP! Dang it, not now! Oh well, soon she was back on her feet and we completed the assault in short order. Sorry, but no photos were taken of the nap.

I did get photos of Gary and Skinny on the lower portion of the hill. I said it was easy and they make it look that way.

Gary on El Rojo

Skinny ... can you spot the new tank?

Another of Skinny ... can you see the tank now?

Mmmmmm ... I wonder where that goes?

But first a stop at La Casita

It never ceases to amaze me as to what I will find in the hinterlands of the desert. Generally the purvey of people filled with echos, the desert seems to offer respite to those that struggle with authority and/or voices.

Someone had chosen to bring a trailer a very long way, only to abandon it to the elements. I would be interested to learn the story behind the trailer. Perhaps a discussion with Aleda is in order.

As harsh as the desert environment can be, this trailer will be here a long time as metal tends to be the crucible of history. Anthropologists have spent centuries trying to understand the metal fragments of the Bronze and Iron Ages. What will those that follow learn from the study of this relic from the Aluminum Age?

Speaking of odd ball structures ... this looks more like a relic of the Knights of the Realm than something in The Solitario.



With no one home, we borrowed some shade ...


The view from the BBQ table ... no wonder they like it here ...


Then we were off ...

Top of the World is next.

[ ... more in a bit, I really should be working on some stuff ... ]

05-17-2007, 12:06 PM
... did you connect? huh huh huh :zen:

05-17-2007, 01:27 PM
... did you connect? huh huh huh :zen:

Nope, no luck. I sent you an email.

05-17-2007, 01:27 PM
But first up ... another Introduction

Gary aka Gary

OK, Gary admits to be computer challenged. Some of you folks know and recognize him, but you will likely never find him on the forums.

Gary and I go back many years now to a almost forgotten job in Beaumont, Texas. Gary removed the hazardous materials from a very complex project there for me. Bikes became the bridge that kept us talking long after the work was complete. Bikes continue to be that bridge. Gary purchased an XR-R after riding mine and recently got an XR-L after realizing that life was passing too quickly on the XR-R.

I designed the house that they live in and my grandson is the same age as his son. Ok, you get the picture.


Gary has been riding almost forever and considering his age, that is almost forever ... OK, maybe not that long, but for sure since he was a rug rat. Motocross is still a passion, so he likes predictability. In that almost nothing is predictable about DS riding, he keeps telling me that he is slow. Donít believe him for a minute.

[ ... back to the ride report ... ]

05-17-2007, 02:55 PM
These reports really are a bad influence... I can't work... I can't sleep... All I can think about is how to rearrange my life so I can ride more... They say that when your habits start to interfere with your regular life you might have a problem... :ponder: ... BAH!! What do "they" know"!? :flip:

Carry on!! :rider:

05-17-2007, 03:21 PM
Tony, you are really making me homesick! Oh well, I'll cure that in a coupla weeks.

Great pics. Thanks.


05-18-2007, 05:36 AM

We are going to have to all plan to be there at the same time with our bikes and go do some exploring.

It is always great to see you. How is Rod's move going?

05-18-2007, 08:42 AM

Rod's move is a done deal. He's been up there about 4 weeks now. He emailed me this a.m. He has the day off so he is taking his Strom for a romp through the mountains today!

I would love to do some exploring w/ you guys. I'm afraid I would need a helicopter to keep up with you Lost Trail boys though!


05-18-2007, 06:10 PM

I would love to do some exploring w/ you guys. I'm afraid I would need a helicopter to keep up with you Lost Trail boys though!


I think that should be Lost Trail "old guys" Randy....You kids just keep us humble....


05-19-2007, 08:21 AM
I just want to know what you think of the bike? The other stuff is Classic Teeds story telling and that is always good:clap:

05-20-2007, 12:23 PM
**** Tony, Now you've get me itchin to ride Terlinguia again. Can't wait till November for another "beginners" ride!

05-20-2007, 05:17 PM
**** Tony, Now you've get me itchin to ride Terlinguia again. Can't wait till November for another "beginners" ride!

That'll be in October this year....Check the post in "upcoming rides"


05-20-2007, 08:29 PM
October 20 - 21 it is. My wife is ready for the resort at Lajitas again. I guess I'll ride the MS150 Bike to the Beach another year.

05-27-2007, 08:37 AM
Now where was I?

Oh yea ... Top of the World

We had heard a great deal about a spot rumored to look down into the Solitario within Big Bend Ranch State Park. The State Park is a huge ranch that was donated to the state back in the 1980's and it was and still is locking in the past and there is little access into the back country. The access that does exist is on horseback and we are not talking modern here, like the steeds that we ride.

So, Top of the World promised to open up an area of Big Bend not often appreciated by man. Animals ruled this turf.

The trip to the top was an exercise in figuring out which one of the roads in the area connected the dots and got us there. The GPS, as good as it is, loses it’s background data when you zoom out too far, so we were slightly blind. Thinking like explorers of old, we looked for the obvious past of least resistance and we soon discovered that we were on the right track.

Top of the World is on a ridge that is approached from the east, so the view would not reveal itself to us until we achieved the top of the ridge. The squiggle in the GPS promised a ride along the ridge that should prove rewarding.

Cresting the ridge, I spooked four Bighorn Mountain Sheep barely 20 feet in front of me. They scooted off the to the West into the Solitario as I grabbed my brakes and tried to quickly get my hands on my camera. As I struggled, I watched in amazement as they scurried across surfaces that I could not have stood up on without being roped off on from above. It quickly became apparent that any photo of the sheep would be difficult at best.

I did try though ...

I know they are difficult to see, but they are on the rocks in the bottom righthand corner of the photos, heading to the cover in the bottom middle. From the time I saw the to getting this photo was less than a minute. I used my short zoom at max length and cropped the photo to boot. They are at least a quarter of a mile away and 300~400 feet lower. They kept going and ended up going over the saddle in the middle of the shot.

Top of the World generally lived up to it’s name, but we had chosen the wrong time to enjoy the views to the max. The sun was almost directly above us and therefore the shadows were generally quite flat. Dawn at Top of the World with a steaming cup of coffee comes to mind.

Stitch the following photos together in your mind and you will get an idea of the view. I apologize for the dust on my sensor of my DSLR. I really need to clean it, I guess.










Before heading out, I took a few artsy fartsy fotos as well ...




Then it was off to ...


Want to guess where?

[ ... more in a bit ... ]

05-27-2007, 09:11 AM
Did anyone else see the UFO?

05-27-2007, 11:30 AM
I barely saw the sheep, talk about camouflage! Did see some solar flares and what appeared to be dust on the lense, but nothing I could ID as a(n) UFO.

05-28-2007, 08:51 AM
Back at the Starlight

OK, so the Starlight is good, what can I say ...

Want a T Shirt?


Fellow patron silhouetted in the doorway.


Top of the Bar Back


Discussing the affairs of the day? Actually, it was kinda slow and there were only a few folks there.


We proceeded to






Can you tell I didnít like it?

Gary admiring the view from the porch.


Mule Ears on the horizon. You can barely see them. I should have hung around a bit longer but I could hear the bourbon at the room calling my name and we had affairs of the world to discuss.


One more photo ...


[ ... Saturday in a bit ... need coffee ... ]

05-28-2007, 11:11 AM
Wow Tony, the views from up on Solitario look awsome. Thanks again for sharing. Your bike looks pretty good too.


05-28-2007, 01:40 PM
Wow Tony, the views from up on Solitario look awsome. Thanks again for sharing. Your bike looks pretty good too.


We are going to have to plann to be there at the same time. We really need to share some road time.

05-28-2007, 01:44 PM
Saturday, May 5, 2007

Terlingua Ranch and Big Bend National Park

The day started with breakfast at the Fina Station and then we fueled up and headed north on 118. In the interest of time, we skipped North and South County Roads, on our way to Terlingua Ranch.

Terlingua Ranch Road served up some good scenery and we passed a number of sport bikes along the way. I can only assume that they had something going on at the lodge, as we split off the pavement on Cedar Springs Road and slid northward to make a connection with the back road across the park to Marathon.

The boundary of the park passed, and we made dusty and fast trails to US385 just south of Persimmon Gap. At the asphalt, we headed north only to discover that the entrance station was closed for the season and that we would have to stop at Panther Junction. This knowledge would ultimately alter our zig zag path through the park.

Dagger Flats and Old Ore Roads dumped us out at the bottom of the park near Rio Grande Village. Along the way, we stopped for a moment at the spot where MiniRocketman was injured. As many of you know, losing a child is the biggest fear a parent faces. Never far from my mind is the struggle that Steve and Linda face, in coming to peace with the accident.

Rest In Peace, Stevie. We will ride together again.

Along the road, we did take time for a group shot.


For some reason, the camera only left the backpack that once.

Then it was off to Rio Grande Village and a bit of shade.

The fellow behind the counter indicated that it had hit 107 there the day before, so we thought it would be prudent to move out fairly quickly.

The route was discussed and hashed out.

We planned to take the River Road west to the southern terminus of Black Gap Road, and run it in reverse to our normal route and up Glenn Springs Road to the asphalt just east of Panther Junction.

That would put us in the right place to get our permits and gas, before the next leg of the adventure.

A group shot at Marascal Mine ... from the left ... me, Skinny, Gary


This Chevy had seen better days ... although you can still see the bowtie on the block.


Gary and Skinny ...


Marascal Mine, from where we turned back.


Our steeds await


The valley looking back east


No photos along Black Gap and Glenn Springs as we were racing the heat.

Panther Junction served up permits and fuel and we headed westward on the asphalt towards ...

[ ... more in a bit ... ]

05-28-2007, 04:00 PM
Are you sure you guys snapped these pics? They are so beautiful they look like post cards to me. Wow!


05-28-2007, 04:11 PM
Are you sure you guys snapped these pics? They are so beautiful they look like post cards to me. Wow!


Thank you very much for the complement. Every one of them has been taken by me. Most of them are not even retouched in Photoshop.

The majority have been taken with a Canon D20 digital SLR and a 17mm~85mm IS Zoom Lens.

05-28-2007, 06:50 PM
Tony, Gary and Skinny....I figured you guys would make that stop on Old Ore Road....Thanks

I need to get back there soon myself.

Steve and Linda

05-28-2007, 06:54 PM
Hugs and love to you both!

05-28-2007, 07:46 PM
Ross Maxwell Drive

Yea baby, we were going to burn up the sides of the knobbies on some asphalt.

Gotta work on those chicken strips, donít ya know!

Iím sure many of you have traveled the route, but for those that have not, we swept southward like a formation of jets, rising and falling and twisting with the change in the landscape as we plunged deeper into the park.

Looking east down the giant S curve that drops you off the upper plateau into the river basin.


I stopped and Skinny didnít, so it wasnít long before he returned.


I asked him to head to the bottom to give some scale to the photos, so off he went. I think I said in his introduction that he admits to being a frustrated road racer and this road was made for racing, assuming one did not run across any constabulary.


Who could ask for more beautiful weather?


We grabbed a quick Coke (Dr Pepper for me, thank you) at the Castolon Store and headed out for Santa Elena Canyon.

Let me backtrack for a moment ...

Remember the group from yesterday morning ... they had received tickets for going around a closed gate on Old Maverick Road, so we had asked and been assured that we could use the road, but ... the road between Castolon and Santa Elena would likely be flooded.

Now, flooded roads should not be a problem for a dual sport, but there is a problem when Terlingua Creek floods ... septic systems overflow. Yep, you read that right ... sewage ... yum, so ... donít hurry and dang sure donít fall down was the word for the moment as we crossed the low spots. It did force the Harleys to turn about, which was a good thing and they were wobbling down the road like a bunch of Weebles. Well, maybe not, because I believe many of them would have fallen over from the weight of the leather, if forward motion got too low.

In any case, we got to the parking lot to find a few rentals ... that fits ... and a few camper/pick ups.

A quick look see to confirm that the creek was too soggy of a mess to attempt in full gear and we were soon on Old Maverick Road heading north to the west entrance to the park. Skinny pulled up on my left and we set sail. The DR made me proud. Skinny clearly had more horses under the hood, but I made up for my weaknesses with my general diregard for potential punishment that I might have to absorb, should I use the ground for a body stoppie.

It wasnít long before we gobbled up the 15 miles between us and the West Entrance and we cooled our jets awaiting Garyís arrival.

Regrouped, we headed to Study Butte and the Motel.

Gary had not seen much of the area as this was only his second trip to Big Bend, so after a shower, we headed out and traveled the best part of SH 170 ... to the big hill and back.

Looking up at the big hill from the up river side.


Group shot ... my bad, I should have stood beside Gary.


The camera does not do the slope justice.


Looking northward towards Lajitas


Remember DOM from the Kevin Costner movie?


Dinner that night was NOT at the Starlight as they were hosting a private wedding party. We grabbed Mexican at a forgettable little place that shall remain unnamed.

Well, like Roy Rogers said, we have come to the end of the trail for Big Bend III.

Big Bend IV cannot be far around the corner and I have received a couple of complaints that I have not properly introduced myself, so I will do so, as soon as I can get a head shot ďon locationĒ, which will be the Queen to Cloudcroft Ride.

Go in peace, but wear body armor.

Iceman Jack
05-28-2007, 08:24 PM
Did someones say Cloudcroft?

05-28-2007, 08:28 PM
Yep, going there in a few weeks with a group of friends. I have never been there with a bike. It looks like a fun place to ride.

05-29-2007, 10:37 AM
Remember DOM from the Kevin Costner movie?

Am I the only one that does not know what DOM is? :doh:

Looks like y'all had a good time, as usual.

05-29-2007, 10:41 AM
Am I the only one that does not know what DOM is? :doh:

Looks like y'all had a good time, as usual.

Chris: I don't either, but that is nothing new ... no TV and I don't go to movies.

05-29-2007, 10:58 AM
Am I the only one that does not know what DOM is? :doh:

Looks like y'all had a good time, as usual.

Here is a link to everything you ever wanted to know about DOM and Fandango...



05-29-2007, 11:09 AM
Yep, going there in a few weeks with a group of friends. I have never been there with a bike. It looks like a fun place to ride.

One of the few advantages of living in "God Forsaken" West Texas is that it's less than 4 hrs to the Sacramento Mountains...about mid-July when you're near heat stroke from the constant 100 deg. weather, a few days up there at 8000 ft. is hard to beat...it used to be a local secret, but word got out years ago and now it gets objectionably crowded on any holiday...

05-29-2007, 11:17 AM
Thanks skinny, I had no idea I'd ridden by a famous rock so often.

Iceman Jack
05-29-2007, 12:45 PM
Yep, going there in a few weeks with a group of friends. I have never been there with a bike. It looks like a fun place to ride.

I was planning on going to Cloudcroft in July.It will be my first time there, if we make it. My group will be motor homing it up there, and not sure what kind of M/H spaces they have. Would you mind being my point man,and take notes about when and where, and all that stuff? If you'll do that, I'll dance at your next wedding.

05-29-2007, 12:57 PM
I was planning on going to Cloudcroft in July.It will be my first time there, if we make it. My group will be motor homing it up there, and not sure what kind of M/H spaces they have. Would you mind being my point man,and take notes about when and where, and all that stuff? If you'll do that, I'll dance at your next wedding.

Depending on the weekend, can I come too? It is 355 miles for me.

Iceman Jack
05-29-2007, 01:08 PM
Depending on the weekend, can I come too? It is 355 miles for me.

Most definitely Adam. We were talking about maybe sometime between 4th and 8th of July. Have you been there before, and will those dates work for you?

05-29-2007, 03:55 PM
Most definitely Adam. We were talking about maybe sometime between 4th and 8th of July. Have you been there before, and will those dates work for you?

I shall PM you to help keep this on topic.