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TexasShadow
01-01-2008, 11:07 PM
I can still hear the coyotes yipping, feel the cold wind and dust on my face and hands, pick the sand out of my nose, eyes and swipe it off my goggles, see the glittering stars overhead, and feel the growl and clicking of two wheels on the sand, rocks and dirt.

I knew this would happen: sitting here back in 'this place' wishing I was 'back there'. Wanting to bear the harshness, timelessness, freedom, sun, sand, dust, dryness, dirtiness, coldness, nothingness. Willing to walk away from, give up, hand it all over, chuck it all here, to go back to riding on those sandy rocky trails, crashing on the way up the rocky inclines, standing on the pegs riding the crest of the hill when you are suddenly engulfed by everything that lays out before you, swallowed by the desert whale; where you feel so minuscule that you find your heart beating in your ears with maniacal laughter echoing because you realize you are so stinking small and don't mean a thing to anything else out there.... and don't care because you are there. Being it. A part of it. It..... you feel alive.

And that's all that matters.

I had the best time of decades out there in the Big Bend Desert. With roads, trails, riding buddies, food, sun, wheels, mountains, cactus, everything. I can't thank enough of all of you that were there with me, that made this possible. And I hope we all do it again.

But............
.... the double secret trails.
Are OURS!!!!

It began with a full moon, Odie and us howling at the moon. He's a very good guard coyote.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6594.jpg

There's a place, a secret place, we call.....Moon Valley.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6823.jpg

The not so secret Lodge at the Basin with rewarding delicious cobbler and ice cream. Necessary fodder for hungry dust riders that walk in amidst Clint Eastwood harmonica and a lone guitar, our boot cleats clicking on the flagstone.... Beware and hold your children close.......

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6832.jpg

Base camp was a mixture or trailers, trucks, tents, bikes, chairs, logs, bikes, rocks, and hammocks. We Desert Rats live where ever we find a way to plop or hunker down. And we tend to gnaw a lot on various food stuffs.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6874.jpg

And when night falls over the desert the light of the campfire makes our beady little faces glow while we titter and giggle, sharing stories and tales, legends of our own making, or others, memories to share, some growing in size fed by desert antifreeze.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6896.jpg

The white globe that makes our blood run, we find ourselves sometimes crawling on all fours, whiskers swishing, tales wagging, howling with the coyotes at night, fattening the quail by day with chicken scratch, just like Hansel and Gretel.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6878.jpg

We, the Desert Rats, led by our fearless leader Roger Rat (he ate Roger Rabbit), explored many secret, some double secret trails: the DSDST. (aka Double Secret Dual Sport Trails). Our tires ate dirt, sand, dust, rock, water, more than asphalt. We would return covered in gray, blowing gray sand from our noses, wiping gray sand and dust from our eyes and faces. Gray to the bone, we were.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7051.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7058.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7166.jpg

We rode flat trails, creeks, rocks, hillsides, down banks....

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7185.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7195.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7724.jpg

We dared ride where no rat has gone before......

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7216.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7757.jpg

over and over.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7785.jpg

We had fine, fine food...

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7955.jpg

sometimes sat and contemplated in Posthenge or other places....

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7957.jpg

and saw what others never see.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8101.jpg

Sometimes we gave ourselves to the asphalt and ran where the wild things run.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8109.jpg

To be continued....

jbh
01-01-2008, 11:18 PM
Looks great
I think I need to go in February!

Tourmeister
01-02-2008, 12:27 AM
I love the Moon Valley shot... just enough gray to make you stop and wonder... :ponder:

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 08:24 AM
There
I am.
Here
I'm not.

I have to clear space on my mac's hard drive before I can even download the rest of my photos. So it will be a day or so before Part Two.

Meanwhile, this Desert Rat wants to follow the crumbs back 'there'.
After I stop blowing my nose........

busarider1
01-02-2008, 09:15 AM
Looks like you had a heck of a time, Elzi. Can't wait to be able to see the pics!:mrgreen:

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 09:21 AM
Looks like you had a heck of a time, Elzi. Can't wait to be able to see the pics!:mrgreen: I'll remedy that problem for you soon. :trust:

thumper
01-02-2008, 09:26 AM
Fantastic Pics!!! Someday I'll get to ride there, but then I'll hafta deal with not wanting to leave:trust:

Looking forward to the rest:clap:

The Bruce
01-02-2008, 12:17 PM
:coffee:

KenH
01-02-2008, 12:44 PM
:popcorn:

bigdon55
01-02-2008, 01:07 PM
Elsi. Great pictures.
It was nice meeting you and all the guys. The Desert is a great place!
I plan to attend more TWT functions in 08 . I may start with Uncles ride in Feb.

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 01:12 PM
Why do we do it?

The only way to experience anything is to become immersed in it. You can't do that in a vehicle with four sides; it is a cage. Nor on a bike screaming on the asphalt whizzing by. You can glance at it, maybe smell it, but not experience it.

On the roads less traveled, the trails covered with leaves, dirt, sand and rock, your speed is limited by your degree of death wish. A dirt bike, a dual sport bike, tires that bite and grab, kick up stones, splatter water, push or hover over sand, you are out there. Dust and sand covers your gear, helmet, goggles or shield; it crusts inside your nose and the outside of your lips. Odors, sun, water, sand and dust entomb you and your machine; rocks, boulders, sand and creek water chain you and your machine to the back of the terrain and take you for a ride as if you were tethered to Moby Dick. You can go down and under, the elements are unforgiving.

You rely on your nerves, judgment and skill. Adrenaline feeds your brain and steadies your hands while you snort and grin inside crusted sweaty gear. Pure determination keeps your legs from buckling under you after hours on the pegs. You fall, you get up, pick it up and try it again.

It's not a sport. It's not touring. It's real riding and being immersed in the terrain. A compromise between the engine and wheels under you and your perseverance on how far you want to, how far you can, push it. It's being there. It's being alive.

You stop at the top or bottom, turn off the engine and look around; and breathe deeply. Grinning. Knowing you're alive.

This is why we ride dirt.

Quick-Silver
01-02-2008, 01:20 PM
Glad y'all made it back. I worried that it might be too cold there to have fun, but I see from your pictures it wasn't.:popcorn:

How did the DS tires fair? Were you comfortable with them?

ed29
01-02-2008, 01:34 PM
Jerry, my Kenda 761s fared alright. I would call them a true 50/50 tire as the street performance is outstanding, yet they bite the dirt better than they look like they would. They were half worn out having racked up around 4,000 miles on the XR before this trip. There was only one stretch where I would have really liked having a toothier[sic] rear tire, and will have one on before the February return trip. When I get my film back along with the digital disks I will write a detailed report with pics.

Kidder
01-02-2008, 06:25 PM
I have never been to that part of Texas. I am apparently missing a LOT. Any chance of sharing the double secret trails? Also, I saw there was a KTM 950. I wonder if I could've done that on my DL650?

Trail Boss
01-02-2008, 06:36 PM
But............
.... the double secret trails.
Are OURS!!!!

Elsi,

The double secret trail is, by far, the best dual sport road in Texas but you really shouldn't be teasing the audience about it. After all, you did swear an oath of secrecy as a member of the DSTRC (double secret trail riders club) not to reveal the location of the double secret trail.

Simmons1
01-02-2008, 08:33 PM
:popcorn:

thumper
01-02-2008, 08:40 PM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7757.jpg
[/I]

Where is this road and what is it's name:trust:

Kidder
01-02-2008, 08:44 PM
Elsi,

The double secret trail is, by far, the best dual sport road in Texas but you really shouldn't be teasing the audience about it. After all, you did swear an oath of secrecy as a member of the DSTRC (double secret trail riders club) not to reveal the location of the double secret trail.

I'll bribe her with ice cream. :)

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 09:02 PM
Where is this road and what is it's name:trust:I. Must. Not. Reveal........... :trust:

The double secret trail is, by far, the best dual sport road in Texas but you really shouldn't be teasing the audience about it. After all, you did swear an oath of secrecy as a member of the DSTRC (double secret trail riders club) not to reveal the location of the double secret trail. Ah, but they don't know which one(s) of the 1140 miles of dusty roads and trails it is, or the others. It once was lost but now its found. Amazing how that happens......... and how sweet the ride*.

*Uh oh, I foresee a song in the making..... Amazing Roads to the tune of Amazing Grace. Our DSTRC song. ;)

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 09:08 PM
Elsi. Great pictures.
It was nice meeting you and all the guys. The Desert is a great place!
I plan to attend more TWT functions in 08 . I may start with Uncles ride in Feb.Yes, please do!
Don, it was great meeting you, Tom, David, Hardy, Steve, Joel, Richard, Aaron, and all the others, and best of all: riding, eating, sharing stories, all of it with y'all. Kudos and a big bow to Roger, our fearless desert rat leader.:clap:

Although, I could easily pass up the stereo snoring between four of ya....

(thank you, David, for the ear plugs!)

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 09:16 PM
I have never been to that part of Texas. I am apparently missing a LOT. Any chance of sharing the double secret trails? Also, I saw there was a KTM 950. I wonder if I could've done that on my DL650?Maybe, but sections may be more than challenging for a Wee-strom.

David rode his KTM 950 most of the rides, but he also had a KTM 450. Hardy rode that a few times and David rode it once or twice out on the desert trails. I'll let him chime in about that, but I can vouch that David rides that 950 amazingly and deftly on those trails. I was always impressed how he maneuvered many tricky spots (by that I mean, rocky, uphill, loose, downhill, sandy, etc). Where sometimes I was holding my breath and counting how many lives I had left.

thumper
01-02-2008, 09:28 PM
I. Must. Not. Reveal........... :trust:


That would be "dirty pool":brainsnap I have certainly "never" posted a pic w/o willing to give up it's location [not that I've ever had that fine of a pic].:giveup:

So in all fairness, I'll ask again....Where is this road and what's it's name?:trust:

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 09:57 PM
So in all fairness, I'll ask again....Where is this road and what's it's name?:trust:Dude, I'm just teasing.

In all honesty, I haven't a clue what it is called or which road it is. Truly. We rode so many trails and roads out there, and there are hundreds of miles of trails/roads. The maps show some of them, but not all. I've been trying to locate a piece of that desert on the maps and I'm still scratching my head on where it is (I only know the general area based on a few landmarks).

I'm not sure it has a name, and if it does, it probably has several names. Like most other roads out there.

thumper
01-02-2008, 10:06 PM
Dude, I'm just teasing.

In all honesty, I haven't a clue what it is called or which road it is.

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: Yeah Right!!! I ain't buying it!:lol2:

So one more time.....Where is this road and what is it's name?:hack:

Desert Skies
01-02-2008, 10:14 PM
I have never been to that part of Texas. I am apparently missing a LOT. Any chance of sharing the double secret trails? Also, I saw there was a KTM 950. I wonder if I could've done that on my DL650?

Your Wee should do fine, I didn't have much trouble with my GS and yes, you are missing a great part of Texas.

David and Uncle chillin' at the Hilton.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v249/DesertSkies/Big%20Bend%2012-07/IMG_6438_800.jpg

Hi Elsi, :wave:see you decided to come back after all. Although My trip was short, twas an epic ride from the Gulf coast out to Big Bend and back.

Squeaky
01-02-2008, 10:21 PM
As long as the DSDST is revealed on the Ride the Rio, I'm fine not knowing where it is just yet. :rider:

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 10:22 PM
Hi Elsi, :wave:see you decided to come back after all. Although My trip was short, twas an epic ride from the Gulf coast out to Big Bend and back. Hi, Tom! Thanks again for the decongestants. I had to sign my life away tonight to get more. :roll:

I hope to see you again out there. If not in February, then next Xmas, right? :trust: 'Tis a tradition now.

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 10:24 PM
So one more time.....Where is this road and what is it's name?:hack: Mwahahahaahaaa......:trust:

:roll:

thumper
01-02-2008, 10:29 PM
Mwahahahaahaaa......:trust:

:roll:

Hmmm...Ve have vays of finding out these things. I vill speak to zee others!:trust:

:lol2: :lol2: :lol2:

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 10:36 PM
Hmmm...Ve have vays of finding out these things.Ah, und ve haf vays off beink secret because no one knows anytink. Yavol.

TexasShadow
01-02-2008, 10:52 PM
I woke at 2:50 am after packing and loading the night before.
I couldn't sleep. I wanted to go, but I knew sleep would be a precious commodity for the next 24 hours.
So we were on the road at 3:30 am.

Arriving at Roger's in plenty time to unload the bikes and set up camp, visiting and sharing viddles, I was already waiting. Watching.

I knew the preamble would begin when the sun started its slow descent and below the ridge on the western horizon. And on the eastern horizon the nearly full moon would chase the sun down, eager to show its gleaming face and lick the shadows of the sun with its own light, bathing the landscape with a soft white glow. Full moon light.

Sunlight recedes and shadows ooze across the desert.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6581.jpg

The white globe that stirs strange things in the blood.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6579.jpg

How much better can it be; a full moon in the desert, a seat on the balcony of a mesa?

The changing of the guard: sun kisses the Chisos and relents to the blackness, just before being bathed and embraced by the soft moon light.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6599.jpg

Let the show begin, chorused by coyotes on three sides of us. Only the road to the north prevented them from surrounding us. My brothers of the night; let us sing.

Awooooooooooooo..........................

Cagiva 549
01-03-2008, 08:24 AM
After reading Elsi's storys I think I should stay in the background , My story telling amounts to " We went for a ride and it was great " . As for where that picture is there are so many vista's like that they all look alike , A few of the landmarks stand out enough to remember the rest all runs together its so good . The boundrys of the area we were riding in are probly 30 miles squared but easyly contain 200+ miles of roads . A lot of deadends , some connections but no maps or street signs or names . All of the roads are two track easyly accessable by bike when dry , impossible when wet . The back area probly takes three to four hours to reach by four wheels but an hour or less by bike if you get in a hurry, but you miss all the great views if you do that .

I rode the 950 anyplace I wanted out there with street tires , I had my knobbys for it but it's much easyer to just ride the little bike . The only pucker moment wasn't really a pucker moment just a little moment of concern , I was riding down a creek bed near Rogers haceinda when I noticed a lot of plowing and sinking feeling in the loose gravel . I had ridden this creek before without this much trouble then I realized I rode the 450 thru it last time . All went well , we got the pictures I wanted .

I had a great time camping with everybody and a big thanks to Roger for letting us disturb his world for a while and a bigger thanks for leading us to the DSDS trails . I wanna go back . SEYA

Cagiva 549
01-03-2008, 08:31 AM
After studying a while I thing the picture is somewhere in town , I see power poles and there are none of those in the DSDST area . SEYA

TexasShadow
01-03-2008, 08:36 AM
After studying a while I thing the picture is somewhere in town , I see power poles and there are none of those in the DSDST area . SEYAI 'think' it is N of Terlingua Ghost Town. Echoing what you posted, except for obvious landmarks (Sawmill Mnt, some of the interesting structures out in the middle of nowhere, etc), much of it blends together and looks similar. Moon Valley was an exception :)

dfwscotty
01-03-2008, 08:42 AM
Very good report and eagerly waiting for more.

Did you all ever notice that Elzi could take a pic of a dog turd and put a great narrative with it making you want more?

:clap:

TexasShadow
01-03-2008, 08:42 AM
I broke down and picked up a big external HD (on sale!!! :clap: ) for the mac to part out photos clustering the onboard drive. So I'll be able to actually continue this with some awesome shots after tonight.
In between blowing my nose....... (brought home a nasty head cold)

thumper
01-03-2008, 09:30 AM
After studying a while I thing the picture is somewhere in town , I see power poles and there are none of those in the DSDST area . SEYA

So then spill it!:lol2:

Cagiva 549
01-03-2008, 12:21 PM
I did , some where near the Gost Town , thats the best I can do . SEYA

chopperbob
01-03-2008, 01:09 PM
Without giving away anything, is it the road with all the little red wood arrows on the spinoff roads showing the correct way? If that was it, it was the road I rode during Thanksgiving and not to be missed on a DS or dirt bike anytime you are in the area.
Bob

Ixta
01-03-2008, 02:55 PM
Good to meet you guys.

I had been merely riding through Terlingua when a big red F350 stopped me on the road and this guy poked his head out the window and said "Hey, what's your name?". Three minutes later, Roger invited me to move camp to his place. I had been camped in the boonies in Big Bend.

Thanks to Roger for the spot in the desert and for the great rides and to all of you there for the good company. Great bunch of folks.

Until next time,

Joel in San Antonio.

P.S. Looking forward to the ride from Acuna to wherever.....

XT225
DRZ400E Supertanker
Versys
FLHRSI
CT110

dfwscotty
01-03-2008, 06:59 PM
Welcome to the gang Ixta!

Cagiva 549
01-03-2008, 07:10 PM
Without giving away anything, is it the road with all the little red wood arrows on the spinoff roads showing the correct way? If that was it, it was the road I rode during Thanksgiving and not to be missed on a DS or dirt bike anytime you are in the area.
Bob

The arrows are markers for a bicycle race thru the desert . We saw lots of them but didn't pay attention to them enough to know if they are reliable enough to follow safely . SEYA

TexasShadow
01-03-2008, 07:32 PM
The arrows are markers for a bicycle race thru the desert . We saw lots of them but didn't pay attention to them enough to know if they are reliable enough to follow safely .I followed them. For awhile. To........ oh, heck. I can't remember where. Out there. Somewhere.

I need a GPS. :mrgreen:

TexasShadow
01-04-2008, 09:05 AM
She has been haunting me since I first glimpsed her last March. Towering, majestic, timeless, unforgiving, and mysterious. Her melancholic darkness patterned with radiating bright beauty, sunlight chasing shadows all over her surface. She stands with her arms open. Beckoning you to let her embrace you, you enter with reticent apprehension that can't seem to override the irresistible magnetic pull into her body. Entering you are swallowed into another world like Alice falling down and down into the hole.

You can't refuse her. If you try she haunts your nights, your daydreams, and hovers in the back abyss of your subconsciousness. Her calling will never cease because she is timeless; until you submit and let her engulf you with her hard embrace. And like a love-smitten addict, you realize you have to go back for more.

I'm a canyon addict. A life-long love affair with canyons, I've sought them out everywhere I go. Even the concrete canyons of Manhattan have me wandering the streets with my head tilted back in awe and amazement. But we can't duplicate Nature's art of canyon-making. She is the master. And this Lady in the desert is one of her masterpieces.

The first and only real destination I had once I reached Big Bend this time was to submit to the pull of Santa Elena Canyon.

To be continued, with photos.... honest.

Tourmeister
01-04-2008, 12:52 PM
I'm a canyon addict. A life-long love affair with canyons, I've sought them out everywhere I go.

Get thee to Southern Utah and SW Colorado :trust: There are some mind blowing rides out there... BIG canyons... Little canyons... Deeeeeeep canyons... Narrow canyons... They have it all!!

Zion Nat Park
Bryce Canyon Nat Park
Grand Canyon Nat Park
The Royal Gorge
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Glenn Canyon Nat Rec Area
Canyonlands Nat Park
Capitol Reef Nat Park
Arches Nat Park
Dead Horse Point State Park (outside Moab, Ut)
The Delores and San Miguel River Canyon West of Montrose, Co on Hwy 141... :rider:

Just to name a few...

mcrider
01-04-2008, 01:52 PM
TexasShadow,

Three of us were exploring Easter & found a nice box canyon up Black Rock Creek. I think we were north Hen Egg road & south of Agua Fria mountain.
Here are several shots.
http://www.twtex.com/photopost/data/526/medium/BB_Easter042.JPG
http://www.twtex.com/photopost/data/526/medium/BB_Easter041.JPG
http://www.twtex.com/photopost/data/526/medium/BB_Easter043.JPG
http://www.twtex.com/photopost/data/526/medium/BB_Easter045.JPG

anaconda
01-04-2008, 03:32 PM
:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

TexasShadow
01-05-2008, 12:15 AM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6632_2.jpg

The first day on the roads, Roger led Ed and I down the Old Maverick Road in Big Bend National Park. Fourteen miles of mostly flat terrain and easy gravel, the park calls it an 'improved dirt road' that nearly any car can travel. Many species of cacti are dispersed across the desert floor; giant towering yuccas lining the road made me feel as though I was riding down a Hollywood boulevard lined with palms.

Referred to as El Despoblado (Uninhabited Land) the Big Bend region was home to many generations of Mexican, Mexican-American, and American settlers. Long before them Native North and Central Americans traveled through, hunted, raided and lived on this desert and in its mountains. Visitors that see only relentless desolation think that people can not survive there. But they have. And still do.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6606.jpg

Several historic sites are readily accessible from the road: ruins of old homes. Luna's jacal is the remains of a shallow long mud and rock structure where a Mexican family lived for decades under the shadow of a tall basalt cliff. The Terlingua Abajo site near the Terlingua Creek contains several ruins of adobes. The occupants of these humble habitats were Mexican settlers that farmed land near the creek to feed themselves and market to miners in the Study Butte and Terlinagua regions as well as in the area that became the national park.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6615.jpg

People that lived and traveled through the vastness of the Chihuahua Desert in SW Texas and Mexico survived on more than just tenacity. Without a special collaboration with the land, intelligence and skill to rely on local resources, they could not have survived. Most people from our modern day society can't. Our 'adventure' rides pale in comparison to how people lived entire lives here centuries ago. We're too used to having things provided for us and living in a land of plenty. But nothing lasts forever.

We rode our street-camouflaged dirt bikes past mesas with the Lady always hovering in the distance. The closer we rode, the more the anticipation grew. It was all I could do to refrain from rushing into her embrace. We parked the bikes at a trail head and wandered down a bank to the Terlingua Creek.

Across the mostly dry creek bed was the Lady in all her magnificence: two 1,500-foot cliffs with a narrow gorge from which the Rio Grande flows and Terlingua Creek merges. And it is within these canyon walls that the Rio Grande bends sharply, giving that area the name, Big Bend.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6622.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6629.jpg

Santa Elena doesn't care who or what claims her cliffs as theirs, but humankind does. The east cliff resides in Mexico, the west side is claimed by the US and Texas. Despite the imposed political boundary most living things, including some humans, don't acknowledge split territories. They come and go as they please across the river and its banks, the cliffs and the air.

The Rio Grande cut this seven-mile gorge through uplifted blocks of limestone. Terlingua fault lies at the base of the massive cliffs which moved 3000 feet along it to form the Sierra Ponce mesa in Mexico and the thin Mesa de Anguila in Texas. Terlingua Creek flows along the base of Mesa de Anguila and into the Rio Grande at the mouth of Santa Elena.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6637.jpg

Gazing at the towering cliffs and trying to comprehend the millions of years of change on the earth upon which you stand is nearly mind boggling. Trying to resolve the force which moved this land with such violence with its majestic beauty and grandeur can leave one awestruck.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6682.jpg

The mesa is within the Chihuahuan Desert and the vegetation varies depending on proximity to water and altitude. A three-quarter mile trail clings to the wall near the mouth of the canyon and provides excellent views of tall grasses and shrubs along the river's edge in the canyon bottom, and cliff-hanging succulents growing in crevasse and on shelves in the dry sun-drenched cliff walls.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6677.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6662.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6661.jpg

Knowing, even in loss of comprehension, the course of geological history up to this time, and accepting changes in the future, only enhances the wonder and beauty of this canyon and its habitat. And I will be back to spend a day with her, float into her caverns and watch shadows chased by the light up and down her gorge. I will be swallowed by the whale, embraced by the majestic Lady called Santa Elena Canyon.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6655.jpg

I shall return. Again.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6711.jpg

Next: Cottonwoods dream home

KenH
01-05-2008, 09:57 AM
Hurry up, RtR!

DANNYROTH
01-05-2008, 11:10 AM
Astounding!

TS, I assume you were on the Sherpa. How did it fare?

TexasShadow
01-05-2008, 11:24 AM
I finally have enough space on my hard drive to stitch a few pan shots together. But they are so inadequate.

One of the many lessons learned on this journey (afterall, that's what my trips are: to explore and discover) was that nothing can express or convey the expanse and vastness in places like the BB region. And I don't mean just the BB park. As a writer I try to convey not only what I see but how I see it; the mind's eye. I try to do the same with my photography, but my tools are limited. I need a good wide angle lens.

Nevertheless, both words and photography fall short of what exists down there (and other places). My ultimate joy is riding off-road through country like this. *That* is truly experiencing it. The only better experience is to live it; live there. I don't (yet), but I am grateful to people like Roger and Randy who do and truly know this country in all its flavors, all the good and all the bad.

I am just a visitor. But just like the dream I had as a kid of riding my horse around the country, riding a dirty bike around the country and getting out there off the driven roads is second best. And I sincerely thank Roger and Randy for being my guides and sharing their country with me.

So what I try to do here in my travelogues is to share it with others.

I have found that some roads capture me to the point of obsession. I must ride them, experience them. Just as Santa Elena captured me, so did a few roads (I use the term 'road' loosely). One is off the Maverick Rd. I found it on Google Earth. It climbs a short mesa which overlooks Terlingua Creek and Santa Elena.

I found the road but since the satellite image on Google Earth was taken, the split from Old Maverick Rd has been backfilled with desert debris. Nevertheless, it is still there; with an obstacle at the beginning. I predict that a small bike -80 or 125cc- could easily traverse the debris pile. Once over that, the rest of the trail is a piece of....... cobbler?

Next time I am there, that is a goal. I *will* get on top of that mesa. :trust:

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/SantaElenaMavrickRd1b.jpg

A view of Mesa de Anguila and the mouth of the Lady from the Old Maverick Rd.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/MaverickRd1.jpg

A view from up the trail on the cliffside overlooking the exit of the Rio Grande as it bends and the mountains to the north. The views from this trail are fantastic. My goal next time is for a perspective from the water, down in the bottom of the canyon.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/SantaElena1.jpg

On my journeys and travels I like to approach and experience places as a blank slate. A huge white board where first impressions are painted and written all over it without the cultural and physical preconceptions. To me, this is how you experience anything in the moment, that first glimpse, smell, taste, melody. Because you experience it as it really is. Not a preconcieved construction in your mind which filters out many impressions, objective and subjective. Many people arrive with so many expectations they shut themselves off from really experiencing anything.

I arrive as a blank slate, but it is soon layered with impressions, stories, facts, and history. One of my favorite curiosities is geological history. If you look closely at the land you can often times read its history like a book. The cliffs of Santa Elena canyon are an open book.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/SantaElena3.jpg

Now to go on to my future homestead in the cottonwoods. ;-)

TexasShadow
01-05-2008, 11:47 AM
TS, I assume you were on the Sherpa. How did it fare? I was riding Sherpie. A few lessons learned there, too.

1. Rear suspension sucks. I bottomed out a few times, once really hard. I know, it's not a 'real' dirt bike, but my options are limited because I am vertically challenged. So I hope to improve the rear suspension by reinstalling the stock links (previous owner lowered it with Kouba links) and looking into another shock or spring for the rear.

Another issue for me is not only am I short, but I weigh about the same as a big feather. When I sit on the bikes they barely sag. So what is too soft for most is stiff or just right for me. I will have to determine what will work for me on this bike.

2. It needs re-gearing. For the really gnarly stuff -rocky hillclimbs and decsents, water crossings, etc- first gear was like dragging an anchor behind me (as Ed aptly described it) but second gear it was not adequate. Many times the range between second and third was too wide; third gear would bog down and second was too low.

I'll have to determine how to change gearing by changing out a sprocket. I don't think changing both will be necessary. And I don't care if I lose top gear speed; I have a street bike. The Sherpa is my 90% dirt bike.

One time I let my chest get puffy was when four of us rode up a sandy bank from a dry creek bottom. I and the bike made it up easily and I had both feet on the pegs; no problemo. The others didn't have it as easy. As Roger said often, the Sherpas will go almost anywhere. (he has one, too)

On the other hand, I bit rocks three times going up steep rocky inclines. I would be 3/4's the way up, feeling pretty chipper and proud that I was going to make it up and down I'd go. While part of that was learning to pick the right lines, I suspect partly also due to losing grunt in first gear.

I rode it on pavement going up and down the road to the Basin, and then on a solo ride on several miles of the River Road (Hwy 170). She's a screaming ball of fun provided the winds are not too strong. I sure could use a decent windshield, though.

Quick-Silver
01-05-2008, 01:11 PM
TS, When you lay the Sherpa down, can you pick it up by yourself. That's the only drawback I have with the 650. It likes to go over, but I can't pick it up by myself. I am looking for something that doesn't weigh as much so I can pick it up if it goes over when I ride by myself.

Tourmeister
01-05-2008, 02:51 PM
On my journeys and travels I like to approach and experience places as a blank slate. A huge white board where first impressions are painted and written all over it without the cultural and physical preconceptions. To me, this is how you experience anything in the moment, that first glimpse, smell, taste, melody. Because you experience it as it really is. Not a preconcieved construction in your mind which filters out many impressions, objective and subjective. Many people arrive with so many expectations they shut themselves off from really experiencing anything.

Zen and The Art of Dual Sporting... It would make a great coffee table book... :trust:

TexasShadow
01-05-2008, 06:34 PM
TS, When you lay the Sherpa down, can you pick it up by yourself.Most of the time, yes. Once I was caught in a rut (pun unintended) and crashed to the side with my right foot caught under the rear wheel. Theresa was behind me and picked it up so I could get out from underneath (motocross boots are worth their cost!).

BUT...... I've learned that just like with Olympic lifting, if the bike starts to go past a point, don't try to save it. In OL, if the bar overhead loses balance, you can really hurt your shoulders and back trying to save it. Just let it fall by stepping out from underneath it. Same with the bikes. This happened when I went down a rocky hill with a sandy 90 degree turn. I didn't make the turn and the bike started to topple to the right. I tried to save it and pulled a muscle in my back. I finally decided to just aid it down slowly and David helped me pick it up.

I can pick the Sherpa up but the Whee, only 50% of the time.

Zen and The Art of Dual Sporting... It would make a great coffee table book... :trust: Hey, now that's a great title, Scott. I like that. I'll consider it for the book! After all, that is the theme.

TexasShadow
01-05-2008, 07:03 PM
Leaving the Lady we rode N up the Ross Maxwell Scenic Highway. Our first stop was the Cottonwoods campground which is just above the river's floodplain. Pulling in I was awestruck and all I could utter was "Whoah!!!!!". A grove of giant cottonwoods with their brilliant yellow fall leaves twirling in the wind, several mountain peaks lit aglow by the sun and several green-leaved oak contrasting all the mountain and yellow colors just blew me away.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/Cottonwoods1.jpg

Immediately I envisioned a small humble cabin in the midst of the grove, dwarfed by the trees and mountain peaks and me living there. I think I would never leave if I did.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6723.jpg

People treasure, steal, kill and die for diamonds and gold. But to me, what lay before me was more precious than any of that. I wished (and still do) I lived 150 years ago right there, in a little cabin in that grove. A horse would be my transportation and I'd be happy.

It was too beautiful and beyond words.

I think Roger saw all that in my face because he kept grinning and asking me how I liked it. I was reluctant to leave but we had a date with ice cream at Castelon.

There were very few campers there. Maybe two tents and one small RV. Otherwise it was wide open. I think it may be a good spot to camp and spend a day around Santa Elena canyon sometime.

David, you really have to visit that spot sometime. I think you'll like it.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6735.jpg

TexasShadow
01-05-2008, 08:32 PM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/Sotol1.jpg

Continuing north we rode up to the top of a ridge for a view that would knock your boots off: Sotol Vista. Many prominent geographical points can be seen from here. And the road is....delicious.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6776.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6782.jpg

Mule Ears. Series of dikes shaped and aptly named like ears of a mule or horse. They were formed by molten lava flowing into crevices then the softer surrounding rock eroded away over centuries. Resulting spires and ridges are called 'dikes'. Many of these are all over the park area.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6746.jpg

Carousel Mountain. One amusement and interest I harbor is the naming of landmarks and places. Most of the names there have been accepted and in place for hundreds of years. Most names derive from terrain shapes or events that occurred on or near the location. Unlike modern trends, few are named after people. That, by the way, was mostly a European introduction. Indians used names associated with weather, legends, terrain and shapes. They were more descriptive names. The Spanish tended to use names associated with religious figures as well as terrain and its habitat. The Europeans seemed to be perpetually afraid of mortality and used names of people. Perhaps that immortalized people to them, or maybe they were just more egocentric: "We have to stamp our mark on the land! It's ours.!" We still do that; look at street names sometime.

I named the peak "Tiara Peak" because it looks like a tiara that would sit on a king's head. Ed named it "Castle Peak" because it resembles a castle turret.
Roger informed us of the official name. But notice how all of us used names associated with people. ;)

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6747.jpg

The views are incredible from this vista. If you look closely at the background in the first photo above, a panoramic shot, you can barely make out the 'v' of Santa Elena canyon: 14 miles away by air, 22 miles by road. Ed and Roger absorbing it all. I think Ed was on the verge of sensory overload by that time.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6756.jpg

One of my obsessions, or passions, is light and dark contrasts: shadows. The desert here is a most obliging host for that; anywhere, anytime of the day. And it changes so quickly.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6759.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/Sotol2.jpg

Now if you look closely at the photo below, there are what appear to be two roads. I'll let y'all figure that one out. It's my secret ;)

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6780.jpg

I caught Roger preparing a sermon for us.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6778.jpg

And his majesty overlooking his domain. ;-)

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6664.jpg

Thanks for the guided ride, Roger. And sharing it all with us.

TexasShadow
01-06-2008, 11:08 AM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6829.jpg

So what does one do in the desert on a daily basis? It all depends on what kind of person you are. For those entrenched in daily visits to shopping malls, restaurants, coffee shops, and instant entertainment, you may find yourself bored within a few days. The nearest shopping center and fast food strips are 100+ miles away. Instant gratification here is of a different kind than what we are used to, and many don’t share the tenacity to make do with what is available or enjoy their own company for long periods of time.

Regardless, we are creatures of habit. Roger is settled in his own routine, which he shared with us. Having breakfast in the mornings at Kathy’s Kosmic Kowgirl Kafe near Study Butte satisfies his belly and provides a dose of gregarious gathering around the morning campfire to visit with locals and visitors.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7155.jpg

Because I’m not a morning person until I have at least half a pot of coffee (early morning communication consists of series of grunts), I usually chose to linger behind at the campsite and make my own breakfast. Stiffly crawling out of the comfy sleeping bag and tent was sometimes a regret. Although days were relatively warm, nights were usually near or below freezing and long johns became second skin. I was reminded of living in Maine winters, so I quickly adapted wearing layers over long johns and shedding appropriately.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6805.jpg

After making breakfast I usually wandered down to the Desert Rat Pit, Roger’s campfire site on a well-chosen outcropping. I soaked in the solitude and scenery below and let my head warm up to a state of life, fed by fantasies of exploring every inch that I could see, on foot or on a bike.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6796.jpg

Of course, there was a road that grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. So every morning and evening my attention was drawn to it. It was almost, no, it *was* a visceral response. Like a hungry dog watching and yearning for a big juicy steak on the ground near by; not really able to lunge forward, grab it and chew on it, savoring each morsel as it was swallowed. I knew I had to ride that road.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6797.jpg

David was well acquainted with the Ridge Road (my name) having ridden it before and then again on this trip. I listened to his KTM 450 wind its way up the incline and on to the top of the ridge. His accounts of the road only fed my obsession with it.

But I waited.

The others rode in.....

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6808.jpg

and we all geared up for a Roger Rat Ride to a place he called 'Moon Valley'. By then, the core group of Desert Rats on Two Wheels consisted of our Fearless Leader, Roger, David, Ed, Hardy and I. The five of us became a close-knit group of comrades. And I've never experienced such a great group of riding buddies until then.

We headed towards Study Butte and left the tarmac at the junction of Hwy 170 and 118, riding north on gravel roads. Shortly we entered a valley and we were suddenly in some other time and space warp. We realized then why the locals call this 'Moon Valley'.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6824.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6825.jpg

We stopped in the road to take the surroundings all in, which was almost overwhelming.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6820.jpg

The area north of Study Butte is an ancient bed of volcanic eruptions. Dark volcanic masses of igneous rock punctuate the terrain, uplifting from under the earth's surface. The volcanoes have long since eroded or been pushed asunder but the ash beds remain, imparting the white-gray landscape resembling a lunar scape. Ribbons of iron oxide skirt some of the hill bases and blocks of igneous rocks, called 'bombs', literally coughed up and out by the immense volcanic pressure contrast starkly with the soft white and gray.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6821.jpg

Here we were, standing on this 80 million year old limestone bed with a history bared before us that none of us can truly comprehend.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6827.jpg

Many fossils have been found in this area and petrified crayfish burrows imply that at one time this was the bottom of a shallow sea. Rumors claim that early NASA astronauts trained riding the moon rover here, but I haven't been able to verify that. I wouldn't be surprised if it was true.

David must have hung back to take this photo* below before we turned around . I was too immersed in the landscape and my own private moon ride to notice ;)

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/DesertRats3-1.jpg

We left our own little lunar world and returned to tarmac to begin the hunt for blackberry cobbler and ice cream.

* Some of David's photos were downloaded on my laptop. With his permission, I'll post some of them with attribution and save him the hassle of fiddling with them. ;)

Tourmeister
01-06-2008, 02:55 PM
Just curious, did you fiddle with the exposure settings in that first shot of the Moon Valley, or perhaps do a little post shot tweaking? I like the contrast between the deep blue sky and the greyness, even if it is the result of some artistic enhancing ;-)

DFW_Warrior
01-06-2008, 03:54 PM
Wow... Just WOW..... Those photos are simply amazing! Great shots Elzi, you did good girl!:clap:


TS, When you lay the Sherpa down, can you pick it up by yourself. That's the only drawback I have with the 650. It likes to go over, but I can't pick it up by myself. I am looking for something that doesn't weigh as much so I can pick it up if it goes over when I ride by myself.
Jerry, I just saw a DRZ400 in the "For Sale" section. That would be just the ticket if you're looking for something lighter and easy to manhandle.

Kidder
01-06-2008, 05:02 PM
I have GOT to go to Big Bend. :doh:

Cagiva 549
01-06-2008, 05:19 PM
Just curious, did you fiddle with the exposure settings in that first shot of the Moon Valley, or perhaps do a little post shot tweaking? I like the contrast between the deep blue sky and the greyness, even if it is the result of some artistic enhancing ;-)

Thats what it looks like , when you slow down from warp speed and take it all in . All I can say is its awsome . Ten days of nothing but sun and blue sky . A high cloud did come by for about an hour one day . SEYA

TexasShadow
01-06-2008, 08:19 PM
Just curious, did you fiddle with the exposure settings in that first shot of the Moon Valley, or perhaps do a little post shot tweaking? I like the contrast between the deep blue sky and the greyness, even if it is the result of some artistic enhancing ;-)No, sir. No enhancements or changes, except to slightly crop one of the photos. That's what it truly looks like.

Graubart
01-06-2008, 09:01 PM
Elzi, your photography gets better with each trip. :clap:

You keep this up and I will have to break out my camping gear. :eek2:

Tourmeister
01-06-2008, 09:03 PM
I guess living here in the hazy Piney Woods of East Texas, I sometimes forget how deep blue the sky really is when there isn't so much "atmosphere" in the way ;-) It has been too long since my last trip out West... uh... May of 07? ... yeah, that is far too long!! I think you would have enjoyed the scenery in the Az desert where we were putzing around ;-)

TexasShadow
01-06-2008, 09:05 PM
Lured by promises of delicious blackberry cobbler, the Desert Rats ascended upon the park, paid their dues, and ran the maze like good rats do. Our destination: the Chisos Mountain Basin.

This was the first time for two of our pack to visit the Chisos and the well-known Basin. I was not prepared for the meandering uphill road through Wonderland. The park road winds through a canyon, bordered by green trees and an assortment of desert and mountain plants. The transition from the desert floor to the heart of the Chisos Mountains was like riding through a magical tunnel. Gaping the entire way up, I merely followed the rat trail but deciding that I would return another day to ride and experience it in graduation. And I did; it was my Xmas present to myself.

We pulled in behind the Chisos Lodge and parked the bikes along the curb. They were dwarfed by the cliffs overlooking the lodge.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6873.jpg

We probably looked like a group of desperadoes coming in from the long hot dusty trail, which in a sense we were. Only we rode bikes rather than horses. Regardless, our waitress seemed to take us in stride and was friendly as we all ordered cobblers with ice cream and coffee. No beers, no whiskey, no stealing women and children, or shooting holes in the glass walls. We were pretty harmless Desert Rats, although we once in awhile heard the echo of Clint Eastwood-harmonica and twanging guitar.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6859.jpg

While waiting for food and coffee to arrive, I stepped out on the front deck that overlooks the basin bowl below and the basin rims beyond. The views were awesome, and I did feel as if I were in a bowl. As long as it is filled with blackberry cobbler and ice cream, I don't mind.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/ChisosLodge2.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6833.jpg

Having our fill of vittles and good coffee we rode back to base camp and the ritual of sitting in a close rat circle behind David's trailer to block the wind. Steve and Clayton joined us at some point. Steve rode his Wee Strom and Clayton, if I recall, was torturing little white balls with sticks on a desert floor somewhere nearby.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6876.jpg

Later, we sauntered down to the Rat Circle to enjoy a campfire and sacrificial story telling. Because the camera was on the tripod while I shot the full moon, I sneaked a video documenting the ritual and an expounding of campfire BTUs.

hehe. Sneaky Rat I am.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6887.jpg

Because I'm such a cold weenie and this desert road riding is such hard work, I was usually the first to excuse myself and crawl into the tent. Trust me; planning on how to remove outer clothing and immerse yourself into a warm cuddly sleeping bag in short a time as possible to avoid shivering is an art. I had plenty of opportunities to master it.

Sometime in the middle of the night, several times, I heard my buddies out there yipping and chorusing on the desert floor. Sometimes close. It was like a lullaby to my sleepy head as they sang me back to sleep.

Under a bright desert full moon.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6878-1.jpg

TexasShadow
01-06-2008, 09:21 PM
Elzi, your photography gets better with each trip.
I practice what my Dad taught me: bracket, bracket, bracket. ;) I have ~ 1600 photos from the nine days. Not just because I bracket most of the time, but because I want to, and try to, capture almost everything I see there.

At some point on a ride later in the week I muttered to Ed, "I can't take anymore photographs. I'm burned out."
I lied.

I thought of you several times, wishing you could mentor me on macros. My few attempts were 90% failures. But those that did work are fantastic.

So get your camping gear out and get out there with us sometime!!!! No more excuses! :mrgreen:

I guess living here in the hazy Piney Woods of East Texas, I sometimes forget how deep blue the sky really is when there isn't so much "atmosphere" in the way ;-) It has been too long since my last trip out West... uh... May of 07? ... yeah, that is far too long!! I think you would have enjoyed the scenery in the Az desert where we were putzing around ;-) Big Bend area suffers from pollution and haze, too. Some days worse than others. The day of the dust storm was bad, but that was our most awesome ride!!!! (our Double Secret Dual Sport Ride ;) )

Scott, my first love affair was with the Arizona desert, outside of the Tuscon area and then north up to the Mother Canyon. I was barely 18 yo then. Similar to the transformation experienced by Ed Abbey and Joseph Krutch, I was smitten for life. It just took me a few decades to move down to the southwest.

BTW, a polarizing filter on the camera lens helps to filter haze, enhancing contrasts. We can see it with the naked eye but capturing it with a camera is difficult without a polarizing filter. I hardly ever remove that filter off the camera anymore.

Tourmeister
01-06-2008, 09:33 PM
BTW, a polarizing filter on the camera lens helps to filter haze, enhancing contrasts. We can see it with the naked eye but capturing it with a camera is difficult without a polarizing filter. I hardly ever remove that filter off the camera anymore.

:tab When I was still using the Nikon SLR, I had the same filter on most of the time. However, I now carry a 6 Mpix Canon Elf about the size of a pack of cigs. No filters for it. The trade off is that when I was carrying the bigger camera, I took fewer pics because it was such a hassle to carry everything, get it out, take the pics, put it away, etc,... The Nikon took fantastic pics! The Canon takes acceptable pics :shrug: Time is always the enemy. Good pics take time for me. I have to really think about what I want to capture, how to do it, what the light is like, etc... When riding with other people, I get to self conscious about constantly taking so much time and holding up everyone else.

:tab What are you using?

Graubart
01-06-2008, 09:39 PM
So get your camping gear out and get out there with us sometime!!!! No more excuses! :mrgreen:



Be gentle with me.......I'm a street rider. :lol2:

TexasShadow
01-06-2008, 10:30 PM
The trade off is that when I was carrying the bigger camera, I took fewer pics because it was such a hassle to carry everything, get it out, take the pics, put it away, etc,...
Time is always the enemy. ..... I 'see' photos, images, all the time I am out on a ride or hike. I know instantly what I want in the frame; the composition is instantaneous. I routinely bracket for exposure; most times. Usually two shots are enough. And sometimes just one does it. I don't mess with using the LCD monitor and rely almost completely on a viewfinder that gives me a preview with set exposure and focus. I'd like to think I'm quick, but I know I'm not as quick compared to a simple and smaller point and shoot. But there's always a trade-off.

When asked I always tell someone to choose a camera that is convenient. Or they won't use it. I compromised with a Canon Powershot IS3. Not a full DSLR, but is more compact and has many more features than a point and shoot. I keep it in my tankbag, retrieved it and have focused and shot with one hand while the other hand is pulling in the clutch on the road.

I've added an extension tube which can accommodate filters and lens extensions (a wide angle lens extension is on my wish list). My biggest gripe is no cable release; I used one often on the old Nikon SLR I have. Instead I have to use the self-timer which is better than nothing and I use it exclusively for tripod and low light shots. And the sports burst mode rocks!

There are times I wish I did have a smaller point and shoot to use and I am considering a smaller Canon for carrying on the Sherpa. David's Canon (S650?) did a good job and I'm considering one like his. And it has a viewfinder.

I really want a medium-format Hasselblad :mrgreen:

Tourmeister
01-06-2008, 11:00 PM
I 'see' photos, images, all the time I am out on a ride or hike. I know instantly what I want in the frame; the composition is instantaneous. I routinely bracket for exposure; most times. Usually two shots are enough. And sometimes just one does it.

:tab I have often wished that I had a bionic camera eye that could snap the view I see with my eyes. Too many times, I have been zinging along and see a "shot" and then in the next instant I am already moving on. If I could just snap the shot right then, when and as I see it, I would be so happy. Get home, plug the USB cable into the back of my head... download...

I really want a medium-format Hasselblad :mrgreen:

:tab We might have to start a fund for that :lol2:

KenH
01-07-2008, 06:34 AM
:tab I have often wished that I had a bionic camera eye that could snap the view I see with my eyes. Too many times, I have been zinging along and see a "shot" and then in the next instant I am already moving on. If I could just snap the shot right then, when and as I see it, I would be so happy. Get home, plug the USB cable into the back of my head... download...

Same here. I'll be riding along and smitten by an awesome view, only to turn around and not be able to capture the emotion. Maybe that's why they are called "memories" and not "thoughts."

TexasShadow
01-07-2008, 07:50 AM
:tab I have often wished that I had a bionic camera eye that could snap the view I see with my eyes. Too many times, I have been zinging along and see a "shot" and then in the next instant I am already moving on. If I could just snap the shot right then, when and as I see it, I would be so happy. Get home, plug the USB cable into the back of my head... download... :rofl: Too funny! I have often voiced the same fantasy, along with the flash drive I can insert into my brain and remove. (I 'compose' many essays/posts/etc in my head when riding)

I mentioned the bionic eye idea to someone on the trip (don't remember who) and I got a very weird look. When I mentioned the brain flash drive too, he stepped back. ;-)

Tourmeister
01-07-2008, 11:12 AM
(I 'compose' many essays/posts/etc in my head when riding)

:lol2: I do the same thing, kind of writing the story as I go along, noting things of interest and how to work them into the narrative. Then when I sit down with my pics later, I start going over the story in my head and it all comes back to me. My biggest problem is trying to figure out what to leave out so I don't write a freaking book :doh:

TexasShadow
01-07-2008, 11:59 AM
:lol2: I do the same thing, kind of writing the story as I go along, noting things of interest and how to work them into the narrative. Then when I sit down with my pics later, I start going over the story in my head and it all comes back to me. My biggest problem is trying to figure out what to leave out so I don't write a freaking book :doh: I have the same problem. What I find helpful is to leave it for a day or so, proof it and edit out the extraneous, or edit for conciseness.

Of course, I haven't been doing that in this thread. :lol2:
But I am for the upcoming book :shock:

TexasShadow
01-07-2008, 12:16 PM
In interest of the original Desert Rats, I located the triple secret desert base site on the map. :trust: Now to do further recon on status. Guess I need to make a run up to the Terlingua lodge...........

mcrider
01-07-2008, 12:28 PM
TS, Love your pictures & story that goes with them. I've been to most of those places, but you bring a new view to them. All your ramblings would make a great book.

I'm glad to see others use a viewfinder. After a crash & killing my HP camera, I went looking for a new one. Most do not have viewfinders any more. Cannon was the only one I could find. Just try to take an action short in the sunlight with one of the little screens. I ended up with a SD600, great little point & shot camera.

Rear suspension sucks. I bottomed out a few times, once really hard. .................................

On the other hand, I bit rocks three times going up steep rocky inclines. I would be 3/4's the way up, feeling pretty chipper and proud that I was going to make it up and down I'd go. While part of that was learning to pick the right lines, I suspect partly also due to losing grunt in first gear.


One of the most important things you (or anyone) can do is correct your suspension for your size & riding style/ability. You need to seek out a good suspension tuner in your area. And I underline good. Your 250 can take you any place you want, with practice. More than likely your suspension caused you to fall not the lack of power.

Quick-Silver
01-07-2008, 12:31 PM
TS, You've met the photo/ride report challenge well. The Big Bend photos are some of the finest I've seen. They make me want to drag out my old 35mm slides taken about 40 years ago with an SRT 100 Minolta camera. Forty year old slides will probably be faded out by now though. That was back when I camped with wife & 1st born. Today however I will leave the camping to you kid out there. I prefer not having sand in my food & bedding plus I like having a commode close by.

Thanks for the story.

Squeaky
01-07-2008, 12:43 PM
:rofl: Too funny! I have often voiced the same fantasy, along with the flash drive I can insert into my brain and remove. (I 'compose' many essays/posts/etc in my head when riding)

If there's a way to rig it, maybe a mic in your helmet that feeds to one of those little memo-recorders? Hit a button on the bars, record a thought or two, and keep moving. Offload it all later and transcribe.

Not that I'd know how to rig something like that up, but there's LOTS of gadgety folk on here... :trust:

TexasShadow
01-07-2008, 12:44 PM
TS, Love your pictures & story that goes with them. I've been to most of those places, but you bring a new view to them. All your ramblings would make a great book. That is my project for the next 3-4 months. The daunting part is what essays/posts to include and choose photos. Any travelogues will have to be considerably shortened for such a book with photos. Pages with color photos are expensive to print.

I'm considering the Canon SD670? The next model up from David's camera. I checked his out; its a good one for photographing on a dirt/dual sport bike.

One of the most important things you (or anyone) can do is correct your suspension for your size & riding style/ability. You need to seek out a good suspension tuner in your area. And I underline good. Your 250 can take you any place you want, with practice. More than likely your suspension caused you to fall not the lack of power. That was mentioned during the trip. Next weekend I intend to reinstall the stock links on the rear (it was lowered by previous owner), ride that and see how it goes. The shock or spring can probably be replaced with a better one. I know from the forums that many Sherpa owners replace both fork and rear springs.

I'll talk with Cliff and see what he suggests (and that I can afford).
Thanks for the feedback, Chris.

Thanks for the story. Thank you!
I'm not done yet..... :trust: :mrgreen:

TexasShadow
01-07-2008, 12:50 PM
If there's a way to rig it, maybe a mic in your helmet that feeds to one of those little memo-recorders? Hit a button on the bars, record a thought or two, and keep moving. Offload it all later and transcribe. I've pondered that over the last year or so. A good voice recorder (digital) compatible with a mac is ~$200 or more. And I have no clue on how to set it up to record inside my helmet.

But that would be the ideal system! I had some interesting and amusing conversations with myself while on the road for two weeks last year. Including composing a song about riding on the road for hours, which is exactly what I was doing. I had to keep myself awake somehow.

Stromboy
01-07-2008, 01:35 PM
Hey Elzi... sorry we missed you. We only came out of the boondocks one day and you and Ed were MIA when we visited Roger's place that evening. I see you had that machinegun camera roaring again! Great pics. We only rode our bikes two days, and never left TR on them.

Uncle Roger... it was great to see you again and I really enjoyed getting to visit w/ you at the Chili Pepper and again down at your place. Thanks for the hospitallity.

Hardy and all the rest of the guys... it was great to meet you all even if I can't remember all your names! I swear the poor memory has nothing to do with Knob Creek.

Randy

Tourmeister
01-07-2008, 02:31 PM
:tab I have a voice recorder (Olympus DS-2000) that can be set for voice activation or push to talk. It is about 3/8" thick, about 1-1/2" wide and maybe 4" long. If you get the right mic for it, you could easily have this sitting in a pocket while riding. I tried it at one time by hooking it into my communicator mic but that just did not work well. I was trying to make it so that I could hear myself in the earphones while speaking (like your phone). I found that not being able to hear yourself really messes with your head because you are never sure if the voice activation has kicked in :doh: Back when I had time to explore roads when I was looking for good tour routes, I kept it in my tankbag where I could get to it real quick. I would note the road numbers, my thoughts about the road, etc,... Then I downloaded all that to my PC so I could have an archive for later reference when planning trips.

:tab It uses a USB cable so data transfer is fast. I still have all the original packaging, instructions, software, etc,... It came with an 8MB SmartMedia memory card, but I bought a 64MB card for it. It will hold 22 hours of commentary on 64MB card in long play mode and 10 hours in high quality mode. A long comment usually ran about 30 seconds. So you can get a LOT on here ;-) I have not used it for several years but it still works. I just put fresh batteries in it to make sure. I use rechargeable batteries in it normally though (AAA). Batteries last a LONG time. There is a 3V DC socket in the side of it if you find the right size adapter. It is yours (TS) if you want it.

bullfrog
01-07-2008, 05:16 PM
This settles it....I am gonna ride BigBend this year...

TexasShadow
01-07-2008, 07:19 PM
Hey Elzi... sorry we missed you. We only came out of the boondocks one day and you and Ed were MIA when we visited Roger's place that evening. We were in Pinto Canyon late and then stopped to eat in Presidio on the way back. I was bummed when we returned and discovered I'd missed you, Rod and Anne. :(

Next time, I hope?

I swear the poor memory has nothing to do with Knob Creek. Huh? :ponder: What did you do.......?

TexasShadow
01-07-2008, 07:22 PM
:tab I have a voice recorder (Olympus DS-2000) that can be set for voice activation or push to talk. It is about 3/8" thick, about 1-1/2" wide and maybe 4" long.

It is yours (TS) if you want it. Sweet! How much do you want for it?
(do I hear a podcast on the road in the future? :trust: )

Tourmeister
01-07-2008, 07:36 PM
Well... I did say you could have it if you want it... as in no charge ;-) I figure I'll get more use of of it by giving it to you so I can keep reading the reports :-P PM me a shipping address and I'll get it to you.

XR650Rocketman
01-07-2008, 08:23 PM
It's really a pleasure to see a little of Big Bend through someone else's eyes for a change. Thanks for doing such a good job sharing your experiences.

Most of the locals mentioned I'm proud to consider friends of one kind or another.

Some of the other locals will curse me when I'm on my bike and buy me beer when I'm in civilian clothes. It's just one of those places.

We've enjoyed hundreds of hours and thousands of Big Bend miles over the last decade and it is still a destination of choice every chance we get.

Visit Big Bend and enjoy it any opportunity you can make!!!!

Any help you need with any Big Bend questions, any time, just ask.

TexasShadow
01-08-2008, 08:12 AM
I crawled out of the bag and quickly donned layers before losing heat to the cold inside the tent. This ritual became a game which I mastered within a few days: the sheepskin I brought to keep my outdoor chair warm was a rug next to my bag and mattress, warm layers piled together, right side out on top of the sheepskin covered by down vest, hat with gloves in mesh pocket overhead, thick wool socks (if they weren't already on my feet) rolled up next to my sandals.

I slept in long johns which were rarely too warm. So while on my back, I slid my upper body up and out of the bag with lower body still warm inside, pulled on one to three more layers, then pulled each leg out of the bag and slid it into sweats or polar fleece pants. Socks and sandals followed, then hat and gloves. Down vest topped it off if needed.

Then out of the tent to see what I could see. And the views out of the tent were awesome. Roger's right; waking up to this every morning is like having a feast laid before you.

Since I'm a hypersensitive receptacle for sensory input, I feast on the changing light as the sun rises (and sets). Rainbows of light chasing shadows across the desert floor and creeping across the mountains, colors constantly changing on the faces of ridges, mountain and ridges silhouetted against the skies. It is a feast that one can never tire of.

The waning moon rose later and remained higher in the sky before the sun chased it over the western horizon. I hungered to see Big Bend under a full moon and my wishes were granted this trip. It hung high over the desert awash with rose-tinted early morning sunlight.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/Desertmorn1.jpg

And the desert sands began to gleam a golden color as the sun rose higher over the Chisos.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/Desertmorn2.jpg

David was usually the first one up and about and graciously started the big coffee pot. Some mornings we had both his pot and mine going. A few of us were hardcore java junkies (me....). The others trickled out from their sleeping cocoons and went to Kathy's Kosmic Kafe for breakfast. I hung out at base camp and made my own. It was my time to absorb the morning changes in all their glory. I would either sit and contemplate things while enjoying breakfast and coffee, or meander around and explore.

One of my little buddies:

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6792.jpg

While the rest of the crew was gone, I decided my course of the day and prepared.

To be continued.....

TexasShadow
01-08-2008, 08:13 AM
Well... I did say you could have it if you want it... as in no charge ;-) I figure I'll get more use of of it by giving it to you so I can keep reading the reports :-P PM me a shipping address and I'll get it to you.Wow, thank you, Scott! I will pm my address to you.

Stromboy
01-08-2008, 01:05 PM
Huh? :ponder: What did you do.......?

I deny all charges and accusations! Actually, I didn't do anything. Since we had planned the day around visiting some of our local buds around Terlingua, we transformed the Excursion into a rolling Party Wagon. After lunch at the Chili Pepper we meandered down to Lajitas, saw a couple of freinds down there, came back to The Porch, handed out some Xmas presents and partied w/ some of our freinds there. Then we invaded Roger's place. Got to see Hardy running around in his longjohns. From there we went to the Starlight for dinner and then on down to La Kiva to party w/ some other freinds. Got back to the ranch at midnight.

Randy

Teeds
01-08-2008, 04:04 PM
TS, it was great to meet you and the gang at Kathy's!

Hey Randy, wish I had had time to stop by, but I was the leader and my followers were more often that not in front of me.

Someone tell Roger to shave his beard or identify himself. I didn't recognize him!

Stromboy
01-08-2008, 04:14 PM
TS, it was great to meet you and the gang at Kathy's!

Hey Randy, wish I had had time to stop by, but I was the leader and my followers were more often that not in front of me.

Someone tell Roger to shave his beard or identify himself. I didn't recognize him!

Hey Tony! Blast it, I didn't even know you were out there or I would have tried to hook up w/ you. Shoulda made Cedar Springs one of your rides! You know how lonesome I get out there.

Randy

TexasShadow
01-08-2008, 09:34 PM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/Chisos3.jpg

The days began to blend together. It wasn't long before I lost track of days. Sense of time was quickly shed once I was on the road heading down there. One time when stopping to fill up the Sherpa's gas tank at the local store in Study Butte, I asked someone inside what day it was. She smiled and shrugged: "Don't know! And don't really care." I empathized remembering the many days in the woods of Maine that bore no name or numerical date. Many days and weeks over several years were seamless, punctuated only by the sun and moon or weather changes.

I found myself subconsciously slipping back into that mode of timelessness. There, it is called 'Terlingua Time'. It is quite comfortable and I can adapt to that quickly. Whereas most people used to living in the city can't seem to. I tried to explain this to one of my fellow riders that lives in the city. I think he understood, but I caught him unconsciously stuck in the expectations and constraints of 'city time'. People don't hurry down there; there's no need to. So don't expect them to, especially for your sake.

After the others returned from breakfast I was reminded that it was Christmas Day. That had mixed responses from me. My family is elsewhere, I live alone and I'm not religious. Thus I don't subscribe much to everyone else's expectations and observations of that holiday. I've been known to go off somewhere alone, such as the Oregon coast or the woods, and enjoy my own solitude. It was my present to myself.

This year's present was to ride up to the Chisos Basin alone and take it all in unhindered, on my own time. Gearing up, packing camera and water in the tail bag on the Sherpa, a book to read and my journal, I was ready to roll out. The others had their own plans and I rode part way to the park with Ed who had decided to do a similar solitary ride.

Passing the empty park station at the west entry, I rode the now familiar Maverick Road to the Basin junction. There I began the seven-mile drive to the Chisos Basin. The road winds up through Green Gulch to Panther Pass, then descends down into a basin within the Chisos Mountains. The bottom of the wide canyon which the road dissects is shrouded with green vegetation in contrast to the relatively barren desert floor.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6974.jpg

Shortly after the road junction desert plants typical of the Chihuahuan Desert mingle with woodland plants such as pinyon pine, oaks and junipers. The road is like a magical mystery tour: cacti and succulents growing under pines and junipers, sparse grasses filling in holes on the canyon floor. On each side and in front are massive jagged stone ridges, their bottom skirts bejeweled with green trees to contrast the colorful and stark stone cliffs.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6942.jpg

It reminded me of a scene in the Lord of the Rings movie where the Ents, a race of giant trees, befriend the hobbits. And more appropriately, the Rockman in Harry Nilsson's The Point. Rockman attempts to explain to Oblio, banished because he lacks a pointy head, that simply because one does not have an apparent or visible point (on the top of their head) they are not in fact pointless. (the moral of the story is "The point of The Point is that everything has a point, even if that point is to be pointless.")

No, the giant stone cliffs didn't talk to me, but their whispers of grandeur could not be ignored.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6991.jpg

Green Gulch was heavily grazed by sheep and goats raised by ranchers in the 1930's and early 1940's. Overgrazing and several years of severe drought in the '40's and 70's nearly denuded the lower canyon. The toll on the oaks and pine was devastating. Return of normal rainfall and protection against domestic grazing have allowed mountain vegetation to gallantly recover. Because of the more protected terrain and cooler micro-climate in the Chisos high-country, the canyon has fared better than lowland areas of the park which suffered the same fate of overgrazing, farming and drought.

Switchbacks wind up to Panther Pass, the highest point on the road: 5,679 feet above sea level. Because of the extraordinary micro-climate of the Chisos it is a biological island in the Chihuahan Desert. A few plant and bird species can be found only in this special biological habitat. I was too overwhelmed at absorbing everything on a grand scale to really observe the small details like birds and other little creatures. 'I guess I'll have to come back again; and again', I thought, smiling.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6979.jpg

I pulled off the road and stopped to just turn around in a complete circle and absorb the vistas. Like a cyborg on reconnaissance, I even used the camera's zoom to check out details on the cliffs.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/Chisos1.jpg

When confronted with the warning sign for bear and mountain lion, I paused to wonder. Cougar? Panther? Puma? Panther is the zoological term for any big cat, but Panthera is the genus name for leopard and jaguar. Or do they mean the jaguarundi, a smaller cousin of the cougar which roams southern Texas and Central America? No matter; watch out for big cats.

I would have liked to spot a Mexican gray wolf, but they were hunted to extinction generations ago. The icing on the cake would have been a black panther, or shall we say 'black mountain lion' (cougar). Any large cat can be black, or white. Many generations ago black panthers, all jaguars, roamed the southern stretches of the US. Natural changes in habitat and encroaching humans chased them south into the jungles or they were hunted for their hides. Black pigmented hair, melanism, is more common in jaguars (a dominant gene) than the other cats. But black cougars have been documented in this country (my sister and BiL saw one in NY). Like the mythical white buffalo, a black cougar would be a treat to see.

Finally reaching the ridge of the Basin, I stopped to admire the vistas below and around me. What a sight! I was on the rim of a big ancient giant bowl! Surrounded by rockmen!

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6960.jpg

Look closely at the winding road here: (wheeeeeeee!!!!!!!)
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6982.jpg

By that time my stomach was growling. A bowl of cobbler with ice cream and a tall sweaty glass of iced tea were swimming in front of my eyes. I rode down into upper basin to the lodge where the parking lot was full. I would have thought people had better things to do on Xmas day than be at the Lodge!

I found a buddy to park the Sherpa next to: a baby blue BMW with a side car. It was an older model but was in excellent shape.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_6986.jpg

Sitting outside on the deck I ate apple cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream and enjoyed a glass of iced tea. It was sunny and warm and the most beautiful day to do whatever I wanted. And I did. I basked in it all. Smiling.

Self-portrait:
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7012.jpg

Ed joined me later on while I was sipping a coffee; the warm sun made me sleepy and I wanted a jolt to stay awake for the ride back to camp. We geared up and headed back. The Basin and Maverick Roads melted away under our wheels and we arrived back in time to join in the holiday meal festivities.

Ed made cornbread and David, the Camp Chef Extraordinaire, fried a turkey. The dinner was outstanding!! Feasting in chairs outside we decided to wait a while before desert: Dutch over Black Forest Cobbler. Steve and Clayton had picked up ice cream earlier in the day, so it was all complete.

The center of action:
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7018.jpg

Camp Chef Extraordinaire, David:
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7027.jpg

Hardy and a masterpiece:
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7023.jpg

Topped it all off with a few glasses of Desert Antifreeze around the campfire and I would say, in all, it was a heck of a good day.

Near the end of the day I felt like I had missed something all day. I did; I hadn't ridden any desert dirt other than Roger's road and I felt like someone had yanked a lollypop out of my mouth.

The next day would make up for that: Pinto Canyon Road.

Teeds
01-08-2008, 09:50 PM
Too much fun ...

Can't wait to hear what you thought of Pinto Canyon Road.

Tourmeister
01-08-2008, 10:15 PM
I seem to recall that only a few years ago a man was killed by one of the big cats in the area. Word was that it was a mountain lion.

TexasShadow
01-09-2008, 05:10 AM
I seem to recall that only a few years ago a man was killed by one of the big cats in the area. Word was that it was a mountain lion. Jaguarundies would be too small to kill a fit human adult. A cougar on the other hand is another story.

Not a pleasant way to go. One reason why I'm not in favor of hiking unprotected in such areas. If you know what I mean........

Cagiva 549
01-09-2008, 07:57 AM
Years ago while hunting near Fairfield I saw a large black cat trot across an opening one morning . I wasn't very good at sitting in a box waiting for Bambi to step out so I was half asleep and didn't realize what it was till it was gone . I didn't know what a treat it was till reading your story .

I wait patiently for you to add to this thread each day , it helps to lessen the shock of being back in this world and work after being on Terlinqua Time for ten days . Almost as good as being there . Thanks ... SEYA

ramblinrog (aka) Uncle
01-09-2008, 10:48 AM
A big thank all of you that showed up to share my little bit of paradise. To those that didn't make it, there is always next time. By then I'll have more double secret roads to add to the list. Most all the roads have names thanks to the 911 system, but very few have signs on then. Tim I have not been able to figure out as yet the road you ask about. Guess I'll have to keep riding around until I stumble upon it. Looking forward to meeting more of you in Feb. at RTR. Roger Rat

ed29
01-09-2008, 08:59 PM
Fulcher Road

One of the great things about a huge place lke Big Bend is that you come across small pieces of it that are great fun in their own right. Fulcher Road is one of those little gems. It became a regular short cut back to camp in the afternoons. A short mix of rippled, packed gravel, curves that beg for powerslides, loose livestock, and one water crossing.

We all enjoy TexasShadow's words and pictures so much, but rarely is she on the other side of the camera. I had the idea to sprint ahead of her and set up at the water crossing to document her fun in the creek. You can almost see her grinning right through the helmet.

Here she is on the approach:

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img013.jpg

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img014.jpg

Deep water for an area in a drought!

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img015.jpg

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img017.jpg

Good form on the exit, on the gas!

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img018.jpg

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img019.jpg

I am chomping to get back there! :rider:

Quick-Silver
01-09-2008, 09:08 PM
Good water run Elzi. Looks like y'all saved some of the best for last.

TexasShadow
01-09-2008, 09:56 PM
Good water run Elzi. Looks like y'all saved some of the best for last.There is no best, nor last. It was, is, all good, all are best, and will not be the last.

Such as this:
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/PintoCanyn2.jpg

I just finished going through the photos from day five: Pinto Canyon and Ruidosa. But this cold is kicking my butt and I'm going to bed. Story and photos tomorrow.

Thanks for the water photos, Ed :clap: I got soaked! I thought Roger was going to fall off his bike from laughing so hard. Or I was!

TexasShadow
01-10-2008, 08:43 PM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7037.jpg

Today was full of anticipation. Riding the Pinto Canyon Road in Presidio County.

Photos and accounts of riding this road had intrigued me for some time; it was of the top two roads I intended to ride this trip in the Trans-Pecos region. I was rewarded with a challenging ride and an eyeful of rugged rimrock and desert landscapes. It's one of those roads that you can't just ride once; it calls you back time and again.

Pinto Canyon and the road that traverses it are full of character and history, natural and cultural. It is named after the the brilliant colors of its jagged cliffs and which change in the daylight and shadows like live paintings. To the northwest, Pinto Canyon divides the southern edge of the Sierra Vieja, the most southern end of the Rocky Mountains in the US, and old volcanic Chinati Mountains to the southeast. Two prominent peaks of the fourteen-mile long Chinati range are the Chinati caldera -7,728 feet above sea level- and Sierra Parda -7,185 feet. These two peaks, which are close like conjoined twins, dominate over the Pinto Canyon Road horizon to the east.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/PintoCanyn1.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/PintoCanyn4.jpg

A few miles north of Hwy 170, the road gradually winds up the Rio Grande basin drainage and then in between rimrock of Cerro de la Cruz (4,452 foot-summit) on the west side and Boulder Canyon which drains the canyon area down to the southeast. Further north, the road and the canyon dissect the bottom of a large caldera in the Sierra Viejas and Catherdral Peak (4,695 ft) in the the Chinati Range. One of the roads two stone bridges spans a deep narrow ravine running down from the caldera.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7074.jpg

The road continues to climb and wind north, running up along the ridge that eventually connects with an outcropping of the Marfa flats, the remnant prehistoric bottom of a large sea before the continental drifts caused numerous faults to uplift the region to the south (the Big Bend area) and west (Rocky Mountains). Where the land flattens, so the dirt ends and pavement begins eventually ending in Marfa.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/PintoCanyn2b.jpg

The first stop riding north from Hwy 170 was to absorb the mountains and ridges. The road on this gradual climb was well-maintained gravel. Shortly after riding out of a curve I spotted two horses in the road. I slowed by bleeding speed with the clutch pulled in, gradually put my boots on the gravel and killed the engine. Turning my torso slowly so as not to startle them, I dug out the camera and even more slowly turned back while pointing the lens at them for a photo. Pointing a camera with a big lens at a wild animal may alarm them; off they run for their lives. These two horses were as curious about us critters on two weird turning legs as I was about them. Ears forward they held their ground while we staged a standoff: who was going to move first?

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7040.jpg

Returning the camera to the tailbag, I started the bike and gradually moved forward, careful not to scare them. Startled animals are unpredictable and no telling which way they would run. The bike and I were still smaller than they were, I didn't care to run into a thousand pound body with kicking hooves. They didn't seem to be in a big hurry, so as I inched along in first gear, they trotted alongside us. Further up the road were a few other horses near a windmill off to the right . The two strays jumped the gravel on the side of the road and joined their hoofed buddies.

We were concentrating on the road whose elevation increased more sharply, curves became tighter and the rocks in the road were bigger and flat. For some reason I still don't know, I happened to glance in the left mirror and saw a familiar big blue KTM. David joined us for the remainder of the ride up to the flats.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7045.jpg

On one steep incline, I was grinding up in first gear when the rear tire slipped and down I went. I thought I was doing fine on the hill climb and was feeling good about making it up when - whoops! This same scenario was repeated twice more on hill climbs during this trip: three-quarters of the way up, confident I'll make it to the top and - wack! I stopped on the way down and took a photo of the incline looking up (I think it was the right one; there were many). What the photo doesn't show are holes in the ground filled with loose flat rocks. The kind that bite you.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7055.jpg

Rimrocks, mountain ridges and crags gave way reluctantly to sublime mesa top country: flat and green, covered with a beige fuzz of prairie grass. David turned around to head back and we rode the flats for a mile or so. When we turned around and headed back south on the road, I felt as though I had emerged from the Underworld and was now returning. Back into the bowels of the earth like Moby Dick diving down under the surface of the ocean. I took a deep breath, steeled nerves and tethered myself to the whale.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7059.jpg

Gazing beyond and below, I wondered how much, perhaps if. The far-reaching network of slithering canyons, snake-like ridges, gaping calderas and crowning summits.........have they changed much? Or am I looking at the same view others before me, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, peered at, too? Or is this immortalized?

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7064.jpg

Greek mythology and modern neuroscientists assert that memories are the mother of imagination. Remembering the past helps us imagine and prepare for the future. But before me was looking back to the future.

Ancients seabeds, bones of giant reptiles, violent upheavals of stone and hot molten plasma from the bowels of the planet, early mammals, prehistoric humans, nomadic Indians, European-descended settlers, domestic livestock, marauding Indians and rebel Mexicans. The land is anything but desolate. Life springs forth and is extinguished daily here. Like day and night, the cycle continues here like any where else.

But here, it is raw, wild and less forgiving. Only life that adapts to the harsh terrain and climate calls this 'home'.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7051-1.jpg

Archaeological findings in the canyon supply us with pieces of history before written language. We can only infer from those findings what and who lived and roamed here. Recently, cultural artifacts -burnt corncobs, projectile points, burned rock hearth, etc- have been discovered in rock shelters and dated 700-1535 A.D. Shelter ruins and abandoned ranches add to the puzzle. As we piece together remnants from the past, they aid the imagination of how those people lived and thus form memories for the future.

The road that dissects the two mountain ranges and follows the canyon has its own character: hundreds of years as Indian trails, road and hideaways for gunrunners, bootleggers and drug smuggling. It was a major but treacherous route from the towns on the railroads to the Rio Grande basin and Mexico.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7058-1.jpg

Like the road connecting people and places, so does its history; providing a connection with the people, our planet, and ourselves. Pinto Canyon Road is more than a fun ride, its a road through time.

And I want to ride it again.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/DesertRats2.jpg
(photo courtesy of David)

Continued: Ruidosa

Tourmeister
01-10-2008, 09:04 PM
Elzi, you HAVE GOT TO GET OUT THERE IN APRIL!! It is a totally different experience, especially when the bee farmers start putting out hives... :wary: :lol2: Hitting a swarm of bees at 40mph is quite the experience! :eek2: It is also astounding how many flowering plants there are in that area. I'd love to see your write up of a Spring trip.

TexasShadow
01-10-2008, 09:30 PM
Elzi, you HAVE GOT TO GET OUT THERE IN APRIL!! It is a totally different experience, especially when the bee farmers start putting out hives... :wary: :lol2: Hitting a swarm of bees at 40mph is quite the experience! :eek2: Um, I can do without that :eek:
We wondered about the spots of hive boxes on the side of 170 (mostly the south side of the road). From what flowers do the bees gather pollen; cacti? I was thinking then that if that is the case, I'd like to taste the honey.

It is also astounding how many flowering plants there are in that area. I'd love to see your write up of a Spring trip. :) A few days after I hitchhiked into Tuscan, AZ (all those decades ago), a very heavy prolonged rain magically catalyzed the desert into flowering. It was a spectacular wonderland. One I can't completely forget, but the memory has faded and I would love to see the BB region deserts in bloom.

One morning when we were all at Kathy's for coffee, socializing and campfire, who should tap me on my shoulder? My boss. He and his girlfriend were down there for a few days. When he returned to Dallas, he said he stayed in the house and didn't go outside for two days. He didn't want to come back, either.

That was his eighth visit there since he moved to the US and Houston several years ago from Germany. He is in love with Big Bend. He's also an imaging specialist, so his photography is professional quality. He's good and has chronicled most of the flora and fauna there (even a cougar). He told me the best time to be there is in April when the cacti are in bloom and offered to show me his photos.

I graciously declined, telling him that I have to see it first in person. I have to be 'there'. He understood.

I'll be close to 'there' in April ;) (TAR)
You are right. I need to see the area in bloom. It would be icing on the cake for an article I'm writing and the book.

TexasShadow
01-11-2008, 12:54 PM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7092.jpg

Afternoon light was fading when we reached Hwy 170 from Pinto Canyon Road. As is the nature of the desert, shadows contrasted with the late afternoon bright light. The store fronts at the junction were shrouded in the shadows but sun glared on an old water tank.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/Ruidosa.jpg

Not much here; no people around, no ambling dogs, no sounds of life. Only shadows and sun.

This is Ruidosa, Texas. The middle of nowhere.

The general store and cantina further down Hwy 170 betrayed that people lived here. Somewhere. But no one was here or there.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7091.jpg

Character infused the store and surrounding buildings; tidy, colorful, plants in place, stone pathway, maintained adobe walls, and touches of creative structural adornment. Unfortunately it was closed with no sign of anyone nearby.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7090.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7093.jpg

Hard to believe that the small town on the Rio Grande riverbanks was first populated by Mexican convicts in 1824. They were sent by the Mexican government to guard cattle and horses from Apache and Comanche Indians in the general area. But after they were massacred by the Comanches, the colony was abandoned.

Settlers moved there and established farms in 1872 with water from the creeks diverted in ditches. Farming proved productive enough to build a flour mill and, later, a cotton gin. Despite intermittent raids by the Apaches, the town flourished for the next thirty years. The population of the Ruidosa area in 1911 was listed at over one thousand people.

Probably due to the continual unrest and instability of the Rio Grande region -Indian wars and the Mexican Revolution- the population of the community was reduced to 300 in 1929; the cotton gin and most of the local businesses closed in 1936. By 1954 the post office closed and no businesses were reported in 1964. By 1968, and in 2000, the population consensus of Ruidosa was forty-three.

Ruidosa's gem is the historical adobe structure: The Sacred Heart Mission Church. Built in 1914 with community volunteer labor, the abandoned and deteriorated church outlasted the people in the community. One of the two adobe towers next to the entrance toppled in a storm and only the rafters remained on the roof. Alerted by concerned locals and history buffs, the Texas Historical Commission awarded a $30,000 grant to help restore and stabilize the structure with the contingency that matching funds be raised.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7103.jpg

The church's three arches are are the largest existing rounded adobe structures in the state, the largest standing 18 feet above the dirt floor. Masons used round flat rocks as spacers to create the arches built of sand and straw bricks. Some plaster remains on the inside walls but most has flaked off.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7104.jpg

Like most places in the desert, natural and man-made, the view from any angle can be intriguing and different with the changing sunlight. Life is all how you look at it, and this provided several ways of looking at life now and back then.

From the inside.......
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7119.jpg

and out.
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7138.jpg

A wide view of life...
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7116.jpg

or a narrow one.
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7122.jpg

The vast, tough and harsh landscape has its own gems and beauty. So do the man-made imprints upon the landscape. The entwined co-existance causes one to reflect once in awhile.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7141.jpg

Now tired and hungry, the bikes were loaded in the dwindling daylight and.....
where were the keys?

Wiley rode with me this time and he was quite displeased that he fell down with the bike and covered with dust and sand. To state his displeasure he had absconded the keys and found a seat to rest and enjoy the last of the sunshine.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7115.jpg

Driving back to Presidio on the desert floor, ridges towering in the distance on both sides, a bystander stood and stared at us from the side of the road. I don't think he moved an inch since we passed him from the opposite direction hours ago.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7143.jpg

An attraction of living in the desert is the imagination, creativity, tenacity and originality you find in the people there. Sometimes you come upon something that just grabs you and strikes your fancy.

I especially liked this.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7150.jpg

Next: Double Secret Dualsport Ride

The Bruce
01-11-2008, 01:07 PM
:coffee:

ed29
01-11-2008, 11:30 PM
http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img14a.jpg

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img12a.jpg
Tuff Canyon

Can you tell it was Christmas in the desert? We came across this row of Santa hatted agave on an un-named, un-mapped, semi-private road.

One of the places Roger showed us on the first day is Tuff Canyon. It is named for the rock that a quick internet search tells me is made up of volcanic ash. Tuff is a soft rock and the small canyon cut 40 to 50 feet deep in it is a nice short walk. As a group we just looked from above, the next day I set off on my own to hike in and shoot some pictures. The view from the rim looking in:

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img24a.jpg

The canyon is not very long, from the overlook it is a short walk south and down to the floor. The walls are steep here, and pocked with lots of holes. I hear that people make a game of tossing rocks and pebbles and trying to get them to stay in the pockets. There were a lot of rocks in the pockets that day.

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img15a.jpg

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img16a.jpg

The view from the floor along the west wall where the cayon opens out to the flats. Ths is the south end and the entrance to Tuff.

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img17a.jpg

Along the way the canyon widens and narrows, cracks, caves, and ledges decorate the walls.

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img19a.jpg

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img20a.jpg

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img21a.jpg

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img22a.jpg

Sometimes the shadows can play tricks..... Is that Waldo hiding in the shadows?

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img18a.jpg

I found this basketball sized multi-colored rock on the canyon floor. Of course I left it there, only taking its image with me.

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img23a.jpg

Tuff Canyon was a nice little walk, too short to call it a hike. As usual the pictures cannot convey the colors, textures, and scale of the place. I recommend taking an hour or so one day while you are in the park and exploring it. Here is a parting shot from Tuff, with her big sister Santa Elena far off in the distance.

http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img24b.jpg

Tourmeister
01-11-2008, 11:33 PM
http://i222.photobucket.com/albums/dd52/edhegarty/Big%20Bend/img23a.jpg

When I first saw that I thought, "Wow... a fossilized skull!!" :ponder:

ed29
01-11-2008, 11:35 PM
When I first saw that I thought, "Wow... a fossilized skull!!" :ponder:
HAH... too big for a skull, but I see the resemblance.

TexasShadow
01-12-2008, 08:42 AM
When I first saw that I thought, "Wow... a fossilized skull!!" :ponder: It looks like the brain of a an ancient ancestor! See the line that divides the hemispheres? and the frontal lobe on the left? No convolutions* though, so it must be an early precursor :mrgreen:

Considering my penchant for rocks it would have mysteriously found its way into my tailbag. :doh:

Nice photos, Ed. Amazing to believe that it is a an ancient deep bed of volcanic ash. Imagine the amount of volcanic activity that spewed all that ash out. One heck of a fireworks show!

TexasShadow
01-13-2008, 08:59 PM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7165.jpg

{background music of movie theme in The Good, Bad and the Ugly}

Not a long time ago in a desert far, far away
a dust storm raged.
A fierce wind ravaged the Terlingua desert.
But without a ride, no one
could stand to end the day.
The Desert Rats were creatures
of virtue and peace.
However, there were those
who held not the high regard
for riding dirt and honor.
This is not their story,
nor is it a story about anyone
from that desert.
This is a about another place,
a place not of this time,
a place not of this universe.

It is.........

The Double Secret Dual Sport Ride
also known as 'DS squared Ride'.
Starring The Desert Rats.

{script}
After much nose blowing, grunting and clattering of teeth in the cold, the Desert Rats piled into the Desert Mobile. Arriving at Kathy's Kosmic Kafe, the Rats and other lowly creatures, intruders, interlopers, and transgressors ate Rat food, drank good blackened bean water and squeaked with others around a pit of fire.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7155-1.jpg

One of the Desert Rats base group departed that morning and with a heavy sigh of regret, they watched him ride his big Red Desert Wing towing a desert beetle carrying contraband sand and dust, down the highway on a secret mission.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7152.jpg

As they watched him ride away, they honored Hardy the Rat with wishes of a safe journey.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7153.jpg

Meanwhile, back at the fire pit, after stomachs were full, gullets washed and teeth picked clean and shining, the remainder of the Rats piled into the Rat Mobile and visited Jim the Pirate down the road.

"Yarrrr, matey!" exchanges of cheer were had by Pirate Jim and the Desert Rats.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7157.jpg

Back at the official Desert Rat base camp, Rat bikes were readied and the Rats donned their desert gear. Today was the day.
The day of......
the DS squared Ride.
{harmonica fading in and fading out}

Roger Rat led the squadron, the Rats were armed and armored for exploration, discovery and battle. The wind was horrendous, whipping sand and dust up their noses and in their mouths and eyes. With face masks, goggles, sunglasses and helmets these Rats may have been Dirty Rats but they were shining in their desert glory.

"Hey, Dude. You look like a Stormtrooper."
"Rat, I'm not your father..... whoooosh, hisss"
"Okay, Darth Rat."

They crossed the highway and entered.........
the Terlingua Desert.
For Parts Unknown.

{tail end chorus of Eastwood music "Wha, wha, whaaaaaaa"}

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7159.jpg

The road climbed,
in sand, dust, stones, rocks and wind.
Wind and dust beat against their helmets.
Rocks grabbed at their tires,
their knobbies beat them down.
Their skin beet red from the blasting
sun, wind and sand.

But still they rode on.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/DesertRats1.jpg
Photo credit: David Rat

Stopping to regroup, Roger Rat and Ed Rat discuss battle plans while David Rat surveys the battle scene.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7160.jpg

They rode on with mountain monsters hot on their trail....

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/ElziDesert3.jpg

and little green creatures with thorny ammunition.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/ElziDesert1.jpg
Photo credit: David Rat

The Desert Bikes were trusty steeds of the Desert Rats.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7163.jpg

With their cloaking devices sometimes in operation, they were able to elude fierce desert winds and mountain monsters.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7166-1.jpg

At strategic lookout points, the Desert Rats surveyed their world below them. And stood in awe at the terrain they were conquering.
One of them wondering "Where the **** are we?"

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/DSDSRpan1.jpg

Roger Rat led the way to a common trading and rest post in a secluded and sheltered canyon. It was called "The Hilton". Here, they rested.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7169.jpg

Abandoned at the time, it was an interesting shelter. Built of loose rock...

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7174.jpg

outfitted for comfort.....

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7175.jpg

peepholes and remembrances tucked everywhere.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7181.jpg

Roger Rat explains the long history of this place to David Rat while they relax and renew their energy.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7183.jpg

Starting up again, the Desert Rats climb out of the gully on their trusted Desert bikes and gain altitude to reconnaissance the land and trail below and beyond.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7185-1.jpg

The Rat with the camera hones in on a mountain monster, a sentinel to the desert for centuries.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7191.jpg

A plan is hashed and drawn,

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7192.jpg

Roger Rat beckons the others to follow him to the Sacred Place.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7193.jpg

Then deeper and deeper they go, they ride into an artery that carries the Life Force.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/DSDSRpan2.jpg

David Rat scouts for danger.......

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7195-1.jpg

and the group stops to rest after climbs and downhills, curves and rocks.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7199.jpg

David Rat continues to wonder.....
"Hmmmm...... I wonder what lies ahead down there...... "

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7200.jpg

The Desert Rats sit, refresh slurping water, and chatter in the shade.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7205.jpg

The Final Challenge: leaving the Life Force. It tries to keep them there, but one by one, they charge up and out of the Force, up the sandy rutted bank, out of the mud.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7206.jpg

To continue on, where no Rat has gone before.

Eventually, tired and hungry, the Desert Rats reach a main highway and head into the wind and dust, pummeled with sand, they duck their heads and ride to Chili Peppers for grog and Rat Food.

They walk inside, faces covered with sand and dust, coughing and blowing their noses, laughing and chittering. The two couples at the table stop their conversation and stare. The girly waitress rolls her eyes and hesitates to wait on them.

The Girl Desert Rat bangs her fist on the table and hoarsely croaks;
"Bring me an iced tea. Unsweetened.
Bring us a pitcher."

Girly Waitress rolls her eyes in disdain. Beady eyes of the Rats dart back and forth, all around the inside of the restaurant, and a chill goes down the spines of the city slickers sitting at the other table.

"Dang, I'm hungry!!!" says Roger Rat aloud.

Fed, refreshed, bladders soon to be floating with tea, picking sand and grit out of ears and the corners of their lips, the Desert Rats don their gear and head back to base camp.

The Rats are honored again with David Rats mad camp chef skilz and they huddle around the fire camp fire pit, guffawing with stories and memories, lubricated by Desert Antifreeze.

Another night after a ride. But this ride was special. Into the unknown, the untamed and untold. It was a Double Secret Ride because no rat knew where the heck they were.

It was a ride to glory.

{Coyotes yip in the canyon below}

"Goodnight, Roger Rat"
"'Night, David Rat"
""Night, Ed Rat"
" Goodnight, Elzi Rat. And stop yipping at the coyotes!"

KenH
01-13-2008, 10:52 PM
G'night, Johnboy.

Lyle
01-14-2008, 05:14 PM
:tab When I was still using the Nikon SLR, I had the same filter on most of the time. However, I now carry a 6 Mpix Canon Elf about the size of a pack of cigs. No filters for it. The trade off is that when I was carrying the bigger camera, I took fewer pics because it was such a hassle to carry everything, get it out, take the pics, put it away, etc,... The Nikon took fantastic pics! The Canon takes acceptable pics :shrug: Time is always the enemy. Good pics take time for me. I have to really think about what I want to capture, how to do it, what the light is like, etc... When riding with other people, I get to self conscious about constantly taking so much time and holding up everyone else.
That's one advantage of riding alone and with no severe time constraints. You can take as long as you want to take your pics. You can set up a tripod and take panorama shots, try different angles and camera locations, and do the thinking you describe. Because it doesn't matter what kind of camera you have... the more you put into the photograph, the better it will look.

Having said that, there are times when I don't have the time to get out my Olympus C-5050Z, which is almost a point-and-shoot, and sometimes I don't have it along because of its modest size and weight. So, I am thinking of buying a small camera like yours, just so I'll almost always have a camera if I stumble across Bigfoot, Nessie, a mermaid, a UFO landing, or a nice sunset.

Quick-Silver
01-14-2008, 05:51 PM
That's one advantage of riding alone and with no severe time constraints. You can take as long as you want to take your pics. You can set up a tripod and take panorama shots, try different angles and camera locations, and do the thinking you describe.

Not to get off topic so PM me if you like. When photographing a panorama set, what is the trick for getting the photos in alignment? Is this done automatically or does the photographer have to more or less line the different shots up?

Thanks

KenH
01-14-2008, 09:59 PM
Not to get off topic so PM me if you like. When photographing a panorama set, what is the trick for getting the photos in alignment? Is this done automatically or does the photographer have to more or less line the different shots up?

Thanks

It helps to have the camera's base rotate on a plane parallel to the horizon. Then, use software to overlap the images. There is software available that will also allow the camera to be tilted, so the image can be panned vertically as well as horizontally, with the result being the ability to pan 360* on any plane.

Tourmeister
01-14-2008, 10:27 PM
My problem with the pan shots is not alignment, but consistent exposure among the shots.

TexasShadow
01-15-2008, 08:21 AM
Many cameras have a pan program. Exposure for the sequential shots is set with the first shot. Each shot of the series can be matched for overlap because all or a portion of the previous shot will appear on the monitor or in the viewfinder. Such cameras also have stitch software that comes with it.

Most of the Canon Powershot series (at least the upper-level models) have pan programs and stitch software.

Quick-Silver
01-15-2008, 12:28 PM
Well:doh: I have a Canon SD550. I found the Advanced User Guide and in it there is a section on Shooting Panoramic Images (Stitch Assist). A sequence may contain up to 26 images. There must be a disk around here with some Canon SW on it.

Didn't even know this little camera would do this. Guess I'll have to try this out. Those are some pretty pictures out in Big Bend.

Thanks guys.

Elzi, how many images did you put in your BB panoramas?

TexasShadow
01-15-2008, 12:41 PM
Elzi, how many images did you put in your BB panoramas? Varies considerably. Anywhere from three and up. One had seven. The more shots the more compromising you will do (zoom, field of focus, overall size, etc) and the difficulty in selecting a complete image that is usable. When you start shooting with pan mode, you will discover why.

As someone (Lyle?) commented earlier, very important to have a steady hand and level reference point from which to rotate. And is more important the more shots in the pan series. A tripod in an enormous help, but a telescoping monopod, which is what I need to get, is a compromise.

TexasShadow
01-15-2008, 10:02 PM
The Day After the Infamous DS (squared) Ride and I think I had a lungful of dust and sand. I didn't feel like doing anything. I hurt and I felt like crap, tired of blowing my bloody nose. So I waved at everyone else as they rode out and played Dead Possum that day.

Except for when Rog and I went into town to visit the locals, sit and have a malt with cuppa Joe, I photographed around Roger's place. I mean, you wake up to that and what else do you need? You've got it all out in front of you.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7233.jpg

Then, of course, there was *The* Road. That one. The one that led up, winding, and then disappeared. There. Staring at me all day, all night. The one that climbed the ridge, the scalloped ridge. Over there.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/RogDesertPan2.jpg

It called me {faint subtle harmonica music} like a siren. I was captivated.
I. Must. Ride. That. Road.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7216-1.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7217.jpg

Meanwhile, everyone did what they wanted. Including me. Nothing.
And it was great!!!!

Tom and Don pulled in to join us. Desert Rats Anonymouse.
I caught Don as he pulled in. Tom rode in faster than a speeding GS, the photo was too blurred!

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7277.jpg

The sun shone on the Chisos and Christmas mountains before setting.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7279.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/RogDesertPan7.jpg
This pan a composite of nine photos... :eek2:

It was another fine day in the desert.

TexasShadow
01-17-2008, 09:46 PM
http://inlinethumb57.webshots.com/8312/2113048640100746484S500x500Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2113048640100746484pWYMYc)

I intended to hike up Chisos Mnts and camp overnight on the rim. But with this head cold that plagued me, I postponed that adventure until another time. In lieu of that, we hiked the Lost Mine Trail. It was awesome.

I won't bore everyone with an account of the hike, except for a few passing photos.

This was not a hike you do in MX boots. We packed hiking boots on the bike and, well, this is what we did with our riding boots.

http://inlinethumb06.webshots.com/39301/2424466580100746484S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2424466580100746484rsziEv)

http://inlinethumb37.webshots.com/34404/2443753570100746484S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2443753570100746484rMQdch)

At one point on the trail, the road up through Green Gulch and into the Chisos could be seen. Just before the winding corkscrew part :trust:

http://inlinethumb32.webshots.com/40799/2191125530100746484S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2191125530100746484lBNtgL)

http://inlinethumb59.webshots.com/41914/2179918870100746484S500x500Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2179918870100746484aDubUg)

Riding the 250 on that section of road, especially the last curve and just before descending down into the basin, is....... A BLAST!!!!!!

The panoramic vistas from the top is nothing short of breathtaking and awesome.

http://inlinethumb06.webshots.com/39941/2156484190100746484S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2156484190100746484tlzNMl)

One more day of riding in the desert. Then the last day was my own private ride, solo on two wheels. I have only one or two photos to share from that ride.

TexasShadow
01-18-2008, 12:08 PM
http://inlinethumb23.webshots.com/42774/2025279650100746484S600x600Q85.jpg (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2025279650100746484lblbrc)

Gilk51
01-18-2008, 12:09 PM
Teaser......


Don't teas me, bro! ;-)

TexasShadow
01-18-2008, 12:37 PM
Don't teas me, bro! ;-) Slide show of Day 9 with ice cream tonight at BB :trust:

busarider1
01-18-2008, 01:43 PM
I'm still waiting for my DVDs!!! These red x's are killing me!

TexasShadow
01-18-2008, 01:47 PM
I'm still waiting for my DVDs!!! These red x's are killing me! I'm almost done with all the photos! No, really... honest.
;)

I'll email you your fix in a bit. :mrgreen:

Gilk51
01-18-2008, 04:52 PM
I'm still waiting for my DVDs!!! These red x's are killing me!

Hmmmmmm :ponder: Elz - you were going to send him a special DVD... :-(

TexasShadow
01-18-2008, 11:05 PM
Hmmmmmm :ponder: Elz - you were going to send him a special DVD... :-(
I have TWO special DVDs for him as well as the other Elzi Special DVDs.
They're only for special people :mrgreen:

TexasShadow
01-20-2008, 11:53 AM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/E_desert_camp.jpg

Every morning carried a sense of peace and urgency, anticipation and placidity, cold and warmth. That is the conundrum when one visits places in which your heart, even your physical being, is captured. Once taken hostage, there's no letting go. You are a prisoner of its past, present and future. It overlays your own presence and future so deeply that when you leave, you are never gone. When you return to the life you left, you can't just slip back into the mainstream. You've stepped through a door into another world like Narnia, the hidden closet door, and you can never really leave it. At least, not whole. Because a part of you is now a part of there. And it remains there until you return to reclaim it, to submit yourself to the essence of that place that holds your heart.

Two or three days in such places dosn't peel back the layers to let you sink into and immerse yourself. But seven, eight, nine days allows one to meld into the life and physical reality there. Like osmosis, you become a part of it, it becomes a part of you. If you let it.

Leaving is sometimes painful. Until you return. And never have to leave again.

The reality of leaving wouldn't hit us until the next day. I knew it would come; I've felt it many times. I didn't know about the others, but the next day would reveal a sense of unease and loss; that anticipation of leaving. Today was a day of homage, tomorrow would be a day of solitary commemoration. And sadness. Like leaving the bed of your lover; that warm bed and presence of love, fulfillment, happiness and satisfaction. It's visceral and spiritual. You don't want to leave.

As nearly every morning we woke to the sun chasing shadows across the ridges, mountains, canyons, arroyos, and cacti. The desert's color palette never ceases to amaze me. What some perceive as only a boring pallid and desolate landscape, some of us watch the day unfold and night ascend in every color imaginable, blazing or subtle. It's never the same. It's more alive than the bustling city I am tethered to every weekday.

Roger and David partaking in the ritual of nearly every morning: coffee, comfy chairs overlooking the floor of the barranca, sitting behind David's trailer sheltered from the wind.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7538.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7551.jpg

In the rose-tinted golden sunlight of the morning, Tom and Don packed their bikes for the return home.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7515.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7537.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7566.jpg

The rest of us piled into the Big Desert Ratmobile for breakfast at the Kosmic Kafe. Richard trying to impress a pretty visitor to the BB area:

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7578.jpg

Don and David discussing the merits of pink short buses:

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7581.jpg

We were sorry to see Don and Tom ride out. We enjoyed their company during their short stay.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7569.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7573.jpg

Back at base camp Ed and I decided to do explore the local area. Like many small towns, Terlingua is full of character, both on the surface and underneath.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7584.jpg

Riding north of the tourist-geared ghost town, we explored an area of small adobes and rock structures. Some of these were ruins from early habitation, others were homes for locals and very lived in. The juxtaposition of old and current was typical of an element that this area nurtures. Locals live with the geological and cultural history of the desert, integrating themselves just enough that old and current meshes and blends well. Large deviations are obvious and unsightly like a thistle in a rose garden.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7586.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7590.jpg

Our little 250's were so agile and ready to ride and maneuver places in the desert. Paved street speed became a non-issue. These little bikes could go anywhere.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7592.jpg

As always, no matter which way one turns their sight, the views are magnificent. By that day, I found myself easily recognizing the landmarks. While they had 'official' names, I had my own names for many of them.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7596.jpg

We soon found our way in the Terlingua desert on the county and TRA roads. Leading, I turned and rode where my curiosity guided me. We came upon an adobe-style home in construction. Parking the bikes, we explored the details of construction and water catchment system.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7598.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7604.jpg

Being an outdoor person, I admired the extended living space: the covered porches. The views were just fantastic. I kept thinking, "Oh yeah. I could live here...."

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7619.jpg

We rode on following various turnoffs and desert roads:

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/DRBase2.jpg

And then found *the* spot. The triple secret spot that would grow inside our heads like a snowball rolling downhill: a possible site for Desert Rats' Camp Base. The views were magnificent in every direction.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/DRBase5.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7688.jpg

Close by were fun roads and canyons:

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7666.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7643.jpg

Wiley approved!!

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7649.jpg

And so did our bikes.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7658.jpg

I explored the vegetation in the area and found one of my favorite cacti!! Um, a few of the Desert Rat gang already know what I've named these little thorny things ;-)

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7698.jpg

We continued on with our exploratory ride and found ourselves up a ridge that caught our attention earlier. The views were absolutely magnificent no matter which way you turned.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/NTerlingua1.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7724-1.jpg

Again, there was *that* road again. The road that would claim me. And soon I would know.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7708.jpg

The trail on the ridge emptied down into the Ghost Town where we sat on the porch for a break and cold drink. Then we made the obligatory stop at the famous Terlingua cemetery.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7743.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7748.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7754.jpg

Daylight was fading fast. It was time.
Time to finally submit myself to *the* road: my Ridge Road. The anticipation was almost killing me.

Here she was:

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7217.jpg

And like Captain Ahab strapped to the big white whale, I gave myself to her.
I didn't stop to take any photos on the way up; I was too engrossed, immersed in the ride. Up on the ridge, the exhilaration was indescribable. The only reason we stopped was the large sign on a gate: Private Property. As much as I wanted to continue on, I honored their privacy. Then I got off the bike to see what I could see.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/Terlingua1.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7757-1.jpg

I smiled at the juxtaposition that we had just earlier ridden the ridge opposite to us.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/TerlinguaPan1.jpg

Now losing sunlight quickly, we began the descent to the desert floor. I stopped on the side of the road to take photos where a level area allowed me to stop without careening over the handlebars.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7777.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7778.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7779.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7785-1.jpg

Reaching the bottom of the canyon floor, the adrenaline controlled my right hand and opened the throttle open while grinning like a mad woman inside my helmet and "Whoohoooo!!!!!"s escaping uncontrollably from my mouth. I buzzed past Ed on the gravel road and barely stopped at the highway, just long enough for Ed to catch up and turn with me.

The adrenaline and Ms. Hyde still at the throttle, I whizzed past Ed in our lane, riding like a mad bee on the loose, gunned up Roger's road, speeding into camp and whooping like an Indian with a sardonic grin plastered on my face. AGAIN!!!!!

The road was mine. And we will be reunited next month.

I slept like a desert rock that night.

KenH
01-20-2008, 11:21 PM
Hurry up, February!!!!

TexasShadow
01-20-2008, 11:29 PM
One of the greatest inventions since ice cream is Google Earth. And it's dangerous.

While browsing some of the topography of the roads we were on down in BB, of course I *had!* to check on the Ridge Road. Well, it is indeed a road that runs a 'ridge', but more appropriately it is more interesting than that.

It runs along the top of a fault and hugs the bottom of another fault. Huh?

Originating from the paved highway, the road is on an ancient limestone bed in a long draw: flat and fun. Then it begins to climb the very end of a two-mile long plateau: Reed Plateau. Steep and hairy.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/ReedPlateau1.jpg

It was created by uplifts from below the earth surface during the Cretaceous period and was a shallow coastal plain next to a shallow ocean basin (so may have dinosaur fossils). The hard limestone cliffs that rise above the draw floor are the first uplift, the second uplift rises above the first (3K feet above sea level).

After the road climbs the SW tail end of the plateau it bends back in the direction it ran before the climb, northeast, and along a shelf on top the first uplift. The south, or left, edge of the road hugs the base of the upper uplift and the very top of the plateau.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/ReedPlateau2.jpg

Exploring the edges of the plateau on Google Earth I realized I had parked the bike on top of a hill at the northern edge of that plateau the next day. A phenomenal view that overlooks the draw and Terlingua, the floor of an ancient ocean, with the far eastern view of the Chisos, Sawmill and Christmas Mountains. (photos of that will be posted later)

Looking at the three-dimensional maps on Google Earth made me feel as though I had just been on an airplane ride over that area, and gone back in time. Speeding forward, I pieced several stops and spots together where I had ridden and it all fell together.

All I could say was "Wow!"

I also found some gravel/dirt roads that climb the plateau on the other (eastern) side. :trust: Now I'm curious to see if they are navigable by bike. Maybe I should see if any other Desert Rats want to go exploring........ ;-)

Oh, and two other puzzling phenomenas I found on Google Earth associated with the side of the plateau near the road: several straight gouges in the land. The look too straight to be natural, but too big and inaccessible to be man-made. I wonder what they are....
And, the wash that runs near the base of the cliffs and down in the draw runs lightly UP the base of the cliffs! Now that makes NO sense...... I'll have to check that out, too.

Google Earth is dangerous for off-road riders.......... :rider:

TexasShadow
01-20-2008, 11:39 PM
And, the wash that runs near the base of the cliffs and down in the draw runs lightly UP the base of the cliffs! Now that makes NO sense...... I'll have to check that out, too. One last look and I figured that out: the cliff above drains the shelf onto the draw floor. That's why it looks like the wash 'climbs' the cliff. It doesn't; the water flows off the shelf there and washes the cliff face so that wash looks like it's running uphill.

So, spot marked to stop and check out next month on the bike!! :mrgreen:

Oh, and the canyon that wash runs through is awesome. It's like a beautiful tunnel. (another spot to stop on the bike)
*giggle*

Who needs Lewis and Clark when ya have a dirt bike??

busarider1
01-21-2008, 12:00 AM
I have TWO special DVDs for him as well as the other Elzi Special DVDs.
They're only for special people :mrgreen:


Woohoo! I'm special! Special, in a good way, I hope!

jhansen
01-21-2008, 02:44 AM
IThey're only for special people :mrgreen:

My mom says I'm special cause I ride the short bus.:trust:

Voni
01-21-2008, 09:17 AM
I can't thank you enough! Your pictures and commentary are superlative! We've lived here north of Study Butte for the last year and a half and are continually blown away by the beauty of this place.

You capture it in a whole new way and I really appreciate your hard work to share it with us all.

I'd feel so sad for you coming to an end of reporting your most recent journey, but I'm glad to know you'll be back in February.

Looking forward to meeting you then.

Voni
sMiling

Quick-Silver
01-21-2008, 01:36 PM
Elzi, You've done a fine job reporting your BB trip to all the readers of this forum. If you don't sell this adventure story to some publication soon you are pulling up way short of your capabilities. Your work is definitely professional quality.

IMHO you should be our resident expert on Big Bend.

Thanks for a job well done.

KenH
01-21-2008, 04:20 PM
Elzi, T-dub and I will be in Big Bend for a few days at Roger's Ride the Rio event. Chain and sprockets in mountain goat ratio are on. New back tire is on. Cables and swingarm lubricated. Barnett clutch is in. I'm taking a break from scraping engine cover gasket right now--my fingers are cramping. What does Yamaha make those things out of, anyway. Fresh oil and filter going in as soon as the case is bolted up. Tune up is next, then LED bulbs replacing everything except the headlight. I have a gnarly knobby for the front, new fork oil, and fork gaiters to go on Tuesday, after the TC M&G&E.

The only ride I have planned so far is the River Road that Ed posted about. T-dub and I will be thrilled to assist with the explorations. I'm hoping Adventure Bear will be able to join us. He will be good company for Wiley.

TexasShadow
01-21-2008, 09:04 PM
Thanks for the kind words, Gerry and Voni. After the ride down in BB next month, I intend to combine material -photos and narrative- from all three trips into an article to submit to a motorcycle periodical. Not Ride Texas (it seems that they always publish an article about destinations I just visited, right after I did. As if someone were following me. It's a bit bizarre.).

Thank you for the encouragement. :sun:

Now on with Day 10.

Tourmeister
01-21-2008, 09:30 PM
Start your own magazine... :-P

TexasShadow
01-21-2008, 10:08 PM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/sunrise_pan2.jpg

My sinuses and nose wouldn't let me sleep anymore. Having this head cold from Day Two (I lost track of days very quickly, and didn't care), I spent most of the nights blowing my nose or stuffing Kleenex up my nostrils to dam the flow. This morning I woke with undirected wayward energy. To avoid becoming a miscreant I decided early that I was going solo; I needed my own ride somewhere.

Apparently my mood was infectious or it had stricken all of us. The other sorry-looking remnants of the Desert Rats were sullen and moody. Camp was like a small bunch of wet rats bumping into each other while swimming in cold water.

David and I were the first ones up, barely up with the rising sun. After making coffee, we both watched its glow slither over the Chisos Mountains in the distant; a golden orange creeping over black silhouetted curves, peaks, sharp pointy mule ears and rolling lines.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7786.jpg

Soon golden rays would bask the Mesa de Anguila, the magnificent and towering cliffs that ended at the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon, and turn them into a radiating wall of rose, gold and amber. Then the strong rays of the hot ball of plasma that turns our nights into day made their entrance like a queen.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7818.jpg

Everything in camp was basked in amber and rose light as the sun began to climb the sky. The cliffs of the Reed Plateau across the draw floor to the west were aglow with colors. It was a light show that nothing man-made can best.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7829.jpg

David, Ed and Roger went to Kathy's for breakfast; I stayed behind to get my dose of solitude and have conversations with the desert. With full coffee mug and camera, I explored around Roger's again.

I found some new buddies:

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http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7867.jpg

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7920.jpg

and a wash that drains Roger's little plateau down the draw and wash below. It was a chute of limestone shale, the bottom smoothed like a flagstone bathtub. The walls stacked with shale, all the loose sand long since washed out and down to leave a wonderful showcase of textures and colors.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7871.jpg

I even found my shadow amongst them. It wanted more coffee. And grub!

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Wiley joined me for breakfast; I think he was tired from frolicking with his fellow canines. I heard them yipping several times... of course, it didn't help that I edged them on and called them in on all three sides of us. *shrug* ;-)

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7955-1.jpg

I sat for awhile in Roger's Posthenge and communed with the desert.

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When the others returned, some of us were snarling at each other. It was time for everyone to go off on their own for the day. A solitary communing with the desert on our last day there. And we all knew Roger needed a break from us .... :mrgreen:

Sherpie ready for the charge, water stashed with protein bar, tons of kleenex, fresh camera batteries and I was off. I headed east on Farm Road 170 (I proclaim we change it to River Road 170!)

Eventually I stopped at the Big Bend Ranch State Park center.

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Had an enjoyable and lively chat with Ranger David. Roger was correct in that he's a good guy and a wealth of information about the area. He freely shared with me his map of north Terlingua desert and some local history. In response to an inquiry about future employment opportunities there with the park, he was encouraging. They just might have a position opening for a biologist........ :trust:

The courtyard is a desert garden that is like a magical land in itself. It's awesome.

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Sauntering outside, the day was well highnoon, from the glare of the sun, and I wandered through the desert plant collection and up the hill behind the center. At the top I sat under a roof in the shade sipping water and enjoying the view overlooking Lajitus to the west, Rio Grande to the south and the center, mountains and ridges inside the park to the north.

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http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/BBRSP1.jpg

Refreshed, I wandered back into the courtyard again with a different perspective:

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8101-1.jpg

and then spent the next hour inside the fantastic exhibit depicting and explaining the geological, natural, and cultural histories of the surrounding areas (the entire Trans-Pecos region). It was fascinating and answered so many questions I have had since my first visit. I highly recommend the trip inside.

Eating my food bar in the shade of the adobe, rock and timber porch, I washed it down with more water, geared up and rode on.

I just rode. It was just me, the road, the bike and the desert. Hardly any traffic and I felt as though it all was just mine. All mine. MINE! :mrgreen:

Heading back west on 170 I rounded a curve at the crest of a hill and...
Whoah!!!! I was so drawn into and absorbed in the views below and panned out in front of me as I rode down the road, I was lost. A mile or so later, when I finally came to my senses, I decided I needed to go back and do that again. So I did.

Turning around, riding up the hill and doing a U-turn, I approached the curve and the crest of the hill, pulled off the road to the side, parked the bike, took off the helmet and just stood there like a drunk. Awesome.....

I was able to captures something that may represent the view,

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/HWY170_2.jpg

and got one from right in the middle of the road. Glad traffic was almost non-existent.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8117.jpg

Now, this is Thirtyeight Hill. Why is it called that? I'd sure like to know. Perhaps it is associated with the Little Thirty-eight Mine nearby. I have the GPS coordinates of the mine; maybe I'll check that out, too. (Man, do I need a GPS! All these GPS coordinates and no GPS.... :doh: ) This hill is also the northern shoulder tip of Reed Plateau! Where My Ridge Road is.......

Riding back into camp, everyone seemed in better spirits. Camp Chef David outdid himself again with dinner. That guy is just amazing. :clap: :bow: :eat2:

We caught Wiley and Yotey howling at the moon, Wiley under the tutelage of the very best.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8125.jpg

And we were honored with a nice sunset over the Chisos.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8135.jpg

it was the last day, last night. We had a good day, good night in commemoration of our fantastic adventure there.

Tourmeister
01-21-2008, 11:37 PM
You need to get a personalized license plate for the Sherpa... "DEZ RAT" ;-)

TexasShadow
01-22-2008, 04:57 AM
You need to get a personalized license plate for the Sherpa... "DEZ RAT" ;-) Hey, I like that!!

TexasShadow
01-22-2008, 07:54 AM
Start your own magazine... :-P Lots of potential there, but I'm the worst person to start/run a magazine!

I'm the writer/photographer with a cloaking device that hides in a room with the laptop and coffee maker or escapes on a bike, incommunicado for days at a time ......... But a sponsor would be great! Then I can quit this day job :mrgreen:

Tourmeister
01-23-2008, 12:59 AM
But a sponsor would be great! Then I can quit this day job :mrgreen:

I have the same problem. My life could use a good sponsor :-P

TexasShadow
01-23-2008, 09:20 AM
I have the same problem. My life could use a good sponsor :-P heheh. I need to buy a winning lottery ticket. :trust: I'll share. :mrgreen: (TWT Desert Base Camp.....)

I may have a break through soon. Not saying anything yet until the lead pans out, but at least a book is in the first planning stages. I might pm you for feedback.

M38A1
01-23-2008, 09:33 PM
What a fantastic trip! You've taken me places I can only dream of one day visiting. :clap:

TexasShadow
01-24-2008, 09:13 PM
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/BBP_roadpan1.jpg


Darest thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?

No map, there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not, O Soul;
Nor dost thou—all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream’d of, in that region—that inaccessible land.

Till, when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.

Then we burst forth—we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul—prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last—(O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.
- Walt Whitman

Big Bend and the surrounding area can mean, or be, different things to different people. For some it is nothing more than dry empty desolate vast landscapes, so empty that it sucks the very life stuff out of them. For many it was a life of servitude to backbreaking grind and painful work as they eked out a life for themselves and their families. For some it was fool's gold; take and rob from others and the land while the taking was good. Others seek the solitude and simplicity, willing to sacrifice luxuries for solace these big empty spaces offer, trading for risk and challenges urban people only read about in old books or watch in old movies.

Then there are those of us that seek places like this for something we can't see or obtain within the microcosom of our every day world. Is it just the roads? All we want is to ride screaming down the tarmac or gravel? If that is so, many other places closer and with less discomfort can appease that desire.

Than what is it? Why do we travel, by four or two wheels, hundreds of miles to ride here where there is, by many other perspectives..... nothing? Stop for a moment next time you are down there and ask yourself that question.
"Why am I here?"

It's not just the roads. Sometimes those roads are winding.....

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8143.jpg

bumpy.....

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8146.jpg

thorny.......

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8161.jpg

steep.....

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7785-1.jpg

rocky......

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7055.jpg

wet.......

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/img015.jpg

and muddy.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_7206.jpg

Sometimes, there is no road.

http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i20/lzvolk/Desert%20Rats%20Xmas/IMG_8168.jpg

It doesn't matter. It's more than just the roads, paths, and trails that draw us. It's an intrinsic, sometimes visceral, longing to be out there. In amongst the landscape and moving. Like a petulant and persistent pendulum inside of us, we have to keep moving. Moving into new tastes, smells, sounds and whispers. Even returning again and again to get more. Each builds a layer on the one before, and a foundation for the next. And our horizons broaden each time we do.

Maybe we can't go to Africa, Belize, the Amazon or Australia. But there are so many places around us, near and far, where we can go. Each can be our own adventure. Don't scale what is available to you to places that you may never visit. Most of us don't have the resources and freedom to gallivant around the world. But we do have the freedom to go places we've never been before. Even if it is only thirty miles away. All it requires is will and determination. If you have those, you can and will find a way.

Even if there is no road, follow your heart. You will create your own road.

Voni
01-24-2008, 10:11 PM
Sweet!

And so very wise.

Voni
sMiling

anaconda
02-13-2008, 02:28 PM
Great pics Elzi! :clap:

TexasShadow
02-13-2008, 03:06 PM
Great pics Elzi! :clap:Since you won't be able to go there this month for the ride, how about I drop a DVD slideshow in the mail for ya.

anaconda
02-13-2008, 03:13 PM
Since you won't be able to go there this month for the ride, how about I drop a DVD slideshow in the mail for ya.

That'd be great Elzi!

miltonotto
09-24-2012, 09:48 PM
Nice photos. Kudos.