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Trail Boss
01-02-2006, 12:14 AM
For the third time I was going to be riding motorcycles in Big Bend. In 2002 during my family’s annual vacation to Big Bend my Uncle Roger, who lives in Terlingua half the year, had his motorcycles there and invited me to ride with him. I eagerly took him up on his offer. I hadn’t been on a motorcycle since about 1983 and had forgotten how much fun they are to ride. After 3 days of some short rides around Big Bend I was hooked and started making plans to buy a motorcycle. In the summer of 2003 I bought a Yamaha FZ1 street bike and have been riding it for 2.5 years now. Earlier this year I bought a KLR 650 so I could add some dual sport riding to my motorcycling adventures.

This year’s plan was for me to trailer both my bikes from Austin to Big Bend and then spend 4 days riding with Uncle Roger and my buddy Jeff. Uncle Roger, who was already at Terlingua, had his two bikes, a BMW R100GS PD and a Kawasaki Super Sherpa, prepped and ready. Jeff, who currently lives in Chicago, was to fly into El Paso, rent a car, and drive down to Terlingua. Since we had a dual sport bike for each of us our initial plan was to spend 3 days riding the unpaved roads of Big Bend and 1 day street riding.

December 23, 2005 - Day 1:

Initially, I was going to trailer out to Big Bend by myself, with my wife and two kids joining me 3 days later. However, my wife changed her mind (women get to do that, you know) and decided we would all go out together on Dec. 23rd. Additionally, Mike, a friend of my oldest son, was going with us. So at O dark thirty (Army terminology for really, really early in the morning) the five of us departed Austin for an extra long vacation in Big Bend. I decided to run I-35 south to San Antonio and then take Hwy 90 from San Antonio all the way to Alpine, TX. Even though this route was a little longer than running I-10 west I chose it so we could show Mike the scenic bridge over the Pecos River and could also stop by Judge Roy Bean’s place.

This is the Pecos River Bridge. Completed in April 1959 it is the highest highway bridge in Texas, at a height of 273 feet. The bridge is 1310 feet in length.
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As you can see in the above picture, there is some construction currently being done on the bridge (behind the curtains on the right side of the bridge). This picture is taken from the scenic overlook south of the bridge, looking north. I don’t have a picture of it, but if you look south from this point you can clearly see where the Pecos River flows into the Rio Grande river. There was a lot of water this year too. In previous years there has been much less water than is seen in the above shot.

It was dark when I pulled out of my driveway this morning so I waited to take the obligatory picture of my bikes loaded up and ready for Big Bend. I owe a big thanks to my buddy John Murphy for loaning me this trailer.

FZ1 and KLR at the Pecos River scenic overlook.
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Just a bit west of the Pecos River is Judge Roy Bean’s place. Judge Roy Bean, in case you don’t remember, is a colorful, legendary western character known as the “Law West of the Pecos”. In addition to being a judge, he also owned a saloon – the Jersey Lilly – in the small community of Langtry, TX. Legend has it that he named both his saloon and the town of Langtry after the love of his life, British actress Lily Langtry (whom he never met). Roy is reputed to have held court in his saloon and is reputed to have sentenced dozens of men to hang, though historians now say there is no evidence he ever actually had anyone hung. A barely legal prize fight on a sandbar in the middle of the Rio Grande river that Roy promoted in 1898 launched his legend and later newspapers and dime novels added to his legend by publishing accounts of his exploits. Paul Newman played Roy Bean in the off-beat, quirky 1972 movie “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean”, further contributing to the legend. Today, the Jersey Lilly saloon is a state historical site and museum hosting about 100,000 visitors per year.

The Jersey Lilly Saloon in Langtry, TX
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The law, as laid down by Judge Roy Bean and posted inside the saloon. My wife says she needs this sign hanging in her kitchen.
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After hanging with the Judge and enjoying a picnic lunch on the grounds, we continued our journey west. While Hwy 90 may be somewhat slower than running west on interstate 10, at least the scenery is better. My uncle says Hwy 90 has “character”, which I interpret to mean that it’s just more interesting to drive on than a freeway. Either way, it’s a looong way to Big Bend – about 500 miles from my house in Austin to Uncle’s place in Terlingua.

After many hours of driving we finally arrived in Alpine, TX., where we tank up with a week’s worth of groceries. There is no supermarket in the Big Bend area, just some convenience stores, so your best and cheapest bet is to buy your groceries before you get to the park. Alpine has a supermarket (yes, “a” supermarket, as in just 1) that has all the necessities including cold beer and wine so it is our default choice.

Alpine, called "the best kept secret in Texas" and "the heart of Big Bend", was founded in 1882 and is nestled in a valley at the foothills of the Davis Mountains. With a population of about 6000 residents it is the home of Sul Ross University (which is nicknamed Cowboy U). Alpine is a scenic little town and when you get there you know you have only about 80 miles remaining before you reach the northern border of Big Bend NP.

Alpine, TX, looking north from Hwy 188 scenic overlook.
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Grab your Texas map and take a look at the Big Bend region. If you don't have a good map, here is a link to one posted by the National Park service to their web site that clearly shows the paved roads in and around this part of Texas: http://www.nps.gov/bibe/BIBEmaps/bibemap2.pdf

One thing that will jump out at you is that first, Big Bend is not on the way to anywhere. If you end up in Big Bend you either meant to go there or you are really, really lost. Second, notice that there are only 2 paved roads that lead into Big Bend National Park - Hwy 385 and Hwy 118 – both running north / south. Hwy 385 enters on the east side of the park while Hwy 118 runs down the west side of the park.

The ghost town of Terlingua is located west of the park so we chose to run Hwy 118 south from Alpine. If you look at the map you might think that if you were coming from east Texas it would be faster to jump on Hwy 385 south at the town of Marathon, TX, drive into the park, and then drive west across the park to Terlingua. However, since the speed limit in the park is 45 mph and the Park Rangers zealously enforce the speed limit it’s actually faster to get to Terlingua via Alpine and Hwy 118.

Finally, after about 10 hours of travel, we reach our day’s destination – the Rogerosa. Do you remember the western TV show “The Ponderosa”? Well, my Uncle Roger owns some acreage in ghost town Terlingua that I have dubbed the Rogerosa and that’s where we stay every year. It’s a manly place and it’s not fancy, but it meets our needs and gives us a great base of operations. Plus it has a great view of the Chisos Mountains.

Here’s the view of the Chisos Mountains from the front yard of the Rogerosa. It’s tough waking up every day to this view. Yawn, just another day in paradise.
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Uncle has a pet coyote, Odie, who is in charge of ranch security (just like Hank the cow dog). Odie is locked in the howl.

Odie, first thing in the morning.
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Odie, as the sun sets on the day. Chisos Mountains Mule Ears in the background.
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Everyone should be so lucky as to have an uncle as good as my Uncle Roger. I’m here to tell you that he is one heckuva guy! Aside from his generally excellent interpersonal skills, he is the reason I’m motorcycling today and have vacationed in Big Bend for the past 8 years. These are 2 things I owe him big thanks for.

When I was a kid of about 12, my family went on vacation one summer to visit my grandparents in Oklahoma. During that vacation Uncle Roger was there and he borrowed a couple of dual sport bikes from a fellow he knew. It was my first motorcycle riding experience. Even better, these bikes were for sale and my Dad decided that we should buy them! Want to thrill a 12 year old boy to no end? Buy a dirt bike and let him ride it all the time. I lived in rural Texas at the time and was able to ride pretty much every day after that. For the next 10 years I rode motorcycles regularly, raced motocross for 3 years, and eventually bought my first street bike at age 21.

However, I sold all my bikes a few months after joining the Army and didn’t ride again for 20 years. Riding with Uncle in 2002 reminded me how much fun motorcycles are and I’ve been back on them for 3 years now. Why the heck did I go so long without a bike? How did I ever forget in the first place just how much fun they were? I can only answer these questions with "it's just one of the mysteries of the universe".

The other thing I have to thank Uncle for is introducing me to Big Bend. He had been going to Big Bend for several years and had been thrilling me with stories of his visits there. In 1998 I had the week between Christmas and New Year off and was just hanging around the house bugging my wife. After one day of this she suggested I should go do something and not just hand out at the house for the next week getting in her way. So, I made a spur of the moment decision that my oldest son, Hammer, and I would go to Big Bend. I called Uncle and explained the situation and asked him for advice as to where to stay and what to see. He replied by jumping in his truck, driving to Austin from Corpus Christi, and going with us as our tour guide. Uncle is retired and one of the advantages of being retired is that you can jump in your truck and take off pretty much whenever you want. Of course, we had a great time. My son, Hammer, had such a great time on that trip that it was all he talked about for the next 6 months, which convinced my wife that she needed to go next time. The rest, as they say, is history, and 2005 was our 8th annual trip to the park.

We are blessed to have this trailer to stay in during our annual trips to Big Bend.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/Trailer.jpg

A few hours after we arrived at the Rogerosa, my buddy Jeff finally shows up. He only got stopped for speeding once on his drive down from El Paso, but the highway patrolman had mercy on him and let him off with a warning. Sweet!

So ended day 1 with the troupe all assembled and accounted for. Our motorcycling adventures started in earnest the next day.

December 24, 2005 - Day 2:

The sun finally peeks over the Chisos Mountains about 7:50 A.M. so that’s what time we finally roll out of bed. Hey, we’re on vacation. Today’s plan is to ride River Road in the park. River Road is a 51 mile primitive road that traverses the southern portion of Big Bend National Park. Don’t confuse Big Bend National Park River Road with FM 170 that runs between Study Butte (pronounced Stoody Butte) and Presidio. People generally call FM 170 “River Road” but its official state name is FM 170.

Let the adventure begin. The bikes are packed and ready to go, all we need is gas. Roger is in front on the red & white BMW, Jeff is in the middle, and I’m in the back with the mighty KLR. Look how blue the sky is.
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We gassed up at The Study Butte store and then entered Big Bend National Park via Hwy 118. Of course, we stopped for the obligatory photos at the park entrance. Uncle is riding his BMW R100GSPD, a 500 lb dual sport bike which is a surprisingly capable in the rough stuff. I’m on my KLR 650 and Jeff is riding a Kawasaki Super Sherpa. The Sherpa is a 250cc dual sport bike that is light and nimble. Its light weight is an asset in the rough stuff, but the 250cc engine is at a distinct disadvantage on the pavement.

KLR at the entrance to Big Bend National Park.
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Uncle and his BMW R100GS PD
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If you aren't familiar with the Big Bend area, the National Park service has an on-line map of the park that might help you make sense of my report. It's a big map, plus you can zoom in and out, so I'm just going to provide a link to it rather than posting it in the body of my report. Here is the link: http://www.nps.gov/bibe/BIBEmaps/BIBE_Map1_SR.pdf

After paying the park entry fee, we headed west on Old Maverick Road. This is a 13 mile, graded earth road that goes to Santa Elena Canyon on the far west side of the park. It’s not a tough road, any passenger vehicle can handle it, but it does provide us with a good warm up for River Road.

KLR on Old Maverick Road, headed west, looking east.
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At the end of Old Maverick Road we jump on the paved Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and headed over to the Castolon Store for an ice cream. The Castolon Historic Distric was originally built as an Army post, but has been a frontier trading post since the early 1900s and still retains that spirit today. For some reason, ice cream just seems to taste better when eaten here. Check it out the next time you are there and see if you agree.

While we were at Castolon I picked up a copy of the booklet, “Road Guide to backcountry dirt roads of Big Bend National Park” for $1.95. This handy booklet provides detailed guide info on the 4 backcountry roads in the park. I recommend it to you.
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After satiating our ice cream need, a short drive up Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive delivered us to the turn off to River Road. The west end of River Road, aptly named River Road West, is quite rough and requires a high clearance vehicle. Or a dual sport motorcycle, which we just happened to have 3 of. :rider: We moved steadily along it, my KLR in 2nd and 3rd gear most of the time.

About 20 minutes into our ride on the River Road we met the first of 3 vehicles we saw on the entire 51 miles of River Road. This first vehicle was a Park Ranger in a high clearance SUV. I’m guessing he was doing a routine check of the road to see if anyone was stranded. We waved as we passed him and continued on our way.

While this is good adventure, I do need to point out that you should be well prepared before tackling a remote road like this. This is truly a sparsely traveled road. We packed sufficient food, water, and tools with us everywhere we went to avoid being stranded for an extended period of time. If you were by yourself and unprepared for a break down you could be in serious trouble.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures along River Road West. About 30 minutes into the ride we stopped briefly at a scenic bluff overlooking the Rio Grande and I snapped the following pics of my KLR saying hello to the river and the mountains of Mexico. It’s beautiful out here. It’s quite too. If you live in the city you are probably so accustomed to background noise that you don’t even notice it. Out here when you turn off your engine you are greeted with immense silence. As my buddy Jeff remarked, “Somebody turned the silence way up”.

KLR overlooking a bend in the Rio Grande
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KLR with Mexican mountains in the background
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After riding 15 miles along River Road we came upon the remains of the Johnson Ranch. The ruins of the ranch house are possible the largest adobe ruin in the entire park. We parked under some trees and enjoyed a lunch of sandwiches, trail mix, crackers, and water. Sorry, no pictures of the food.

Following lunch we eagerly mounted up to enjoy much more of this wonderful backcountry road. As we slowly worked our way east the road became noticeably easier and smoother, allowing our speed to creep up.

After about 27 miles we reached the intersection of River Road and Black Gap Road. I was able to get some pics of us near this intersection with Dominguez Mountain and Elephant Tusk in the background.

Jeff and the Super Sherpa kicking up some dust
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Uncle taking advantage of the stop to get a swig of water
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Jeff and the Super Sherpa. I love the mountains in Big Bend.
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Two Kawasaki’s earning their pay on the River Road
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I forget exactly where this was taken, but you can see the Mule Ears in the background
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/RiverRoad12.jpg

Jeff and the Mule Ears
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At this point we reached a navigational decision – do we run Black Gap Road to Glenn Springs Road or do we continue on River Road East? The first choice along Black Gap Road gives us more unpaved riding but Black Gap Road can be very tough riding at times due to serious erosion. Time was getting late and we were concerned about not being able to finish before the sun went down, so we choose to continue along River Road East. We knew it would be a faster and shorter ride and there would be less chance of delay. One of our rules was to not ride after dark due to the high danger of animal strikes during night riding. With the decision made, we continued along River Road East.

After 32 miles of riding we reached Mariscal Mine. This was a mercury or quicksilver mine that included two dozen structures in the valley and on the hills. You can see the remains of various buildings scattered out across the valley and then a larger collection of buildings on the hill.

Mariscal Mine main processing plant, paymaster’s office, and other mine building remains.
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Uncle exploring the Mariscal Mine valley. One ruin is directly behind him and you can see another, remarkably well preserved building on the right.
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19 miles after leaving Mariscal Mine we reached pavement again. We had made good time along River Road East so we decided to make a quick run south to Rio Grande Village for some cold refreshment and to fill the Super Sherpa’s gas tank. The little Sherpa is a fine bike but it has a pretty small gas tank, something like 3 gallons of gas. We decided it would be best to fill it up at the Rio Grande village instead of risking running out of fuel during our journey back across the park.

As we headed west back across the park, I took advantage of being the only vehicles on the road to snap some action photos.

Jeff and the Super Sherpa. I think it has a top speed of about 70 mph.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/RiverRoad8.jpg

Uncle on his BMW
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/RiverRoad9.jpg

I think Uncle likes this stuff.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/RiverRoad10.jpg

After a long pavement ride, we arrived back at the Rogerosa. It had been an excellent day of riding and exploration and all was well in our world. We busted out a few cold ones, discussed the high points of the day, and started finalizing our plans for the next days riding.

More to follow.

FotoMoto
01-02-2006, 01:06 AM
However, I sold all my bikes a few months after joining the Army and didn’t ride again for 20 years. Riding with Uncle in 2002 reminded me how much fun motorcycles are and I’ve been back on them for 3 years now.


GREAT write up Richard. BB is an awesome place.

Can't believe you give up bikes for so long with such a background.

jhansen
01-02-2006, 01:11 AM
one more reason to win the Texas lotto and get me a DS bike!:rider:

Tourmeister
01-02-2006, 02:19 AM
:popcorn: :popcorn:

hardybaker
01-02-2006, 06:35 AM
Small world. Your uncle, and my friend, Roger Hazelwood. He's good people. I met him several years ago in Piaonia,CO. at "The Top of the Rockies", BMW Rally. Super fine riding and super fine people. I saw visited him a couple of weeks ago too. Great write-up. I like your hi-viz vest. HB

Trail Boss
01-02-2006, 06:50 AM
Hardy,

Sometimes I get the impression that half the country knows Uncle. It's amazing the number of people I run into that know him. Heck, I was reading a post on ADV Rider a while back and low and behold they were talking about Uncle. I joked to my wife that Uncle is so well known that we should dubb him "America's Uncle".

Squeaky
01-02-2006, 09:31 AM
GREAT write up! Can't wait for more!

Cagiva 549
01-02-2006, 03:27 PM
While reading your ride report and looking at the great pictures that I never slow down to take , I'm thinking this looks familer ,then I see the watch dog . I was with HardyBaker the day we visited and I met Uncle Roger . Great ride report and pictures. If you only take a few pictures you have to go back and visit more often SEYA

Trail Boss
01-02-2006, 08:14 PM
December 25, 2005 - Day 3: Casa Piedra Road, Pinto Canyon Road

The sun rose this morning on another beautiful day. While the weather is usually nice this time of year, this particular trip the weather is being unusually cooperative. With lows in the 40s and highs in the 70s and sometimes even 80 degrees, the weather is near perfect for outdoor fun.

We had a big day ahead. Todayís plan called for nearly 300 miles of riding, of which 70 miles of it would be unpaved riding. There were 2 unpaved roads I had in my sights to ride today. I didnít know a lot about these 2 roads Ė I knew they were there and that other motorcyclists had ridden them previously. Beyond that I didnít know much. Uncle hadnít been on either of these roads before, so todayís ride really would be a day of discovery. Jeff decided to take the day off from riding and instead opted to go hiking in the park. The seat on the Sherpa might not be the most comfortableÖ

After a hearty breakfast, we lit out like a scalded monkey. We jumped on FM 170 and headed west. FM 170, commonly referred to as ďRiver RoadĒ because it basically parallels the Rio Grande, is one of the top 10 motorcycling roads in Texas. Some might even argue that it is one of the top motorcycling roads in the U.S. I havenít ridden enough different roads in America to say whether it is or isnít, but I can definitively tell you that its reputation as a top 10 road in Texas is well earned. This is one excellent road with lots of elevation changes and twisties. When you go to Big Bend make sure you ride this road. You wonít regret it.

The first 16 miles or so of FM 170 runs between Terlingua and Lajitas. For the past 2 years or so the county has been upgrading this section of road, so it has at various times been muddy, dusty, gravel, oily, and generally not much fun on a street bike. The construction is nearly complete now and most of this section is paved and rideable on any motorcycle. Once you get past Lajitas though itís game on. The 50 or so miles between Lajitas and Presidio are the best section of this road and presents the rider with section after section of elevation changes and twisties.

After an hour of riding west on FM 170 we finally reached our first unpaved road of the day Ė Casa Piedra road. This road starts at FM 170 seven miles east of Presidio and runs north for 35 miles to Hwy 169. Casa Piedra road also takes you to Big Bend Ranch State Park.

The intersection of Casa Piedra road and FM 170, looking west toward Presidio.
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I had heard this was a pretty fun road. Unfortunately, after riding its entire 35 mile length I formed a different opinion of it. The first 22 miles was not to my liking at all. Uncle didnít care for it either. Basically, it was as wide as a major paved road with lots of really loose gravel all over it and very few curves.

The first 22 miles of Casa Piedra Road all looked pretty much like this.
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After riding about 18 miles we came upon a windmill and cattle pens. It seemed like as good a time as any to stop for a break, so I broke out the camera for a shot. Similar to River Road in the national park, this is a very remote area. We had passed 1 car on this entire section of road, back around mile 2. Other than that we hadnít seen any other humans and very few houses anywhere along this section of road.

Windmill and cattle pens on Casa Piedra Road.
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Right after I shot the picture of the windmill I heard the distinctive whop whop sound of a helicopter. Sure enough, a helicopter was rapidly approaching from the west. As it passed over the road I snapped a picture of it and then watched as the pilot spotted us and altered his course to come check us out. Yep, it was the border patrol. Itís Christmas Day and they are out on the job, presumably looking for either drug smugglers (more on this later) or illegals. We gave them a big wave and apparently they decided we werenít doing anything illegal so they flew off. Merry Christmas fellows.

Border Patrol helicopter checking us out.
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With the excitement over (since the road had not been exciting so far), we mounted up. Luckily, another 4 miles or so and the road got a little more interesting. The road had been following a ridge line, but now it dropped down into the desert below. First, it got more rugged, as apparently the grader hadnít made it this far. Then it had some elevation changes and a few turns as it alternated running along the desert floor and then climbing up and around various hills. The road surfaced changed from graded gravel to rock. Finally, it crossed a couple of wadis and creek beds in the area. This was more like it.

Just as I was starting to enjoy things again, we sailed through the community of Casa Piedra and the road got arrow straight again. The fun was over for now. After 35 miles of unpaved riding we arrived at Hwy 169 and the ancient settlement of Alamosa (also called Plata on some maps).

Alamosa Historical Marker
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Humans have been coming through this area since the 1500s and by 1870 a community was established here. A railroad was built through the area in the 1930s.

The State has built this cover over one of the old adobe buildings in Alamosa.
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Hereís what happens to adobe houses not protected from rain. They melt back into the desert.
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Why did humans gravitate to this particular area? In a single word Ė water. Water drives everything in the desert and the long time presence of water here is quite evident.

Trees in the desert are a sure sign of abundant water. Shot from the protected adobe house, looking north along Hwy 169.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/CasaPiedraRd7.jpg

Looking west from the protected adobe house.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/CasaPiedraRd6.jpg

Uncle checking out the historical marker. Protected adobe house in the background.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/CasaPiedraRd10.jpg

Now that we had been brought up to speed on this historical area, we jumped on the bikes and made haste towards our next destination of Marfa, TX. Along the way I spotted a giant balloon of some sort off to the west. I didnít know what it was and we never got close enough to really figure it out. More on this later.

Marfa is an interesting little west Texas town, most famous for the mysterious ďMarfa lightsĒ. These are unexplained lights that can be seen north of the city on some nights. Additionally, Marfa has served as the background for the movie ďGiantĒ and the ďAndromeda StrainĒ. More recently it seems that Marfa is enjoying an art renaissance of sorts, with the opening of several art galleries.

The beautiful Marfa Courthouse, built in 1886 and still in use today.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/MarfaCourthouse.jpg

We gassed up in Marfa and then began the next leg of our journey. Our plan was to run Hwy 2810 southwest to Pinto Canyon Road and on to Ruidosa, TX. Like Casa Piedra Road, I had heard good things about this road too. Hopefully it would turn out to be more enjoyable than Casa Piedra road was.

Within the first 10 miles of leaving Marfa on Hwy 2810 Iíll bet we passed more than a dozen dead rabbits on the road. The terrain here is different than it is down by the border. This area must get significantly more rain than along the US-Mexican border since the fields here are covered in some type of grass. There are no really large trees so Iím guessing they donít get a lot of rain, just more than falls down near the border. In any case, the rabbits must like this area as evidenced by the number that have played chicken with the cars on Hwy 2810 and lost.

About 32 miles after leaving Marfa we reached the end of Hwy 2810 and the beginning of Pinto Canyon Road. This was as good a time as any to take a break

Our first view of Pinto Canyon, from the intersection of Pinto Canyon Road and Hwy 2810
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PintoCanyonRd1.jpg

Our motorcycles, obviously anxious to ride through this.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PintoCanyonRd2.jpg

While we were taking the first pictures of Pinto Canyon Road, Uncle pointed out the balloon in the distant sky and told me it was a radar balloon. In 1989 the federal government built an aerostat station near Marfa in an attempt to control drug smuggling across the border and this was the radar balloon they used to interdict drugs. Since there isnít a border patrol station on this road, it seems that quite a few smugglers figure they can use this road to run marijuana into the states.

Hwy 2810, while scenic, is a pretty straight road. Itís not a bad road, nor is it completely boring since the scenery is nice to look at, but if you crave twisties this isnít your road. Pinto Canyon Road, on the other hand, turned out to be an absolute jewel of a road. As you can see in the above pictures, Pinto Canyon runs directly through the heart of the mountains. The north end, which is the end we started from, starts at altitude and over the next 22 miles drops down to river level.

The first few miles are the best. The road is rough, rugged, scenic, and loses altitude quickly. Here are some pics of Uncle on the way down.

Find Uncle in this photo
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PintoCanyonRd3.jpg

Uncle navigating the curve
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PintoCanyonRd4.jpg

Even further down the road
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PintoCanyonRd5.jpg

A little further down the road
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PintoCanyonRd6.jpg

After going down for a little while, we got to climb for a little while. Hereís Uncle climbing on the big BMW.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PintoCanyonRd7.jpg

Uncle kicking up a little dust while climbing
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PintoCanyonRd8.jpg

Once we reached the bottom of Pinto Canyon, the road paralleled a stream for a few miles, crossing it several times. The water wasnít deep and the crossings were easy. Once you exit the canyon the road drops gently all the way down to Ruidosa, TX on the Texas-Mexico border.

A small Mexican village across the Rio Grande. Ruidosa is to the left, out of the shot.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PintoCanyonRd9.jpg

Once we reached Ruidosa, we stopped by the local store (yes, ďtheĒ local store, as in there is only 1. Ruidosa is a small place.) Since it was Christmas Day the store was closed. Uncle tells me itís an interesting little store so Iíll just have to catch it next time. Maybe go there on some day other than Christmas.

Hanging a left onto FM 170 (River Road), we set off for Presidio. FM 170 between Ruidosa and Presidio is not as twisty, nor does it have as many elevation changes as the section between Presidio and Lajitas, but itís still a fun section to ride.

Presidio is an old town, established in 1683
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/Presidio1.jpg

It was time to gas up again, so we stopped at a convenience store in Presidio. As I was attempting to turn into the store, this old guy riding a bicycle stopped in the middle of the street. He appeared to be drunk. Hey, what else are you gonna do on a Christmas afternoon except get drunk and ride you bicycle down the middle of main street? Once I was sure he wasnít going to suddenly take off and that it was safe for me to turn into the parking lot, I did so. However, now that the old guy was stopped he seemed to have difficulty getting started again and was holding up traffic. He eventually got off the bike and pushed it to the side of the road. At this point, a fellow in the parking lot jumped out of his truck and hollered at the old guy. He pulled out a walkie talkie and spoke to someone on it. About 2 minutes later the cops showed up in a pickup truck and arrested the old guy. They put his bike in the back of the truck and cuffed the guy right after this photo was taken. No Rodney King incidents occurred.

Old drunk guy getting arrested
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/Presidio2.jpg

After the excitement died down, we enjoyed an ice cream, which oddly didnít taste as good as it did in Castolon, and watched the traffic come and go. Then we were forced to ride FM 170 all the way back to Terlingua. Itís tough when you have to ride one of the top 10 roads in Texas twice in one day, but we were up to the task.

Once back in Terlingua, it was time to eat a little supper, drink a few cold ones, and swap stories with Jeff. Just another day in paradise.

In summary, I recommend Pinto Canyon Road to you. Based on the change in elevation, I suspect it is very different running it north to south than it is running it south to north. I didnít get a chance to test my theory that the north to south route is the better of the two, but will be sure and test it next time. I canít recommend Casa Piedra road to you though, since the first 22 miles or so was not much fun. Maybe you could run Pinto Canyon road both north-south and south-north instead of running Casa Piedra road.

Todd in LC
01-02-2006, 08:52 PM
Great write up Richard. I got the DR for just this kind of trip. Hopefully I will get out there soon.

BTW, did you ride Old Ore Road in the park or the road that runs from just South of Persimmon Gap entrance to Terlingua Ranch? I have done both in a cage and thought they would be fun on a bike.

Trail Boss
01-02-2006, 09:04 PM
Todd,

No, I didn't run either of those roads. Next time though...

Toe
01-02-2006, 09:07 PM
I am SOLD... gotta go there!

Cagiva 549
01-03-2006, 07:54 AM
A couple of weeks ago as Hardybaker and I were riding 2810 I noticed all the rabbits on the road along with the ones that did make it , playing kamikazi bunny . I started thinking , I have ridden Pinto Canyon twice now and can count the cars I have seen on one hand. It must be real boring to be a rabbit out there , You have to wait for hours for something to run in front of . The roadrunners seem to like playing the same game. On HI 90 there were places that looked to be paved with white fur. Pinto canyon is the best road in Texas, Next time you ride it stop and check out the bridge a couple of miles in from Riodosa. Great photos , I need to start doing that . SEYA

Trail Boss
01-03-2006, 08:33 AM
David,

I stopped on that bridge. Apparently there was a death there somewhat recently since a small handmade cross had been placed there.

Anyway, the wadi that the bridge crosses is very cool. If I could have figured out a way to capture its essence in a photo I would have. I'm thinking it will require a hike down into the wadi and then take the photo looking up to the bridge. I'll try that next time and see how it turns out.

Pinto Canyon Road is the best unpaved road I've ever been on while riding a motorcycle. I think all dual sport riders in Texas should make a point to ride this road.

bobcat
01-03-2006, 10:10 AM
Very nice pics Richard! :popcorn:

Trail Boss
01-03-2006, 10:33 AM
Thanks Claire.

DaveC
01-03-2006, 10:52 AM
:popcorn: :thumb:

Tourmeister
01-03-2006, 03:04 PM
:tab Casa Piedra Rd is not a technical road by any stretch of the imagination. What I enjoyed about it was the loose gravel ;-) I don't remember it being all that straight for miles and miles though :scratch: I recall a lot of big sweepers that rolled over small hills. We ran it at about 40-50mph. We stopped at the windmill too. When we were there, the water tank was buzzing because there were so many Honey Bees in the area! We turned East before reaching Plata/Alamosa and headed for Hwy 118. However, despite our best efforts to avoid hitting private roads, I think we wound up on one without realizing it. When we reached Hwy 118, we faced a locked gate after two hours of riding on an amazingly fun road! We thought we'd have to back track but someone had left one of the locks open and we got through the gate.

:tab I have yet to do any DS riding actually in the National Park or the State Park but look forward to doing both. Great report!

Trail Boss
01-03-2006, 03:22 PM
Scott,

I may have slightly exaggerated the number of miles of straight line running on Casa Piedra road, but despite any turns on the road it was entirely too....civilized....yeah that's the word I'm looking for...for my taste. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.

I stopped at that locked gate on my run down Hwy 118 from Alpine to Terlingua on the 23rd. I was hoping to find that open lock, but alas, it appears they have caught on as all of them were locked. That being the case, I figured it would be best to not risk the route you used to get over to Hwy 118.

Tourmeister
01-03-2006, 04:04 PM
:tab I would love to be able to contact any land owners on that road we took to get legit permission. It was an awesome ride. It had some rough technical stuff, smooth fast stuff, nasty creek crossings, silt, cacti in the road, cattle, goat trails, the works hehe. It was a lot of fun!

:tab If like like tighter more technical stuff, you need to get out to North Carolina! We did some great stuff out there. Mucho fun!

XR650Rocketman
01-03-2006, 08:52 PM
Hey Guys....the road from Hwy 118 to Casa Piedra Rd used to be open to the public although it is private....One year a while back some hunters shot a cow and that was when the gate got locked....I'm working on getting some limited access again....

The unpaved section of Casa Piedra Road certainly can be classed as " A little boring" unless one runs it WFO and then it can be quite a challenge.

I have a great pic of the bridge on Pinto Canyon Rd....I'll start looking for it....Most people miss the old bridge completely....It's hard to see even as you cross it.

Trail Boss
01-03-2006, 08:57 PM
December 26, 2005 - Day 4: Break down

Like clockwork the sun peaked over the Chisos Mountains just before 8 a.m. and that’s when we roll out of bed. Today Jeff is riding with us and he wants to do some road riding. Specifically he wants to ride FM 170 to Presidio and back. Jeff hasn’t been on a bike in months and months and is not is long distance riding shape, so he persuades us to keep the day relatively short. Uncle has some chores he needs Jeff and I to help him with, chores involving lifting heavy things, so we decide to make it a short day of riding and then do our chores. We start prepping the bikes for the day when the first mishap occurs. Jeff is mounting his AirHawk seat cushion on the FZ1 and the FZ1 topples over. Ouch. This is the first time the FZ1 has ever been down. Luckily nothing is broken and the bike only sustains some scratches. Jeff feels terrible and apologizes profusely for the next 2 days.

Once the bikes are ready we roll out of the Rogerosa. I’m on the FZ1 in the lead, Jeff is on my KLR and Roger is on his BMW pulling drag. We keep a moderate pace from Terlingua over to Lajitas, but as soon as we pass Lajitas it’s game on. The FZ1 is made for roads just like this. I quickly distance Jeff and Roger (Jeff is a lightly experienced road rider and is wisely taking it easy) and take advantage of the situation to ambush them both up the road with my Olympus digital camera.

Jeff working the KLR through a River Road twisty.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/FM1701.jpg

Uncle, hot on Jeff's heels.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/FM1702.jpg

A few miles up the road we reach the infamous “hill” – a scenic hill and the highest point on FM 170.

The view looking back east towards Lajitas.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/FM1706.jpg

Uncle and the view looking west from the hill towards Presidio.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/FM1703.jpg

Jeff and the KLR, looking west towards Presidio.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/FM1704.jpg

Rich and the FZ1. Man, that's a good looking bike. :-)
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/FM1709.jpg

Photo duties done, we’re off again. I mount up first and smoke out of there, intent on distancing Jeff and Uncle again so I can ambush them again with Mr. Camera. Something’s wrong. A short distance up the road I cross Panther Canyon, pull over, grab the camera and lay in wait. A few minutes pass and no sign of either Uncle or Jeff. What’s wrong? Just as I’m about to give up and go back looking for them I hear a motorcycle approaching from the east.

Uncle crossing the Panther Canyon.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/FM1705.jpg

However, Uncle is by himself. Something has happened. Uncle pulls up and tells me the KLR is dead and Jeff is back at the hill. The problem? A broken shift lever.

KLR, broken shift lever.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/BrokenShiftLever.jpg

When Jeff mounted the bike and nicked it in first gear the shift lever simply fell off. I have no clue as to how long it’s been ready to break or why it broke. It just broke.

The KLR is stuck in 1st gear and we are 40 miles away from the Rogerosa. In 1st gear the KLR has a top speed of 10 mph so I figure it’s a 4 hour ride back. That clearly won’t do. So, we break out the tools to attempt a roadside repair. No luck. Our vise grips won’t stay attached and our efforts to shift it into a higher gear are equally unsuccessful. Finally we admit defeat. We decide that Uncle will return to the Rogerosa, load up his BMW in the truck and return. We will then unload his BMW, load up the KLR and he will haul it back to the Rogerosa. Jeff and I will then continue the ride up River Road to Presidio.

Two hours later Uncle shows up with the truck. We swap bikes and he hauls the KLR away. Jeff and I mount up on the FZ1 and BMW respectively and continue our journey to Presidio. Many twisties and grins later we arrive in Presdio just in time for a delicious tex-mex lunch at El Patio. I had the waitress take a picture of us and the food, but her hand was unsteady and the picture came out all blurry. Do you think it may have been our devastating good looks and machismo that caused her shakiness? :lol:

Nah, probably not.

Lunch finished, it was time to run River Road 70 miles back to the Rogerosa. Sweet.

Jeff crossing Panther Canyon, headed east.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/FM1708.jpg

Lajitas, taken from FM 170, looking east.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/Lajitas.jpg

Unfortunately, the KLR breakdown ate up all our extra time and we didn’t have enough daylight left when we got back to do our chores. I guess our chores will have to wait until tomorrow cause it’s beer thirty.

Thus ended day 4. My recommendation to you? Check your shift lever and don’t knock your bike over.

Tourmeister
01-03-2006, 09:28 PM
:tab Maybe carry a spare lever... :shrug: Gotta be cheap for the KLRs. Or perhaps some "Waterweld". It is a puddy that I got at Tractor Supply. It has an inner mix and outter mix. You cut off the amount you need, mush the two layers together and they start getting pretty dang hot. At that point you quickly apply the stuff to the area in question. Moments later it will be rockhard! It is what I used to patch the hole on my head cover after my highside in Colorado. It is still there five thousand miles later :thumb: It is about $3-4 per tube of the stuff. It is similar to JB weld I guess.

Tourmeister
01-03-2006, 09:33 PM
Randy "RJS" crossing the bridge
http://twtex.com/linkfiles/041505-TWT-BigBend/DSC03582.JPG

Looking down into the gulley below
http://twtex.com/linkfiles/041505-TWT-BigBend/DSC03583.JPG
:tab Note the person in the upper right corner standing near the edge... It's deep.

This is not something you want to see at the end of a couple of hours riding and with daylight fading...
http://twtex.com/linkfiles/041505-TWT-BigBend/DSC03627.JPG

Richard, from Austin you can do a really great ride all the way out there, including some fun unpaved stuff...

Trail Boss
01-03-2006, 09:37 PM
Scott,

Either solution - a spare lever or waterweld - would have solved the problem. Lesson learned.

Ralph, the owner of CycleTek, the motorcycle repair shop in Terlingua Ranch, welded it for me the next day and I was back up and running.

Gonna pick up some of that weld stuff before my next ride though.

Tourmeister
01-03-2006, 09:55 PM
Very cool that you found someone to weld it up for you! :thumb:

Now... back to the story ;-)

:popcorn:

Tx Rider
01-04-2006, 03:22 PM
Spare levers are always a good idea, especially if you don't have really bulletproof hand guards protecting them. Spare shift level is a good idea to have handy too, or at least suitable vise grips.

Trail Boss
01-04-2006, 03:28 PM
Dyna,

I've got the bark busters like the hare scramble guys run, with the aluminum frames, on the KLR and am thinking that will provide suitable protection for the levers.

I was going to buy a spare shift lever, but now Scott has me thinking the chemical weld might be just as good of a solution and versatile enough for other things that might get broke.

Teeds
01-04-2006, 08:46 PM
Richard, I saw y'all heading back into Terlingua!

We have been camping at Grassy Banks from the 26th through the 30th of December for 16 years. We headed out and slept over at Big Springs, making Warnock at 10:00 AM on Monday.

I was standing there talking to the guys as we unloaded stuff and chilled with a few brews and zoom go two bikes heading south on 170. It made me wish I had brought my XR.

As I was the only one with a bike I opted not to take it and climbed Sawmill Mountain instead, recovering a USGS Benchmark that had not been verified since placement in 1934. We met Richard and Cindi, who live at the base of the mountain. They promised us a cold beer the next time we are in the area.

I think I will have to take my bike next year!

While I was there I had lunch at Ms. Tracy's and talked with a couple of guys on KLX650's that were exploring the park. That was on the 28th.

BTW, did you ride Old Ore Road in the park or the road that runs from just South of Persimmon Gap entrance to Terlingua Ranch? I have done both in a cage and thought they would be fun on a bike.

Both of those are on the DS loop that begins at Terlingua Ranch that XR650Rocketman put together. Persimmon Gap Road has some long stretches that can be boring, but there are some 90 degree 50 foot radius curves often enough to keep the pucker factor up. Ore Road is more of a two track trail.

Have y'all ridden out South County Road to North County Road and 118 from 170?

I keep wanting to try some of the roads that head south out off of 170 towards the park between Terlingua and Lajitas.

Trail Boss
01-04-2006, 09:27 PM
Teeds,

I've ridden part of South County Road starting at 170, but not as far as Hwy 118. It's on my "to do" list for next time. The same goes for riding across Terlingua Ranch from 118 over to 385.

ColGoodnight
01-05-2006, 12:03 PM
Thanks for your time and effort sharing the story and pictures of the trip.

It's always hard to believe that little ditch is a major international border.

Tom

Trail Boss
01-05-2006, 05:13 PM
December 28, 2005 - Day 6:

We took December 27th off from riding and went exploring. December 28th was the 4th and final day of riding. Today’s plan was to ride the famous Ft. Davis Loop.

Ft. Davis loop
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/FtDavisloopmap.gif

Take a look at the map. Alpine is in the lower right corner. 24 miles north on Hwy 118 is the town of Ft. Davis. Follow the squiggly line of Hwy 118 as it runs northwest from Ft. Davis. That squiggly line, running through the Davis Mountains, is custom made for motorcycle riding! It would be a sin to go all the way to the Big Bend region on your motorcycle and miss that squiggly line.

We rode Hwy 118 from Study Butte to Ft. Davis and grabbed a snack at The Drugstore. Brownie Pie a la mode. Mmmm.

Outside the drugstore.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/TheDrugstore.jpg

Once our snacking was done, we ran Hwy 118, passing the McDonald Observatory in the process.

McDonald Observatory is a very cool place to visit. Built around 1968, they have a 107 inch telescope at this site. When it was first built it was the largest telescope in the world and today it is the 33rd largest in the world. They have tours during the day where they point their big telescope at the Sun and tours at night called star parties. Since you are in the area, I recommend you stop by, day or night, and take the tour. It’s fascinating.

Uncle working the twisties with McDonald Observatory in the background.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/McDonaldObservatory.jpg

One of the telescope domes at McDonald Observatory.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/McDonalObservatory2.jpg

The 107 inch telescope. 33rd largest in the world.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/McDonaldObservatory3.jpg

At the intersection of Hwy 118 and Hwy 166, we turned left on 166 and ran it to Hwy 17. Here’s my FZ1 hanging out on Hwy 166. We passed 2 cars along the entire length of this road. Nice.

FZ1 on Hwy 166.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/Ft.jpg

Once we reached Hwy 17 we ran that into Marfa. From there it was a quick trip down to Presidio and then, of course, we had to run River Road one last time on this trip from Presidio back to the Rogerosa.

This ends my motorcycling adventure in Big Bend, for this year at least. Plans are already in the works for our 2006 trip. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

However, before I go I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about some of the really cool things you can do in the Big Bend area when you aren’t on your bike. Yes, I know that it borders on sacrilege that there might be fun things you can do off your bike (and with your clothes on), but there are. Following are some of those things.

Hiking & Other Things

As much fun as motorcycling in Big Bend is, if you don’t get off the bike you will miss some unbelievable sights. Luckily, some of the more spectacular sights are just a relatively short hike from the road.

There are lots and lots of trails to hike in Big Bend National Park. In 8 years of visiting there, my family and I have only scratched the surface of available hikes. On the other hand there are some hikes we repeat every year because we enjoy them so much. Following are some of our favorite hikes, hikes that I highly recommend to you due to the spectacular scenery encountered during these hikes. They may be the most popular hikes in the entire park, but not to worry; Big Bend is the least visited national park in the entire national park service, receiving only about 180,000 visits each year. In comparison to 5 million or so visitors to Yosemite, 180,000 is a relatively small number. Big Bend is so large that even if you visited on the busiest day of the year the park will not be crowded.

Santa Elena Canyon Hike

This is probably the single most popular hike in the park and for good reason. The Rio Grande has cut a magnificent canyon, with sheer rock walls 1,500 feet high. Round trip it is only 1.7 miles. Sure, you can see Santa Elena Canyon as you ride by on your motorcycle, but you will miss the grandeur of it all if you don’t hike in.

Santa Elena Canyon
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/SantaElenaCanyon2.jpg

Santa Elena Canyon, crossing Terlingua Creek to reach the mouth of the canyon..
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/SantaElenaCanyon1.jpg

Hot Springs

This isn’t so much a hike since it’s only about ½ mile walk in, as it is a great place to hang out at one lazy afternoon. Bring your swim suit so you can relax in the hot pool. When things get a little too warm you can take a quick dip in the Rio Grande, but I’ll warn you in advance it’s gonna be cold.

People have been coming to the hot springs for a long time. One of the signs of this are the ancient paintings on the cliff walls. A historical marker discusses these ancient paintings on your walk in. In the 1920s this area was a spa resort. People believed that the water was medicinal. There remnants of the buildings are still in the area.

My boys hanging out at the Hot Springs.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/HotSprings.jpg

The Lost Mine Trail

This may be the most spectacular hike and scenery in the entire park. It’s not an easy hike, about 5 miles in both directions, but well worth it. Get in shape before you try it though.

Looking west through “the window” about ½ way up The Lost Mine Trail
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/LostMineTrail3.jpg

Same view of “the window”, a little higher up the trail.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/LostMineTrail4.jpg

View southeast from the Lost Mine trail.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/LostMineTrail2.jpg

Looking south towards Mexico from the top of Lost Mine trail.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/LostMineTrail5.jpg

The view south about halfway up the Lost Mine trail.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/LostMineTrail2.jpg

Grapevine Hills Trail

This hike starts at the end of an unpaved road. It heads out through a valley and then climbs a good size hill, culminating in a great view of the mountains on east side of the park. It also has a very cool balanced rock you can climb on and around.

Balanced Rock, looking east.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/BalancedRock1.jpg

Balanced Rock, looking west, with Hammer and Mike.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/BalancedRock2.jpg

Honorable Mention: Boquillas Canyon

The kids love this hike, never tiring of it. What fuels their enthusiasm? The perpetual 100 foot sand dune that we let them play on for as long as they like. The pictures don’t do justice to how high this sand dune is. It’s great for the kids, but it gives the adults heart attacks trying to get to the top.

Playing on the big sand dune in Boquillas Canyon.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/BoquillasCanyon.jpg

Other Cool Stuff To See and Do

Contrabando Movie Set: There is a movie set of a small Mexican village right on FM 170 west of Presidio. The sign says it was used for the movie “Contrabando” but I’ve been told it has been used for other movies too, including some scenes from the “Streets of Laredo”.

Sign letting you know you are there.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/MovieSet1.jpg

Various shots of the site. The buildings look real, but you can see they are not when you get up close and look at them.

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/MovieSet2.jpg

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/MovieSet3.jpg

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/MovieSet4.jpg

See the fake rocks used to simulate a rock wall? The lower half has fallen off revealing the wood underneath.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/MovieSet5.jpg

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/MovieSet6.jpg

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/MovieSet7.jpg

Ojinaga, Mexico

There is an international border at Presidio, TX and you can cross over into the town of Ojinaga, Mexico. If you are just going across as a tourist and are not planning on going into the interior of Mexico you don’t need a passport (as of 2006 you need a passport to travel into the interior of Mexico). Ojinaga is an interesting town to visit; it has a tourist flavor to it, but probably not as bad as the more popular international crossings at places like El Paso or Laredo. If you like tequila, there are some excellent brands available at a significant savings over the same stuff in the US.

I found the Mexican Postal Service motorcycle units to be particularly interesting.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PostalMotorcycle1.jpg

A closer look at the bike. The battery is held in by a piece of string. Not sure what kind of liquid residue that is on the gas tank. The chain is well oiled though. Mail was carried in a single saddlebag on the right side of the bike, not visible in the pictures.
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c178/rgibbens/Motorcycling%20Adventures%20in%20Big%20Bend%202005/PostalMotorcycle2.jpg

This ends my Big Bend report. If you haven’t been to Big Bend yet, I highly recommend it to you. My story and pictures not only don’t do justice to this wonderful area, it also only gives you a glimpse of all the things there are to do and see there. It really is a place you have to see with your own eyes. Finally, I recommend allotting some time to see some of the things that can’t be seen or fully enjoyed from the seat of your bike. The riding is great and so are the sights, so try and make time for both.

hardybaker
01-05-2006, 09:26 PM
Richard, what is a wadi? HB

Trail Boss
01-05-2006, 09:49 PM
hardy,

Oops, sorry. Wadi is an arabic term. Arroyo is the word I should have used. It's a dry gulch, intermittent stream, brook, creek. You could say it's the desert version of a big 'ol ditch.

Tourmeister
01-06-2006, 01:41 AM
Excellent report! Love the scenery pics there in the section about the hikes! Many many years ago, I did the horseback ride out there while spending Springbreak vacation in the park with a group from our highshool. We did a LOT of hiking and climbing. We spent the entire week camped in the Basin. It was in March and it was COLD!! The last night all of us were piled in the mens room and forcing the little heater in there to stay on by putting cold wet paper towels on the thermostat :lol2: Even the girls were in there with us, something a few guys returning from the window ride at 4:00am failed to notice as they were taking care of business :oops: There was ice everywhere outside. I love that place...

Tx Rider
01-06-2006, 10:27 AM
Dyna,

I've got the bark busters like the hare scramble guys run, with the aluminum frames, on the KLR and am thinking that will provide suitable protection for the levers.

I was going to buy a spare shift lever, but now Scott has me thinking the chemical weld might be just as good of a solution and versatile enough for other things that might get broke.

In my experience the water weld stuff is great for patching crankcase holes and things like that but wouldn't do at for a broken lever or something you put a stress on. I have had best luck with just a pair of vise grips for that on a shift lever and have found nothing that will do for a brake or clutch lever but a weld or a new one.

Tourmeister
01-06-2006, 12:56 PM
:tab Given the low cost, I would just buy the spare shift lever and control levers, especially since they are relatively small and easy to pack. JB weld or Waterweld might work in a pinch for a very short time. Once dry, the Waterweld gets very hard and potentially brittle. So I don't know that it would do under heavy loading for long periods of time. But it might do just for limping a bike home. It might also work better for something like the foot shift lever if you had anything to use like a splint to reinforce the point of the break and give the Waterweld something else to bond to for extra strength.

damalden
01-10-2006, 10:21 PM
spare throttle, clutch too. at least drill your levers or carry spares, duct tape, jbweld or equivalent, radiator sealer in the bottle, tubes, tire irons and some kind of lube like ruglyde in a small bottle, master link(if needed).

cos if everybody crashes you'll need all that and more.

a most execellent and informative report.

we'll be there in march this year, and this little read has me feeling unusually aroused!:trust:

DAM

Trail Boss
01-11-2006, 08:43 AM
damalden,

"Drill your levers"? I'm not familiar with this. What does it mean?

Tourmeister
01-11-2006, 12:30 PM
:tab Richard, you can drill holes in the levers at strategic locations to intentionally create a weak point. Some people also just use a cutting wheel on a dremel to cut a notch. The idea is that the weak point is far enough out from the hinge point on the lever to snap off on impact and leave enough lever to still operate the clutch/brake. There are also just aftermarket shortie levers. I don't know that this would help so much on the shifter lever, but it might :shrug: Maybe drill or notch it about 2/3 of the way out from the shaft so that you still have enough left to work with in the event of a break. However, I don't know what affect the drilled hole or notch would have on the normal working of the lever.

:tab Another concern about the shifter lever is having it punch into the side of the engine case. My lever has a wide plate behind it to distribute the load if the lever impacts the case. This makes puncturing the case much less likely.

damalden
01-11-2006, 02:10 PM
always carry a pair of visegrips in case you break your shifter.

myself i prefer the needlenose variety because they are handy for lots of other things too. perfect for holding onto those left handed cigarettes.

DAM

Squeaky
01-11-2006, 03:24 PM
:tab Richard, you can drill holes in the levers at strategic locations to intentionally create a weak point. Some people also just use a cutting wheel on a dremel to cut a notch. The idea is that the weak point is far enough out from the hinge point on the lever to snap off on impact and leave enough lever to still operate the clutch/brake.

My stock levers on the Strom have a notch on them, and when I dropped the bike it snapped there just like it should. When I got it home, I put the grinding bit on the Dremel and got it down smooth so it was no longer sharp. I still get 4 fingers on there solid, and if I want I can hang my pinky off "snoopster style". :mrgreen:

Now am I right in thinking that this new "custom shorty" lever has less chance of breaking since the bar end would contact the pavement first, or should I now dremel a new notch another inch or so in from the end so that there is a new weak point in the event of another tip-over?

Sleepy Weasel
01-11-2006, 06:01 PM
My stock levers on the Strom have a notch on them, and when I dropped the bike it snapped there just like it should. When I got it home, I put the grinding bit on the Dremel and got it down smooth so it was no longer sharp. I still get 4 fingers on there solid, and if I want I can hang my pinky off "snoopster style". :mrgreen:

Now am I right in thinking that this new "custom shorty" lever has less chance of breaking since the bar end would contact the pavement first, or should I now dremel a new notch another inch or so in from the end so that there is a new weak point in the event of another tip-over?

Or just do a pre-emptive mod and cut it down to a 3 finger lever...

Tourmeister
01-11-2006, 09:14 PM
Leave it as is...


"Snoopster style" :lol2:

kurt
01-12-2006, 07:30 AM
Now am I right in thinking that this new "custom shorty" lever has less chance of breaking since the bar end would contact the pavement first, or should I now dremel a new notch another inch or so in from the end so that there is a new weak point in the event of another tip-over?


Real handguards would help too. BTW the lever is a two minute swap and a $5 investment. Buy a replacement and two spares and still have change from a $20.

Stromboy
01-13-2006, 03:26 PM
Hey Scott, I'm almost certain you were on the famous 02 Ranch. They allow no trespassing under any circumstances. Be glad you weren't caught or you would have gotten to meet Ronny Dodson or some of his deputies! All great guys BTW.

Randy

:tab I would love to be able to contact any land owners on that road we took to get legit permission. It was an awesome ride. It had some rough technical stuff, smooth fast stuff, nasty creek crossings, silt, cacti in the road, cattle, goat trails, the works hehe. It was a lot of fun!

:tab If like like tighter more technical stuff, you need to get out to North Carolina! We did some great stuff out there. Mucho fun!

Stromboy
01-13-2006, 03:28 PM
Hi Richard, Great report and pics! I met your uncle out there last year. He is really a nice guy. Thanks for the report.

Randy

XR650Rocketman
01-13-2006, 04:50 PM
You're right Randy.....Scott and the guys came out through 02 Ranch back onto 118....Like you I encourage everyone to be very careful to stay off private property...We ended up on a private ranch off Dove Mountain Rd one time and were met by a Ranch Foreman with a gun!!!!
As I've posted before.....Maps and map software do not show the difference between public and private roads in most cases....If in doubt....Ask!!!

Tourmeister
01-13-2006, 05:01 PM
:tab When were doing that ride, we made a point not to go through any closed gates, even if unlocked. Well... except the for one at the end of the road near 118 ;-) However, I also looked for No Trespassing signs anytime we crossed a fence line on the road. I never saw any. I am totally in favor of staying off people's private property but sometimes it is hard to know one way or the other even when you are trying to do the right thing :shrug: Is there somewhere to check other than riding up someone's driveway? I really have zero desire to have an unwelcome encounter with a ticked off property owner ;-)

XR650Rocketman
01-13-2006, 07:20 PM
I know your opinion on private property riding Scott....We're on the same page for sure....We've run the 02 ranch Rd West to East before "assuming' we were on private property and turning around....It's really not clear unless you try to run East to West and then there is no doubt....Brewster County maps show the road West to East for a short way but then it stops at a ranch gate...

The DOT issue County Road maps are reasonably good....They do not show any private roads so there is really no question.....But....The book is way to big to haul around on the bike...

And then there's the question of what to do on a street legal D/S bike when you come to the sign that says....."OFF ROAD TRAVEL PROHIBITED"...What does that mean???

Tourmeister
01-13-2006, 10:04 PM
:tab I also know that there are some owners that will post "Dead End", "Private Road", and similar signs even though that is not the case! This is especially problematic in Colorado. The dilemma is whether or not to push the issue and risk a confrontation even if the road may legitimately be open to the public. In places like Big Bend and Colorado, the alternative route may be a detour of several hours or more!!

lddave
01-15-2006, 08:48 AM
Teeds,

I've ridden part of South County Road starting at 170, but not as far as Hwy 118. It's on my "to do" list for next time. The same goes for riding across Terlingua Ranch from 118 over to 385.


Last April I cut across Terlingua Ranch from 385 to 118, lot of deep loose sand, good views, no chance of getting lost.
South County Road from 170 to 118 , lot of switch backs ,dry water crossings mostly gravel.Numerous roads branching off, easy to get lost. Without a gps we would have been lost. We we stopped by two couples on a baja bug type of vehicle who were lost, we pointed them the right way.

XR650Rocketman
01-15-2006, 05:26 PM
Dave....I'm thinking that was around April 15th, 2005.

We were there that weekend and saw the people in the "Buggy" several places including Pinto Canyon Rd.....They were having a ball!!!!!

lddave
01-16-2006, 08:14 AM
Steve I believe that is the right date, I do not know who was having more fun us or them.