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Burl’s Ride - like Baja ... only a whole lot closer!

Joined
Feb 5, 2005
Messages
2,092
Location
here and there, mostly there
In the beginning ...

This ride started for me about 18 months ago when it became painfully apparent that there would not be enough $$ to make the trip LAST year.

To say that I was looking forward to the ride would be an understatement. I have not been able to make it to Big Bend since my annual December Grassy Banks visit, so I was jonesing for some riding.

The last few months have been consumed with laying out and building trails at Escondido Draw Recreational Area and opportunities to enjoy two wheels have been few and far between. Couple that with a dead DR and I was frustrated.

So ...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Loaded up and trailer in tow, I headed southwest with a target of meeting up with Matt and Mark somewhere along I-10. They were heading west on I-10 out of southeast Louisiana and we planned on laying our heads down at Deer Camp at EDRA at some point late in the evening.

Timely communications lead me to navigate south out of San Angelo and drop in at the Sutton County Steakhouse for our impending rendevous.

I got in a quick nap and awoke as they pulled into the parking lot. It had only been a few months since Matt and I had seen each other, but I had not seen Mark since DirtWeek back in 2005. Mark filled me in with how Dawn and the kids are getting along over chick fried steaks with mounds of mashed potatoes ... sorry, no photo ... I forgot! It had been too long and I look forward to sharing the road with them!

Dinner behind us, we slipped into Deer Camp about 10:00PM and we were soon sawing logs ...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dawn came early! Dang, I am still not used to Standard Time!

Fortified with coffee, I gave Matt and Mark the nickle tour of EDRA showing them the various trail segments that are either complete or planned. Properly wowed by what they found at the park, we headed westward towards our cabin at Study Butte.

Lunch was at Bien Venidos in Fort Stockton ... again, no photo ... this is not turning into a pattern.

After a couple of other stops for supplies, we headed out towards Alpine. As the jumping off point for Big Bend, Alpine always heralds the promise of the desert to me. Seeing the Sul Ross logo on the mountain always quickens my pulse.

Highway 118 southbound out of Alpine is always a beautiful drive and within a few hours of leaving Fort Stockton, we found ourselves in Study Butte at the Chisos Mining Company Motel. Soon cabin 14 became home for the next 4 days and we were unloading machinery and supplies.

A cold
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convinced me that I had indeed arrived!

Soon hunger took command and the Starlight Theater became the focus of our travels.

Stumbling into the darkness, we caught up with friends and acquaintances from other rides and other lives.

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The menu had a number of new items, but my favorite was still present and accounted for!

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Pork Medallions with a Chipotle Raspberry Reduction Sauce ... yum!!!

Back in a bit ...
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
11,228
Location
Far East DFW
Ok, that's just cruel. That little tease of a story and leaving me looking at that plate of great food when I'm as hungry as I am at the moment! MORE!
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2005
Messages
2,092
Location
here and there, mostly there
Friday, November 7, 2008

Early to rise ... remember my issues with daylight savings time?

Waking up to take a whiz, I noticed that the clock said 6:30AM ... I was wide awake, had been for a while and Mark and Matt were still sawing logs.

Quietly dressing, I figured on going to the Fina Station for coffee and breakfast. That would allow me to download all the spam that had collected in my inbox during two days of being off line. Mark awoke as I left and I told him I would be back in a bit ...

Well ...

As soon as I fired up my truck, I realized the mistake ... the alarm had not been reset to standard time ... it was 5:30AM, 30 minutes until the Fina even opened and I was only 5 minutes away. Rather than tuck my tail between my legs, I headed on down to the motel determined to log on a go ahead and clean up the email.

The lights came on in the restaurant, 1,100 offers went in the circular file and I answered one legitimate email ... all by 6:15AM. That made breakfast a pleasure!

Two Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Hashbrowns, Toast and Coffee is always a great way to start the morning and knowing that an impending dirt ride was in the offing made it even better.

Back at the cabin, Matt and Mark were slurping down the coffee I left brewing. Soon, like kids bundling up to play in the snow, we wrapped ourselves in protective gear, ready to do battle with the rocks and sand of West Texas.

Steve T, Charlie and Terry would be joining us on our excursion today, as would Keith, whom we had met the previous evening. I had seen Keith ride TAR, so I knew he could make his XRR fly.

Bundled up against the morning chill, everyone topped off their tanks at the Fina and we slipped northward on 118, clipping of the South County / North County Road system as it was scheduled for the Saturday TDS loop. Terlingua Ranch Road came into view and we headed east into the sun.

The junction of Cedar Springs Ranch Road came up and we stripped to fighting weight, storing jackets and such as this was the end of asphalt for a while.

Eastward, leaving contrails of dust we fled civilization and raced into the suspended past of Big Bend National Park.

The roads were fun, but the sand was deep ... very deep. My DR was having a time, floating about as we slid between the hedgerows of mesquite and other unidentified thorny plants reaching out to grab us.

Stopping to allow the group to gather back up, I marveled at the quietness of the scene. Only the sound of approaching motors could be heard over the whisper of the winds.

US 385 dictated a quick run to Persimmion Gap for entrance permits to the park. While there, I realized that Steve, Terry and Charlie had turned south instead of north. Mounting up, I hoped to find them at the junction of US385 and Dagger Flats Road ...

Heading south, we adhered to the posted speed limit as the park has had some problems with bikes of late and I didn’t want to give them any more ammunition. It was a long 15 mile ride and upon arrival, we did not find Steve and the gang. With hopes up, we headed east towards Old Ore Road and soon we found ourselves southbound on a road I can almost ride in my sleep. The desert was alive with plants and actually overgrown in places.

Vistas tugged at my senses and finally we stopped for a few minutes in an area full of bittersweet memories. The most beautiful part of Old Ore Road, this is also where Stevie had his accident in 2005 that resulted in his death. That days still haunts my memories and no ride down Old Ore will ever be made again with reflection on the loss.

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Old Ore came and went with no signs of our lost brothers, so south we turned towards Rio Grande Village for fuel and food.

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The prefab sandwich was easily forgotten, so forgive me for not photographing it.

The River Road was next up and there was some question as to whether or not it was open all the way to Castellon. Time would tell ...

Back in a bit ...
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2005
Messages
2,092
Location
here and there, mostly there
Pondering our chances to be able to ride across the entire length of the River Road, I took the fork often less traveled and followed the River Road south from the intersection with Glen Springs Road.

I figured if the River Road was closed at some point we would just double back onto Black Gap and then follow Glen Springs Road north to the slab.

Slipping westward across the bottom of the park, Keith Mark and Matt all followed my dust cloud across the park. One of the advantages of being the routemeister is that I usually had clear area to ride in!

About 2~3 miles past the Talley Cutoff, the road was blocked. At that point we kicked into plan B and headed up Black Gap Road. Not near the adventure heading northbound, Black Gap still presented some challenges to us. Mark had his straps for his tank bags break on one long climb and we were forced to shift the load to my bike. Not to worry ... what is 5 pounds to bike that teeters between pleasantly plump and portly ... the worst that could happenis she could be accused of being HDD aka Heavy Duty Delux!

The hill where Mark lost his load ...
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Don’t jump!!!
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Action shots ...

Keith
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Mark
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Matt
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Mark off loaded his bags to my bike and we were soon on our way.

Do my bags make her look fat?
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Some random scenery shots while I waited ...

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Soon we were on the asphalt and heading back to Study Butte ... into the setting sun ...

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Arrival at Study Butte brought cold beer and dreams of dinner.

Dinner was at Long Draw Pizza and boy was it great! We got the Grumpy and it was yummy. Sorry no photos though!

Tale of the Tape: 176 miles, most of which was dirt.

Back in a bit with Day one of the Terlingua Dual Sport Ride aka Burl’s Ride
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
870
Location
Round Rock / Austin TX
Tony, you have not lost your touch. Classic Teeds reporting. Look forward to the "Rest of the story".

Your thoughts of Stevie, minirocketman, are kindly noted. He loved the desert so much as you well know. He just felt so at home there.

I hope, like me, that all who knew him enjoy the memories of all he great times we had riding under the big skies of Big Bend.
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2005
Messages
2,092
Location
here and there, mostly there
Saturday, November 8, 2008

Well, the bedside clock got reset before we hit the sack! No one was going to mess with my sleep patterns for the balance of my stay.

Man, it was chilly when we arose ... heck ... it was downright cold to this thin skinned Texan. Of course ... if it is below 60F, it is too cold in my book.

Up early, I headed over to Kathy’s for a Chorizo Burrito and coffee. Arriving about 6:30AM, I found the place hopping and Greasemonkey busy tending the fire. Familiar faces filled with smiles were everywhere. Kathy was busy and I asked her if there was anything I could do to help. The next thing I knew, I was inside relighting the pilot on her deep fryer, which has gone out at just the wrong time!

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Soon, Steve gathered us about his stage, which happened to be the rear of his pickup. People were razzing him for being is shorts and he retorted words made famous by Burl ... y’all shut up and listen!

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Soon, we were teaming up and heading out. Although many of the people present were there for the first time, there were no newbies for me to lead, so Keith, Matt, Mark and I decided to head out on our own.

There was only one problem ...

None of us had a roll chart ... what the heck ... we would just head out ... try and find the few survey flags and enjoy ourselves. I know most of the roads in the area and had ridden all but one many times ...

It was easy to ride actually as Steve had filled me in regarding the general route. Time after time, we rolled through intersections and passed groups scratching their heads as to which direction to go.

Like a machine, we just kept moving ... all the way to the Terlingua Creek Crossing on North County Road anyway. Approaching the creek, I shifted left to avoid someone taking a photo and picked the worst line I could have taken as I exited the creek.

Well, pigs may fly on occasion, but floating is deep sand is another matter. El Petrolero augured in like a worm into an apple ... or like that Mars lander when they confused the location of the decimal point ... of course if they had used Imperial Units maybe they would have noticed the problem ...

But, I digress ...

This led to me realizing that maybe the gremlins that had been living in my carb had been awoken by the sudden stop. Trying to start her proved to be a rather large challenge and we all decided it was break time anyway!

Soon, she sputtered to life indicating that she had been severely flooded while napping ... Clue Number One

Sorry, no photos were taken, so under the by-laws of motorcycling ... so ... it never happened!

Well, back on the road, we hurried on, chasing dust clouds that lead to lunch. Heading into Terlingua Ranch, we were treated to a new road that I have not ever had the pleasure of riding. Lake Ament Road has been considered off limits for a long time and frankly, it should continue that way ... but that is just me. In any case, the road would upwards into the ranch, following topo lines around mountains as the road meandered southeast towards the main road that lead into the ranch office and lodge area.

We stopped for fuel at the gas stop just as Chris arrived to tell them they were in the wrong place!

Onward towards Marathon ... now this is familiar ... oops, how did I forget that S curve? Wow, I tore out into the pucker bushes like I knew what I was doing and what happened but everyone followed me!

Reversing course at the entrance to the park, we ran backwards the same section we ran yesterday. Fun, Fun, Fun!!! Cedar Springs Ranch Road crept into view on my GPS and a quick turn to the left and we soon connected up to the asphalt.

Remember the flagging?

I knew we needed to turn left, but I didn’t have a clue where.

So, as it turned out, the 5th or 6th left turn was the first one to have flagging ... so we turned there.

Whoop ... we were golden!

A quick jaunt across the flats and we came out on 118 just north of the North County Road. Slipping southward, we noticed an unnerving sight. Phil Conner was making revenue for Brewster County ... writing tickets. Duh, at least the bikes should “look” legal! Like the application said ... “street legal bikes”!

Phil checked us out as we rolled by, but we were all legal, so we waved and motored on.

Back at the creek crossing, my bad juju had left me and I made the crossing in an uneventful, but not boring manner ... that tank still had 4 gallons of gas in it and that is a lot of weight to fight in the sand when going slow.

Anyway, the road back was familiar as we had ridden much of it on the way north. We passed the sweeps at an intersection dealing with a flat tire and soon we showed up in Terlingua for lunch.

So ...

I finally took my camera out of my pocket!

The row of bikes ... that is Keith removing his jacket
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Lunch Stop!
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Gladys
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The scene
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Brandon is not usually that tired looking ... the red eye removal worked ... sort of anyway ... he had flaming eyes the first time I saw the photo ... scary!
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From the left ... Steve, Charlie, Terry in the blue, with Matt and Mark in the background
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Some scruffy derelicts ... actually David and Pat ... they took the SWECO course with me in April. A couple of great guys dedicated to keeping the SHNF open and rideable. My hat is off to y’all fellows!
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Some more people shots ...
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Chris, Howard (?) and Steve ... can anyone tell me what Steve is trying to say?
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I’m guessing someone took Ken’s bowl of stew!
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Scott and Tim
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See, Brandon is not tired, but I swear his dad’s eyes are closed. Terry is in the orange and my hat is off to him of all of his help with the trail system at EDRA.
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That is Jack in the back waving!
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Back on the porch, we surveyed the scene and played sidewalk superintendent to a rock mason that pretended that he was the only person in Terlingua. Judging by the way he parked, he probably was when he arrived. Little did he know what he was in for!
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And on the porch ...

Front to back ... Matt, Mark and Keith
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From the left ... Charlie, Steve, Steve’s new found friend and a tired rider that I don’t recognize ... help!
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The scene in the parking lot
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Ian and his permagrin!
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and last but not least ...

Mounting up for the afternoon loop
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more in a bit ...
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2005
Messages
2,092
Location
here and there, mostly there
Tony, you have not lost your touch. Classic Teeds reporting. Look forward to the "Rest of the story".

Your thoughts of Stevie, minirocketman, are kindly noted. He loved the desert so much as you well know. He just felt so at home there.

I hope, like me, that all who knew him enjoy the memories of all he great times we had riding under the big skies of Big Bend.
I was hoping the touch was still there ... it has been a while ... too long actually ...

Steve, I know that all of us that were there that day carry him in our hearts. I know you, Linda and all your kids and grandkids carry him closer than we. Still, he rides with me ...
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
870
Location
Round Rock / Austin TX
Tony, the Sherriff's Dept. Deputy was the new guy Paul. Phil hurt his back and they "retired" him. Phillip has since had back surgery and is on the mend.

Paul was writing tickets for no plate on the bike. A $150.00 offense. He declined to write all the other tickets that he said he could have.

Keep it coming.....
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2005
Messages
2,092
Location
here and there, mostly there
OK ... I’m back and we are off ...

The afternoon loop was back out into the hinterlands northwest of Terlingua.

Climbing the hill above the Starlight, we crested a hill that allows us to see for miles and miles and miles ... just like the song says ... of course I only barely remember the song and couldn’t come up with the artist if my life depended on it ... too much fun in the 70's ... yea ... I inhaled!

Now where was I?

Oh yea ... on the road again ...

Well, this route took us northward towards what we refer to as top of the world. Some 15 or so miles northwest of Terlingua, Top of the World reminds us of the trail in Moab with the same name.

I ramble, don’t I?

Well, the route wrapped around the west flank of Sawmill Mountain before descending in a zigzag pattern down a ridge towards the west.

The exit wash from the single track ...

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Did you notice the flagging? Made you look! There isn’t any in the photo ... it was taken two years ago!

Our first stop for the afternoon was to be at David Hilton’s place.

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For those that don’t know David ... you will not get a chance to meet him ... he died a while back.

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The whole place has been a mystery to me and I have wondered if David actially lived there or if he vacationed there.

Some photos from an earlier trip ...

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Back on the bikes, we headed toward Hen Egg Mountain Road ... the back way!

The balance of the ride was a series of intersections and we negotiated them all until we came to one spot where the roll chart and the flagging had balled up a number of folks and everyone was debating the direction to head.

Charlie, Terry and Steve had gone with us and we were all lost. At least I didn’t lose them ... like yesterday.

Ken came along and got everyone pointed the correct direction and we were off like a herd of turtles. At the intersection of Hen Egg Road, we held up and allowed Charlie, Steve and Terry to catch up. Charlie told us to go ahead as he didn’t want to hold us back, not that he was. In any case, they said that they could get back to town by following the flagging.

So ... we headed off ... Matt, Mark, Keith and myself anyway. We waved and slipped eastward following the lengthening shadows towards Hen Egg Mountain.

Arriving at the intersection of South County Road and Hen Egg Mountain Road, we turned south. The shadows were longer still and we slipped down the road at a quickening pace, buoyed by the knowledge that cold beer awaited us.

Remember what I said about how the morning route doubled back on the morning route and how I saw the sweeps working on a flat?

Well, about the time I approached that intersection the third time it dawned on me that the sweeps had swept the trail ... of flagging ... oops ... no flagging meant Charlie, Steve and Terry ... who had never been to Terlingua Ranch before ... were without a clue of how to get back to town. Steve did have his GPS, but it didn’t have topo in it ... Mmmmmm ... what to do?!?!?!

Well, I rationalized the there were still folks left out there and they all needed to get back. And of course, there were the sweeps ... assuming they stayed on the correct road to begin with ... a lot of ifs ... but then there was the cold beer.

So, I made the executive decision and knew I would suffer the grief of losing them twice in two days!

I soothed myself with a glass of
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on the rocks.

More in a bit ...
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2005
Messages
638
Location
Texas, of course (duh)
Nice job Teeds! Looks like a wonderful place to ride. I would love to do it, but I'm skeered. Not of riding there, it's just that both times my family and I have gone to that area, we've had mechanical problems, even in a brand new truck.

Big Bend says klrno2 STAY OUT! :giveup:
 
Joined
Mar 25, 2007
Messages
11,836
Location
COS
great report! :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:

reading these reports makes me REALLY want a DS, I'd love to get into that aspect of the sport.
I know I will eventually but not soon enough.

Keep it coming!
 

wdw

Joined
Aug 28, 2008
Messages
355
Location
The Republic
I don't want to pour salt on a wound, but I wonder if you could tell about Stevie and how his accident happened. From your description, I think I know where it occured.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
870
Location
Round Rock / Austin TX
Here is a link to the story: http://www.twtex.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6775 There may be other stories about it here and on the Texas Offroad Network, but I think a father's word's say it best.
Thanks for putting up the link Rusty

Reading it again made me realize that we need to post the rest of the story.

What we thought was the end of life as we knew it was true but none of us could have anticipated what life had in store for us later.

Check it out....http://www.twtex.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25266
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2005
Messages
2,092
Location
here and there, mostly there
:giveup:

Hey Chuck!

OK, so it was more than a bit ...

I forgot to post the tale of the tape for Saturday ...

The tale of the Tape for Saturday is 156 miles

[applause light]

Thank you, thank you

[/applause light]

Queue the music, maestro!

Imagine the sounds of Willie wafting through your speakers with the refrain of On the road again.

You bunch of word junkies ready for a chapter of the trip?

Well then, let’s get this show on the road ...

OK, so I’m in a weird mood, but I’m not PWI!

Onward into the fog, but first some thoughts on the Big Bend region from a twenty year perspective.

In twenty plus years little has changed about the region and yet everything has changed.

Regarding the people ...

The area is still sprinkled with misfits that stare blankly into the inner reaches of their mind. There are just enough of them, like seasonings in a tasty stew, to keep you on your toes as in many ways their persona and stories are what make Big Bend unique. This is one of the few spots on earth that seems to tolerate and celebrate the singularity that makes life really interesting. Nothing bland exists in Big Bend. The sand, the heat, the lack of rain all combine to strip away the sleepy insipidity that infests America. With the nearest shopping mecca four hours over the horizon in any direction, there is a simple satisfaction, a poineer spirit if you will, that seems to infect every resident. Tourists sometimes slow to the point of reflection, but the residents exude it.

The place is still full of tourists, as witnessed by the need of the cook at the Fina to set out a buffet the morning we departed, rather than act the role of a short order cook.

While we ate, in filed well scrubbed individuals bent on “seeing” Big Bend. All bore name tags reminiscent of days gone as convention attendees as teachers, government employees, office workers, etc ... the softer side of life. Just like going to a convention, the tags were to fiend off the embarrassment of having to remember a persons name. They all bore the name of the individual, but it was under the large logo declaring that all these folks “belonged to” Elderhostel. Just like the tag line says on the website ... they were going to have an Adventure in Lifelong Learning. Well, they for sure were expecting adventure!! All were clad from head to toe with the latest offerings from L.L. Bean, REI or any of the other places that tourists shop before going on an adventure.

One, not quite ready for the adventure of a buffet breakfast as traditional in Texas as the heat, implored the waitress that she had to have cereal, another wanted tea. Such is the beginning of adventure.

I sincerely hope they all found some adventure, because I was, at that point, heading back to civilization with a sore body and a soon to be broken truck that demanded a little smaller dose of adventure ... if only for a day or two.

The places ...

The fallacy that Lajitas became under the tutelage of Steve Smith (not our Rocketman, but the other one) is slowly being eaten away by the desert. As they say, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Mr. Smith traded money for experience and walked away a poorer man, but wiser man, for the knowledge. The desert is a very harsh mistress and it takes a quiet and respectful person to learn the ways of the desert.

As I said, Lajitas is gradually decaying, dissolving back into the desert. The majority of the shops appear deserted, and the golf course is gone, swept down the Rio Grande like a boat down a gutter. The river left in its’ wake as evidence of it’s fury sand, sand and even a bit more sand. It is everywhere in the flats on both sides of the river.

Terlingua appears unchanged except for an additional statue, or two, at Passing Wind. The Ghost town turns 100 years old about now according to one resident and they are gearing up, halfway through or winding down the birthday celebration based upon the information he imparted on us. As I said, time moves at a slower pace and the happiest individuals are those that live in harmony with the passage of time. I’m not entirely sure if this fellow knew which century we were in!

OK, I’m going to say it ... Dang it, I miss Miss Tracy! I miss her accent and her fish and chips. They were so out of place and yet so commonplace. How can that be? It is no different than asking a waitress in the Starlight what steak is best and having her answer that she is a vegetarian. For some crazy reason, absolutely nothing appears out of place in Big Bend.

Speaking of places, Kathy is slowing growing her little piece of the desert. She has added another small travel trailer to the menagerie that is Kathy’s Kosmic Kowgirl Kafe. I’m not sure of it’s purpose, but it makes a great backdrop. Soon, Kathy will be forced to install restrooms and another piece of natural world will succumb to the pressure of civility.

The Starlight Theater continues to be the hub of tourist life in the area. No one can go to Terlingua without stopping in. That being said, there were fewer locals there this last trip and the staff all looked unfamiliar.

Long Draw Pizza is the genuine article and Cathy, or is it Kathy, runs a tight ship. She said she had owned the place for ten years and loved being there. It showed in her infectious smile and the casual comfort of the regulars at the bar.

La Kiva has changed little in the recent past. The decline was rapid for a few years when the cottonwoods all died for lack of attention, but these days the decline seems to have flattened out and La Kiva has found its’ nitch. The beer is cold, the drinks strong and the food variable but good, assuming you listen to the suggestions of the waitress.

The mind ...

The most fragile component of the entire scenario is the mind. Your mind is played like a fiddle by the region. No one can go to Big Bend and leave the same. The freedom infects all that dare to allow Big Bend to touch their inner soul.

Big Bend first touched my soul many moons ago, but many trips have left impressions that color the very fabric of my life. Some of the brightest threads in my tapestry are those dyed with the unforgiving touch of nature. Walter Prescott Webb said that nature was an unforgiving and yet passive mistress in “The Great Frontier”. He also stated that America’s definition of the word frontier is unique. Our frontier is within our boundaries and is rich and bountiful beyond our wildest dreams, while much of the rest of earth sees the frontier as the border region, the demarcation, between political entities. I have to agree with Mr. Webb’s assertion. The frontier is alive and well in Big Bend. Creativity knows no limit there on the edge of civilization. It lies within easily our grasp and yet slips quietly through the fingers of those unwilling or unable to appreciate what it passively offers.

There are other spots on earth equally remote, but none closer to me than Big Bend. It is eight hours and 200 years from my house, but not my home. The frontier is my home, so I am home, I am at ease, in Big Bend. It is where all the voices in my head sing the same tune, so ... Perhaps I am one of the crazy ones, if for no other reason than I smile more where the pretense is false and honesty, resulting from the daily struggle to survive, is king ... or queen ... but then again ... even women become “one of the guys” in the desert.

Go grab a cup of coffee, or a beer depending on what time of the day that you are reading my tale.

I’m going to get a cup of inspiration and be back in a minute.
 
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As I write, the window in my room is filling with the light of a cool, cold to me, morning light. Clouds cover the sky, reminding me that nature is a force that cannot be tamed except by becoming part of it. Man has always battled nature and sometimes even manages to win a battle or two, but nature always wins the war.

The many lost treasures being unearthed across the globe stand as a stark reminder of the force we call nature.

Tikal remains one of my targets for a ride in the next few years. I expect to lose a great deal along the route and yet gain much more than I lose. Travel is never a zero sum activity. The best travelers are those that come home with a deeper understanding of where they have been, mentally and physically. Travel often teaches us as much about ourselves and it does about the places we visit.

Traveling aboard a motorcycle increases the speed of the devolution as well as the length of the distance traveled within our souls. I would have to guess that is why we do what we do. To find that quiet spot within ourselves. That place where honesty and goodness knows no limits.

It is sad to watch people rush through life unaware of their surroundings intent on the destination, not the experience, of getting there. Look at the edge of a crowd, they are easy to spot. Their clothes are clean, new and pressed. Their cameras the latest in technology and their fences the strongest. Like the patron at a bullfight, they cheer safely from their seats, not exactly sure why the demise of the bull is so enchanting, never grasping the culture that is the bullfight. They were at the rear of the crowd in Chichicastenango Guatemala as I witnessed the change of the patron saints just before Christmas a few years ago. I hope they could see, but my vantage point I could feel the processions, awash as I was in the emotions of the crowd.

In any case, I guess I should get back to Burl’s Ride ... Big Bend always leaves me more alive with every visit. Perhaps someday I can say I truly understand, but for now I am still a student.

So ...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Well the day started back at Kathy’s with a rider meeting and giveaways. Steve told tales from the experiences of the previous day as he handed out raffle prizes. Two Clark tanks were raffled off and the proceeds forwarded to Rider Down. If I remember correctly, just over $600 was forwarded in the name of ride participants. I will say and I’m sure Steve will chime in ...

Thanks!

Anyway, onward to the photos!

Anyone got a guess who that is in the white boots?
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Steve telling everyone to move to the other side of the truck, so we could look into the sun instead of him.
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Ian always stands out in a crowd
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This wide!?!? Really?
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Candid photos of the gang ...

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The crowd ...

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The gentleman in the green chest protector would learn to rue the day he rode the singletrack. Does anyone know how bad his knee injury turned out to be?
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Aww ... shucks, it was nothing
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And so went the rider’s meeting.

Back in a bit ...
 
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I thought the lady at Long Draw Pizza was Nancy, not that it really matters. her pizza is worth stopping in for though.

The tank raffle raised $600.00 for Rider Down and we also donated an additional $1,000.00 from the proceeds of the ride.

Thanks to all who participated. Donating to a Foundation whose services you never hope to use takes a special type of donor.

Tony's insight into the Big Bend state of mind illustrates what kept Burl Hughes and Stevie, minirocketman so enthralled with all they saw there.

The donations to Rider Down were made in their names.
 
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We have a winner!

And to think that I thought Track Queens were the only folks to wear white boots. :rofl:

Tim is both capable and fast, regardless of the surface.

HEY!
Gaerne SG10
By FAR the best MX boot available today! I got them for $100 bucks from a Pro who had too many. I cannot help that they were white:giveup:

Richard, I hope it was the jacket that made me recognizable and not something in my Hind Quarter region cause I know you have never seen those boot before:lol2:

"Track Queen":rofl:
 
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HEY!
Gaerne SG10
By FAR the best MX boot available today! I got them for $100 bucks from a Pro who had too many. I cannot help that they were white:giveup:

Richard, I hope it was the jacket that made me recognizable and not something in my Hind Quarter region cause I know you have never seen those boot before:lol2:

"Track Queen":rofl:
Tim, the Scott Genius boots are what I've been telling my wife are the best. Well at least ever since she bought some for me one day at Cycle Gear.

I recognized you from the back also by the way and I didn't look below the top of your head.
 
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Tony I just want to say thankyou for your ride reports from BB. I really appreciate them and always enjoy them. As one who has watched the evolution of the Big Bend Country since 1972 you really touched a deep nerve with me this time. If you happen to be up our way during your Grassy Banks trip this year please stop in for a visit. You know you and Steve and the rest of the Lost Trail Gang always have an open invitaton. The same goes for the Desert Rats and any others in the TWT family. We'll be at the ranch from Dec. 20 till Jan. 3 or 4. Hope we get to see you!

Randy
 
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Tony I just want to say thankyou for your ride reports from BB. I really appreciate them and always enjoy them. As one who has watched the evolution of the Big Bend Country since 1972 you really touched a deep nerve with me this time. If you happen to be up our way during your Grassy Banks trip this year please stop in for a visit. You know you and Steve and the rest of the Lost Trail Gang always have an open invitaton. The same goes for the Desert Rats and any others in the TWT family. We'll be at the ranch from Dec. 20 till Jan. 3 or 4. Hope we get to see you!

Randy
Thanks Randy.....
 
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Tony I just want to say thankyou for your ride reports from BB. I really appreciate them and always enjoy them. As one who has watched the evolution of the Big Bend Country since 1972 you really touched a deep nerve with me this time. If you happen to be up our way during your Grassy Banks trip this year please stop in for a visit. You know you and Steve and the rest of the Lost Trail Gang always have an open invitaton. The same goes for the Desert Rats and any others in the TWT family. We'll be at the ranch from Dec. 20 till Jan. 3 or 4. Hope we get to see you!

Randy
Will do with pleasure!
 
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I thought the lady at Long Draw Pizza was Nancy, not that it really matters. her pizza is worth stopping in for though.

The tank raffle raised $600.00 for Rider Down and we also donated an additional $1,000.00 from the proceeds of the ride.

Thanks to all who participated. Donating to a Foundation whose services you never hope to use takes a special type of donor.

Tony's insight into the Big Bend state of mind illustrates what kept Burl Hughes and Stevie, minirocketman so enthralled with all they saw there.

The donations to Rider Down were made in their names.
Thanks Steve of the clarifications regarding the donations.

It is important that we remember ... always remember. Stevie and Burl live on in our memories. I think of them often and even more often while in Big Bend.

Regarding Cathy/Kathy/Nancy, you may well be correct as my information is third hand and filtered through at least two or three pitchers of Shiner Bock Beer.
 
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HEY!
Gaerne SG10
By FAR the best MX boot available today! I got them for $100 bucks from a Pro who had too many. I cannot help that they were white:giveup:

Richard, I hope it was the jacket that made me recognizable and not something in my Hind Quarter region cause I know you have never seen those boot before:lol2:

"Track Queen":rofl:
For me it was the haircut and the jacket.

Tim ... No man would ever admit to looking at another man's buns ... :lol2:

Track Queens indeed ... most of the SX guys wear white boots!

It takes a secure person to wear white after Labor Day!
 
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Richard, I hope it was the jacket that made me recognizable and not something in my Hind Quarter region cause I know you have never seen those boot before:lol2:
Tim,

It was the jacket/pants combo. You are in one of the other pics and I matched the jackets and pants you were wearing from that pic.
 
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Bastrop, TX
There are other spots on earth equally remote, but none closer to me than Big Bend. It is eight hours and 200 years from my house, but not my home. The frontier is my home, so I am home, I am at ease, in Big Bend. It is where all the voices in my head sing the same tune


Teeds you are amazing dude. It took me more than a few days to adjust to regular life when I got back to Austin. I have tried to describe it and thank God you did it for me! That place made a huge impression on me. It reminded me of something that Paul Bowles wrote about the Sahara. I actually found the work on youtube and it has been animated (pretty surreal stuff) but his words describe s similar experience:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjOuhsEx3nA

Thanks again for such a thoughtful ride report!
 
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Excellent writing Tony

I really think you need to be publishing your writings as they are oh so eloquent.

then Scott comes up with the Deep thoughts by Paul Bowels.

The cave man that I am just can't wait to get back out there to twist the throttle and see if I can go faster through the single track..

As I have told people in the past... the desert has a way of calling you back.
 
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Excellent writing Tony

I really think you need to be publishing your writings as they are oh so eloquent.

then Scott comes up with the Deep thoughts by Paul Bowels.

:clap:
Deep Thoughts...
LOL!

But I wholeheartedly and seriously agree that Tony needs to publish!
It's good reading even if you don't ride.
Heck I'd go so far to say that it's good reading even if you don't read!
 
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The second day has turned into a tradition of sorts as it is too good to not run it again the next year, so it is little changed.

Quote heard on the singletrack ... cleaned up a bit for posting!

Joel said:
Bunch a ******* ... It is not an adventure to ride a 250 pound bike on singletrack, it is an adventure to ride a 500 pound bike on singletrack ...
I agree!

An aside ...

Is there any more peaceful time to be in the desert than in the morning? I don’t think so, but then I am a morning person and sun up is one of the high points of my day. If nothing else, dawn reminds me that God has given me one more opportunity to make use of my talents.

I love mornings and enjoying them on a motorcycle with a group of friends only raises the fun factor!

Friendships are the core of life.
We mounted up and Keith, Matt, Mark and I headed out into a now familiar desert.

The first section is a fast run south towards the border of the park and Sierra Aguja. Nominally singletrack, this desert run offers a bit of rest before the wash, which is gravel of the deepest, and loosest kind. Remember, pigs augur, but they don’t fly.

I pondered that fact as I slipped down the singletrack.

Heading south, my memory picked out familiar landmarks as we closed in on the boundary of the park. Was it two years ago that I last traced this track? It seemed like only yesterday. Stopping at a point in the flat, we were caught by Ken leading a group. He handed off three folks to me and we headed into the wash.

Maybe 2~3 miles in length, the wash is infamous in its ability to find the chinks in our ability. El Petrolero is heavy, carrying five or more gallons of gas on her flanks as we face the wash.

I’m vertically challenged, so my DR is the shizznit for me. Just knowing I can plant my feet makes me a more confident and better rider.

I gathered the troops and told everyone where the exit was and we all headed out. About half way down the track, I realized that I had lost some of the gang. Mark and Matt headed on and I turned back to find the missing folks. Located, we all reversed direction and made the end with little event. My DR did a fine, if not graceful, job of consuming the wash. It is hard to get the front tire to plane on the gravel when there is that much gas on her flanks. In any case, we gathered up at the exit point of the wash and I lead the troops northward towards SH170.

Now, this section of the route is fun. I took off like a rocket sled on wheels. Sure, others were faster that day, but I enjoy this section and I was in my groove when I hit the track. For those unwashed that have not managed to make it to the Terlingua Dual Sport ride, this section is a very tight double track that sweeps and swoops between continuous rows of pucker bushes. Longitudinal washouts within the track kept me on my toes as I headed north consuming the track like I actually knew what I was doing.

Over all too quickly ... I found myself sliding to a stop at the intersection of SH170. Whew, that was fun! The DR is made of this type of track. She isn’t exactly nimble and she carries a bunch of weight on her flanks, but by golly, some roads are just fun!

Everyone caught up with me and we headed to the singletrack.

Back in a bit ...
 
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Super description of a great section of the ride Tony. As you've heard me say many times before. The Terlingua D/S ride is appropriate for riders of all abilities and experience levels. The difference is in the speed you chose to ride at.
Expert riders can get all the excitement they need and novice riders can get the experience they need.
After the ride though, nobody asked me about the guy on the new KLR but many people wanted to know who the guy with the rally fairing was.
Both riders had a great time and felt they got all the excitement they needed.
That's what it's all about isn't it?
 
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Ahhhh ... singletrack on a big bike ... here we go, ready for the journey?

Eastward over the ridge we found the gas truck setting up for the return loop. This signaled the beginning of the real fun for the day ... the singletrack.

Now, I have ridden my DR on this singletrack before, but she was a tad lighter than today. Well, what the heck ... let’s go for a ride.

The draw begins the section and we followed in the tracks of those that had gone before, angling north westward away from SH170. The true singletrack arrived on the left and we turned up the bank out of the wash.

Gathering the troops, we headed north again shadowed on the west by a bluff defining the boundary of our playground. Pucker bushes pulled out our clothes as we wove down the track. The rains had brought the entire desert into full bloom and the plants had responded with massive growth. Such is the way of the desert.

I noted in passing that it appeared that the ATV traffic was apparently down to about nil, as the sense of the two track was almost gone. I’m guessing this proved to be too much adventure for Biff and Buffy, so the operator had limited the number of trips or abandoned the effort all together.

Well, the first section of singletrack behind us, we dropped through the wash again, waved at the maniacs on the LC8 KTMs and late model KLRs and motored on ... for a bit anyway.

This next section posed a prize of a surprise and it was up to me to locate it as I was in the lead.

Somewhere there was a sharp 90 degree turn to the left that was completely blind at the top of a climb. The turn was there because of the 15 odd foot drop off that was also blind! Whee, let’s go hunting that sucker!

Now, Ms. Piggy isn’t much of a flier and I’m betting that El Petrolero would handle flight about the same, so I was intent on carving the turn correctly.

I was so intent that I lost track of those that followed ... there is a clue in that statement for one unfortunate soul.

I found the turn and made it ... but there is a fly in the ointment.

One member of my extended team took the wrong dismount from the hill and went down the slope.

Now, for a bit the tale is mostly third hand as I didn’t witness the results of the landing.

So ... as I understand it ...

He ... I have to call him “he” because I lost his name ... it is raddling around in my cranium, but as those that know me can attest to ... that sucker “can” be a black hole ...

I know ... get back to the story at hand ... it is my ADD ... or my halfheimers ... I forget which.

In any case, he took the short way down and ended up in a heap at the bottom of the drop off.

Now, as I understand it, he was shaken, stirred but not broken by the experience, but the shaken comes into play here as it often does after a dramatic dismount.

He fell again on the trail and popped something in his right knee trying to extract himself and his bike from it’s predicament.

OK, I want to offer some kudos now!

Everyone knows that KTM and Suzuki Riders are the best, right? Well in my book they are and they get double kudos for being out there on 500 pound bikes and taking the time to make sure we go reunited.

At some point, I noticed a commotion about a 100 yards back on the trail and I wondered that way and this is where I reenter the story.

The big bad biker bunch (BBBB) had shepherded my charge to a point that he was going to try and ride his bike to the road. We were about a mile shy of the intersection of the road and the singletrack by my best guess at that point.

While we waited I had taken a few photos of folks as they passed and this first one sums it up quite well.

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I was not just taking pictures of KTMs ... they just kept coming by!

We collectively got him headed the right direction, someone started his bike and we motored on ... slowly.

One gent had volunteered to get him back to town once we managed to make the intersection. I had indicated that I would, in order to recover my diminished karma, but he2 would not have any arguments about getting he1 out of there.

Someday I have got to take a Dale Carnegie memory course ... assuming I can remember to register.

In any case, onward they traveled ... and we followed.

Remember my karma issue?

Well, that “oh poop” on the trail in losing my charge was about to bite me in the butt. I was out of “at a boys” and I didn’t know it ...

My karma was on reserve ...

Back in a few ...
 
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OK ... it has been too long.

Let’s see if we can kick this in gear and wrap up the day here ...

Where was I ... oh yea ... my karma was on reserve

Well, he1 hesitated going through a steep wash and his bike dies. Mark started his bike and rode it across as I helped he1 across the ditch on foot.

Did this bump my karma up out of reserve?

Apparently not, because about 50 feet shy of the intersection with the road, my bike gets tired and lays down. Again, no photos, so I guess it didn’t happen.

Mark helped get the beast back on her feet and as I knew she was likely flooded ...

We waited ...

And waited some more

All the while folks passed us by heading on towards lunch! There is a problem here as lunch was being served at the rock house and it was to be fajitas, which are always particularly yummy!

Come on baby, we have miles to ride and lunch to eat ... please start ...

Nope

Dang it!

We waited some more, tried again, still no luck ...

Mark and I decided to push her out to the road and at least be able to ponder the problem without having to stand there in the way of other people’s progress, so move her we did.

Once we achieved the road, we poked about a bit around the site and waited some more.

The problem with a DR is they are electric start and they do not have a kick starter, so you have to be careful when they are cantankerous, and El Petrolero was cantankerous.

Nothing would light her fire ... nothing ...

Matt and Mark decided to tow her and see if they could do some good ... I told them to knock themselves out.

Now is when I should have unleashed the camera ... Matt (or a XR650R) was going to attempt to pull Mark on my DR.

The first shot out of the bag was telling. Matt simply pulled Mark onto his side and spun his rear tire spraying rocks at Mark while EL P defiantly laid there and laughed.

We got her back up and they headed off up a hill.

Sometime during all the laughter and commotion, some folks had arrived on a mishmash of vehicles just puttering about. One was a 4x4 Quad ... this gets better ...

Matt and Mark come flying (at maybe 5 MPH) back down the hill and ... nothing ... when she slides to a halt on the concrete.

Remember the quad?

Well, we had a willing volunteer to pull Mark ... assuming he could figure how to get the quad into reverse ...

Now, we should have wondered at this point but we didn’t ...

On the second attempt, she did start and sputtered to life.

Mark with a grin returned victorious!

I jumped on to run her out a bit and she promptly died when the back tire hit the first small step up ... there is a clue here ... but no one saw it.

Frustrated, we towed her again and I rode Mark’s bike to where she was sputtering and coughing.

Mark kept her running to charge the battery while I opened up the air box to check the air filter. It looked fine. In fact the bottom half was clean ... clean as a new filter. Perhaps the problem was the fuel standing even with the inlet of the carb in the bottom of the air box!

We laid her over and quickly drained the gas and I pulled the drain plug on the air box for good measure. Well, guess who quit sputtering? Yep, that would be El P!

OK, so finally we mounted up and chased off after the balance of our crew that had long since gone on.

Time lost ... 30 minutes or so

Lessons learned ... too many to count, but the biggie is that the Safari tank holds enough gas ABOVE the carb that they are capable of pushing the needle down when El P gets tired that the first action, even before extracting myself is to turn off the gas on the high side of the tank! No ifs ands or buts ... immediately!

So, we were back on the road and we rode like mad men chasing lunch. The balance of section two of the day was familiar roads, so we stretched it out a bit. I even used a few berms to turn El P for grins.

There is nothing quite like sliding 400+ pounds into a berm and wondering if it will hold up to the impact.

We survived ...

Onward to section three!

Hitting the asphalt at South County Road, we slipped westward to the gas stop so Matt and Mark could burp their tanks. El P still had a semi full load.

Section three is always a lot of fun because it starts with a worn out double track left over from a century gone by.

Imagine this ... a series of 9 inch tall curbs spaced about 15 feet apart and covered with baseball and softball size rocks all at about a 20 degree angle. Add in a little off camber, pucker bushes and the occasional butt puckering drop off on one side or the other and you can now visualize the first 5 or so miles of the track.

This section was made to separate the good, the bad and the ugly.

El P was the ugly at this point ... too much weight and not enough speed contributed to a situation where we crashed headlong into the face of the step ups one after another, never quite able to begin skipping across the tops.

I quit counting the number of times the forks bottomed ...

We could have been the main comedy act at that point. We skittered across the track, back and forth, barely in control and with little or no sense of grace ... but we made it ... we made the crest of the last hill ... with only something like maybe a thousand or so dabs ... but no naps.

I can safely say that no one that day was more pleased to see the valley on the back side of that hill than I.

Matt and Mark gamely followed, suffering the onslaught of rocks that El P kept spitting out with her rear tire.

At this point, I knew the next stopping point and headed there as fast as I could follow the track.

Soon we arrived ...

El P and Marks XR400
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We made the top of the road above Lone Star Mine. This is always a Kodak moment ...

An aside ... will they still be Kodak moments when every camera is digital and all of them are made in China? Inquiring minds need to know.

In any case ... we stopped ... we snapped

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Did you notice the killer view out the window? This is because of the fact that the building is at the top of a ridge. A ridge that has a steep decent.

On the decent there were two rocks exactly 1490 mm (58.7 in) apart. You ask why I know this? Because this spacing matches the wheelbase of my DR, that is why and these two rocks brought me to a rapid and complete halt and we all know what bikes do when there is zero forward motion and the rider’s feet are not on the ground.

Well, she flooded again although I turned off the gas and she only leaned over ... she didn’t fall. How do I know this? Because I was able to right her by myself, a task nigh on impossible if she is laying down good.

Well, I knew the plug was out of the air box so I rode her on down the hill in silence, trying to fire her with momentum every now and again ... cough, sputter, sputter, skid we went. Oh well, we made it and she fired up, so now only about 15 minutes of asphalt separated us from lunch.

So off we flew ...

A disclaimer ... I am not usually such a lame rider. It is something about rocky downhills combined with massive drop offs and big bikes that tosses grace and aplomb out the window ... what can I say ... of course, if I would ride more often.

Back in a bit ...
 
Last edited:
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So, where was I?

We were flying west on SH170, lunch was in front of us and traffic was nil.

Lajitas began to peek over the top of the hills. The Warnock Visitor’s Center for Big Bend Ranch State Park appeared to have a little activity. The balance of the town appeared tired and new all at the same time. The image of tired older lady of pleasure comes to mind. You know ... all dolled up, trying to hide the wrinkles and nowhere to go and even fewer folks to do it with!

As I said in an earlier post, the desert is a harsh mistress, as Steve and many thousands of Steve’s before him have found out. Nothing strips the varnish off a dream quite as effectively as the desert does. In the harsh light of morning, nothing hides. Nothing ...

I reflected on these thoughts and the many more racing through my brain as I headed towards lunch. It has been a difficult year, but I feel that I am over the hump. Time will tell, time will tell.

So, where is the Rock House?

For those following along in their mind’s eye, having experienced the River Road in the saddle of a bike, the Rock House in the only building sandwiched between the road and the river before the stage set.

On a bluff overlooking the river, the rock house has become a traditional lunch site for Sunday lunch. In fact many people lollygag as will be evidenced by the photos and this is where they end their ride. A short jaunt along SH170 back to their hotel and away they go, back to civilization.

But first, a little slice of heaven!

Fajitas at the Rock House!!!!

We arrive to see a curious site ... no, not Santa Claus, his reindeer and sleigh ...

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Look familiar?

Anyone that does not recognize this rig please report to the back of the room!

Ara and Spirit were here!

Cool! ... let’s check out the house and see who is here.

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Well, because of El P taking a nap like she did, we are near the end of the lunch, after the rush if you will. Now this is meaningless because the food flows until the last of the sweep riders have had their fill!

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Matt and Mark got groceries and dug in while I wondered around a bit. Keith had waited on us and we began the process of hatching a plan for the afternoon, but more on that in a bit.

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Now, I am not going to show you photos of the meal because you need to pay the toll and check out the groceries yourself!

Here is the view they were pondering while they ate.

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That is Mexico on the left, Texas on the right.

So, what give with the house?

It is a cool rock building of questionable age, but built properly, age is of little manner as rock is indigenous to this part of Texas.

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How about that for a bathtub! Is that nice or what? I’m betting anyone that starts a day with a bath there has a smile on their face for the entire day.

Matt and Mark hanging out enjoying the day.

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Does this look like a place to cook some dead cow, or what?

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We had decided on a destination, so we sauntered to our steeds and began the process of mounting up ...

Meanwhile, one participant slept on ...

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Back in the parking area, we found Ara mounting up as well. He was off to Alpine for some tests. I pray all went well.

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Ta Da ... ready to go on a ride

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The most photographed dog on the internet!

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Only Kookie possibly exceeds Spirit in number of images snapped. If you are old enough to remember Kookie, applaud yourself. You deserve it!

So, with that ... we mounted up and headed towards Terlingua and Top of the World.

Back in a bit ...
 
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So, Top of the World became the goal.

We almost made it on Saturday afternoon but decided against it because of a number of reasons, mostly surrounding cold beer.

Well, we would not be denied today!

We would summit!

Backtracking soon found us in Terlingua. As we slipped by Ghost Town I made note of the fact that we had a little over two hours to make it to Top of the World and back before the bar opened at the Starlight.

So, now we had a goal and like yesterday, it involved cold beer. Nectar of the Gods, or as it has been quoted ...

Benjamin Franklin said:
Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
OK, so north we headed. The route was both familiar and yet foreign. The natural signals were all still present, but the human element from two days of riding in a crowd was gone. The peace had returned. I enjoy the company of people, but solitude is my natural element. While astride my bike heading outbound, I was alone ... not lonely ... only alone. Lost in my thoughts, I pondered many events, joys and sorrows in my life. In Big Bend, the background noise seemed to recede. This allows me a clarity that come with the simplicity of purpose. My purpose for the afternoon was to show three good friends a not so secret, but still delectably remote experience at the same time.

So, lets ride ... northward into the haze we blazed a trail.

Have you ever noticed how the farthest mountains appear blue in your life? Have you noticed how the blue recedes? How it fades into the sky?

Well, that is where we were heading ...

Is there anyone here besides me that has read M.M. Kay? Ok, she isn’t at the same level of popularity as J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, but she wrote some good books in her time, one being Far Pavilions, perhaps her most famous. Where am I going with this, you ask?

Only to our version of a far pavilion. On the farthest edge of the desert, near the end of the road is our version, shrouded in the blue veil of distance.

We motor on, growing closer as we ride. The sun is out, the air warm and there is a satisfied glow in my soul. It is times like that this that make getting up a pleasure. These are blessings that should not be glossed over.

The road unfolds in front of me as I ride. Turn after turn, intersection after intersection, we unwind the road in front of us. Arriving at the last intersection, we break for a moment to enjoy the afternoon.

I grab a few shots of my merry band ...

Matt
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Mark
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Keith
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From this last intersection, the route is an out and back trip. I wonder at the distance left to travel so I note the mileage on my bike and the time. Unfortunately, as I write this today, about a month later, I don’t remember the exact mileage. It was roughly 3 miles from the intersection to the summit.

So, onward we headed.

I soon knew we were close because we passed the white mobile home abandoned near the road. I have long wondered what someone was thinking dragging the beast all the way out there. The road is not straight and there are many places where the approach angles to drainage would have grounded the home. Who and why? Someday I may stop and poke around. It is abandoned, but it is still private, so perhaps not.

Anyway, back to the ascent.

A few intersections and a dozen or so curves brought us to the obstacle that stopped us last year. I didn’t stop for photos this time, but here is one from last year that illustrates the problem. We tried it last year with trucks in tow and this became the end of the road for them. The bikes went on to the summit, which is maybe another mile.

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By the rocks we flew, onward towards the summit.

We made the summit and snapped some photographs.

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Interesting, now Terlingua appeared to be the Far Pavilion. The farthest in this last shot is Big Bend National Park, some 30~40 miles away as the crow flies.

Remembering the mental note made as we passed Ghost Town that the Starlight opened at 5:00PM and realizing that we need to be back so we don’t get caught by the approaching dusk, we mounted up and headed off.

Unraveling the roads back towards town, I chose a random route, stopping at various intersections, metally flipping coins to determine the immediate direction. At some point, we passed folks camping along the road. They appeared to be squatting actually as they were set up in a bald spot at a T. In that you can easily hide in plain sight out there, I imagine that impromptu camping goes on out there all the time.

So, onward we head, chasing the roads backwards towards Terlingua and The Starlight Theatre

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Beware ...

Rant mode on

Why is it that people misspell words? It is hard enough to teach people to spell without people misspelling simple words because someone told them that theatre has more elan than theater? What about Towne Centre ... how many towns now have towne centres. Ok, some things drive me crazy like intentionally misspelled and developer trees ...

I know, what is a developer tree? It is a Bradford Pear! Look around, there are millions of the durn things. It is like every developer determined that they were going to push us over the edge with them. It is bad enough that there is a bland sameness to their shopping centers, but then they wrap them in developer trees and entitle them with haughty names ...

Lord, all of this because the Starlight chose an alternative spelling to their name. They are swimming in class, they don’t need the panache of a misspelled name!

Rant mode off

OK, lets take a deep breath ... LOL! Some things just drive me crazy.

Well, somewhere along the way we had arrived, unraveling all the roads in our path until we found the Starlight.

I bought the first round. These guys deserved it.

Meanwhile, Mark took photos of the local wildlife ...

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After the first round, we grabbed a sixer from the store and enjoyed the porch. We watched the day fade into night, aware that the magic of the trip was soon to close.

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The view we were taking in ...

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Mule Ears
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Mark taking it all in ...
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Need gas?
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Well, back at the rooms, we washed off the day and prepared for dinner. We had attempted the La Kiva on the previous evening and they were swamped, so we made that the target for our stop.

Hooking up with Steve, Terry and Charlie, we headed to La Kiva.

The groceries were good, very good. I’ve lost track, but I think I have mentioned this earlier in the report so I will not belabor the description.

David and Pat were well into their evening libations when we arrived.

Heeding my admonitions, everyone ordered something that the waitress suggested. My Q was great, yummy in fact.

I bought David and Pat a round as they are good folk and deserve it in my book!

This brings Sunday to a close ... all that was left was to hit the pillow and dream about the trip home.

The trip home ... this tale is not done, but we are getting close ... Tomorrow still holds some surprises for me. Little did I know!

Back in a bit ...
 
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