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Home Again: Big Bend

Jun 7, 2006
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Exit. Stage West.

Desert Rats
are home again.​
Wish I was down there with you all again. Very relaxing hanging out and riding there.
While you're down in BB, be sure to stop by and say howdy to Ara and Spirit for us.
While you're down in BB, be sure to stop by and say howdy to Ara and Spirit for us.
We chatted with Ara several times.

And, unfortunately, most good things too soon come to pass. We are on our way back to the mess, leaving Home behind.

Until next time......

(p.s. The DR rocks!!!!!!!!! ) :flip:

Lottsa good photos, but little access to wifi. Will fill in on the website/blog later.


This was an odd trip for me. Not in the same mode as the former trips to Big Bend for several reasons. Didn't carry the camera around like the past trips. Didn't do much, either; at least not nearly, not even close to what I wanted to do. The bad back kept me at camp for several days after arriving. Until I couldn't stand it anymore and rode anyway.

Except for the usual grumpy carburetor on the DR350, the bike was absolutely wonderful. The beefy suspension nearly floated over Old Maverick Rd washboard, handled loose gravel and ledge like a charm, swam through the river like an otter (okay, charged through), and pushed through the sand like a worm (granted, we rode shallow sand and silt, not deep sand). When power is needed it's there. When it has to climb, it's like a mountain goat. And picks its way down rock hills as if it was a hound.

Like anything that feels good, one can push it too far, and I did. Got cocky one day and ended up in a berm of betonite. It was my fault.

On the other hand, the DR can be naughty sometimes and throw a cog in the good times. So good times like this.......


can become this.



The culprit was two little screws that mount the slide holder to the inside of the carb (deep down inside) wiggled loose and decided to disengage the throttle. No gas. Good thing I was leading the group on the return sightseeing ride.

It ran like a charm after the carb was put back together, then I ran out of gas 1/2 mile from the Study Butte store/gas. Luckily I discovered it was that after switching to reserve.

The carb burped and coughed again a day or so later and required another cleaning. Little fishes in the bowl. We think cleaning the petcock and the tank is in order, and adding a fuel filter. Seems that any little precipitation will plug it somewhere.

And it likes Terlingua Creek water. :mrgreen:
Sorry we missed you Elzi. You and Ed were Up Long Draw when we went through camp. Maybe next year.
I so want to do this some day. Fly over Big Bend.

If I see another pic of her crossing a creek, I'm going to catch pneumonia.
Nights were chilly, but as soon as that sun rose, it warmed up fast! We had many days close to mid-70's.

I love riding through that creek that crosses the road. Funny incident is one day we crossed it in the morning and later that day when we crossed it again, the water level was higher. I didn't realize that until after going through in 2nd gear with water in my boots, gloves, face shield, and pants. I made a big splash. :mrgreen:

Sorry we missed you Elzi. You and Ed were Up Long Draw when we went through camp. Maybe next year.
Might have been the day we were at Cedar Springs in Chalk Draw area. We were there all day; caught the sunset on the way out, which is why it took us near two hours to reach pavement. :mrgreen:

I was really sorry I missed you. Was hoping you'd stay in town for a day or two. We'll have to catch up next time, aye?
Slowly catching up; I finished Day 1. Eight pages later. Wow. I started a new job the day after I returned. Things have been busy.

For more excitement, read John's thread on ADV. We adopted him into the Village. We really enjoyed his company and I think he might be back next year. :mrgreen:
And he's a fantastic photographer.
When did you get the DR? That's a nice looking bike. I guess I'm going to have to have you drag me down to Big Bend to show me around. The Strom will be my mule. :)
When did you get the DR? That's a nice looking bike. I guess I'm going to have to have you drag me down to Big Bend to show me around. The Strom will be my mule. :)
Got it last August. Hadn't ridden it much before BB due to bike issues (finicky carb) and orthopedic problems. But we did well in BB (discounting the roadside carb rebuild).

Put some knobbies on that strom and you can do a fair amount of riding the desert roads. Mike impressed me how well he did with more street-oriented tires on his KLR, but I would recommend knobbies.
Keep the fires burning and singing

"There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar."
- Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Moby Dick

Moby Dick landed, his belly full of bikes, camping and riding gear, food and a new addition: chemical toilet. What can I say. Even little fishes in a whale's belly have to piddle sometimes.
And eagles have to fly.


Sing with Me

We spent some time setting up camp in and out of Moby Dick and I hiked around a bit to loosen an aching stiff back. Itching to get to the Terlingua Trading Post porch for the sunset, we donned gear and rode the bikes the 7 miles there.

It was soon apparent that our fellow campers were with other locals down past the gravel parking lot singing around a campfire. No question; join in. So we did.


Campfires. Just like bikes, campfires seem to pull people in towards the center of the flame. Keep the home fires burning, boys! Sing up a storm. Mr. Doug, playing an excellent acoustical guitar, his velvet fine voice leading us in ballads and songs that we thought we all forgot. From one tune to another, we all partook.


The heat felt good, the circle of fire and folks excluded anything outside our little realm of music and camaraderie. Not an exception, but instead more the rule down here in the Bigness of the Bend. Where the land rolls, startles, and even unnerves you, the fire center is almost a primitive soothing goodness. It relaxes the body and soul, reviving us for the next day's proffer.

And smoke is the local cologne.

The Sun Also Rises......

Morning. Something taps on my head in the dark belly of the whale, a sense that the sun is waiting for me outside. So on go the several layers, feet in hiking boots and, with the camera, I venture outside.

In the bottom of the saddle of the two ridges that tower over us, a pink blush announces the sun rise. Mountains to the west resonate, gleaming with rosy reflections as if to nod their approval.



This occurs every single morning (almost) here. How many days before one takes this wake-up kiss for granted? Not here. It's too splendid, too powerful, striking awe in cold hearts and worn out eyes.

Wait! This will change!

While standing on the hill behind the Village that we made, a clip of song crawled into my head from the depths below. All I can remember is barely half of the first line in the chorus, "The sun also rises....". So I made up my own.

"The sun also rises and night will fall away. It will fill you up with sunlight and keep the clouds at bay."



The Village

Moby Dick landed on the east side of Hwy 118 and barely a mile or so north of the national park entrance. Nestled at the feet of some hills and towered over by a large dark monolith of igneous rock. The Study Butte Store was in walking distance, but so was something money can't buy: landscapes.

A bit too close to the road for my liking, I often escaped onto the flats between the RV park and a tributary of Terlingua Creek, or climbed up the hills and down into the arroyos and natural tanks.

The top of the yellow hill closest to us afforded a pleasant viewpoint, as though a bird sitting on a wire watching all the activity below. I felt like that bird sometimes.

Village People

Our little village contained whales from various places: Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Florida. Some came and went. A few stay all winter. The commonalities for most of the Village Fishes were riding motorcycles and a love for Big Bend area.



Another commonality between people that return to or live in Big Bend is motion. Motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, cars, trailers, campers, canoes, rafts, two feet. Something about the place drives one to move, explore, sniff, hunt, run, jump, anything.

Our Village was full of motion.



Compelling motion moves us, but there's also a drive to stop time and space, "Stop the world! I want to get off!!" Here we do get off, just let the mind wander while the body melts into the desert stillness. We give ourselves up to it and it takes us for rides that one can't find in a dimebag.

Great canyon pics Elzi. I love the tape job on Hardy's boot! Wilbur must have chewed it a little.