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Is it hot in Big Bend-a ride report?

Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,880
Location
Bryan, TX
Our trip planning started with warnings that it would be too hot in Big Bend in September. I say, "If you get a chance to go to Big Bend in September, by all means go." Stay in the Chisos Basin at night so sleep will be easy.

Day 1
Thanks for all the help I received planning this Big Bend trip. Several told me “Where to go.” Advice I took, highway 170, Maverick Road, Ross Maxwell Road, Closed Canyon, Old Ore Road, River Road and Mariscal mine, hike Emory Peak, hike Pinnacles Trail, hike Lost Mine, Black Gap Road, Glenn Springs Road, Boquillos Mexico and Ernst Tinaja. Thanks for other suggestions-maybe next time.
I should have read the last word in this suggested route from TwoSmokeDS. “Emory peak is pretty cool too. The last bit of the hike to the peak is extreme.” A rope is not required, but memorize your route up the rock climb since some routes down end in a “rope required” cliff.
Night time temperatures in the Basin required the use of my sleeping bag.

Early morning arrival just north of Big Bend. We left Bryan at around 8:30PM and drove overnight with a stop for dinner, breakfast and shopping for food at Walmart in Ft. Stockton. Ray brought an actual toilet seat, but forgot the required 5 gallon bucket. We camped across the street from a flush toilet. Notice 3 bikes on the trailer for 2 people. Ray decided his deriere might need a rest from the skinny DRZ seat. My rear has more padding. Why only 2 people when 5 had said they wanted to go. One had taken 4 weeks of vacation in the last 2 months and even though he had more coming, it was suggested he wait a while before taking it. Two read the “It’s going to be HOT,” comments on TWT and they canceled. Two tried the excuse of “Humanrace is getting real old and this might be the last ride he will go on,” and it didn’t work for the 6th time after working the last 5 times. Notice 5 cancellation reasons for 3 people. That’s because some had 2 or more reasons, some not even mentionable on a family forum.
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Single sotol along the road to the basin, which I consider the best road in the park. It was worth the 550 mile trip just to ride this road several times a day.
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A forest of sotol as well as a sign warning of lion and bear possibilities, also along the basin road.
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Hmmmm, if altitude can do this to potato (potatoe) chips, maybe we should check our tire pressure. Sorry for the political stab.
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Our camp, newly set up for our return from our first ride, Glenn Springs, Black Gap and East River Road. Notice our cooler not in the bear proof container. We would get 2 warnings from 2 different rangers. The second warning was for Windex.
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Along Glenn Springs
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Prickly Pear in the foreground and some of the basin wall in the background. I was to learn that many species of pears grow in Big Bend. These had long thorns as well as short fine needles.
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Ray questioning my route finding abilities and my sanity for riding this road so soon after rain.
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Ocatillo-It can have fresh new leaves a few days after a rain. The leaves are dropped after prolonged dry spells, making the plant look dead. The yellow/green plants in the background are creosote bushes, highly adapted to the desert. One of the few plants without spines.
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Why we called this plant Spanish Daggers when I was a child living in southern New Mexico. Actual name is Lechuguilla. Like Agave, they bloom once and then usually die.
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Elephant Tusk Trail with the peak in the background.
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Nearing the end of Glenn Springs Road and the start of Black Gap. With the exception of a section at the start and some brief sections along the way, Glenn Springs has been relatively mild. It’s about to change and test my riding abilities.
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It rained the day before we arrived. Some said it flooded. The evidence of the rain was everywhere along Black Gap and East River Road.
We came across some wet sections and I saw GOLD in them thar mud holes. I dove off the DRZ in a vain attempt to become rich by capturing all the gold laden mud in my mouth, helmet and elbow and knee padding. I did not succeed in getting rich. However, I did succeed in getting muddy, bruised and sore. Why does it always seem to happen to my already injured left side.


One of the buildings next to the parking lot at Mariscal Mine. My knee was too swollen for me to climb up to the good stuff. The mine itself would have to wait until later in the week.
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Ray has been framed
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First time Ray has been ready to walk and I wasn’t.
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Mexico protruding above the desert surface as we approach Rio Grande Village. The village store would become our most frequently visited spot. I recommend their Mango ice cream. The “No Alcoholic Beverages consumed on premises” sign means stay on the outside of the yellow curbing. Fortunately for Ray, the tables were outside the yellow curbing.
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Paved road to Rio.
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This guy must have been attracted to the gold laden mud inside my helmet because he was seen perched on it on 2 separate occasions.
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It was still early when we got back to the basin and my leg had started to feel better. We decided to Ride to the Grapevine Hills and hike to the balanced rock. Ray noticed a solo rider on a brand new 650 Kawasaki and we went over and asked if he wanted to join us. His name was Eric, from Florida, and he had been riding for years, but didn’t know how to tell if his chain needed adjusting. He had stopped at a Harley shop where they charged him the 1 hour minimum charge of $85.00 to adjust his chain when it started to make noises. When I went over to his camp later that afternoon and adjusted his chain, he was amazed at how easy it was. I have a sneaky suspicion that the Versys is his first bike.
One of the reasons you don’t want to end up laying beside the road. This thing has nearly as many pricks sticking out of it as my high school girlfriend had stic….. well, never mind. Don’t crash on one.
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Along the grapevine hills trail.
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Ray and Eric. Eric may have taken more pictures along this short trail than I did on my 2000+ miles of riding and exploring.
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This trail was great after riding the relatively flat desert along the river.
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An unusual bush, it may be this green because of the recent rains.
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As we approach the end of the trail
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What’s left of a desert flower
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Ray standing under the prize at the end of the hike. The hike itself wasn’t too shabby either.
Ray needs to remember the old geologist’s saying, “Geology happens NOW.”
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We saw 2 herds of Javelinas while going to Balanced Rock. No pics from me.

Day 2 coming up when I get a chance. Work beckons.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,880
Location
Bryan, TX
Day 2
I’m a little sore so a paved road ride on 170 to Presidio is my preference. This road is one of the best roads in Texas and may be THE best if you take in to consideration length, scenery, elevation changes and curves per mile.

This is not one of the curvy sections, but you can see they are coming up.
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Roadside park with teepees. I’m surprised that nobody has added any graffiti under the raised tails of the buffalos.
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We’re following the river pretty close at this point.
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I saw a sign for Closed Canyon and since we had been advised to go there, we made a U-turn. I suggest you go there also.
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For some reason there were lots of these on the canyon floor, some alive and some dead.
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The canyon is about ¾ miles long and ends at the Rio Grande. It gets wider in some places and narrower in others.
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Ray wondering, “How deep does the water get during a flashflood?”
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Some rocks beside the river.
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Someone just turned 15, a special date in some Hispanic families.
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Ray just turned old, but he did it in a pretty area.
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One of the smaller canyons carved by the river.
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On the way back, we stopped at a bar/grill in Terlingua to see if we could contact a long ago friend named Darin. Darin lives in a cave. Several knew him, but none had seen him lately. I was informed by the local porch therapist that the local name for Darin was Durn.
As any two children would do, we stopped and attempted to cut the rattles off of a dead rattlesnake we saw in the road. The knife was dull and we ended up pulling the rattles off and leaving 1 attached to the snake.
Back at camp we met Arlo Guthrie. He built this hard tail and knows how the adjust his chain. Well, he sort of knows how. He’s using a pair of vice grips on the axle nut. Like Eric, he’s going to California. While Eric came from Florida, Arlo is from Texas.
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Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,880
Location
Bryan, TX
Day 3
Arlo ate breakfast with us. I cooked pancakes and he ate the second one in about 30 seconds, considerably slower than the first one. These were plate sized pancakes. I like a man, or woman, that likes my cooking. I personally believe the real organic maple syrup may have had something to do with how good they tasted, but Ray says he had rather have imitation maple syrup.

We decided to ride Old Ore Road (Ray calls it Oh My Butt Hurts Road) and stop at the store and have a cold drink.
Another pin cushion.
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Ray and a mature lechuguilla. The flowering stem looks similar to a sotol and I believe they are closely related, but I may be wrong. It is only found in the Chihuahuan desert of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico.
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Candelilla grass, used to make wax until it was nearly extinct.
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More Spanish Daggers.
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Typical shot along Old ore road when it gets smooth enough to stop.
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Everything in the desert either bites you, sticks you or poisons you. Or so they say.
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Lunch time. PB&J with exploded potato chips. I asked Ray why he had so many bags of chips and he said the Tom’s chip guy had been throwing the out dated ones in the dumpster behind my shop and then I would dumpster dive. They now have an agreement for the chip guy to leave them beside the dumpster and Ray promises not to sell them.
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The edge of the road.
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Freshly watered ocotillo.
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Along the trail to Ernst Tinaja
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The Tinaja.
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Yucca plant, many years old.
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After drinking a cold beverage at the Village store, we decided to walk the Boquillas canyon. There was a singing Mexican that recognized Ray from 10 years back. I tipped him and Ray bought a peacock made from twisted wire.
The start of Boquillas Canyon.
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Near the end of the walking trail
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Looking back the way we came.
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End of the road
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Back at camp I took a nudie picture of my bruised and swollen knee. Ray’s bike kicked up a fist sized rock that hit him mid shin. It looked very painful and bled quite a bit. No nudie pictures of Ray.
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Day 4 coming up
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,880
Location
Bryan, TX
:clap: :clap: :clap:

Keep it coming, love the story tell'n and the pictures.

:popcorn:
A few more days of fun and beauty and then it turns into an autobiography because I visit towns I lived in as much as 60 years ago. Some very fond memories and some sad ones were recalled during this ride. Some I will share.
 

Duke

Forum Supporter
Joined
Oct 7, 2005
Messages
4,620
Location
The Woodlands & Woden, TX
A few more days of fun and beauty and then it turns into an autobiography because I visit towns I lived in as much as 60 years ago. Some very fond memories and some sad ones were recalled during this ride. Some I will share.
I hope you do, you had me laughing out loud several times already and I genuinely was smiling the all the way through with what you have shared so far. :rider::thumb:
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,880
Location
Bryan, TX
Day 4
We rode right past the gas station at Panther Junction and that meant we would later ride right past our turn off on Ross Maxwell scenic Drive. We went into Study Butte and got gas. It’s only about a 5 mile detour because we decided to ride Old Maverick Road first instead of second. Old Maverick is a gentle road, doable on most street bikes.

Not far from our camp. Chisos Basin is a GOOD place to camp.
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A rather large Agave plant beside the road out of the basin. Once it blooms, it dies.
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An old cabin for short people. The builder was actually very short and I assume his wife was also short. The floor was probably dug out to help with cooling the interior. I’m not sure how that worked during a rain.
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Mr Luna, fine house builder.
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Simple but effective building method.
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The exit of Santa Elena canyon was visible for most of the ride down Old Maverick Road. Ray thought they should build a motorcycle trail to the top of the mesa. “If you don’t want to buy a motorcycle then you can walk to the top.”
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Yucca lined one side of the road.
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Ray trying to be Maurice.
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It didn’t work for Ray, but did for Maurice (last year in Colorado).
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The entrance to the canyon. Due to the recent flood, the creek going to the right was filled with mud. A couple in the parking lot told us not to bother since there was no way to get into the canyon. Even if that were true, this sight alone was worth walking the 100 yards or so from the bikes. I waded the foot deep mud. Ray waited.
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Ray waited.
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As deep into the canyon as you can get without getting wet.
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It’s not the Narrows in Zion Canyon, but It’ll do for Texas (Zion Narrows several years ago).
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An old ranch house. They raised thousands of sheep and goats according to the sign. I’m thinking skinny goats.
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Why Ross Maxwell is called scenic.
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Hot springs in the foreground. In the old days, they had a separate area for people with “social diseases.” The background is Mexico with an elderly man about to enter illegally.
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If he doesn’t get swept too far down stream, he’ll be a successful outlaw.
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Hang him high.
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The hot springs and the foundation to what used to be a 2 story structure.
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Mr Roadrunner. There are so many of these in the park that I ended up with a sore neck. Every time I would see one running down the road in front of me, I’d look up to see if a large boulder was about to fall on me. Sometimes I’d glance sharply to the side to see if I was about to be squashed by a semi truck. I even checked the emblem on my bike to make sure it didn’t say “ACME.” Seriously we saw hundreds of these.
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There are large numbers of other animals in Big Bend, not just roadrunners. Suicidal cottontails would run from the safety of the roadside bushes into the road and then frantically run back to the same bushes. One afternoon I decided to count the quail coveys. From Rio Grande Village to Panther Junction, a distance of 20 miles, I counted 23 coveys on the roadway. Due to the suicidal nature of the bunnies, there were also large numbers of fat buzzards.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,880
Location
Bryan, TX
Day 5
We decided to ride the River Road today, despite a friendly pick-up driver telling us it was too loose and sandy. It was loose and it was a mistake, kind of. The only pictures I took were of the Mariscal Mine which I missed last Saturday and a couple of cacti. I’m not sure how the story got started that the scenery was good along the River Road, but the story is wrong. From my notes: “All the mountains are miles away. The riding is flat areas interrupted by sandy washes then another flat area and another sandy or loose gravel wash. Throw in a few bumps and wet areas. There was a lot of slipping and sliding and Ray had to help me pick up the bike twice. I didn’t touch the ground except with my feet so according to Maurice’s definition, I didn’t crash." If I hadn’t grown up around the desert southwest, I might have taken more pictures.

The old car at the mine. The swelling in my knee has gone away so I was able to hike the short distance up to the mine.
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As a teen, Ray built a T-bucket so he felt right at home behind the wheel.
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This one had a hand crank.
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The mine is much bigger than the pictures portray and Ray should not carry his water bladder under his T-shirt.
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I don’t know what is involved in getting mercury out of rocks, but I do know it involved fire. With no trees in sight, firewood alone must have been a challenge. Maybe they shipped in coal.
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Cholla
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We ate tuna kits at the Mariscal Mine. Ray thought it was ironic that we took mercury tainted tuna and ate it at a mine with a sign warning us not to touch the mercury tainted rocks.
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Lots of unanswered questions about hardware uses.
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Railroad rails put to good use as headers above the doors and windows.
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I believe the holes in the studs were for weights to help balance the windows. Back in those days before aluminum windows, weights were required to counterbalance the windows to keep the weight of the window from causing it to shut.
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Prickly pear with long spines.
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Prickly pear without long spines.
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Meanwhile, back at the campground this 4” diameter beast was creating havoc in the restroom.
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We Jumped the van off with a motorcycle since 5 days of charging phones and GPS devices seemed to have depleted the battery. We needed the van since we were going into Study Butte for showers and critters jump in front of motorcycles at night. On the way back to camp, we got stuck behind a car going 35 in a 45 MPH zone. Even 45 is ridiculous. Ray said, "Mountain or Canyon."

"Huh"

"Do you want me to run them into the mountain or canyon?" I'm not sure he was kidding.

Once we got back to the basin, I decided to ride my bike the short distance to the camp store. I saw the camp host talking to a man and they flagged me down. It seems the man had lost his car when he parked it and started walking around the campground in search of the best spot. The host asked if I could take him around the area. He climbed on for his very first motorcycle ride and we toured the area until we found his car in the deserted group camping area. Strange.
Tomorrow we go to Boquillas, Mexico. The river crossing in Big bend has reopened. It was closed after 911 until 2013.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,880
Location
Bryan, TX
Day 6
We’re going to Mexico if my passport comes today. I left it sitting on my desk where I put it to make sure I didn’t leave it. It came.
After getting our passports checked and attending a lecture on what we could and could not buy, we headed to Mexico. No liquor because the return is by video kiosk and there is nobody there to take the required import duty.
The new “bridge.” You can wade or ride in the boat for $5 round trip. We rode or rowed. No bikes allowed in the boat. We asked.
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Once in Mexico you have 4 choices to get to town, about a mile. Horse, donkey, bed of pickup, or walk. We chose donkey.
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When I was a small child about 5 years old, we had 2 donkeys named Poncho and Pedro. Everything was fine until Poncho had a baby.

Me and my now sway backed donkey.
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This is our guide, Fermin. He was included in the $5/person donkey rental fee. After we got to Boquillas, we sent him back to the river since we had already decided to walk back. He seemed a little surprised.
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Even in Mexico. Whoop!!
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The closing of the border after 9-11 nearly ruined the town. Boquillas is about 140 miles from the closest gas station. They have no jobs, except government jobs, that aren’t related to tourist. All electricity is solar and they have enough to support 2 restaurants, 2 bars and a small convenience store. Think small convenience store. No, smaller. Even smaller. Most houses have electricity also. These buildings were probably already abandoned before 9-11.
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The town church. The door stays opened.
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They either have several masses a day or most people don’t go to church. When I went inside and saw the lime green, I immediately thought of the painted churches of Texas. I don’t know why.
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There was money on the table (altar?) up front. Extreme poverty everywhere and money left on the table goes untouched.
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Ray and I both ordered the same lunch with different beers. That’s a plate of cheese enchiladas. Goat cheese.
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During lunch we chatted with the owner. He told us how bad it got when the crossing was closed, but thought it would probably get worse when Trump gets elected. I told him Trump had 0 chance of getting elected and he disagreed. Anyway, we made a bet. If Trump wins, I’ll have to go back to Boquillas before he is sworn in and pay my $100 debt. If Trump doesn’t win, I’ll probably let him keep my dollar.
Construction is booming.
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Notice the electrical feed wires going in the front door. Notice also, the satellite dish. About half the houses have satellite despite the $14 per month fee.
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Satellite next to a water catchment system. Hint: water hose going into the house from the black barrel. Catchment systems are a major source of household water for some houses on the north side of the river, especially on Terlingua Ranch.
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Another beer before heading back to Texas. I also ordered a shot of Sotol, a liquor made from the sotol plant similar to tequila, made from the Agave. It had a distinct smoke flavor. Ray and I shared it and there was some left in the shot glass when we left. The shot glass was hand turned out of a mesquite limb. Mesquite is a beautiful wood and used to be cheap until The New Yankee Workshop did a couple of projects out of it. Dang you Norm.
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Earlier we had opted to walk back to the border, but we stopped at the donkey way station to see this little one getting a belly full. There is no cane on the Mexico side of the border, but lots on the American side. I noticed fresh cut cane in the donkey holding pen. Hmmm.
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I have been riding with Ray for more than 25 years. He has offered to do a lot of fun things, but he has never, and I mean NEVER, suggested we go on a hike. Yet, after getting back to Texas he said he thought we had enough time to walk the Lost Mine Trail, about 5 miles round trip. I was draining the last of my beer when he made the suggestion. After I got over my coughing spell caused by two swallows of beer going into my lungs, I asked, “Who are you and what did you do with Ray?”

Ray with a silly smirk on his face. I know he’s thinking, “I made you spit up precious beer.” It wasn’t that special; it was Bud Light that he had bought. Ray, if you are reading this, that was your beer that watered the cactus.
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I don’t know what this plant is. Anyone?
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The Lost Mine Trail gets pretty, even in the first mile.
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Somewhere along the way
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Ray’s thinking, “If I cut that sotol stalk, I’d have a great walking stick without having to pay a Mexican guy to cut it for me, dry it, paint stripes on it and sand the ends smooth. I’d save $6. Of course the fine is $1500 if I get caught. I think I’ll borrow Humanrace’s stick that he bought in Mexico.”
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Notice the $6 walking stick
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I thought this prickly pear looked like a rabbit.
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This little fellow peaked out from behind a rock.
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When you have children, and Ray has 2 wonderful children, you sometimes do strange things.
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It’s starting to get late as we get close to the top
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Thanks to the several TWT members that suggested I hike Lost Mine Trail. If you haven’t hiked it, I suggest that you do so at your earliest convenience. Ray and I both agree that Big Bend is a hiking park if you want to see the most beautiful places. Example: I rode the River Road, about 54 miles, and didn’t take even one scenery picture. On this 2.4 mile hike up Lost Mine Trail I took around 30.
 
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Messages
5,171
Location
Terlingua Tx
Sorry I never crossed paths with y'all while you were here. By the way... Darren has gotten married and moved to Alpine. He still has the cave down here and we do see the happy couple every couple of months when they come on down.
 
Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Messages
150
Location
Lubbock
Thanks for sharing! Beautiful country and great pix!

Sent from my iPhone using Forum Runner
 

texaspatrick

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 30, 2015
Messages
315
Location
Austin, Texas
Heading there for the first time to ride (after hiking about 10-12 times) in February. Looking forward to more updates!
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,880
Location
Bryan, TX
Day 7
Short day today. Ray wants to leave at 2:30 today instead of early tomorrow morning. No problem, we’ll do something predictable and ride over to Presidio again, stop by the Starlight for lunch and be back in time to load up by 2:30. We met 4 Triumph riders in Presidio. They were all riding tiger motorcycles and had attempted to ride the river road yesterday. It didn’t take them long to turn around.
We stopped at the movie town right beside the highway.
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This is probably a fake, but I’ve seen actual fire places in Taos, NM that look like this.
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Ceiling made of vigas and cane.
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Ray looking too comfortable. It’s time for him to go home.
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The story behind the scene.
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Starlight was closed, but we stopped and took a couple of pics.
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Another old car
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Nice chair. We used to give a trophy similar to this to the racer that had made the worst pass, acted unsportsmanlike, complained or just whined too much. My 5 year old nephew called it the half a horse trophy. We had to stop giving it because racers were competing to get it.
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The Starlight was closed so we ate at our usual spot by the highway. An elderly man was drinking a beer at the bar and I told the waitress that I wanted to pay his tab. She told me that he paid as he ordered and said he had drank 3 beers and would probably drink 1 more. Obviously he was a regular. I got her to refund his money for the first 3 beers and put all 4 on my tab. Doug Blackmon, Chief Therapist/Beer Enthusiast of Doug’s Mental Health Clinic on the Porch joined us at our table. He had been in Terlingua for 44 years. A very interesting conversation was interrupted by our realization that Ray wasn’t going to make his 2:30 deadline. If you ever meet Doug, buy him a couple of beers. I guarantee it will be money well spent.
Tomorrow I hike. At this point I have ridden the DRZ about 1200 miles in 7 days. Will post more when I get back from the races. Guadalupe Peak, Carlsbad Caverns NP, Sitting Bull Falls and the Carlsbad flume are coming up, as well as my autobiography up to 15 years old.
 
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Day 7
Short day today. Ray wants to leave at 2:30 today instead of early tomorrow morning. No problem, we’ll do something predictable and ride over to Presidio again, stop by the Starlight for lunch and be back in time to load up by 2:30. We met 4 Triumph riders in Presidio. They were all riding tiger motorcycles and had attempted to ride the river road yesterday. It didn’t take them long to turn around.
We stopped at the movie town right beside the highway.
IMG_9439_zpsdvckzt8c.jpg


This is probably a fake, but I’ve seen actual fire places in Taos, NM that look like this.
IMG_9442_zpsdkzpv7ly.jpg


Ceiling made of vigas and cane.
IMG_9443_zpswtl2osg8.jpg


Ray looking too comfortable. It’s time for him to go home.
IMG_9448_zps0krjtc1o.jpg


The story behind the scene.
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Starlight was closed, but we stopped and took a couple of pics.
IMG_9456_zpso8y9w0ti.jpg


Another old car
IMG_9457_zpsyguf7mlu.jpg


Nice chair. We used to give a trophy similar to this to the racer that had made the worst pass, acted unsportsmanlike, complained or just whined too much. My 5 year old nephew called it the half a horse trophy. We had to stop giving it because racers were competing to get it.
IMG_9458_zpsa6mufjty.jpg


The Starlight was closed so we ate at our usual spot by the highway. An elderly man was drinking a beer at the bar and I told the waitress that I wanted to pay his tab. She told me that he paid as he ordered and said he had drank 3 beers and would probably drink 1 more. Obviously he was a regular. I got her to refund his money for the first 3 beers and put all 4 on my tab. Doug Blackmon, Chief Therapist/Beer Enthusiast of Doug’s Mental Health Clinic on the Porch joined us at our table. He had been in Terlingua for 44 years. A very interesting conversation was interrupted by our realization that Ray wasn’t going to make his 2:30 deadline. If you ever meet Doug, buy him a couple of beers. I guarantee it will be money well spent.
Tomorrow I hike. At this point I have ridden the DRZ about 1200 miles in 7 days. Will post more when I get back from the races. Guadalupe Peak, Carlsbad Caverns NP, Sitting Bull Falls and the Carlsbad flume are coming up, as well as my autobiography up to 15 years old.
:lol2: Thanks for the ride.....
 
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Wow! Sure brought back memories of my trip to the area in June '95 I think? On my new R11GS at that. Two things I remember well. 102F outside which I mentioned to the lady at the store and she say, " Honey , you should of been here last week when it was about 112 or so" . Told her I was glad I came here during a cold spell.
Then the ranger that flagged me down on one of the old roads. Says I really need to stick to the more used roads with my bike as they maybe patrol these roads every few days and if I had a problem, I would more than likely die before someone came along. I did a 180 and stayed on main roads then.
Thanks for the great pictures and narrations.
 
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Looks like you had lots of fun there. For how many day you were in travel?
12 days total. 10 riding days. I had 2 weeks, but it started raining on me in southern NM and the dirt roads I wanted to ride were too dangerous to do solo. That just gives me a good reason to go back.
 

copb8

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More next week after I go show some young people how to get around a race track quickly.
What a great and enjoyable write-up. My wife and I are currently trying to see if we can get down to Big Bend for our first visit. Would it be ok to go in November?

Also, your comment regarding the track, are you talking about TWS in College Station? I'm heading there this weekend. Will be instructing for Drivers Edge.
 
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This was my second trip there. The first one was in August so I don't have personal experience in the fall and winter. From what others tell me, November is one of the best months to go, but it can snow or be 90 degrees according to the park service.
The race is the Texas Mini GP this weekend at Denton. The following weekend I will be at TWS for the Lone Star Track Day on Friday and I will be in the 6 hour endurance race on Saturday.
 
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Wow! Sure brought back memories of my trip to the area in June '95 I think? On my new R11GS at that. Two things I remember well. 102F outside which I mentioned to the lady at the store and she say, " Honey , you should of been here last week when it was about 112 or so" . Told her I was glad I came here during a cold spell.
Then the ranger that flagged me down on one of the old roads. Says I really need to stick to the more used roads with my bike as they maybe patrol these roads every few days and if I had a problem, I would more than likely die before someone came along. I did a 180 and stayed on main roads then.
Thanks for the great pictures and narrations.
A good reason for those triumph Tiger riders to turn around on the River Road. I had problems (and fun) on my DRZ.
 
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Sorry I never crossed paths with y'all while you were here. By the way... Darren has gotten married and moved to Alpine. He still has the cave down here and we do see the happy couple every couple of months when they come on down.
I thought about you several times. I don't do the smart phone thing, I don't even have text on my folding phone, so I couldn't contact you even if we had service. I knew Darren had gotten married. I haven't seen him since he lived in Taos, NM in '92 or '93.
 
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Ahh Dr. Doug. He is quite a character, but be aware that he 'embellishes' his stories. He is in his mid fifties right now, but likes to play act at being much older than that. 44 years around here makes for a better story than say.... ten or eleven. His bad knee has a habit of changing sides when he loses track of his beer count. Love the guy, just have to chuckle at his game that he plays on tourists.
 
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It's not a lie if it should have and could have happened that way. The value of his entertainment was much more than the cost of his 4 beers.
 
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Day 8
Ray is gone. I haven’t paid for camping tonight so I went ahead and packed up all my goods. As I said earlier, Big Bend is a hiking park and I decided to do another hike recommended by TWT members. Emory Peak, here I come. I had planned to do the south rim trail with a side trip up Emory Peak, but I had a little breaking problem on my day pack. The hike would have taken me 2 days and I would have carried 2 gallons of water, food and sleeping arrangements. Due to room on the bike, I left my good pack at home. Anyway, the thought of a strap breaking 8-10 miles from camp was enough to convince me to do a day hike. The hike up Pinnacles and Emory was around 5.3 miles one way.
The window, looking back toward the basin
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Casa Grande Peak
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About the start of mile 2, I saw a bear. He didn’t like me and took off at a lope. I did get a couple of pics after he looked back and saw I wasn’t in pursuit. He stopped to eat some pears off the prickly pear cactus.
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Worth the walk up for this view alone.
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I saw many of these trees. The bark is smooth and white except where the old bark is still pealing. The brown spots near the leafy branches are old bark that is still pealing. Anyone know what kind of tree it is?
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I only saw one of these. I didn’t bring a long lens and this is as close as I wanted to get with a 55mm lens. The color is unusual.
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I know this is not a good picture, but it was a good place to stop for a snack and a drink.
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On top of the peak. Breathtaking. From my notes, “The last 30 or 40 yards of the hike up Emory are the toughest…… After a 10 minute rock climb, I witnessed a 360 degree explosion of beauty. The Basin, River Road, Santa Elena and Costolon Canyons were all in sight.”
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On the way down.
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Back in the Basin and ready to go. I told the lady in the Basin store that I saw a bear and she told me I could have seen a momma bear and two cubs trying to get into the restaurant trash can if I had gone to the wedding reception instead of hiking. No thanks, Big Bend is for hiking not getting married. At least it is if your 50 anniversary is already planned.
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On the way to Alpine, it started to get cool. At the border checkpoint, the thermometer read 68 degrees. With a slight mist in the air, it was starting to get a little uncomfortable by the time I got to Alpine.


Just riding around Alpine.
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They must be affiliated with UT
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I stopped at the local McDonalds to get a soda and look at a map. A cowboy looking guy asked which direction I was going and I told him I was probably going to Fort Davis. He advised me to wait until tomorrow since he barely made it through a couple of low water crossings in his big 4 wheeled drive truck. I took his advice and stayed in Alpine.
 
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Day 9
The shower felt so good last night that I took another this morning before heading down the street to Magoo’s. It was less than $10 for 2 pancakes, 2 bacon, 2 sausage patties, 2 eggs and coffee. Very good too.

I guess that highway designation just about covers us all.
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I saw these extra large agave growing in a circle.
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In the misty mountains. Someone should write a song. Most of the day would be riding in fog or rain, something that isn’t expected in the desert.
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Just east of Van Horn I stopped at this station. I try my best not to buy gas at Exxon, but thought the price differential between gas and diesel warranted a picture to share with my long suffering diesel driving buddies. I bought gas in Van Horn for $2.199.
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Typical high desert scenery along the highway between Van Horn and Carlsbad. I have been down this highway many times when I lived in Carlsbad and Loving NM.
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More misty mountains
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Rain and lightening greeted me in Guadalupe Mountains NP so I decided to bypass my climb up until another trip. I really have to stop postponing things on by bucket list since it keeps getting longer and my time keeps getting shorter. The rain also stopped me from riding some of the dirt roads in the area. I decided to ride past Carlsbad caverns and visit some boyhood homes. It has been 60 years since I lived in Loving, NM and 52 since I lived in Carlsbad.

One of our houses in Loving. There was a family moving in and they told me they were going to fix up the house. I believe we were going to do the same thing. My mom, dad, uncle and seven children lived here.
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I believe it’s a house now, but when I lived in Loving it was a store with shelves all along the walls and a big open area in the middle. No other shelves except along the walls. Milk was kept in a refrigerator with a round top. The name of the store was Blankenship Mercantile. In the middle of the floor there were 2 chairs that were always occupied by 2 elderly women. Upon entry, all children that were alone were greeted with, “Whatta you want boy.” I guess if it were a female it may have been whatta you want girl.
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This was our church. It looks pretty much like it did when I was in the second grade.
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I’ll have more to say about the church later.

This was a convenience store owned by Ray’s mom. Not the Ray that went on this trip with me, the Ray that was a big brother to my brother’s best friend. Ray, at around 16 years old, was a large person. He was about 6’2” and weighed around 400 pounds. I never heard anyone except his mom call him anything except Sidewalk since he was heavy enough to crack sidewalks by walking on them. Of course that wasn’t true, but the nickname stuck. Ray saved 2 small children from sure death, but died in the process. I overheard my dad talking to my mom about it and he said that drowning and burning were two of the worst ways of dying. I don’t know which happened to Ray, but I do know that I have never heard him called Sidewalk since his death.
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Higbee Hole along the Black River. This was a favorite fishing spot even though we seldom caught anything. Now they stock it with catchable trout in the winter and catchable catfish in the warm months.
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On to Carlsbad and Happy Valley. A beach in the desert. This one was called Town Beach or just the beach. At one time there was a 3 story diving tower about 50 yards on the other side of the island. I don’t know why it was torn down. Liability? Silt? Age of the structure? We spent many summer days at the beach or at the Pecos river. Actually, this beach is on the Pecos.
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This was the local hang out for kids in the 9th and 10th grade. Back then we went to Carlsbad Mid High School which was just across the street. My oldest brother had come home on a visit and my grandmother who lived next door to us let him use her 1952 Chevy to go here to get hamburgers for everyone. I don’t remember it being named Becky’s then. It was a car hop kind of place. I guess Sonics are the only ones left now. Anyway, he parked between 2 cars and the occupants of the 2 cars were having an argument. They started shooting at each other and my grandmothers car was shot between the rear door and the rear window. No exit wound so we know the bullet is still inside. The car is in my garage as I type this. The hole has not been repaired. More shooting later. Bunnies and my brother don’t fare any better than Grannie’s car.

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I include this picture because I want to share a story that happened to me in 1970, on the same trip that I first visited Big Bend.
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This house was the home of Edith and Claude, C.I., Johnson. I called just as I got to the edge of Carlsbad, about 15 miles away from their home in Happy Valley, a suburb. Edith answered and told me to come on over and spend the night. When I got there, C.I. was on the roof attempting put on a new roof. The problem was he had a cast the full length of his leg. I promised to stay long enough to roof the small house if C.I. would come down. He finally did and I spent 2 long days finishing his roof. Not the end of the story.

Two years later, I came back through Carlsbad and C.I. was off on a construction job. The roof job came up in our discussions and Edith told me that C.I. knew that I had roofed houses for two years and as soon as he found out I was coming, he got dressed and painstakingly climbed the ladder onto the roof. He knew I wouldn’t leave without his roof being finished.

One of 5 houses we lived in during our 4 years in Carlsbad and the last one. The current occupant is the nephew of our landlord and when I told him about my family, with 9 children then, living in his house, his face lit up. It seems that my mother still owes $8 in back rent. I’m assuming that would be for a month. At that time my single mother’s only source of income was doing washing and ironing for single men that worked at the potash mines. She charged $1.20 per dozen, with a minimum charge of $1.20. Starch was extra. She did all the laundry by hand in a metal tub in the back yard and hung them to dry on the clothline.
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House #1 on Standpipe Road. A shooting story will be added to this house before I post day 10.
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House #2 or #3, I’m not sure which. We didn’t live here long. The roof used to look like an upside down W and leaves and other debris had collected in the bottom of the V shape on the upside down W. We used to throw water balloons at cars and when one would stop to investigate, we would hide in the V. At night, nobody suspected that there was a hiding place behind the store front. Now for the, “We didn’t live here long,” part. My step brother and I were shooting bottle rockets and ……… The good news is a neighbor with a telephone saw the smoke of the fire just getting started and the fire station was only a couple of blocks away. The roof rebuild did not include the upside down W.
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They recently remodeled the Fiesta drive-in theater. It now has 3 screens.
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In 1972, when I was returning from my stint in the Marines, I stopped in Carlsbad and caught up with a childhood friend named Billy George. He was about 20 years old and his very pregnant wife was several years younger. Her younger brother was also living with them. Around sundown Billy suggested we go to the movies. We all got in his car and he drove down a dirt road behind the theater. When he stopped, his very pregnant wife and her brother jumped out of the car. Billy told me that they were going to crawl under the barbed wire fence and I should join them. He would park on the last row and as soon as we were all in the car he would move up to a better spot. I declined and was told that I would have to pay for my own ticket. When we got to the front, there was a large sign that read, “Dollar/Carload.”

Back to Carlsbad Caverns where I stayed at the Campground in White’s city. $20 per night and it includes breakfast at the motel across the street.
 
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There's a type of Madrone that grows only around the Big Bend area. This may be one of them.

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"I really have to stop postponing things on by bucket list since it keeps getting longer and my time keeps getting shorter."

Ain't it the truth!
 
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"There's a type of Madrone that grows only around the Big Bend area. This may be one of them."

I googled it and I believe you are right. Thanks.
 
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IMG_9611_zpsb8gththz.jpg

I promised a shooting story about this house. Actually, it’s not about the house, it’s about Big Bob who we met shortly after moving into this house. An old truck drove into our yard the first Sunday after we moved in and a very tall and lanky man got out. He became Big Bob to us and he has remained a positive influence on me to this day even though I only knew him for a couple of years. Big Bob asked if anyone wanted to go to church and several of my brothers and sisters got excited. Mom said OK. When they returned, Big Bob asked my mom if it would be OK if a couple of the boys joined him on a rabbit hunt. Again, the answer was OK, surprising today, but not so much then, especially if you had 9 children living at home. That began a weekly ritual of Big Bob coming by the house, taking several kids to church and then taking two or 3 boys hunting.
The actual hunting would be frowned upon by most of today’s hunters. We drove around on dirt roads and shot rabbits out of the windows and the bed of Big Bob’s truck. Mostly cottontails, but we would shoot jackrabbits if the cottontails were scarce. We would usually kill 4 to 6 bunnies a weekend. Big Bob would take one rabbit and give the rest to us. At the time I thought that Big Bob just needed some company at church and on his weekly hunts. Of course, I now know that he was giving spiritual guidance to children and much needed nutrition to a single mother with a whole bunch of children.
On one hunt my brother, JD, was riding shotgun with one of Big Bob’s single shot 22s standing upright with the butt of the stock sitting on the seat between his legs. It wouldn’t fit unless it was tilted a little toward the back. The truck hit a rather large bump, the gun butt came off the seat and slammed down toward the floor, the gun fired into the top of the cab and ricocheted into JD’s back. The bullet was just under the skin, about an inch below the entry hole. The consensus was we would never be allowed to go hunting again if mom found out so my oldest brother cut the bullet out using a single edge injector type razor blade. My 15 year old brother became my hero. He would live on to join the Marines, get shot twice in Viet Nan, volunteer to stay in country for another 6 months and survive that also.
 
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End of autobiography. I decided not to write about my early childhood church experience in Loving, NM. Next up is Day 10 where I visit an unusual phenomenon in the desert. Anywhere else it would not be unusual.
 
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Day 10
Up early, eat a free breakfast at the motel across from the campground, go to Carlsbad Caverns, big hole in ground, bat poop stinks, walking down long steep incline hurts toes, big hole is deep and also beautiful.

Buildings built by the CCC and WPA during the depression. These two organizations were some of the most successful socialist projects ever. Their work gave us numerous flood control projects, state parks and many national projects. Blue Ridge Parkway was another of their projects. Part of the New Deal, the training gained in the CCC and WPA allowed our country to prosper after WWII to the point where we were the envy of the rest of the world for more than 30 years.
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The entrance.
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I’m going to post a few pictures taken without flash or a tripod. If you want to see what Carlsbad Caverns really looks like, you have to witness it in person.
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62 feet high
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Those of you that have been to the caverns several times know that I left out some stunning formations close to the lunch room. My camera battery showed full when I entered the cavern, but it went dead with about ¾ of a mile to go.
I rode the 9 mile dirt loop on the west side of the caverns. It was neither a stunning ride or a challenging ride. The paved ride back to White’s City is a nice ride and does have a couple of scenic turnouts that should be checked out.
Butterfly seen at one.
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The sign says this cave has been used as a home for many years.
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After the cavern, I decided to go to Sitting Bull Falls. In east Texas, it would just be another small creek. In the New Mexican desert it is very unusual .
Lots of trees in this forest
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The falls are fed by a spring not too far upstream.
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The actual falls
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Another socialist project built by the WPA at Sitting Bull Falls.
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Back to Carlsbad and the Pecos River running under the irrigation flume. Usually the river is a trickle here, with most of the water stored in lakes upstream. Recent rains have turned it into a torrent. The concrete flume in the background replaced a wooden one that was swept away by the Pecos.
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As early teens, we would ride our bicycles across the sides of the flume. Each side is about 1 1/2’ thick. I measured with my size 10 shoe and it’s slightly over two shoe lengths wide. I was surprise that there was no gate installed.
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I’m muddy, wet and tired. The plan was to ride dirt roads around Carlsbad and up towards Cloudcroft. Rain has changed that plan. I also wanted to visit with long lost relatives in and around Carlsbad, but I didn’t want to stand at the door talking and I was too dirty to enter anyone’s house. I went home.

This is west Texas cotton, about twice as high as a water bottle. The saying, we’re in high cotton, meaning things are looking good, came from having to bend over so far to pick cotton in arid regions. High cotton meant less bending over. As a 6 year old child, I picked cotton that was taller that I was. Now we were in some high cotton.
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A play on words (letters) or did he just have 3 horseshoes to create his brand.
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The upper part of this cabinet held maps belonging to Mr. Post of Post cereal fame. The cabinet is still in the office that Mr. Post built when he started the town of Post, Texas. There is a museum there now. The exhibits change regularly because of limited floor space. Probably 300 to 500 pieces on display each time I have been there. Post, Texas museum. Do yourself a favor and stop in next time you drive through. It’s free. Hurry, the current display includes an authentic shrunken head from New Guinea.
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A replica of the sword that knighted Columbus, complete with jewels and real gold.
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An eagle carved from a gnarly tree root.
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Two of the reasons I hurried home. My dog and my new best friend.
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I found a picture of one of the javelinas we saw. There were 5 or 6 in this herd.
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I hope you enjoyed my post. I know that I got a little windy with my “autobiography,” but memories flooded back to me as I viewed thing in Carlsbad and Loving. I wanted to share them with more than my wife.
 

Jeff S

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This has been an amazing thread. Thanks to Humanrace for sharing it with us.

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Sep 2, 2011
Messages
1,931
Location
Coupland, TX
Good report, makes me want to go back. Only been once for the 2014 Uncle's ride. Want to do some hiking next time.
Yes, thanks for the nice report. I had seen the thread but hadn't looked at it until it was mentioned at Sissy's yesterday.

My first trip to BB was also for Uncle's in 2014 and want to go again in 2016. A broken leg kept me from attending in 2015.
 
Joined
Nov 27, 2007
Messages
1,096
Location
West Texas
You shared a picture of the U Lazy S. That ranch is outside of Post and is in the family of one fast dude on a dirt bike. In fact, he won a National Enduro about seven or eight or so years ago at a race location near Fluvana. His name is Cole Kirkpatrick. For several years, he was one of the top 10 faster riders here in the USA as far as Enduro racing.

Additionally, I believe the original Post Enduro Association in the early 70's was located on land owned by the same family and very near where you took the picture. This was during the heyday of Enduro riding and the original Post Enduro would have massive turnouts and participation. One of the oldtimers here :lol2: like IrishCoffee probably rode those races.
 
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