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Thread: May go again, BIG BEND NP.

  1. #1
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    May go again, BIG BEND NP.

    Went there in the summer(Hot), to Big Bend NP., on the way to Fredricksburg, TX for the BMW Rally that year. I want to go back in the winter this time and maybe soon! I know some folks live down that way, like Voni/Paul and I found it a nice ride, but the summer is not to my liking and a winter ride in there just may be for me this time around. I love camping and have a GSA1200 for this trip, a R1100GS the last time. Any tips for winter TX travel to Big Bend NP.? May want to travel Mexico coming back home to the west coast and what crossover point is best way down there? Randy

  2. #2
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Come on down! We've been having sunny days in the 70's and low's in the 30's so when you're camping bring a warm sleeping bag. It's warmer at Cottowood or Rio Grande Village than at Chisos Basin, the three campgrounds in the park.

    Stop by our adobe and we'd love to tell you more. We're just 53 sMiles south of Alpine on 118 - west side of the road.

    The road FM 170 from Study Butte to Presidio is not to be missed. After the flooding this fall it's all open again except for a 1.8 mile gravel road detour just 5 miles east of Presidio. You can cross into Mexico there and continue south to Copper Canyon and all that fun. Nice small border town.

    Voni
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  3. #3
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    Thanks Voni:)

    I know and remember Alpine. Been there only once on the trip I mentioned on my GS1100 that year. Thanks for the info and invite. I'll surely keep you and Paul in mind when I travel that way again, perhaps this winter. May pick up my daughter and her F650 along the way in Tucson. She was a teenager on the back of my GS1100 that year and now rides her own. Big Bend was a neat place and we had little time to explore it that time around. If you see a BIG GS1200 Adventure, red and white, with Jesse bags/stickers all over them, its me. I also have a new High Viz Olympia Jacket that cannot be missed. Happy Trails, Randy

  4. #4
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Cool!

    I too got a NEON RED Olympia for Christmas. The grocery store clerk said she liked it. I asked if she rode and she said "No. I just like that you stepped outside the box."

    LOL!

    Voni
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  5. #5
    Has the GS-Lust The_Veg's Avatar
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    +1 about 170!
    2012 R1200GS

    "If you can't fix it with a hammer, it's electrical." -somebody's dad

  6. #6
    haughty
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    I FINALLY went to the Big Bend area right before the Christmas holidays to visit my son and his fiance' (ok so it was also an excuse).

    WHen i got there I did know it might be cool, so I wore the hot chilis... My son lives in alpine and his SO lives in Marathon. We stayed at the Marathon inn.. BEAUTIFUL.. SO what if the temps were in the teens.. at least it did warm up while in CHisos basin.

    I loved 170. that was the best! I am coming back there for a weekend with the boss. Gonna ride the RT and the LT!
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    Ambassador BeerTeam's Avatar
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    Hey haughty,
    Nice Texas LT photo!
    Ride report coming?
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  8. #8
    haughty
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    REport!

    YEs Sir! a report is coming, however my puppy ate it. But.. But my riding partner does a blog and lucky for me- I shall post this. SHe did an excellent job being with me as my pop off valve, keeping from pressing harder when I should call it a day. She is a wonderful lady and in her words, here they are: Thanks Johnnie for the report!

    It had been planned for several weeks, a bike ride to and into the Big Bend area of Texas. Motorbike. Motorcycle. The get-a-way.

    Starting Saturday morning and making it to Katy for breakfast and straight I-10 West to and past San Antonio. I forget where lunch was but Fort Stockton was where we stopped for the night. It was after dark when we arrived and the weather thus far had been no more than 50 ??F. The ride was beautiful. 522 miles.
    San Antonio was the last place my phone picked up a signal and upon arrival in Fort Stockton I just turned it off. Neither of us brought a computer and being away was what this was all about.

    Up early Sunday morning leaving Fort Stockton it was 19??F we arrived in Marathon for a small stop and visit with Mikey’s family there. Marathon is in a valley surrounded by low hills and mountains. The population there was 800 folks in 1990 and I doubt it is much more than that today. Mikey’s granddaughter is in 6th grade and in a class of 3 students. But the town is quaint, the folks are friendly and many visitors come to winter. No wonder! the air is clear and crisp. It felt like I could breathe to my toes!
    The day had warmed up to about 40??F and we tripped into Big Bend through the Persimmon Gap entrance on of Hwy 385. You do not realize how high you are when you are in the mountains and mountains range to the right and left of you. And yet, the air is arid and dry. Cactus and plains grass all about. Wildlife in abundance and 30 miles in we were at Panther Junction which is at 3750 ft (1143 m). From there we turned north to a short ride up to Chisos Basin to lunch at the restaurant there near 2:00 PM in the evening. The short 10 mile drive brought us to 5401 ft (1646 m) with the Casa Grande mountain to the east at 7325 ft (2384 m) and other mountains looming all about, the scenery from our window table was amazing. The ride back down was as thrilling and we turned to the north to travel more through the park on the main road.
    On advise from a local we went toward Tuff Canyon and all the way to the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook, which is right on the Rio Grande, though we did not know it at the time. Yes, that means right *points south* there is Mexico. But dark comes early and we headed back the way we came. Night fell right about the time we were passing Panther Junction again and in the desert, night means cold. The sunny day had kept us warm and I was comfortable till about 10 miles to the park entrance. Fortunately, it was only a 70 miles ride back to Marathon where we supped and had a wonderful cabin at an old style motel. The day’s ride was approximately 291.8 miles.

    It was beautiful. How many times I said those words throughout the day likely drove Mikey crazy. Many folks think there is not much to a desert but it is teaming with life. I did purchase a silver cactus charm for my bracelette to commemorate. A fawn was so close to us I could have touched it. We avoided havalinas on the road and ran across a few road runner birds. Lots and lots of birds which made me giggle. Hawks, vultures, cranes, …
    Interesting thing is that as a rider on back my eyes often went right and left looking at the scenery, mountains, clouds, cattle, birds, where Mikey’s eyes were on the road and what was in the near vicinity of it. The impressions were a bit different. By the time one or the other said, “Look here!” we were past. A few times we stopped and would go back. But for Mikey the trip was about the ‘ride’. And ride we did!

    The old style motel! The cabins were quaint and you park right next to them. The gas heater was a lifesaver for warming me up. There is a TV but no phone. There is an authentic adobe courtyard with a water fountain at the front and a fireplace on the east all gardened and nice. (scroll 1/2 way down to the night view of the fireplace - that could have been us Monday night!) What a quaint place to stay. The railroad was just across Hwy 90 and though it was a no horn area for the train engineers, you could hear the comfortable clickty clack of the trains rolling through all the night long. A fantastic rhythm to fall asleep to. The RV crowd and other cabins inhabitants were pleasant from all over. We had breakfast in the Courtyard Cafe just to the north of all the cabins. To chill to sit outside in the expansive adobe courtyard we sat inside where there was a total of four tables. The waitress sat at our table to take our order while she and the cook from behind the counter were simply amazed at us for we were the ‘motorcycle travelers! In THIS weather!’

    By the time we hit the road on Monday it had warmed up to 23??F. We headed west from Marathon into Alpine. Here is where I can wax poetic for I remember it being a cloudy day starting out. Riding the road next to the rail line I looked all about at the mountains. The majesty was awesome. Even the clouds seemed to reach down and finger themselves into the valleys and dips of the mountains as if to caress them gently as the day begun. Climbing out of the valley we left the clouds behind and the day was sunny and beautiful. Arriving in Alpine we found the local library and stepped in to use the computers and check e-mail. With our fancy helmets, winter gear and over jackets of neon green (for visibility) we looked like spacemen.
    From Alpine we went west to Marfa which seems to be a very artsy town though many of the small towns boast a host of artist and galleries. And why not with such beauty about? From there we traveled south to the border town of Presidio. If ever you wish to see an impoverished area, this is one of them. A turn about at the border crossing, for Mexico was not our destination this trip, we went east along the Rio Grande on Ranch Road 170. Not far down this wonderfully winding road boarding the Rio Grande we came to where recent floods had washed out the road and a rock road detour had us take about a 2 mile trip up a steep pathand down again. No big deal you say? On a motorcycle that weights 2,000 lbs with all the equipment, full bags and ourselves! But Mikey handled it as a champion even while chanting to himself on the detour road “I must be crazy, I must be crazy, I must be . . . “ Once back onto the blacktop road the cliffs began to climb and we entered the Big Bend Texas State Park area. That 61 miles must have taken us three hours to traverse for there was so much to see and so much to view and so much to . . .
    At one point we stopped beside the river and I walked over the beach to touch the water. “What are you doing?” Mikey asked. “Touching the border to Mexico!” The river is in a canyon and at times the road dips down to the river and then climbs, switches back to climb and then again to work it’s way down. By the time we got to the town of Terilingua I had seen so many breath taking sights there was no more wonder in me. Time for a burger at the local eatery. There are no McDonald’s or such in these remote towns. And for this trip, that suited me just fine! From Terilingua we headed north on TX 118 admiring the views till pulled over by a state policeman. Lucky he only clocked us doing 82 for just a few moments before Mikey had been slowing down from 110. He let Mikey off with a warning and then gave us some pointers of things to see as we headed back.
    Having been determined to arrive back in Marathon before sunset, we failed. The extra layer of long johns and I finally wimped out and plugged in the electric heater suit. This night I was warm and toasty during the ride back to the Marathon Motel. Oddly enough, according to Google Maps we rode 291 miles again for the second day in a row.
    A great steak dinner at the Gage Hotel Restaurant with Mikey’s son and daugther-in-law to celebrate the announcement of their new babe on the way, sitting a while at the fireside in the Marathon Motel courtyard, watching the stars in a crisp clean sky and listening to the sounds of the night. A hot shower and snuggled warm under blankets in my room. Another wonderful day and evening.

    I do not recall how cold it was on Tuesday when we awoke, but it was near 30??F when we left. However, the day was once again cloudy and this time, even coming out of the valley Marathon sits in, the clouds and eventual rain mocked us. Taking Hwy 90 East for a more scenic passage we stopped in Dryden for brunch. 142 miles into the day we turned north at Comstock thinking to do a pit stop there. The population in Comstock is 400 folks. You would never know it for the highway frontage is littered with failed businesses. Yes, I looked it up. We did not stop not seeing a thing open on the main road.
    At Comstock we turned north to the next town on the map. This short 39 mile leg taking us in the tween of the arid back to trees and rivers, river crossings, cattle and my this was a beautiful ride up and down hills next to and crossing over a river several times all the way to Juno. Juno got it’s name from the one eatery in town that served beans. When folks asked what was on the menu they would be told “You know” which sounded like “Juno”! I love history like that. Juno’s population is 10. No, that is not a mistake, I looked it up. We got the intersection where Juno is supposed to be, looked about, scanned north, scanned east and there was nothing there and nothing to do but head east.
    It was planned to take Ranch Road 189 and though the cloud cover was getting thicker, the ride was good until . . . you knew there had to be an until, eh? Ranch Roads, even though with mega dollar hunting lodges on them, are not as well kept as some may hope. The first time we came upon a cattle guard crossing sign Mikey slowed down to about 60 miles an hour. Yet it was a true pipe built cattle crossing not well graded into the road. I stood on my pegs and was somewhat ready. It did jar my knees and left shoulder badly, but Mikey took the brunt of it and it hurt many of his joints badly. The remainder of the cattle guard crossings, of which there were quite a few, we took at much slower speeds. For all the twisty turns the write-ups about Ranch Road 189 afforded, Mikey had had enough. When we got to US277 we headed north to Sonora where we ate some slightly passable Mexican food, turned the bike east on I-10 and set sights for San Antonio.
    The sun had set by the time we made San Antonio and the fog was heavy. Mikey asked permission to press on and head home and I agreed. I am such an agreeable gal *groans*. Somewhere near Seguin I began to snooze all the way to Katy (west outskirts of Houston) where a light rain began to patter us. Snoozing is not a safe thing to do on a motorcycle, but Mikey kept me upright. We pulled into my apartment near 10:30 PM having ridden 623 miles on Tuesday.

    Was it cold like expected? Yes. Was it worth it? Definitely! Would I do it again? Likely not as a rider. I would prefer to straddle my own ride, stop off a few more times. Take my time or take longer. But we met our goals, made our destinations, and for a trip that was meant to be a ride, we did just that!

    Epilogue: Soon we shall revisit and see the Davis mountains. We fell in love with the area and know why my son has stayed in the area.

    Too much beauty and must make time!

    Oh and here is a picture Of Johhnie- Great gal !
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  9. #9
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    She is a great gal, and a wonderful writer!

    We'll look forward to meeting her - and you - sometime soon.

    Voni
    sMiling
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  10. #10
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    When enroute to the Davis Mountains and Big Bend via IH-10 from the east or west, I plan a stop about 50 miles west of Fort Stockton, Texas at Balmorhea State Park http://www.stateparks.com/balmorhea.html. This is a very cooooool state park with several camp sites plus a spring fed pool that has a constant 74-76 F temp year round. Great campsite when seeking relief from a hot mid summer transit through Texas. It is also about 60 miles from Fort Davis which makes for a motivating ride into Fort Davis and onto Big Bend.

  11. #11
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    Very nice:)

    I just read your very well wrote story of Big Bend and want to go back, more then ever now. I was a summer rider, my last time in there and your "Cool" story has me wanting this vs. my HOT trip in there. I will most likely cross the border for Copper Canyon riding too, on my way back west to my home near the W. Coast. Nice read.....Randy

  12. #12
    haughty
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    It was my pleasure to have given her the inspiration by watching the road and letting her enjoy the scenery! Yes I am going back there soon as well because life is meant to be enjoyed and not sitting there worrying all day.. WHAT?.. ME worry? Do EYE look werried? SNICKER...
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  13. #13
    haughty
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    Copper canyon, now I have heard of that place- I shall look it up- Been there before?

  14. #14
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    Copper Canyon,Mx.:)

    Nope, I've not been yet! Going though. Its an offroaders paradise, I hear and listed as the 8th real "Wonder of the World", kind of place to see. I must go. I am riding a R1200GSA and have been doing pre research of Copper Canyon, via the internet. Too many options exist, but I usually do the independent kind of adventures and travel outside of tours. I like the "less" than organized travel. I have the gear and grit for this kind of sightseeing. I wanted the Big Bend NP ride thrown in along my way and its a perfect loop/crossing the border kind of place for me. I've not crossed at Big Bend before, but Voni said its a good place, as she knows it. I have mentioned riding there in the next month or so and little to no interest from other riders has risen. Riding alone is quite often the way I go, but others are always welcome, if our plans are similar. Copper Canyon should be on every riders(dirt) list to see someday. The conditions there require some basic to really GOOD dirt riding skills, it appears from my research so far. Lots of rivers to cross, in the water kind of crossings and rocky jeep roads are present nearly everywhere down there. Adventurous spirits only need apply, even those with beginer dirt skills can do this, with grit. I happen to have a life long, dirt bike experience under my belt and love to see new folks doing this. Its a passion! Come alongRandy

  15. #15
    haughty
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    Randy,
    THat sounds so kewl !!!!
    My dirt bike riding days are about 30, ok 35 years ago and I havent seen it since.
    I do have a GS I have been hankering to take out, just havent had the time. I guess over the next few weeks I will have to see at least some trails and get familiar with the girl.
    The work thingy ( yes I am still a slave!) is kinda dicey and I know over the next month or so is going to be the big send off for alot of our people ( theres been 3 downsizing episodes so far- Downsizing- is that the new way?)..
    Johnnie (lil lady - the author of the writings)just got laid off last week and she has been pretty good about it- but it still sux.
    The chairman of our company was going to go with me on the ride back there- but has bowed out ( not becaue of the downsizing as he had no say on who or what conditions) because of his cousin just had the plug pulled while he was in a coma (bike accident too).
    We also lost two others in bike accidents over the holidays, one a co worker and one a clients son. SO the boss has decided to take a delay on the ride for a bit to think this one out.

    and so it goes.

    BUt DANG I would love to check it out this year if the cards go right.
    Let me know where and how it goes....

    I too have a desire to not travel in the groups as the testosterone and estrogen levels rise to the point that people get a little crazy. I like the easy - let it all soak in pace as thats what this thing is all about...

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