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Old 05-05-2004, 10:11 PM   #49
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
Oddometer: 6,729
30th March

I wake feeling thoroughly refreshed. Today I plan to do some riding in the local area – there are some excellent and scenic roads just West of Kerrville – then start to press towards Big Bend.
I eat the complimentary breakfast in the diner next door and wonder whether people are over-tipping the waitress – this is her car…



I’m on the road for 0900. It’s a beautiful morning, with hardly a cloud in the sky. It’s already 72º F and it promises to reach 85 or so later in the day. I ride through pleasant undulating roads. The region is semi-desert and it reminds me very much of countryside I’ve ridden through in southern Spain. March has been an unusually wet month, however, and the desert plants are taking full advantage of it with vivid green coloured new growth everywhere.



I soon start climbing into the hills. The road is cut into the side of the slope and I’m having great fun flinging the Adv about.



I notice that someone has set a church into the side of a hill – it perches precariously above a dried river bed, some 50 feet below…



…when suddenly I meet someone coming the other way, having as much fun as me!



This is Mike Hoskins, from near Chicago. He comes down here each winter to do some riding – he’s just come from Big Bend, my eventual destination, and says I’ll not be disappointed. We examine each other’s bikes, bullshit a little, and then go our separate ways. Just before Mike rides off, a deer wanders across the road ahead of him…



…I carry on following the route that Arch and I worked out on Sunday night. I arrive at Bracketville at 1300 and have a Mexican lunch in the town’s diner. Del Rio is only 24 miles up the road, but I don’t feel tired and I’m really enjoying the riding. It’s 86º F, but the heat is dry and therefore manageable, so I decide to press on towards Big Bend, some 260 miles distant, and see what happens. I join Highway 90 and head West. 90 is an excellent road – it has a 75mph speed limit, but I found myself riding with the needle pointing at the road number, rather than the limit.;) After half an hour or so, a flurry of signs and cones makes me drag the speed down and then stop at a check being conducted by the Border Patrol…



They are very polite and examine my passport and visa before wishing me a safe onward journey. Since I have their attention, I ask whether it’s going to be possible to re-new my 6 month visa in Canada and re-enter for a further few months. Apparently it is, and I should have no problem doing so – excellent!
I continue and, a little while later, cross the Pecos River…



…to the home of one of the Old West’s most colourful characters, the self-styled ‘Judge’ Roy Bean. An eccentric saloon owner, Bean appointed himself as the ‘Law West of the Pecos’. His reputation is as a ‘Hanging’ Judge, but this seems to be largely legendary, as there is no record of him hanging anyone. He developed a fixation on a music hall singer and royal concubine, Lily Langtry. He went as far as building an ‘Opera House’ (= hut :P) to entice her to visit, as well as re-naming the town Langtry. Remarkably, in 1904, ‘Jersey Lily’ actually came to visit the town, but they never met - Bean died less than a year earlier, having contracted pneumonia in his mid 70s…



There is now a free visitors centre at the site of his preserved ‘Courthouse’. It’s well stocked with various Old West memorabilia and manned by very knowledgeable staff.
I’m still feeling great, so I press on to Sanderson where I stop for a drink & re-fuel. I decide to press on all the way to Big Bend. It’ll mean a long day, which I’d not planned for, but it feels right and changing destinations like this is one of the main advantages of travelling solo. 90 is almost deserted now, and I keep up a steady 90 towards the lowering sun.



Soon I’m turning left towards Big Bend, down Highway 385. The booth at the entrance to the National Park is closed, but I slow to the posted 45mph speed limit and lift my visor. There is a sudden smell of honey – the recent rain has caused the wildflowers and cacti to blossom and their scent as evening approaches is amazing…



I crest a rise and see 3 wild pigs, which have been rooting around at the side of the road, take to their heels and disappear into the brush as I approach. The distant hills are suddenly getting close and they are spectacular



I ride up to the Chisos Mountain Lodge, not holding out much hope that they’ll have a room as I haven’t reserved one and, as expected, they’re full. I get back on the bike and, narrowly missing a jackrabbit - it’s getting close to sunset and the wildlife is becoming active - ride the 22 miles to Study Butte (pronounced Stew-dee Beaut), where I get a room in the Mission Lodge for an exorbitant $70. I turn the engine off and work out the mileage as the engine ticks and plinks its way back towards a more normal temperature… 511 miles – I feel like I could do it again, but settle for a shower, a cheeseburger and a quiet beer instead…

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MikeO screwed with this post 02-13-2006 at 11:23 AM
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