Finally having a 3 day weekend to ride, I got the urge to head south to the border - Big Bend and Terlingua that is - to see what July the 4th would bring...
Checking the weather Thursday, I was surprised to see relatively mild temperatures listed for the recent days.
Friday morning in Kerrville dawned grey and muggy, and allergies were kicking my tail to say the least.
Pre launch flight inspection
With watering eyes, I headed down 16 for I-10, gassing up at the Shell station in Kerrville.
Another rider was fueling up and I had the feeling we were heading the same direction.
Expecting scalding heat, I suited up in my mesh Fieldsheer Titanium pants and Joe Rocket Phoenix 4. Also decided to wear my new MX helmet since I hadn't had a chance to try it out yet. The temps were chillier than I expected and I was praying for the sun to come out after a few minutes on the road. I finally got on the highway about 7:30 am, just as the clouds began to break. The air was still chilly but the sun came out for sure about halfway between Kerrville and Junction.
Clouds beginning to break
Luuuuke... I am your faaather...
Sun at last - woohoo!
Fog bank ahead
About 15 miles from Junction I entered a huge fog bank which lasted until I hit Junction. The visibility was bad - about 75 - 100 yards max . The fog condensed on my glasses so heavily I had to constantly turn my head to let the water run off. To make matters worse, I was feeling REALLY sick and didn't know whether to turn around and head back home. Deciding I'd rather be sick with allergies in Big Bend than at home, I pushed on. The chill was pretty strong, even after the sun had come out. I'd been expecting to be sweating by 9 or 10 am, but their was definitely unseasonal cool in the breeze.
Breaking out the other side of the fog
About halfway to Sonora. the rider who'd filled up next to me in Kerrville passed me going about 90 in the 80 mph speed zone. Eventually he slowed and we both exited for gas in Sonora. Turns out he was heading for Roswell from Houston. I didn't get his name, but he was originally from Paris, France and was riding a Honda 919. He asked if I knew where the gas stations were along the way, since his range was about 120 miles. I told him not to worry - I had spare fuel cannisters on the GS and if he was out on the side of the road, I'd gas him up. He laughed and headed on.
Passing Ozona and Bakersfield, the terrain changed to the large plateaus and vistas, including a few wind generators.
Texas seems to be becoming a little like Holland - only not.
I could tell the weather was a little different, as the air was quite cool when riding, and I almost had to stop and put a jacket liner in. Weird.
I reached Ft. Stockton about 10:30 and gassed up, my first tank of $4.50 gasoline.
Still feeling crappy, I hit the local Walmart to get some Sudafed red. No luck.
The pharmacy was closed so I headed on to check out the town before going south to Marathon. A run through the old downtown and surrounding neighborhood was interesting. Some really old adobe house remains are there.
After getting a shot of "Pete", the giant roadrunner, I headed down 385. A couple of blocks later, a guy on a bike pulled in front wearing a US flag shirt. I followed him for a ways, miles actually, wondering if he was going to Marathon as well. We reached a stop sign and chatted for a sec before heading on. After a ways, I got the feeling I wasn't going the right direction and stopped on the shoulder. He pulled over and informed me I was NOT on the road to Marathon but on the way to a prison. Aaaaaaaaaaaargh. Told him thanks and headed back into town, where I found the turn sign to Marathon covered by an untrimmed tree limb. Argh.
Uncle Sam rides a Honda
My slight detour had been about 20 miles or more, so I topped off the tank again in case the stations in Marathon were closed on the 4th. Having lost almost an hour in Ft. Stockton, it felt good to finally be zooming south.
The road was nice and easy, with only oilfield trucks on the way. I arrived in Marathon about 1pm, and gassed up to $4.70 a gallon. Deciding to get lunch, I found my voice had disappeared to a whisper and had trouble ordering the burger. A glass of tea helped and I talked with a lady and her little baby boy for a while. She had recently moved to Marathon and was strolling the baby around for the 4th. The burger appeared and was delicious, despite my allergy hangover. Several folks talked with me and I was asked to come back Saturday for the "post" dance and barbecue.
Locals catch up on news while I catch up on fat
Jalapeno & grilled onion cheeseburger - mmmmm
Sounded good to me. I ran down the "post road" to check it out before heading south for the park.
The ride into the park is always so nice, just beautiful and amazing scenery. At the park entrance, the gal informed me that the road to Luna's Jacal was impassable from recent rains and that the Rio Grande had been up, possibly filling the hot springs with mud.
I stopped at Panther Junction for gas, and refueled with a chocolate ice cream sandwich. Woohoo! The temperature had gone up noticeably in the park and I was now sweating. My poor little sweat glands were exhausted, their tiny tongues hanging out to cool.
mmmmmmmmmMississippiiiiiiiiiiiMuuuuuuddddd!!!!!!!! ! a-haw-haw-haw
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful...
I rode on west to Study Butte and Terlingua, enjoying the views and stunning scenery. Rain was sporadic under the billowy clouds, and I enjoyed the occasional cool drops that hit my face.
Rain in the desert - a beautiful sight to see
I rode through Study Butte and Terlingua, checking prices on motels and looped through the Ghost Town, swinging by World Famous Uncle Roger's place.
Sho' nuff he wasn't there, as I expected, but the place looked good.
His gazebo was almost finished it looked like... either that or he was building a cedar version of Stonehenge.
I finally ended up at the Chisos Mining Company motel next to Kathy's. The gal there informed me that there was to be a parade that evening, starting in Study Butte and ending up at Kathy's Kosmic Kowboy Kafe about 7pm. The shindig was to benefit the EMS for the Terlingua area and there would be free food - donations accepted.
I checked in and cooled down, finishing up with a shower before heading out to watch the parade.
Locals had begun to gather at Kathy's, and you could see the parade a mile away in Study Butte forming up. After a while, the show arrived - a panoply of decorated IH Scouts, horses and riders, four wheelers, trucks, fire trucks, law enforcement and whoever else wandered in. The floats tossed candy to the crowd. Unfortunately we were across the road and the candy splattered on the hot asphalt. Woohoo! It was still a hoot!
Kathy leads the parade
"Los Diablos" - a brush fire team from BBNP - received the biggest cheers by far!
The crowd thickened and food was served to the sounds of Texas music. I gorged on a combo of health food, hot dogs and chili - pretty representative of the locals. I donated for the dinner and then bought a Terlingua EMS shirt to help the fund. Kathy came over, busy running the show and told me it was the 2nd Annual 4th of July Parade and Party to benefit the EMS. All I can say is YOU NEED TO BE HERE ON THE 4TH!
I left the party for a ride down to the ghost town at sunset and wandered the old cemetery and around through the buildings for a few photos.
The porch was dead since the party was at Kathy's, save a coupla tipsy locals who welcomed me to Terlingua with voluminous beer breaths.
From there I headed back to Kathy's where the shindig continued until late. I headed to the hacienda for some sleep, exhausted from the ride in the heat and the hellacious allergies. Still, it was wonderful.
More tomorra... adios amigos