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Old 03-26-2008, 02:35 PM   #1
Dr. Greg OP
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Dr. Greg's 2008 Spring Break "Tour de Texas"


When you've been a Professor (of Mechanical Engineering) at the same school (University of New Mexico/Albuquerque) for 31 years, you await Spring Break with as much eagerness as the odd coed bound for Fort Lauderdale. Maybe more.

So with Mrs. Greg's blessing, I left the remaining Jr. Greg (I have four boys; youngest is 14) at home and set out for a 10-day Tour de Texas. Yeah, I left two days before classes ended...I made up an exam and had someone else give it while I was well under way.

The general idea was to head for the Guadalupe Mountains Nat'l. Park, then on to Big Bend. After that up to pay a visit to Bounce and his "hill country paradise" near Dripping Springs, TX. Then on to Houston to visit my 29-year old son who works there. Then back home.

I'm on an '06 Uly with roughly 42,000 miles on it...not bad for two years. Yeah, the Uly isn't for everybody but I sure like it. Never thought I'd own a bike that had ANY connection to the H-D outfit. Goes to show...

I'm gonna write this report in fits and starts but I'll get 'er done. BTW this is trip report numero uno pour moi, so be kind. Oh yeah, I'm doing this solo; I am kind of antisocial, I guess.

So here I am the night before in the shop. Just turned 60.5 so I shaved off my big full 6-month old beard the week before (tradition).

BTW the bike in the background is '91 Honda Hawk; bought it used in '93 for my oldest son to ride, he put 25K miles on it then in '02 we sold it to a gal that worked for the FBI; a month ago I started looking for a bike for my 14-year old son and saw an ad in the paper for a Hawk. Yep, got the same bike back again! Only 2K more miles, too. Small world.

Day 1: Albuquerque to Guadalupe Mts.

Here's the pic in the driveway ready to go. Recently got that Hornet DS and I like it a lot.

Weather forecast was wind. Hmm, spring in southern New Mexico and West Texas, is wind a surprise? No indeedy. I've got a Laminar Lip on the Uly and---while it looks pretty small---it makes a HUGE difference. But heavy wind is still fatiguing. As I am to find out over the next ten days.

Headed out of Albq on I-40 east to south 14; pic below doesn't really show it, but cresting the top of this hill you can see way far southeast down towards the southern plains. Always gives me the goosebumps; the good kind.

Stopped briefly at the Gran Quivira pueblo ruins...

Walking around ruins like that kinda gives me an eerie feeling; those folks "had their day and ceased to be..." Us, too.

Continuing on south one arrives at the tiny village of Claunch, NM. I've always been taken by this little church.

There must be five "houses" nearby, but the church looks like it's still in use.

After about 150 miles there's the thriving town of Carrizozo, NM, and time for a break.

Funny thing about Carrizozo; it's a crossroads in the middle on nowhere, but I've seen more bikes pass through there (even sportbikes) than I would ever expect. All goin' somewheres, I guess. Just like Dr. Greg...

On down the west side of the Sacramento Mountains, then up and over! Great twisty road...shoulda taken some pics but I left later than I wanted and I was on a roll. Next time.

Stop for gas in Artesia, NM; time to fiddle with the iPhone (amazing device; I love it)

From Artesia it's on through Carlsbad, then back west to the Guadalupe Mountains. Remember the wind? It must have been 50 mph by then, and I headed straight into it. Arrgghh...

But I made it: Guadalupe Mountains in background. Ever put up a tent in 65 mph winds? Sure you have. Well, I get my chance.

(to be continued)
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Old 03-26-2008, 02:47 PM   #2
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:39 PM   #3
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good, start looking forward to more.
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:43 PM   #4
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Keep 'er coming.

(By your name, I assumed you were a chiropractor at first.
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:00 AM   #5
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waiting for more....

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Old 03-27-2008, 12:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dr. Greg

... Ever put up a tent in 65 mph winds? Sure you have. Well, I get my chance.
You are a brave man.

Go here Guadalup Pass Weather Stats to see what the wind speed was at Guadalupe Pass while you were there.

In November 2006, I rode to the Guadalupes from the Ft. Davis expecting to camp and hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak. Going through the pass, I was hammered by the winds and upon reaching the campground, the only person there was closed up in his Land Rover parked next to his demolished tent shaking his head at me in terror. I turned around and rode back to the Basin at Big Bend.

Here are the hourly stats from the day I was there ...

Note the 83mph gust during the hour that I was there.


'98 BMW 1100GS
'99 Honda XR400R

He's got everything he wants, a girl, a drink, a song,
If we use his formula, we surely can't go wrong.

from the song "Mexican Joe" by Jim Reeves

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Old 03-27-2008, 01:01 PM   #7
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i'm not sure if this trip is over or in progress.if the later,and you have time,hop on down to galveston from houston.
24 hours,maybe 60 good years,it's really not that long a stay.........jimmy b.
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Old 03-27-2008, 01:44 PM   #8
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Ok Doc, you've got my attention. Keep them coming.

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Old 03-27-2008, 06:43 PM   #9
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A short update

Bentley: Thanks for confirmation on Guad. Mts. wind. I had bookmarked a weather site for that area before I left and couldn't really believe the wind readings. But they are definitely true. Whew.

Makalu: Hmm, chiropractor. That would come in REAL handy, but I'm not a bonecrusher. Just another dumb engineer.

Princess: Trip is over (waahhh!) but I'd love to drop by in the future. I'll let ya know.

Still Day 1, by the way...

Uh, that pic where I'm sitting fiddling with the iPhone...well, I decided to let the phone tell me where I was (new feature in S/W upgrade). Now, I was in Artesia, NM, but the friggin' phone told me I was somewhere in Estonia!

Good thing I REALLY knew where I was...thanks, Steve. Can't wait till the next software upgrade.

Anyway, I got the tent set up in the 65 mph winds, see?

It took a few big rocks to hold the sucker in place while I was hammerin' in the tent pegs. Er, make that "screwing" them in...the ground was so hard I couldn't hammer; that just bent them. I sort of wiggled them back and forth until I had half their length in; figured that was "good enuf." It was.

After getting camp set up, the wind was still howling, but time for a break! My folding chair and a big jigger of Knob Creek put a smile on my face! And not for the last time, either...

For some reason my beautiful face (hey, not bad for 60+ years) looks sort of weird in the above pic; oh, well it's not the years it's the miles, right?

I sleep pretty soundly, but the friggin' wind woke me at 2 friggin' 30 in the AY EM...dang. But I just rolled over and resumed my beauty sleep.

Oh yeah, total mileage for the day was 420 miles, but they were HARD ones.

Final thought for this first new headlamp was priceless, my 25-year old Coleman "Peak 1" stove was beginning to act cantankerous (a vague hint of its future behavior), but I had made it to my first destination.

Oh yeah, I was using a new sleeping bag. My old bag dated to 1969 (really) and was an "Alp Sport" summer-only down bag. Finally I gave up and bought a new synthetic fiberfill bag from REI; this was its first trip. We'll see...

Final FINAL thought for the day...the one thing that had worked perfectly was the blasted Uly. It was to be tested severely in the future.

Like I said, I'm composing this piece by piece (professional conference in town today I had to attend) but I WILL get it written.

(to be continued)
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Old 03-27-2008, 07:38 PM   #10
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Good job so far Doc. Will be tuning in for more.
"I don't want a pickle, I just wanna ride on my motorsickle" (Arlo Guthrie)
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Old 03-28-2008, 06:59 AM   #11
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Nice ridin' doc!! Thanks for posting and sharing Any of your students on this site?
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Old 03-28-2008, 09:13 AM   #12
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Yo Doc, I was just reading something about an ADVr name Dr. Greg, with over 40k on a ULY in Beasts....................and VIOLA, a ride report goin full Dr. Greg, had to look , yep its you

Great start, thanks for sharing
Been there, broke that

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Old 03-28-2008, 11:40 AM   #13
Dr. Greg OP
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Day 2
The wind blew all night, but next morning the sun was up and the tent still stood.

Fired up the reluctant stove (which burned a hole in my rain fly) and made a little instant oatmeal, fake-cappucino stuff, etc. Gotta get a new stove for next trip.

Well, heck, here I am next to the highest point in Texas (Guadalupe Peak is 8,749 feet); since there's a nice trail to the top I better check it out. Actually, before that I was a good citizen and filled out my "registration" for the camp and enclosed $16 for two nights. I found out later the little tear-off receipt was important.

The Guadalupe Peak trail started off easy

Here's a view to the east; lotta empty country out there...

As I was climbing this thing a vertebra in my back started acting up; the left side of my body is pretty trashed from crashes: broken left foot, left femur, left hip, left radius/ulna, left humerus, sheared neck vertebra...a mess. But I was determined to press on, especially considering the three guys in the next paragraph...

Here's a rocky stretch; can you believe three paraplegics in wheel chairs climbed this thing back in the 80s? They took three days and literally crawled some of the way. Wow.

OK, here's where the trail turns round the shoulder of the mountain. A few feet after this you catch the wind, from which you've been shielded. YIKES!! It was FREEZING!! Dressed in jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt it was too much for me.

I beat a hasty retreat down the mountain. I figure I had gotten about halfway up, so I declared it a victory.

Oh yeah, some guys came by and loaned me the "camp hammer" to do a better job of hammering in my tent pegs. Just in time...since the forecast for that day was even windier...gusts to 100 mph (honest) And they weren't far off. In the late afternoon while I was hanging out by my tent, like this,

I could hear the big gusts come screaming down between the peaks. Nothing to do except "hunker down" and wait...when it arrived it would almost FLATTEN my tent, which would then spring back up after it passed.

At 4:30 p.m. the temp was 69 F, so pretty nice except for the blasted wind. I took a discreet sponge bath and felt a little better (plus it was the cocktail hour )

Although I was going to leave the next morning I decided to stay an extra day in hopes the wind would improve (forecast implied that).

Day 3

So the next day I took a less strenuous hike (about 3 miles) over to the Frijoles area, which included the restored "Smith Family House" of 1906.

The reason for the settlement is the year-round spring, at 6 gallons/minute it was a nice one; ran all over the place...

A hundred yards away the Smith Family had built this little pond; bet a dip in here felt good during a hot summer day!

Could I survive here? Doubtful...

Since we were approaching the weekend the campground began filling up, and I met this delightful couple from Munich, Germany who were touring the American Southwest...

And therein lies the story of The Ugly American of the Guadalupe Mts...

(to be continued)

Dr. Greg screwed with this post 03-28-2008 at 01:23 PM
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Old 03-28-2008, 02:10 PM   #14
Dr. Greg OP
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The Ugly American

The German couple and I were getting along quite well; they were Wagner (as in opera) fans as well as I, so I dragged out my iPod & mini sound system to listen to a little Die Walkure (or something like that). Camping is rough...

They had selected a camping spot (last one available) that had a big flat rock shelving up across it, so they elected to pitch their tent outside the "official" area in a flatter spot---I would have done the same thing. The older "good cop" ranger said he didn't mind, but his boss wouldn't like it. Well, the boss showed up; definitely the "bad cop" ranger.

He interrupted our conversation and said---practically poking this gentle foreigner in his chest as he yelled it---YOU HAVE TO MOVE YOUR TENT IMMEDIATELY BACK TO THE PROPER AREA!! YOU CANNOT LEAVE IT THERE!! I was cringing as he yelled...couldn't he be a little nicer? No, guess not.

Anyway, after he left we all three agreed that he was a ringer; most Americans are pretty nice. But they moved their tent. Hopefully I made up for the "bad cop" ranger. Sigh.

Day 4

Got up early for the ride to Big Bend; it was cloudy but completely calm. NO WIND!! Well, that would change. Kind of a pretty sunrise.

The ride from the Guadalupe Mountains to Van Horn, TX was spectacular. I took the pic below but it doesn't really capture the character of the landscape. This country was big, wide, and lonesome.

It was amusing and more than a little incongruous to see this water level markers in an obviously arid land. Yes, I know about summer flash floods. Still...

Got to Van Horn, TX...what a dump. At least IMHO. Found a Mickey D's for lunch and refueled, but...dusty, windy (yep, it ws back). Like I said. No pic necessary.

Apologies to Major Van Horne, and Lt. Van Horn, but I didn't think much of your town.

Next: onward to Alpine and Big Bend...
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Old 03-28-2008, 02:38 PM   #15
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I just got back from a ride through east Texas, and now I really wish I could have gone out west! Looks like a great trip!

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