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Old 03-30-2011, 02:04 PM   #16
G-Tex OP
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Joined: Nov 2005
Location: A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
Oddometer: 299
Day 2...

Ding, ding, ding...time to get rolling on Thursday morning.

The plan:

Motivate 3 Big Bend first-timer's through the desolate environment of the Western Hill Country and into the Trans-Pecos...

Get to Terlingua for dinner.

Sounds simple, right?


Woke up to this:

Ate breakfast downstairs with some Australians who were in Brady on a mission to buy a sheep ranch…pretty interesting folks in a pretty out-of-the-way spot in Texas, but bidness is bidness.

Got the bikes loaded up and it was time to go.

Made it over to the gas station and the Sheriff pulls up, right on Clinton’s back wheel.

Now, I’m known to engage strangers quite frequently in all sorts of random conversation, but this Sheriff started into the conversation with me…wanted to know where we were going, where we were coming from, talked about the weather, and basically assured us that there would be little to zero traffic in between Brady and Iraan. After a few more topics were dispatched, he bid us farewell and drove off. I was careful to watch which direction he was headed, as I didn’t want any surprises along US190.

Fed, fueled, and fired-up, we got on the road and headed West. Our Sheriff friend had not gone out on US190 and the skies were beginning to clear from the mornings light showers. Temperatures were in the mid 60s and the roads were wide-open…time to haul some ass.

We made it to El Dorado in no time, the 84 miles flew right on by, but it was SUPER WINDY and fuel mileage was suffering greatly. The 41 liter tank on my big pig was keeping me in the game, but everyone else had to gas up. Clinton was taking quite a beating on the F650 and I wanted to make a run on the old girl, so we swapped bikes.

Back on US190, I’m gripped down and ducking….squeezing every last bit of power out of the rotax mill. Fully loaded with a 230 pound rider, she was making 96 miles an hour, flat out. The Western Hill Country Steppe slowly changed into the Trans Pecos Scrubland and the sky OPENED up; we were now in WEST TEXAS. The mesa country that surrounds Iraan, and the oil-wealth created in the area, is famous amongst Texans as some of the most rugged terrain in our fair state. Add a 40mph headwind and things stay very interesting, especially when descending the windward side road-cuts along the way. After slightly more than 2 hours, we arrived in Iraan…

We settled in at Los Arcos for a tasty meal!

A little info on the Yates Field and Iraan:,_Texas

Reinvigorated by our Grande Lunch, we hopped back on the bikes and headed towards Sanderson on TX 349. All of “The Presidents” of the group work in the Energy Business and riding through the epic Yates field was very interesting. We crossed I-10, passed Sheffield, Texas and we were in the wild Trans-Pecos. We had great roads on rolling to hilly scenery all the way into Sanderson, home of the least-used AMTRAK station in the United States. Sanderson wasn’t too much to look at, but it had a very pleasant and peaceful way about it. Then it was gone in the rearview mirror.

I had never come into Marathon on US 90 from the East before, so everything was new and very interesting on this leg of the route. The mesa-country gave way to the foothills of the Big Bend region and the road straightened as we approached Marathon. Upon arrival, we gassed up and decided it was a good time for a photo-op in front of the Gage Hotel, our accommodation for the coming Saturday night. We grabbed some cold cervezas from the gas station!

We then rode down to the Gage. A real nice guy took a few pics for us:

Photo-op over, we decided to make time and hit the Hot Springs in Big Bend National Park.


Everybody was getting giddy, as we were in Big Bend! A “Destination of Destinations”…US 385 South out of Marathon was a decidedly HAUL-ASS road. We could barely keep the bikes from running full out towards Mexico…

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We got to the Big Bend National Park Entrance, paid our fees and we were IN! IT was about 3:30 and we were making time towards the Hot Springs. It felt great to pull off the black-top and onto the dirt Hot Springs Road. 400 or so miles on pavement makes an immediate change to dirt feel a bit awkward, but the beckoning Hot Springs kept us on track.

Upon arrival, we cracked a few beers, asked the folks if they had any cups to pour the beers into, decided to improvise our legal-containers when nobody stepped up, and simultaneously got ourselves into bathing suits with the requisite flip flops. During this time, a fellow rider on a blue and black KLR came up and proceeded down the trail to the Hot Springs. A quick swig or two of beer and we were down the trail, cameras in hand, to take in the healing waters of the Big Bend Hot Springs.

The Hot Springs were pretty busy. The usual crowd of cowboy intellectuals, hippy dippy weirdness, motorcycle riders, and counter-cultural hangers-on were in mid digression as the Dallas BMW riders entered the pool. We made ourselves comfortable and settled in for a bit of a soak.

The talk turned to the Copper Canyon, Mexico, and the Troubles. We were, after all, just 20 feet from the border and most of our view was of old Mexico. Having ridden the Barrancas before, I interjected with some details as distances, road quality, cultural hot-spots, and general advisability of a trip into “Scary Mexico”. Clearly, there were some Hot Sports Opinions about travel into our southern neighbor and my beliefs about the “must-do” nature of such trips may have run counter to the prevailing wisdom of the springs. Nothing was overtly awkward, but the fear of the unknown shut-down those who had assumed travel south to be an unnatural act.

Time to go. We left the tub after another 10-15 minutes, refreshed and ready to get to our campsite. As we were toweling off, the fellow rider who pulled up earlier on the KLR, introduced himself to us. He had been sitting across the springs from us and had been one of those talking about Old Mexico. He was a very nice guy and clearly a capable and knowledgeable rider by his statements. What we had not noticed while we were in the springs, was that his right arm was lame. The conversation never made it to the point where we discussed it, but we were amazed by the fact that we had not noticed his one-armed riding when he came up to us before our trip down the trail. We bid him farewell and made time down the trail.

As we were changing back into riding gear, we were amazed to see the one-armed rider reappear fully-clothed, put his helmet on and secure it with one hand, mount his bike, and ride off effortlessly. The whole scene made quite an impression on all of us. This guy was a TRUE RIDER and nothing was going to stop him from getting his share of the thrill of Adventure.

Dumbstruck, we all remounted and proceeded west through the park, towards Study Butte and Terlingua beyond.

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The sunset was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen; the sun slowly setting over the Chisos and Christmas Mountains. It seemed like the sunset took an hour and a half. We were more-or-less following the 45mph speed limit and were very watchful for animals crossing the road.
Pulling into Study Butte, we upped the beer supply, gas, and snack supplies…

We then made tracks for the weirdness of Las Ruinas.

Las Ruinas is more of a thought-experiment than I had ever assumed from previously passing-by. The four BMW Riders pulled in and were met by a guy, let’s call him John. Here’s how the conversation with John went;

Grant: “Hey man, is this Las Ruinas?”
John: “Sure is.”
Grant: “So, do we just set up wherever or is there some sort of order? I tried to call 3 weeks ago, emailed twice, but I never heard back from anyone…so…”
John: “Well, yeah man, you can stay here, but I’m not sure where you guys should go…”
Grant: “OK, well…is this your place?”
John: “Well, yeah…I mean, I’ve been here for 3 months and I’m staying here…”
Grant: “So do we pay you?”
John: “Well, yeah…you COULD pay me…I mean, you know, there’s this other guy who will be around….”
Grant: “OK, well, what should we do?”
John: “Hey, just go check around and see where there are tents that are open…”
Grant: “OK, see ya John”

It was clear that John had a big day that day.

We proceeded down the hill and looked at a couple of the 10’x10’ canvas tents. Most were occupied and as we were looking around, a fellow ADV’r came out of nowhere and pointed out where they were camping, with an open tent right there…well, he wasn’t pointing it out to invite us to stay, he was basically doing everything he could to have us go up the hill. His group had a huge fire going, all of their trucks arranged with their attendant trailers, and their hard enduros scattered about. At their core, this group was not very inviting and we were told that there was a spot “up the hill” “where his trailer was parked” that “would be perfect for you guys”…

Taking note of the tribal warfare possibilities, we proceeded up the hill and found a flat spot…next to…a trailer, a stage and “The Boathouse”…which we had no idea about…it was already dark, so we decided to make camp and figure it out later if we needed to find a different spot.

Tents up, we decided to grab some food at the Starlight after finishing up our beers. However, RW’s bike wouldn’t start due to some vapor-lock issue, so he rode two-up with me to dinner…a fabulous scene for über manly West Texas…
We had a good dinner with drinks and headed back to camp for more beers, ghost-stories, and finally…some sleep around midnight…it had been a damn good day.

482 miles…
1 Hot Spring
1 Single-Armed Rider
3 Big Bend Novices , Nevermore Novice
Beemer Off Road Dallas, Chartered MOA #351, RA #338
2004 R1150GSATT41L<>1981 R80G/S
Change of Plans '09: Cabo Edition

G-Tex screwed with this post 04-01-2011 at 04:37 PM
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:34 PM   #17
G-Tex OP
Sneaky Bastard
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Joined: Nov 2005
Location: A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
Oddometer: 299
A few more pictures from Day 2...

R-Dub on US190:

Clinton...making a move...

Entering Big Bend:

View from the Hot Springs Parking Lot:

KLR650 Set Up for Single-Armed Operation:

Beemer Off Road Dallas, Chartered MOA #351, RA #338
2004 R1150GSATT41L<>1981 R80G/S
Change of Plans '09: Cabo Edition

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Old 04-04-2011, 11:58 AM   #18
Joined: Dec 2009
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Here are a couple more pics of the hot springs. I mean how could we relax with all the border violence going on. Notice the heavily armed men on the other side of the rio grande!
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Old 04-09-2011, 11:45 AM   #19
G-Tex OP
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Joined: Nov 2005
Location: A Heavily Fortified Compound in North Oak Cliff
Oddometer: 299
Zach's photos...

Beemer Off Road Dallas, Chartered MOA #351, RA #338
2004 R1150GSATT41L<>1981 R80G/S
Change of Plans '09: Cabo Edition

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