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Old 07-18-2013, 05:26 PM   #121
onlywannaride
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Harley Davidson Museum

Sounds like you are having an amazing trip. While you are here, think about stopping in Milwaukee, WI on your way back east to take a tour of the Harley Davidson Museum.

Stay safe!
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:15 PM   #122
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Day 26

I left the campsite nice and early with my target for evening being Big Bend National Park.

As I'd taken an extra detour down the 337 last night, it meant I had to back track on myself.
When travelling, I really don't like going back on myself. It seems to be something that all guys do. We'd much rather find a way around. Even if it takes us twice as long. Does anyone know why we do this!?
However in this instance, I was more than happy to go back down that road :)

After I left the hill country, it was a long flat journey along the side of never ending ranches.


I then hit highway 90 that runs along southern Texas, by the boarder with Mexico. It meant I could step the pace up a bit, with the expense of anything interesting to ride though.
It did have a couple of interesting features though.
Amistad reservoir, unfortunately I didn't get a picture.
And Seminole canyon, which I did. But looks more impressive in person.


Travelling further along the 90 and passed the border at Del Rio, I was greeted by a immigration checkpoint.
There wasn't a problem as I'm carrying all the require documentation. However when I answered the question; 'Are you an American citizen?' with a 'NO'. Watching the lady's face, and seeing her flinch to her gun was an experience. :eek:

Getting closer toward Big Bend meant that i was getting further, and further away from any major sites of civilisation. Working out how far it was between petrol stations and what the range of my tank is was essential.

The road down to national park was again quite flat and uninteresting. It was totally made up for by views though.
The road was following a very wide valley and the views of the hills and mountains either side were outstanding.



I could also see a larger, more pronounced group of peaks in distance. Which upon getting closer where the actual Big Bend Park.


It was very hot, down on the dessert floor. I'm not sure exactly, but it must have been passed 35C (95F). So the idea of camping in a tent down there did not appeal at all.
Luckily I knew there was a campsite at 5000ft in the Chisos Basin.
I was not disappointed when I got into the basin. The weather was perfect. Clear and sunny, but cool enough to be comfortable.
And seriously the views were spectacular! The campsite is surrounded on all sides by massive red rock cliffs.

I waited until close to sunset and then set of up a little trail to what is called 'The Window'.

I couldn't make it to the end of the trail due to time, so I had to settle for the 'window view'. As I waited the sun set through 'the window', to create this remarkable sunset.
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:57 PM   #123
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really cool you are taking the time to keep us posted on your travels in the 'US of A' enjoying every word and picture. Ride safe
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:38 PM   #124
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Hope all is well and you are having an epic trip!!
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:12 PM   #125
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Everything is going great. Thanks.
I have done cool things to share :)

I'm just in the Redwood National forest tonight. Hopefully getting to Portland tomorrow, via crater lake.

I have to be back in Virginia by the end of august, so it's about time to turn around and head back. Having too much fun on the west coast though!


Day 27

Left the campsite, filled up at the over priced petrol station in the national park, and headed west.
My first stop was a little ghost town called Terlingua. Jamie had told me to go to the Starlight Theatre there for an evenings entertainment. The way things worked out though, I just couldn't get the timing right to be there for in the evening.

It kind of worked out for the best though. As I turned up, the place was really quiet and empty. Like a ghost town :
I pulled up outside the theatre and was expecting to be able to get some brunch, as described on their website. It was closed :(


I found a little cafe instead for breakfast, and started chatting to the lady being the counter. It turns out that the summer is their off season, due to the heat. And as there are hardly any visiting tourists, all the locals leave too. Meaning the Starlight Theatre was dead the previous night, and will be until the season changes.
I looked around and took a few more pictures of the ghost town.



The main reason for being down here was to ride Texas 170, and now, after my fill of French toast, it was the time.

WOW. It definitely worth that long ride down here. The Tail of the Dragon was probably more technical with its constant twisting and turning. But down here, the combination of tight corners, wide open bends, scenery, and undulations. Oh the undulations! Just like being a rollercoaster and some points!
The combination of all these things make this my favourite road so far



To top it off. There is an old film set about half way down to have a look at.

And it runs along the path of the Rio Grande. So your just a stones throw away from Mexico.

What an experience!

The temperature was hot but bearable. They kindly put a thermometer at one of river access points! This was taken at 12:30pm.



The 170 ends at Presidio, and from here it is just a long old drag North up the 67.
As it was so hot, I was again looking for that elevation for a comfortable nights sleep.
Fort Davis, at 5000ft was the place to be. I made it there in plenty of time. Even having time to check out the local 4th of July weekend celebrations that were still going on at the town centre. It was just a bunch of stalls selling the usual junk, but the local food was pretty good :)

After setting up my tent I explored the state park where i was staying. It was still ridiculously hot here. There used to be a creek that ran through the campsite. Not anymore!


The state park had a scenic drive, with some nice views. But the drive was nothing to talk about.


Somebody had told me about the Marfa lights. And as I didn't really have anything to do that evening. (Apart from finding a way to procrastinate, and not write up my ride report!)
I went off with the idea that I might see something cool :-O
I was surprised when I turned up to an actual building that was there just to look for some unexplained light phenomenon.

It was really busy too. People love the unexplained, I guess?

After spending an hour or so there, and chatting to a really nice elderly couple from southern Texas. I gave up. Apparently the lights only occur a handful of times a year. And tonight wasn't my lucky night :(

Arriving back to my camp after dark was an eery experience. I was one of only three people in the whole tent area. It was pitch black, and there was no noise coming from anywhere. The only thing i could see was the faint orange glow from the far off toilet block lights.
I found my torch and began stumbling my way over to the brush my teeth. It was then that i was startled by a loud rustle in the bushes very close by. I shined my torch over to see a set of eyes light up, starring straight back at me! :eek:
Just like the bear experience earlier in my trip, this was another butt clenching moment. I had just been reading about the fact I was in mountain lion country! So obviously that was what instantly sprung to mind.
I started to make a quick move to the toilet block, but as my eyes slowly adjusting to the low light, I could just about make out the faint outline of a deer. I was thankfully relieved, and managed to sleep easily, thinking that even if there was a lion around, the deer would probably be eaten first.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:53 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by mon the biffy View Post
Everything is going great. Thanks.
I have done cool things to share :)

I'm just in the Redwood National forest tonight. Hopefully getting to Portland tomorrow, via crater lake.
Bill and I love that area!! We lived on the west coast for 10 years and had great fun camping and exploring.
I'm happy the deer let you be on your way.

Enjoy and we will continue to enjoy the RR when you have time to write!
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Old 07-30-2013, 03:26 AM   #127
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mon the biffy View Post
Looks like we visited some of the same places.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mon the biffy View Post
Haha! I know exactly where that is. I think we had the same weather, too.



Keep going!

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Old 07-30-2013, 08:11 AM   #128
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IAN! I'm late getting here, but enjoyed meeting you in Memphis!

Thanks for taking the time to bring us along vicariously.


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Old 07-30-2013, 09:23 AM   #129
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After Crater Lake, you should take 138 down to Roseburg, then a short hop down I-5 to catch 42 and take that out to the coast.
The coast out here is georgeous, and Hwy 101 alotta fun to ride!!
Take 101 up to Waldport, and take 35 over to Corvallis, and 99 up to Portland. 35 is probably my all-time favorite motorcycle road!!!

Great ride! Be safe & Godspeed!!
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Old 07-30-2013, 03:36 PM   #130
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Quick update. I'm in Vancouver, BC :)
Heading back to Seattle tomorrow. The plan after that is to go west to Glacier and then down to Yellowstone. Before seeing Moab and Arches in Utah. Then into Colorado for a few days. Before heading back to the east coast, via Niagara falls and NYC.

I've got one more month left to fit it all in. :eek:

As for the ride report, I'll try and get another couple of days up soon.
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Old 08-13-2013, 11:47 PM   #131
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Update
I've been riding with some guys for the past few days. An old uni friend, a good friend from back in the UK, and some random guy I found in Bryce. The story is to come, once I get it written up.
Riding with other people is very nice for a change, although it gives you no time at all to write up a ride report.
I'm in Denver for tonight and then heading over to Chicago. I have about 2 weeks left to see as much of the north east as possibly, before having to go back to Virginia.



Day 28

I awoke a little late, after staying up to check out the (non existent) Marfa lights.:
It wasn't an issue though as I didn't have far to go today. Plus i was going see the Carlsbad Caverns National park, and their bat flight program in the evening. I therefore had time to kill during the day.

My route from Fort Davis took me straight past the McDonald observatory, atop Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes. As you can imagine, to get to the top of a mountain that houses an observatory, the road was good fun, with lots of tight alpine style corners :)



I arrived at the observatory and asked the lady behind the counter for information. She said I was just in time for the solar viewing, and site tour. It cost $8, and would take just over an hour. It fit into my day perfectly.
It was very interesting. It started with the solar viewing talk in a small lecture theatre. The main presentation was based around a live image of the Sun, seen through a telescope from within the observatory. The gentleman giving the talk could move the telescope around to highlight different parts of the Sun. He could also change the wavelength of the filter to offer another view of the Sun. Today was apparently a very active day, and huge Sun spots and solar flairs were visible.

After the talk we were taken on a tour of the actual facility. The two main telescopes were the highlights of the tour. The first was an old telescope built in the 1960's, but still in use today. It was the stereotypical style of telescope that you see, however just on a much grander scale!


The second was built in the late 1990's and is made up of about 100 smaller mirrors. The smaller mirrors allow it to be made in sections to equal something much larger, but at a lower cost. You could not get close to this one. The picture was taken through a window, meaning at this angle it is not easy to make out.


The top of observatory is the highest point of the Texas highway system.

From this point it was nothing but down, to the low valleys, along Texas highway 54.
The roads down here are ridiculously quiet. I hadn't seen anyone for miles, so I pulled up for the obligatory lonely road shot. :cool:


As when heading down to Big Bend. The road itself was quite mundane, however the scenery to the sides was breathtaking.


OK. The ride had taken a lot longer than i had expected (as usual). I then thought I had arrived at the caverns too late to look around the actual caves. However as luck would have it, even though i was on the same longitude. Going north from Texas into New Mexico sent me back a time zone :)
Unfortunately it was, too late to hike down to the caves, but I still had plenty of time to take the elevator.:what:
I've done a couple of caving things before, including one on this trip, back in Tennessee. And I've always thought that once you've seen one cave formation you've really seen them all. However as this was a national park i was expecting a little more.
What can I say, I wasn't disappointed, this place is jaw dropingly massive!
The pictures just don't do it any justice. The low light makes it difficult to take any pictures in focus. And then you can't get any of the impression of size.
Here are the best ones though.




The walk around the entire cave system only took about an hour at a leisurely pace. I had time for a bite to eat while waiting for the bat flight.
The bat flight itself was in the amphitheatre that surrounded the entrance to the cave.
No pictures are allowed during the actual bat flight, as it disturbs them. So here is one before everything started.


For half an hour or so, apark ranger talked about the bats, and answered any questions the audience had, to kill time, until the bats started to fly out for the evening.
I had been told prior to coming here, that hundreds of thousands of bats nested in the caves, and when they all leave, they swirl and spiral in a thick cloud.
However during the rangers talk, he explained, that due to the very low rain fall over the past few years, the number of insects in the area had dropped significantly. The drop in insects causes the bat numbers to drop too. Therefore the night that I was there, unfortunately, only a handful of bats actual left the cave :(

I left the amphitheatre late at night, and carried on into Carlsbad. I had organised to stay with another couch surfer for tonight as i couldn't find an ADV inmates to put me up.

Todd sounded really pleasant over the phone. When I turned up, however, his place was in a dark and dodgy area. You know. The one's that you realise you don't belong. It made me a little apprehensive when I pulled through his gate into the back yard.

It turned out perfectly fine though. Todd was great, i felt fine in the fact that my bike was 'securely' behind his gate, his house was fine, and even his dog was cool. He did apologising about how he was 'only a poor white man' and was 'working to earn himself a bigger and nicer place' though.
A good night sleep was had, after a few days of sleeping in campsites.
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Old 08-14-2013, 06:41 AM   #132
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Well, even though the Marfa Lights veiwing didn't work out and there were only a few bats to see , I'm impressed that you took both of my suggestions.
I went to the cave on my first trip to the west in 1975, and saw the lights bringing a sidecar east from Ca. in 2001.
Carry on , seems you're having a great trip !
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:10 AM   #133
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Thank you for the suggestions, Baker. They were both cool things to do.

Day 29

Todd showed me around Carlsbad in the morning. As well as taking me too this amazing little, family run Mexican restaurant for breakfast. Delicious :)

I then set off on my way to my destination for the evening. Albuquerque, New Mexico.
My route ended up taking me straight through Roswell. So I had to stop by the UFO museum and research centre :)


It was generally full of crap and cheesey displays.



The actual story of the crash, that happened just outside Roswell is quite interesting though. Why all the cover up?!
Anyway, it didn't do enough to make me believe in aliens.

My route then saw me going through Lincoln state monument. The monument is actually the whole town, preserved just how it was when the warring gangs, and Billy the Kid was in town. Everywhere was closed by the time I got there, but I still had time to check out the sights.




Well, at least I thought I had time! Just walking down this one street, I was stopped by 3 separate people, asking about the bike and where I had come from. I can't be rude to people, so I end up speaking to them for longer than i should.

I'm going to be late, again, to get to the place where I'm staying.
Gregg (an advrider), and his wife kindly offered to put me up, and I feel really bad making people wait.
I pushed on to Albuquerque, hitting the reserve on my gas tank just outside the town. I can make it. I thought. There's no need to stop for fuel. My GPS says it was 30 miles to their place, and I've done 40 on the reserve before, with still some to spare.
I don't know what happened this time. Maybe I'd used premium gas before, and been able to get more mpg out of it. Maybe I'd been I little more enthusiastic with the throttle today to get me there in time. But as soon as I turned into their street the inevitable happened. Splutter, splutter, dead. It was out! :o

Very embarrassed, I phoned ahead to let them know, and started pushing. It was only a hundred metres or so to their door. Where they met me with a shake of the head and a can of gas. I filled it up enough to get me to the petrol station in the morning and left it in Gregg's garage for the night.

Before it was bed time, we all had a marvellous meal cooked by his wife. While talking about our riding trips, and our shared interest of motoGP and superbike racing.
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Old 08-14-2013, 11:07 AM   #134
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:02 AM   #135
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Great trip so far. Your gonna really enjoy the traffic in the northeast
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