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Old 07-01-2014, 08:41 AM   #1
JayElDee OP
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Travels with Blanche DuBois 2014: A Pas de Deux, Big Bend and Crater Lake & Beyond

Bucket list, schmucket list.
It could be ^that ^ which motivates, but that is only if I am playin’ all high-fallutin'; puttin’ on “airs” and such. I have told myself that it’s the bucket list that pushes me to reach out, and partly true though it is, it is really something more primal and earthy. The fear of death? Ahhh, not quite, but the envy of not doing it all, gettin’ greedy. The Envy of Living.

Screw the half full half empty. I want it overflowing. More than once. Make a mess. A bard once said: Nothing succeeds like excess. How true that is.

Down South we have cockroaches the size of skateboards. We’d kill them with a stomp, but to hear them crunch, well, better living through chemistry, right?

We hit them with RAID. Once hit, they run all berserkoid, often into the face of DANGER, then go to obscure places, lay on their backs and with great swagger and vigor, radiculate their legs like krazy in the air, in mortal combat with the reaper himself. (Aside: it is important for your household, but not for my metaphor, to kill them DEAD right then because as the guy on Chef Menteur Hwy, who was changing the oil on my Harvest gold 1970 Chevy Impala coupe, told me-in truth about flies, but it applies to roaches, “They have great recuperative powers.” How true that is, too.)

Life is that can of RAID. I am that roach, and if I’m not killed, I flail about the country in obscure places, wheels spinning, “woo hooing,” and livin’ large.
Enough preamble.

Blanche DuBois was now over a year in my possession and I felt I had worked out her problem of depending on the kindness of strangers (with gas cans) over the 15k miles she and I spent together



Two weeks off in January and Big Bend beckoned, though my fear was Big bend beckoned as Ahab did. I watched and watched the weather and though there were a smattering of days in the 20s and 30s, there appeared a warmup on the radar just when I would be off. It was now or never. I lucked out and the weather held until the last day on the ride home. Cool in the mornings and 60s-70s during the day. Sunny and dry until the very end.

In the early morning, Zero Dark 15, I departed New orleans, making tracks. I knew I had to slab it, and I would not, as usual take the alternative to the barbaric crassness of I 10, US 190. It was out of my way. Miles and miles were on the menu today. That first night I landed in Seguin, Tx, and old town outside of San Antonio. I saw none of the history in this "cradle of the Texas Rangers." I still had to move.


I stayed at the Best Western (it wasn't the Best western). Here was where I started a file that has been very useful subsequently. That file, "note" really on my phone, is entitled "things easily forgotten." The first item on it is a USB cable--I travel with technology. I have the list of all the stuff I want to take, eg 4 pairs of socks, scotch, etc, but even with the OCD of doing one of these rides, things can still be forgotten, hence that list. It works.

Early the next morning I depart now heading away from the abomination of I 10, going south, and on backroads.

123 to 97 to 85 to Corrizo Springs then 277 to Eagle Pass on the border for lunch where I stop at Danny's
From TripAdvisor

#21 of 64 restaurants in Eagle Pass
3 of 5 stars 5 reviews
“Badtaste!” 10/27/2013
“Nothing to brag about” 03/14/2013
Cuisines: Mexican

I didn't see that before I stopped, otherwise I may have ridden on, but that was NOT my experience at all. I thought it was good, esp considering it was just road food and I needed to move--I am sure some wag is going to suggest that stopping at such a place could very well result in "movement" of a different sort, that though I had to run, I didn't want to run in the third definition of the word. None of that happened. My guts and I agreed and nothing ill came about. This is the place where I started to be called Senor and would be for the next week. English was a second language now and blondes were in short supply. The people could't be nicer.

I hit the road after lunch on my way to Alpine. and I get on one of the best roads of the trip. It may be that it was the best road "so far" on the trip though. 277 to Del Rio and then US 90, that at home is Gentilly Blvd and Claiborne Ave, into Alpine. US 90 is also part of the Old Spanish Trail.

Del Rio is a place that lives in yore for those of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s. It was the home of

X E R F, DEL Rio, Texas and the Wolfman, Wolfman Jack.

from Wiki ( and the way I remember it )
Wolfman Jack (1962 to 1964)[edit]
With the birth of rock and roll and its promotion by disc jockeys such as Alan Freed, a new interest was taken in the unrestricted superpower airwaves that were available in Mexico. Alan Freed had originally called himself the Moondog after hearing the name used by an experimental street musician in New York City. Freed not only adopted the name but used the recording of a howl to give his early broadcasts a unique character since he was featuring African-American music that was getting a great reception from America's White teenagers.

One of Freed's fans was Bob Smith, a disc jockey who also adopted the Moondog theme by calling himself Wolfman Jack and adding his own sound effects. Smith took his act to Inter-American Radio Advertising, who sent him to the studio and transmitter site of XERF. It was here that Wolfman Jack invented his own style of border blasting by turning the airwaves into one long infomercial featuring music and off-the-wall products.

Wolfman Jack gained a huge audience which brought in enough money to not only pay the bills, but to cause bandits and corrupt officials to also take enough interest in taking over his promotions for themselves. As a result Smith began to pay his own security force to protect him, because although he lived in Del Rio, Texas, because of the Brinkley Act he had to actually broadcast from the station itself in Ciudad Acuña in Mexico.

Lawlessness and death[edit]
According to Arturo Gonzalez there was a shootout in 1962 in which one person died. In another incident in 1964 two people died. No one was ever held accountable for the deaths. It was following the second gun battle when Bob Smith decided to leave for XERB, another border blaster located across the border in Tijuana, but within earshot of Los Angeles, California. It was this station that George Lucas featured in the 1973 movie American Graffiti.


The Wolfman himself



The Wolfman passed in North Caroline in 1995. Sic transit The Wolfman.
The memory of his voice and late nights listening to him before falling asleep... I will never forget, so being so close, I ride through Del Rio, looking for billboards advertising XERF.
I see none.

I expect dusty potholed streets glinting in a mid winter sun.
I see that not.

I see what looks to be a town on the move up??? Lots of new construction and good roads through town. I see no local color. I am sure that a block or so off the beaten path I will see what I stereotypically imagined it would be, but not from my Get-To-Alpine-This-Afternoon vantage point.

I leave Del Rio on 90 and was not expecting what I found. US 90 was terrific fun. It weaved and swerved and was deserted for much of the way to Alpine. We're talking 85-90 mph. The elements of law enforcement I saw was the Border Patrol, no other, and they were frequent and could care less about me.

I rode on and landed in Alpine for the evening, a very cool little town, and a very nice dinner at the Reata Restaurant. I stayed at the Maverick inn and it was very nice with an AWESOME breakfast of hand baked goodies--nothing Best Western about this place.








Sleep is restful and quiet, though some complain of the train traffic through town. It was no big deal, and to me the sound of a train in a south Texas town during the night only adds to the appeal of ride.
Chappy Dent (from Happy Texas): Three most romantic sounds in the world: plane engine, a ship's whistle, and a locomotive's horn. Somebody once said that. Or maybe it's the three loneliest sounds

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Old 07-01-2014, 01:03 PM   #2
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Old 07-01-2014, 02:23 PM   #3
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Thanks

The next morning the ride begins in earnest. I'll be in Big Bend this afternoon, but most certainly by a roundabout way. I'll ride to La Linda (The Pretty) on the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande). Actually not La linda; you can't get there from here as it is in Mexico and I arrive at via interrupta.The route, FM 2627, skirts the eastern side of Big Bend though not in the pack. It ends at the river where a bridge used to exist, but now exists only as a series of barricades and warnings and barbed wire, that and desolately beautiful country. The US side is clean, whereas the Mexican side could use some sprucing up.







It was a fine temperature this January day, but anytime after early May must be brutal.










The Rio Grande from this bank; the Rio Bravo from the other side




The high rent district of La Linda


Across the tracks in La Linda and the former US entry portal



The Rio Grande (Bravo) was very scenic wherever I saw it, clean flowing cool water, usually shallow, usually narrow, so many places to just walk across. On every road that touches the border I saw Border Patrol driving, or sometimes set up with diverting stations stopping every vehicle, asking the usual questions, sniffing out stuff with a very serious German Shepherd. I was a bit teased about my LSU sticker deep here in Texas, but it caused a smile when I said my son goes to A&M and I was always sent on my way. And I was on my way to Big Bend National Park.


I enter the park and start heading in to the center of the park and my digs for the next few days, The Chisos Mountain Lodge, the only place, other than camping, to stay within the park.
But, Big Bend is REALLY out of the way. I mean REALLY. But as you travel there, or as I travel there I get the sense that I am heading into an international territory. You're not so much in TEXAS as on Planet Earth. It is like southern Utah in that sense. You have the sense that rather than being on someone's tour bus, snap snap, you have the road to yourself, your thoughts to yourself and there is not one other soul for 10s of miles. The topography is strange enough that you could imagine yourself in Morocco or some other exotic place. It's just different. And it is most definitely wild.





















From Trip Advisor on the Chisos Mountain Lodge:

“Mountain lion tried to eat my son (on the lodge grounds)”
1 of 5 starsReviewed December 8, 2012
While walking back to our room from dinner at the lodge, a mountain lion attacked my son. The lion took my son from my wife, who was holding his hand, and dragged him into the bushes. I was able to stab the lion with a pocket knife to get him to release my son, but he's lucky to be alive and only have minor facial scars as a result.

If you stay here, you do so at your own peril. The combination of low lighting (so as not to ruin the star gazing), "natural" landscaping (bushes, trees, etc), the smell of food (from the restaurant), abundant water from the treatment facility for the lodge/employee housing sewage and the local lions' constant exposure to people without negative consequences (habituation) make this place unnaturally dangerous. Don't believe that you are safer here than in the wilderness - the opposite is true, and if you read the history of lion attacks in Texas, you will find a majority occur in this area of Big Bend.

CML did provide us with a first aid kit to dress his wounds, helped me pack my bags into my truck in time to follow the ambulance to Alpine, and refunded us for the night.


The ride into the Chisos Mountain Lodge brings you into the center of Big Bend and it is a stunning ride, just beautiful. Otherworldly.







You are off the grid here. No cell, no wifi, no TV, There is electricity and food, but not much else. And that does have its own appeal. The CML though is one of those places whose electrical outlets were designed by Luddites in protest to the 20th century. I carry an extension cord just to deal with that, and it came in handy here for a starry night timelapse.
I check in and nest, have some Balvennie 12 and head to dinner, but there's a little setting up to do for this. Do it full screen for more detail

http://youtu.be/zgtqHiC-9SY

John

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Old 07-01-2014, 11:29 PM   #4
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I love this thread. You've opened up a whole new world to me. Big Bend was never even on my radar until now.

Even the ocotillos have bigger thorns in Texas.
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:35 PM   #5
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I rode down to Boquillas Canyon on the river and found this self serve knick-knack stand. It was late afternoon and as the sun went down the sky turned blood orange. Not much traffic and though the roads were nice there were not a whole lot of challenging things to deal with in the twists and turns department, but again it was so different in topography and seeming so far away from Texas or anything looking "United States," that the adventure dial was up way high.



Maybe these things were there to ward off evil spirits, but it looked like they were maybe for sale, though no money was around; no people either






The next morning on my way out for a day ride I took this sign. Yes, probably snakes and things that go bump or snarl in the night, too.





I stood too close to this and those spikes are sharp as needles and VERY stiff. One went right through my pants and lodged itself in my thigh and broke off. A little choreography was involved getting it extricated.


Typical road, typical scene




The Old Broken Windmill At The Sam Nail Ranch - long since deserted





and back on the road


and heading toward St Elena Canyon whose sheer walls rise 1500 feet from the waters of the Rio--that's it way off on the right


To get there though you must pass the Mule Ears and Sotol Outlook




And I was the only person there...so much of Big Bend felt that way, ie that I was the only person there. To be sure there were a few places that were the "destination stops" where there were groups of people, but along the roads, and that's where a motorcyclist spends their time, you are all alone with this strangely beautiful countryside











and on the way to this place...St. Elena's. Elena was a second century concubine to Emperor Constantine's father, also a Constantine, and as such she was the mother of Emperor Constantine of "in hoc signo vinces" fame. She also, at age 80, undertook the search for the True Cross in Jerusalem. There are lots of things named after her, including this canyon.



The Rio Bravo/Grande as it exits St Elena's Canyon, cool, clear and green







Mexico is a stones throw, a short wade away










and back to the lodge; though right here I was listening to an interview with Mary of the Jimi Hendrix song, The Wind Cries Mary. I think on NPR??? She was supposed to meet him the day he OD'd--totally random remark


more coming
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:26 PM   #6
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The time came to leave. I tried to stay on another day but the lodge was booked, so it was time for my boot heels to be wandering. The weather was still holding out though far to the east there was trouble brewing in the form of a winter ice storm, but that was for another day.

I headed out and in the direction of Big Bend State Park, which is adjacent to Big Bend National Park. The plan was to ride along the Rio on River Road, aka TX 170, over to Presidio then north. This routed me through Terlingua, a strange little town that seemed to have a sense of humor. I couldn't quite figure it out, but I knew it was my fault that somehow I didn't get it. As I rode through, through osmosis I suppose, I started to get it. Terlingua is a town on the edge. It's on the edge of everything, going Waaa Waaa Waaa Waaa, arms flailing, full of laughter and never tipping over, enjoying the brink.
from surgent.net
FM-170 is a 120-mile scenic highway starting in Terlingua, near Big Bend National Park, and passing north along the Rio Grande through some of the remotest lands in the United States. Nobody gets on FM-170 by mistake. It is arguably the most scenic highway in the state of Texas, rivaling those near the Guadalupe Mountains or even those in Big Bend National Park.

outside of Terlingua

Some visitors stay there and I suppose that could be ok, but for another trip.







Tx 170 was a cool road winding along with the Rio and up and down some pretty stiff terrain. There is an old movie set along the way where The Streets of Laredo was filmed.



















Continuing along 170 I arrive at a unique rest area


And then I reach The Hill. The Hill is a major grade, I don't know that actual percentage, guessing 15%ish, but the road part of it is not a problem. The problem is the parking area at the top. From the top affords long distant views of the Rio Grande, Texas and Mexico. Very pretty, BUT...it is very off camber in directions that are not conducive to "just pulling off" and stopping. Thought has to go in to where you'll stop. And the color of the pull out is a shade of gray that makes perception of the grade very difficult. So, I pull in and I can see and feel the grade so I don't actually stop until I can safely put down the sidestand without tipping over. I congratulate myself. I take pictures.




I suit up and am ready to pull off, but I cannot get the bike up enough to get the side stand up. I struggle, and struggle some more and with luck get her off the stand. Catch my breath. Start the engine and I plan where to head because starting off will be an adventure. I start moving forward and I discover a new game, a game similar to Rock Paper Scissors, a game I will play on Alpine Rd outside of Palo Alto in a few months, a game I will lose...both times.
The game is Physics Skill Intellect. Physics always wins, BUT..knowing what you're supposed to do helps put physics on your side. Skill allows you to actually accomplish that, ie to again, put physics on your side. Physics is a cruel mistress though, and any slip and this happens.



There was no way I was going to right her. She was implanted downhill. I wait for a white knight. And up the road come 6 on big touring bikes, Harleys, BMWs, a Gold Wing. I wave them down and they pull in and when they stop 3 of their members are snared by the beast of The Hill and fall over on stopping. So now there were 4 bikes to right.

Ouch

But with lots of muscle all get righted and other than some relatively minor cosmetic issues no damage done. Chatting done, we say our thanks and goodbyes and I get shoved off starting in the right direction.

I stop in Presidio at a Mom and Pop (Mamma e Pappa) restaurant; again greeted as Senor, the only English speaker in the place and it is very cool. I walk outside to the local fauna


of course a Chihuahua and a Chihuahua mix and an abandoned shopping cart next to a Mexican license from, where else? Chihuahua.

I have reached the westernmost point of the trip and now turn north, officially heading back. On US 67 I pass the ruins and remains of Shafter, Tx, a previously bustling silver mining town founded in the late 19th century and going strong until the end of the second world war. Shafter at its height was 4000 souls. Closure of the a couple of nearby military bases and the inability of the mines to remain prosperous in the economic climate of the time took a severe toll on Shafter and now she boasts a population of 11. I made an even dozen when i took these pix. Then I too left.





Up the road a piece from Shafter is Elephant Rock


And into Marfa, home to the "mysterious" lights, that have never been adequately explained. The best explanation that I've come across is that they are reflected headlights from cars on a distant road. Experiments have shown that Yes, car headlights can be reflected from a certain distant road and be seen as the Marfa Lights. The problem with this seemingly valid explanation is that unfortunately the lights predate cars. Ruh Roh. I think perhaps Lois Lerner has something to do with it, but that's just me.





Marfa was a cool little artsy town. It was neat, and the whole area has a lot of appeal. But, it seemed to me that Marfa tried to be artsy just a little too hard...just got that vibe. Alpine, down the road did not put on Marfa airs; didn't try, but in its laid back peaceful coexistence with her sister came out ahead in the cool department, I think. Alpine didn't try to be anything, it seemed, and by not trying, it became cool. Alpine has restaurants and a main street, culture and charm. There is one restaurant, the "Guzzi Up," a new italian place, that was named after a derelict Moto Guzzi that stood in a field outside of Marfa. The restaurant was in an old gas station and the food was very good. Some young people ran it and they were doing a good job and were were friendly and cordial.
I liked Alpine; in the area I would stay there again.

Alpine


Wiley, Rosie, Victor, Sonia, Lando and Bob Marley in Alpine


I have to do some slab, but on the way up to I 10 I do the McDonald Observatory loop around the Davis Mountains. This is a fun and scenic ride and if you have time to visit the telescopes it is very worthwhile. It is also the area of the Prude Ranch where the Texas Star Party is held every May. This is a remarkable event in which amateur astronomers from all over the country bring their telescopes for viewing of the night skies. Anyone can go and viewing is free. I've only been once and I remember the deep green color of some deep sky object I was seeing...stunning. I remember looking at a star cluster and the stars looked like a multitude of diamonds in a black velvet bag. This area is one of the darkest areas in North America. How dark is it? I SAW starlight cast shadows. That dark. The road during daylight.















On the way home now in earnest and I decide I am going to swing through Hill Country and do the Twisted Sisters as i had not done them in a few years and then swing by Cooper's BBQ in Llano before a stop at a friend's in College Station.

I get to 335 and do it. A newly surfaced stretch at the beginning left a fair amount of gravel, but that cleared and it was fun as always
and what is this place on 335???


I travel down to 337 and maneuvagate my way through its notorious twists and turns--quite regularly riders get killed on this road, and then hit what has always been my favorite of the three 336.

I'm riding along and I feel what feels like gravel underfoot. A little while later my tire pressure monitor starts flashing that I have 24 lbs in my rear tire. I stop, cursing that I picked up a nail or screw.
I examine the tire and see nothing. feel nothing, hear nothing. I check the pressure and it is low. I use one of my CO2 cartridges and now I hear/see/feel the leak.
I plug it---this is the first flat on the road I've ever had, my luck of over 100000 miles busted.
I use the remaining CO2 carts to fill the tire up to a hyperbaric 23 lbs pressure. Nearest station is 40 miles away. I limp there. Get a shotload of quarters and fill the tire and now I see the leak very plainly. I plug again but it is not holding well.
I think that maybe rolling on it will seal the exterior and for about 5 miles that is true, then suddenly I lose all pressure in the rear and my dash board is alive with lights as I see the rear pressure reach ZERO. I manage to some to a safe stop on the shoulder. I fortunately have cell service. I get a tow to the Yamaha dealer in Kerrville where a new Z6 is fitted and I am on my way to Cooper's BBQ making it there by 7pm. Whew.

Before I left the Yamaha dealer I looked at the tire. There was at least a 2" slash into the casing of the tire, visible from the inside. I have no clue how my plug did anything or how the tire held pressure.

Llano that night following RED MEAT, then College Station the next night. All the while the weather has held just fine for this January adventure, but even though I get an early start, within minutes of leaving College Station the rains begin and the temperature is dropping. All but the last 65 miles of the ride was a shivering 36-40 degrees and rain. But I did make it home in one piece, and started to get ready for the next ride, coming a scant 3 1/2 months later and the plan was Thunder Bay and a loop of Lake Superior.

That changed. Radically. And that is the next Step in this Pas de Deux.
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:52 PM   #7
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I try to get to Big Bend once each year... Early spring is a great time as just after a rain the wild flowers are unbelievable. Once May arrives, heat burns every growing thing into a dormant state.... including the residents...

Enjoyed your report.

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Old 07-06-2014, 08:05 AM   #8
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Nice!

Great pictures. Nice report. Thanks for sharing. I love Big Bend.

I did a dual sport ride in Big Bend a few years back. There are very nice jeep roads through the national park and in Big Bend Ranch State Park. There is a guy that rents dual sport bikes during the winter months in Terliingua if you want to get off pavement for a day.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
There is a guy that rents dual sport bikes during the winter months in Terliingua if you want to get off pavement for a day.
I did get off road after St Elena. I took Maverick road north. Pretty rough with good sized boulders for a heavy-ish touring setup. Lots of places where the road had been washed over. It was very scenic, but I was afraid to stop because of the terrain, just kept pushing forward for about 25 miles.
For something lighter and smaller displacement it would be a lot of fun and good photo ops though.
Yeah a 250 or even a 125 would handle these pretty well, I'd think. I was so bounced around on the r12r!
But BB is a very neat place and I understand that people would want to go back. It's a place where you definitely "get away from it all."

Thanks for the kind words, and the next report will start in a day or so within this thread.

John
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:14 PM   #10
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If it weren't for the interesting old buildings, Marfa would be a total waste of times
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
Isn't it always the case, that when you photograph a hill it looks utterly flat?

By the way, that's an awesome spot (hah) for your SPOT Messenger. Do you use it in breadcrumb mode?
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:05 PM   #12
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Ace, did you like Alpine? Marfa was just a little too much and not enough, though I still like that area. I liked Alpine though I think because it was more than what it promised.

Yes, Eureka, "breadcrumb" mode, but I didn't go into adventure and retrieve my maps, see below though. And, yes, the cylinder heads can warm up wet cold gloves in Torrey, Utah.
That area works very well for SPOT btw. It does look a little Beverly Hillbillies, but I get to be Jed.

A little over three months later and I was on the road again, this time for a longer ride. Riding home in 37 degree rain got my attention; got my attention real good. Not the first time and it is miserable to ride such.
I had a heated vest, big winter waterproof RevIt gloves and a rain suit. There's a problem with that though. If you wear the rain suit you cannot plug in your heated vest because there is no egress for the power cord to emerge from the rain suit. So I chose to ride with the heated vest instead of the rain suit. There is a "hydratex" liner in my jacket and it actually works pretty well, But maybe, I don't know, I may have been warmer with the rain suit. I knew all along that the big ride in May was the major one, and the Big bend ride just fell into place, serendipitously. The plan was to do something like this


So, I started monitoring the temperatures in Thunder Bay, having seen story after story about the ice on Lake Superior and the ice caves and essentially temperatures that rivaled those of the of the north pole of Titan. I saw LOTS of 36s. Looked at cams and saw lots of gray skies and I wussed out. I did not want to deal with the cold. And I have been watching Fargo (set in Bemidji) on Fx and I would be going through there, and true it would be May, but May up there is not the same as May down here. I wussed out and I looked westward.
I loved riding in California last year during late May, though it was 28 degrees and sleet/snow in Oregon and that cut my trip from its anticipated destination and sent me back down the California Northern coast. A great ride though, so that could be an option. I had 3 weeks and that could cover a lot of territory. So, it would be California. Not Thunder Bay...this time.
As I got into it I realized that with a little luck in the weather department I could continue my trip from last year. As it turned out the weather held and I did much of what I tried unsuccessfully to do last May.

So, I wound up doing this...sort of, but with lots of good roads--This is a gross rep of my route, not accurate



John
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Old 07-09-2014, 06:14 PM   #13
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Location: The City that Care Forgot
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There is a rule that one should never be out of town on certain holidays. That includes even those fabricated by a greeting card company. Thus, my planned date of departure was the day AFTER Mother's Day. Being the dutiful son and husband and grandfather that I am I did the buffet with much of the family at the "tennis club." In the background though, nearly all conscious thought was centered on an early am exit. The day started a little iffy as a pretty heavy thunderstorm delayed me by about 45 minutes to an hour. Ok, second cup o' joe, watch the weather. and by 630a I am on the road.

The first day was going to be somewhat brutal in that it would be mostly slab and involve going through some good sized cities, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Dallas, Fort Worth and a planned overnight in Abilene. 685 miles. I've often expressed my dislike for I 10 and especially that part going through Baton Rouge. There is always construction. there is always traffic, it always feels dangerous. I get through in one piece and the rain that delayed me is now a memory as the sun is out.

After Baton Rouge, going west you can avoid some of the hell that is I 10 by splitting and heading to a parallel road US 190. It's smoother, has fewer trucks, has fewer LEOs, has less traffic and will get you to I 49 N which is far better than 10 and boasts a speed limit of 75. I always take 190 if I can and as I do I am greeted with what I interpret to be an "auspicious start" to this trip.

I pass a pretty decrepit white pickup with a camper on the back. There are some innocuous stickers on the back. It only demands a passing glance as go past and I see an old hippie, a Duck Dynasty look-alike guy driving with his "woman" in the cab. I get far enough ahead that I don't think any more about it. I cross the Atchafalaya Spillway (again FAR FAR better on 190 than 10) and I see the pickup coming up quickly on my left and as they now pass me, I catch sight of the passenger, the driver's shortie, grinning at me. I look over and they are BOTH grinning and nodding in their best Grateful Dead bob and with those BIG feces consuming grins are BOTH very clearly flipping me the bird...the finger... oh, I get it!!! They are in fact giving me the ADVRider "salute!" I too grin, and realize they are members of the same "club" and saw the ADV sticker on Blanche's derriere. I return the salute after pulling up my visor so they can see my smile. We both are nodding now and then the moment is over, until about an hour later when now we are both on 49 and I pass them again, having stopped for gas. We wave now and then go our ways.
I thought that was pretty neat though and thought it bode well for the trip, and as it turned out it did.

However, by early afternoon the weather was beginning to look threatening again. I don my rain suit in the heat of NE TX, climb back on Blanche and continue on ! 20. Slight drizzle off an on, but not oppressively hot, I get beyond Dallas and to the west I see dark skies brewing. Beyond Fort Worth the dark skies appear to be getting closer, I still have on my rainsuit, I check the weather on my XM and it appears that I will be going north of the weather, but I know that XM weather is AWFUL at reporting anything close to factual. It pretty worthless in fact.
I ride on and within about 15-20 minutes, now the skies, and this is by now about 215? 230?, the skies are getting black. I think about stopping under an overpass, but don't. I ride on and suddenly, and I mean suddenly the skies opened and I was in major rain. The Interstate slowed to a crawl. My visor was fogging and if I opened it the rain stuck to my glasses and blew around them. It was blinding, visor up or visor down.
I could not see the road underneath me. I could not see white lines marking lanes nor shoulder. I was afraid to pull off because I just could not see where I was going. I was afraid to stop with fear on being run over from behind. So, I found some tail lights and followed them and they went off at an exit. I followed.
The frontage road was flooded.
How flooded was it?
Standing water was washing over my boots on the pegs. And I could not see the surface of the road so whenever the water washed over my boots, it was SURPRISE!. After about a mile of this, the rain slacked a very very little, enough to see a signal light...and then a gas station. I pointed Blanche in that direction and made it to a pump with a small overhang.
That's when the lightening started. I needed gas, and I was afraid the area would lose power, so with lightening crackling, with milliseconds delay between flash and rumble, I filled my tank, knowing I was playing with a bomb, a fuse close by.
The lot was beginning to flood. I went inside the station and huddled with others who were waiting it out. Moore, Oklahoma was close in my thoughts. It was so dark. I went to WeatherBug and snapped this. I am the pin in the dark red. By this time it was breaking a bit.



We were hunkered down for about 45 minutes before the rain and skies allowed travel again. Not far to go, Abilene beckoned. I mount Blanche and hit the road.
I arrive in Abilene about an hour later, in full bright sunlight, in wind. I check in asking the desk person if that rain came through here? She asked What rain? That was a Nope.

I always bring a friend with me on these little outings and this is the friend I brought this time.


We danced a tango or two and it was time for dinner. My trips are usually not gourmet delights, nor do I hobnob with the glitterati. The Comfort Inn in S Abilene was no exception. The Golden Corral had not won any James Beard award, despite "NONSTOP SEAFOOD 4PM."



My fellow diners, all you can eat on an un-wiped table with endless fountain drinks, what more could I want? A Garden Of Earthly Delights,



and it was right by here...in this section of town...come on, admit it...you've passed by here. Local color at its best.


And a selfie to remember the moment

Can you say mooove? I did.

So, one day after leaving the swamps, I was in the cowboy part of Texas. I like the cowboy part of Texas. The people are friendly, the landscape is changing, and there is no doubt that I am "on the road" again.



Backroads now rule the day, though some bigger roads are a necessary evil. Another long day ahead. Just under 500 miles to Albuquerque, have to make some tracks if I am going to do this, but balance that with enjoyment of the ride. It's easier now because I love New Mexico. I've pretty much gone every way from Abilene to ABQ and my favorite is through Bellville, by the abandoned post office, through Tucumcari. But this time I take a more southerly route and through the capital of conspiracy theorists USofA, Roswell. An unfortunate little town in a beautiful area. Just not a lot there, seppin' the aliens of course. Problem is the Rigelians and Beta Pleadians have so accomplished human form that they no longer have any semblance of lizard facies. Unless
unless
unless
you turn real quick like and catch them with the corner of your eye. Those are not green scales you are imagining. And just so you know, no Redbreast Single Pot Irish Whiskey was involved in that.

I use TripAdvisor a lot in choosing my stops for the evening and this time they led me to a pretty sketchy part of town-sketchier than I usually occupy. But, the place is nice and there's a neat old steak house about three blocks away so the evening passes well--and the parking lot was gated and locked...livin large in ABQ.
Things are moving, getting farther and farther West.

It is COLD the next morning. 41, but sunny. I take 40 west to Thoreau and then BIA roads, weaving over to the Arizona border and up to Page, my stop for the evening.
Page is in a great area. Lots of outdoor activities around there and some pretty decent motorcycle roads also. I've usually stayed at the Days inn, maybe the best on on the continent, but they've gotten pretty pricey so this time I tried a mom and pop in the center of town, The Red Rock Motel.



Yes, looks dicey, but I have to give all props to the young American couple who ran the place. They were exceedingly nice and ran a very comfortable and clean operation. I had a "suite," that meant a 50's style full kitchen, complete with gourmet coffee and good coffee maker, a full size fridge with crushed ice within, and the "pop" part of the duo used to race motorcycles with sidecars in England, so on checkin we talked shop a bit. I recommend them highly and would have no hesitation staying here again. Also, about a block away, they sent me to a very fine Mexican restaurant, El Patio, or something like that, and it was terrific. Page, again, is a neat town.
El Patio


I wanted to ride along the Vermilion Cliffs-one of my favorite places on the planet, but a landslide last year made the route to 89a impassable without a significant detour, so I would ride 89, another very nice ride over to St George, Utah and then down to Las Vegas.

The closer I got to Las Vegas, the more I called it just "Vegas," And then unnaturally for me, it morphed into "Vegas, baby." Before I knew it I found myself channelling Sammy Davis, Jr, snapping my fingers in a dealing cards motion, looking up Mai Britt on Facebook and trying to friend her.
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Old 07-10-2014, 10:51 AM   #14
Eureka690
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Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
Also, about a block away, they sent me to a very fine Mexican restaurant, El Patio, or something like that, and it was terrific. Page, again, is a neat town.
El Patio
I think it's El Tapatio.

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Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
The closer I got to Las Vegas, the more I called it just "Vegas," And then unnaturally for me, it morphed into "Vegas, baby." Before I knew it I found myself channelling Sammy Davis, Jr, snapping my fingers in a dealing cards motion, looking up Mai Britt on Facebook and trying to friend her.


I have so many other thoughts on this post...but I'll just say, I'm quite entertained.
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Old 07-10-2014, 06:31 PM   #15
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yes...El Tapatio. It was really pretty good! Each booth had its own unique mural on the backs of the seats.

Good! Share your thoughts; it may be just me and you
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