It’s time for my annual pilgrimage to the Texas Big Bend area. For the past 3 or 4 years I have attended a rally held in the old ghost town Terlingua near the Big Bend National park. This rally, called “Uncle’s ‘round the bend” is organized by a rider named Richard whose uncle lives in the area. Richard and his uncle have been organizing this event for several years and is always very enjoyable. I’ve enjoyed the majestic Rocky Mountains in the midwest and the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of the northeast but the rugged mountains of the Big Bend desert hold their own beauty to say nothing of some of the spectacular riding in the area.
Also what seems to be an annual event, I need to have another surgery of my right foot. This time to remove the hardware that was placed in there last year. The surgery was scheduled for March 10 so I plan the trip to return on the 9th. My rational here was that if I broke anything new while in Big Bend, I would already have an operating room scheduled so they could just fix whatever new thing I break at the same time. I’m thinking I am using good planning, my wife thinks I’m nuts. Go figure.
This year, rather than just going to the rally in Terlingua I will go early so that I can spend some time at the Big Bend Ranch State Park (BBRSP). BBRSP is a 311,000-acre state park located on the Rio Grande in Brewster County and Presidio County, Texas. It is the largest state park in Texas but perhaps the least frequented. It is very remote and rugged with very limited resources. It is popular for hikers, mountain cyclists and various off-road vehicles including off road motorcycles.
Two moto friends, Nadeem and Carl, are joining me on this trip. We meet at my house on February 28th with plans to leave in the morning March 1st. Nadeem was a little upset that we weren’t going to leave on the 29th, but I was able to convince him to wait until March 1st before we left.
I forced everyone to partake in my newest beverage concoction I have named the Sattler Donkey. It is a variation of the Moscow Mule but is made with Texas vodka and home brewed ginger beer. I think they taste good, but after about two of these, it doesn’t matter.
While consuming various adult beverages, we set fire to last year’s Christmas tree and an uprroted tree stump in my fire pit area.
Carl is riding his BMW R1200GSA while Nadeem and I am hauling our Urals. We are using Nadeem’s truck because of his odd setup that allows him to load his Ural on top of his truck bed and using my toy hauler with my Ural loaded inside. For those that don’t know, a toy hauler is a RV camping trailer that has a ramp that lets you load your toys inside. My toy is Lyekka. Lyekka is also a Ural but older, mechanically challenged and named Lyekka because it lyekkas oil a lot.
*************** DAY 1 ***************
Before we get going, we need to stop at an auto parts store to get some antifreeze for Nadeem’s truck
Nadeem’s setup always gets a lot of strange looks and many ask two questions. What is it and how in the hell did you get it up there?
About an hour before sundown we were just outside of Marfa, TX. That left 75 miles to the entrance of Big Bend Ranch State Park with another 27 miles of dirt road to get to the park’s headquarters. The speed limit inside the park is 25 miles per hour but the reality is that the truck and toy hauler combo could only maintain just under 10 miles an hour due to the road conditions. While we could have made it to the park entrance just before sundown, we did not feel like making the 27 mile dirt-road drive/ride in the dark. So we decided to make camp at the Marfa Mystery Lights Viewing Center.
The Marfa lights, also known as the Marfa ghost lights, have been observed near Mitchell Flat east of Marfa, Texas, in the United States. They have gained some fame as onlookers have ascribed them to paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, UFOs, or Will-o’-the-wisp, etc.
The cynics will tell you that this so-called paranormal phenomenon is just the atmospheric reflections of cars and campfires at night. The mystics will tell you that’s hooey.
“What roads?” “Which camp fires?”
The truth is, we just don’t know..
So the adventurous trio set out to go see for themselves. The Marfa Lights Viewing Area was designed by the Marfa High School Gifted and Talented students with the help of Texas Department of Transportation and has a parking lot large enough to park our rig for the night.
We unload Lyekka to make room inside the trailer for us to sleep.
Some shots or the Viewing Area
It’s time to fire up the portable grill to fix us some dinner. Ribs and corn on the cob. Yum yum.
We set up our camp chairs, ate our meal, and patiently waited for the Marfa Mystery Lights…
We wait …
And then we finally see them
Well perhaps not. Those bright, white circles are the sidewalls of a bicycle as they reflected the flash from Carl’s camera. A young man named John was riding his bike from Georgia to California. He had been on the road for five weeks and had also chosen to make camp at the viewing area for the night. He came up to us asking to borrow a spoon stating that he had left his at the previous night’s campsite. We handed him a spoon and he went to eat his beans-from-a-can. I suggested we create a fourth serving from our corn and ribs for John. John was happy to be invited for a “hot” meal and a beer.
After our meal, I shared some home-made cookies with everyone. We sat and stared at the southern, night sky waiting for the mystery lights and listening to John’s tale. He had just received his college degree as was headed to the West Coast to look for work. He was carrying a 7-iron golf club with him. He is an accomplished golfer and caddy. After he visits friends in California, he is thinking he will continue on up to Oregon on his bike and look for work at a golf course there. But not until he has ridden his bike through the southwest portion of the U.S.A.
Anyway, we continue to stare off to the skies in hopes of seeing the mystery lights. We kept an open mind and stretched out imagination to the limit, but no lights. So disappointed, we call it a night and head to our beds.
G’nite y’all – End of day 1, in the morning we head to the state park.
*************** DAY 2 ***************
In the morning, I handed the remaining home-made cookies to John and said that he could probably use the carbs them more than I could. John said a happy “Thanks, these will get me all the way to El Paso!”. Here is John’s camp in the morning.
Carl resumes his ride, Nadeem and I in the truck. Pretty boring ride. We have a fantastic buffet breakfast in the town of Presidio. Presidio is a very small border town on the US side. The larger town of Ojinaga is on the Mexican side of the border. I didn’t think of taking pictures so I don’t remember the place’s name but it was a very authentic Mexican breakfast and delicious. A short way past Presido we enter the road to the Big Bend Ranch State Park. We may have entered the road into the park, but we are a LONG way from the park. It’s 27 miles of some very rough road. I had previously called the park headquartes about bring an RV into the park and while they did not say I could not, they strongly recommended that I don’t. So with that advice in hand, he head in anyway. What could go wrong?
Did I mention that this is 27 miles of very rough road. Bumps, dips, lose gravel and washboard. The washboard was so bad that the best be could do in the truck pulling a trailer was less than 10 mph. I began this ride with 2 kidneys but I think one of them bounced out before we made it to the camp site.
Carl, however, is able to make much better time and rides ahead to go scout out some potential campsites for us. These are some shots Carl took along the way.
Upon Carl’s arrival at the park headquarters, The ranger advises Carl to tell us to setup at the park entrance and not bring an RV on this road. Carl’s response was something like “You don’t know these guys”, so Carl went in search of primitive campsites where an RV could be parked in the central area of the park disregarding the ranger’s advice.
Nadeem and I eventually make our way to the park headquarters. It took something like 3 hours to make that 27 mile tip and my teeth are still chattering from the washborded road. We find a campsite level enough to set up the trailer.
Pulling in, we notice a (yucca??) that resembles one of the scarecrows from the “Planet of the Apes” movie.
But we are brave and continue on to our campsite
Home sweet home.
Relaxing in a camp chair with a beer in my hand, This is our view north
After a long tiring drive to get to our campsite, it’s time for a ride.
Our first ride in the park is a short jaunt called Llano Loop. Following is a video of the ride. The video was actually shot by Nadeem with his helmet cam setup. In this ride, Nadeem is in front on his Ural, carl behind riding his BMW GS and I am bringing up the rear in Lyekka. The ride was a class 1 (easy) off pavement but with a few deep sandy areas that got Carl’s attention. The ride was much longer than the video, but I trimmed the raw footage down to about 3 minutes. I was going to narrate the video but I could not get my mic to work right so you get cheesy music instead. I had to use cheesy music so you tube would not ban it for copyright infringement.
This is a VIDEO of our ride
After our return to the campsite, we met our only camping neighbors, they came over to visit. Their names were Paul and Delores and were visiting from Florida. They visit Big Bend Ranch SP often and love taking pictures of the area. After the couple admired our Ural’s, Nadeem and I quickly offered up rides in the sidecars…
While showing off, Lyekka blew a fuse. Once we figured out the problem, I replaced the fuse and all was well. Will this be the last issue with fuses on this trip?
It was nearing sundown, so Paul the Delores headed up to the ridge, that covered our campsite on the south, to take pictures of the colorful sunset. After sundown we wound down the night be watching the “Wild Hogs” movie. I had never seen the movie, had downloaded it specifically to watch on this trip, and thought it would be fun to bring the television outside so that we could watch while under the stars. What was also unique about this was that we do not have any electricity here but we engineered a way to run the TV set off the battery.
We did not have any popcorn to consume during the movie so we settled for the next best thing
G’nite y’all – End of day 2
*************** Day 3 ***************
On day three of our trip it was finally time to dig a bit deeper into Big Bend Ranch State Park. Our campsite was located almost dead-center of the park so we decided to first go and see the eastern edge. We set our sites on the Tres Papalotes area of the park. (You can read more about Tres Papalotes mining area here
The distance to Tres Papalotes, from our campsite, was only about fifteen miles, but it took about an hour to get there and another hour to get back.
We are now going into class 2 and 3 level roads and difficult to do on as large as Carl’s, so he chose to ride “monkey” in my sidecar.
Following are some pictures Carl took from his perch in the tub.
We arrive alive at Tres Papalotes and so far, Carl did not fall out yet, but the day is young.
There was an active well
And the water tank looked suitable for a skinny dip on a warmer day.
Following is a video made from Nadeem’s tape of our ride. The ride, there and back was about 2 hours so I tried to cut out most and provide you with an abbreviated version of the ride. The road was rougher than what it looks like in the video, at least it sure seemed more challenging to me at the time. Even though I cut out a lot, the video is still about 15 minutes long so my feelings won’t get hurt if you don’t watch all of it. At least I tried to select some nice songs from local artists that you might enjoy.
TRES PAPALOTES VIDEO
Upon our return to base camp, we need to refuel. There are no fuel services inside the Big Bend Ranch State Park, so it was fortunate that my toy hauler has a twenty-gallon fuel station built right in
We decide that the day is young, so let’s go on another ride. Well actually it was my idea to go on another ride and Nadeem reluctantly went along. Carl (now the wise) chose to stay behind.
Following are some of the pictures that Carl took while Nadeem and I are off to conquer the wilds of Big Bend.
The park headquarters about a mile away.
Anyway, “Back at the ranch”…
Nadeem and I have set out to do a ride called “Rancherias-Oso Loop”. This ride is supposed to have a challenging section called “King Kong Hill”, a very steep and difficult hill climb.
About half-way in, we decide it’s getting late and time to head back to camp. I’m tired and ready for a beer so I attempt to navigate us a shortcut home. No problem. Well as shortcuts sometimes, turn out … Every turn I make in an attempt to get back to the main trail gets us into rougher and rougher terrain. I’m not sure if we actually found King Kong hill, but I’m sure we found several of his relatives.
When coming up a hill, I had not gotten up enough speed nor had put it into two wheel drive soon enough and I stalled halfway up the hill. Nadeem walked up to the top of the hill to take a look see and reported that over this hill were steeper hills and we were not sure that we were still on trails legal for motorized vehicles. To come back the way we came was rough, but at least it was a known rough and our best option at this time was backtrack our way back to the camp. We were tired and perhaps not “on our game”, so we took it slow and careful on the way home.
This short (3 minutes) video shows some of our ride up to the point we turn around.
RANCHERIAS-OSO LOOP VIDEO
We arrive back at the campsite, safe but tired. It’s time to sit looking over the desert valley with a beer in hand
We burned some dead meat product and finished off the rest of the deep eddy vodka (we will need to get some more) and called it a night.
G’nite y’all, end of day 3.
*************** Day 4 ***************
Late last night the heater chose not to work and it was the coldest night of the trip. It got down to freezing overnight and no heater. In the (chilly) morning we examined the fuse for the heater but it was not blown. When we re-inserted the fuse, voilà, the heater began working again. Weird. (Note: Another fuse issue. Will this be our last encounter with fuses?)
On day 4, we gave the motorbikes a rest. After warming up from a chilly, heater-less night, we piled into the truck and began making our way to the McDonald Observatory. The observatory is located about fourteen miles northwest of Fort Davis, TX and about 130 miles from our campsite. Our goal was to attend what is known as a Star Party.
We make the looooong drive out of the park. At least this time we ar not pulling a trailer so the truck is able to make better time and my one remaining kidney is a little more comfortable. We stop in the small town of Marfa for lunch. Marfa, according to my bride, is supposed to be a cute town known for its uppity shops and culture. I, however, was not impressed and most of the stores were closed. It did have a nice looking courthouse.
Not only were most stores closed, so were most restaurants, but we did find an interesting café with outside dining.
Here is Carl and Nadeem stuffing their faces.
After lunch, we made three other quick stops along the way to replenish some supplies. 1) a bottle of Deep Eddy flavored vodka, 2) propane, and 3) some more edible animal meat to grill. Supplies in hand we moved on, arriving at the observatory about two hours before sundown.
In front of the McDonald Observatory’s Visitors Center…
Here is Carl trying to figure out the current time from the life-sized sun dial
There are several telescopes and other astronomical instruments used for research and learning at the observatory. After checking in at the visitors center, we headed up the hill to get a closer look at the larger telescopes.
First up was the Otto Struve Telescope . It was built in 1938 and houses an 82-inch telescope…
Next to it is the Harlan J. Smith Telescope which houses a 107-inch mirrored telescope completed in 1968.
It’s the one on the right in this picture. Gee, it looks a lot like the one on the left.
We are on top of Mount Locke which also happens to be the highest point on any Texas highway.
Some other interesting views from our vantage point
Next we hopped back in the truck to go get a closer look at the Hobby-Eberly Telescope. It houses a 433-inch telescope that is made up of 91 hexagonal mirrors that are set in a honeycomb array. A fairly recent addition to the observatory, this telescope was completed in 1997 and is a joint project of The University of Texas at Austin, Pennsylvania State University, and two German universities.
More views from this peak.
We return to the visitor’s center and await the “Star Party”. As nightfall approached, the skies became cloudy and it was not looking good for any outdoor Star Party activities.
However, we got lucky. The skies directly above us began to open up and we (about 100 visitors in total) were quickly ushered to the “backyard” of the visitors center. They had set up five telescopes for us to view the available celestial bodies. Visible were the moon, Jupiter, and M42 (the Orion Nebula).
It was dark, so no pictures of these telescopes nor we able to take any actual pictures of what we saw. But these pictures plagiarized from the internet are pretty close to what we saw.
Jupiter (But we were able to see two of its moons)
The Orion Nebula. Many pictures you find on the internet show beautiful colors, but what we saw was black and white. The colors (as I understand it) are derived from time laps photography using special filters and the colors are temperature variances. If my statement is not correct, feel free to correct me but I’ll ignore you anyway.
And of course, our own moon
After about an hour of hopping from one telescope to the next we were invited inside the visitor center’s theater for another presentation. On the screen was a computerized representation of the night sky (but with no clouds). The presenter explained how to find the North Star (Polaris) using two of the stars in the Big Dipper. And how, in the northern hemisphere at least, you can guesstimate your latitude by extending your arm and counting the number of fists above the horizon the North Star is. Each fist is about 10 degrees. Very cool. The indoor presentation lasted about thirty minutes and had a Q&A at the end, but all I remember from it was the North Star and how to use it as an aid to nighttime navigation. I think it is simpler to just use your GPS.
We had originally planned to have a “tailgate” dinner party in the parking lot of the observatory’s visitors center, but then we had a better idea. Why not go twenty miles out of our way, on the way back to camp, and try to see the Marfa Mystery lights again. So we made our way to the Marfa Mystery Lights Viewing Area for a second time and grilled up the chicken we had purchased earlier in the day adding some corn and backed potatoes to the meal for good measure.
The midnight meal was great, but still no traces of the Marfa Mystery Lights. In the end, we decided that the whole thing is a hoax to draw in unsuspecting tourists.
This is what the main dirt road back to camp looks like after dark, as seen through our tired eyes. Nadeem drove, Carl rode shotgun and I dosed on and off in the back seat.
We capped off the (long) day with a shot of Deep Eddy’s grapefruit flavored vodka…
G’nite Y’all – End of day 4
*************** Day 5 ***************
Today I wanted to do some hiking so we went to the park headquarters to consult with the Park Rangers. Recommendations were made for caves located about 1/2 mile beyond the Yedra 2 campsites. We were informed that there were also rock art images, left roughly 3,000 years ago, on some cave walls along the main road. So, we headed towards the west end of the park with intentions of hiking and cave exploring.
Carl rode his beast Beemer on the class 1 main park road until we turned off on a class 2 side route to the Yedra campsites and there Carl parked the beast and rode in my tub for the rest of the ride. We made it passed the Yedra 1 campsites to about 1.5 miles in and then decided to turn around due to the road conditions. Steep, rocky and off-camber trails where not a road-type we intended to ride that day. The goal was to save our strength for hiking and not having to get a workout from the riding.
This is where we turned around and abandoned the idea of hiking up to the Yedra caves. It doesn’t look that bad in the photo, but at the time I felt like I was staring straight down…
Nadeem and I preparing for a game of “chicken”…
Here’s a VIDEO of our ride into Yedra and then turning back. I think it shows a little bit of how even a ride on three wheels can turn into a workout.
After returning to the main park road, we continued west to find the ancient rock art. The park ranger had described the area where the rock art was located. We rode right passed the rock art about 1/4 mile when we realize we had passed it AGAIN. We turned around, back-tracked a bit, and quickly found what we were looking for. At that point we had passed the art work a total of four times, never knowing that it was there…only a few feet off of the main park road.
Are these handprints of Indians or four-fingered Martians?
After viewing (do not touch!) the ancient rock art, we continued west to the Vista Del Bofecillos campsite. If for no other reason that we wanted to say we had been on one of the Bofecillos trails. We had been having “fun” with the name all week (if you watched the video linked earlier in this email report, you may have caught the commentary. A bit vulgar, but we had fun with it just the same).
We hiked around the area for some photo opps. What a rugged and beautiful place on earth.
Meantime, back at the campsite, one of the tires on the toy hauler had been slowly losing air. Not a problem, we just keep putting air into it.
Lyekka looks on approvingly while airing out her freshly washed air filters hung on here handlebars.
Spoiler alert: This would not be the last of the tire adventures.
After cleaning the air filters from a dusty ride – What time is it boys and girls? It’s shiner time.
As sunset nears, its time for a few more pictures from out campsite location.
It’s dinner time. Let’s see what Nadeem burns tonight.
After a nitecap of Deep Eddy Vodka, its sweet dreams
G’nite Y’all – End of Day 5
*************** Day 6 ***************
On Day 6 we packed up camp at Big Bend Ranch State Park and headed down the road to Terlingua for the 7th Annual Around the Bend rally being hosted by The Texas Adventure Company. The Around the Bend rally is really why we scheduled this camping trip. 100+ motorbike riders descend on Terlingua each year to take part in this celebration.
While Terlingua is less than 84 miles from our campsite in BBRSP, it took us over six hours to get there. Here is a map of the route from our campsite to Terlingua.
And an elevation chart. As you can see, we are leaving the high part of the area to the valley of Terlingua
It was decided that a good idea would be for me to ride my Ural to Terlingua instead of loading it into the toy hauler. This would reduce the amount of weight on the bad trailer tire and give me more time riding. Much discussion then ensued as to whether Nadeem’s Ural should be loaded on the bed of his truck or in the back of the toy hauler. Toy Hauler tire issue aside, Carl and I thought the easiest thing would be to load Nadeem’s rig in the toy hauler and then he and Nadeem could switch bikes half-way on the way out of the park so that Nadeem could also get some bike-time in. In the end Nadeem chose to load his Ural on the bed of the truck. This would later prove to be a very wise decision.
Carl and I headed out in front of Nadeem and the toy hauler. It was agreed that, after Carl and I made it to highway 170 (aka River Road), we would stop and wait for Nadeem at the first “parking area” along the road. As Carl and I head out, we stop for a break at the location of the “cave art”, handprints.
There are two routes out of the park heading to Terlingua. The shorter one is a little rough with sandy areas so Carl opts for the longer route with his beast and Lyekka and I take the rougher road just for fun. We meet back up on the main highway.
This is some of what it looks like on River Road just south of the entrance to BBRSP.
Things were looking good as Carl and I made it to a BBRSP parking area that overlooked the Rio Grande River called “Balancing rock”.
Upon arrival at the parking area, I used my satellite phone to call Nadeem for an update. Luckily Nadeem had cell phone coverage and could take my call. Unfortunately Nadeem was stuck about five miles from River Road with a flat tire. This time it was the truck that was feeling some pain.
One of the rear tires had a blow-out (sharp rocks on the road???). A friend that happened to be passing by was helping Nadeem change the tire but the soft sand and loose rocks made using a traditional auto jack too difficult so Nadeem was trying to get in touch with road-side assistance. I told Nadeem that we would sit tight and wait for him at the parking area. (At least that’s what we thought was communicated). So I hiked around some while Carl found some shade to rest.
The parks name sake. Balancing rocks
The bikes and the view looking towards Terlingua
Photo from my hike around the park. The river you see in the Rio Grande, so yes the land on the other side is Mexico. If you see anyone swimming across, please call border patrol.
Since this place is called “balancing rock”, a tradition here is to make a pile of “balancing rocks”. This is a sample of the many “balanced rocks” along the trails.
The hike (and pictures) continue.
At this point, I considered wading across the river just for the grins of saying I went to Mexico, but then thought better.
This picture is a shot Carl took with me beside one of the “balanced rocks” to put size into perspective.
Not sure how much time had gone by, but around mid-afternoon a motorbike rider came barreling into the parking lot with us. It was our (Two Wheeled Texans) friend Dave. Dave was also in the area to attend the Around the Bend rally. Earlier in the day he had been exploring the roads around Big Bend Ranch State Park when he ran across Nadeem and the stranded truck/toy hauler. Dave offered what assistance he could, but the loaded down truck was too heavy to lift with the jack. With road-side assistance on the way, Dave headed towards Terlingua…not expecting to see Carl and I. He told us that Nadeem thought we were already in Terlingua and drinking beer.
So, not wanting to disappoint Nadeem the three us started our bikes and headed off for Terlingua. We didn’t get very far though.
About a mile down the road from the parking area, Lyekka, started gasping, back-firing, and sputtering, then it quit all together. Lyekka had done this during our stay at BBRSP also, I quickly found a blown fuse, replaced it, and off we went. But this time we only got about 1/2 mile before the same thing happened. I replace the fuse again, and off we go. ..For about a mile, and so on. Eventually, I ran out of fuses, so Dave went on ahead to purchase replacement fuses in Terlingua. Carl and I passed the time by trying to come up with road-side fixes. We used for wire from a spiral notebook I had, but that quickly burned apart but made for an interesting light show. I tried cutting a blown fuse in half and then joining the two metal pieces with a key-ring. No good.
A couple driving a Jeep stopped to help, but his machine had a different type of fuse…so no luck there. No worries though, Nadeem will come along eventually with the toy hauler.
Our rescue vehicle (with tire changed) comes along and we load Lyekka up.
Okay, looks like we’re going to make it to Terlingua today. Yippie! We pulled into BJ’s RV Park, setup camp, and then made our way to the opening ceremonies for the Around the Bend Rally. A fajita dinner was served at the El Dorado Hotel. Yummy!! Here is what the beginning of the rally looked like just before sunset.
After a fine feast, we head back to the trailer. We have internet here, so we are able to stream a Netflix movie. No popcorn, so Deep Eddy Vodka has to do in a pinch while we watch the movie. I don’t remember what movie we watched. Too much vodka perhaps??
G’nite Y’all – end of day 6
************* Day 7 ***************
Day 7 found Lyekka, still not happy about things. The backfiring was from the right-hand side tailpipe. I adjusted the valves and found the exhaust valve on that side of the bike was tight. The owners of BJ’s RV Park were great. They offered up feeler gauges, an oil drain pan, and a work stool for me to use while he worked on making the adjustments.
Not convinced that this was causing the fuse to blow, Nadeem prepares his surgical staff to do some exploratory work on Lyekka.
The fuse block is located on the steering column, just behind the headlight. So Nadeem figures this is the best place to start looking for frayed wires. All looks good there. Next there is a rat’s nest of wires in the headlight housing. Lets take a look in there… Notice that Nadeem wears surgical gloves so that Lyekka does not get a staph infection.
Nothing too bad in there, so the gas tank is raised to see what’s under it and what do you know… Nadeem finds an alternator wire that has lost it’s protective, outer covering. Another Ural rider happens by and has extra wire and connectors to donate. Yea! Here is Nadeem finishing up the surgery to repair the wiring under the gas tank.
The Uralogists (Nadeem and I) figure the issues with Lyekka are resolved so Dave and Carl head off to explore Big Bend National Park (BBNP) from the seat of their motorbikes while Nadeem and I finish patching up Lyekka. Dave and Carl will stay on class 1 and paved roads all day while Nadeem and I take their rigs on the famous Real River Road that runs along the Rio Grande River inside BBNP.
These are some shots Carl took from his ride with Dave.
Some views from Old Maverick Road, on their way to the Santa Elena Canyon overlook.
And the view from the overlook.
After enjoying the view and resting a bit, Carl and Dave headed to the Mule Ears overlook.
Dave and Carl enjoy a peaceful ride through the Chihuahuan Desert. Along the way they go through a short tunnel cut into the mountain.
And the Boquillas Canyon overlook…
Other pictures from Carl and Dave’s ride.
Meanwhile, Nadeem and I go on a route called the Real River Road. Coming from the state park to Terilingua we rode hwy 170 which is a nice paved road that follows along the Rio Grande River. This section of highway is sometimes called River Road. But there is another, much rougher, road within the National Park called river road that also snakes along the river, but to differentiate, the dirt route is called the REAL river road.
Anyway, we have killed the morning operating on Lyekka but we have enough time for a short to medium ride before sunset. Neither of us had ever ridden “River Road” but it one of the more famous routes through the park that many have talked about. If we had bothered to look up how long this ride was, we may have selected another ride, but we head off fat, dumb and happy. How long could river road be??
We stop now and then to rest and let the bikes cool down and to pick up motorcycle parts that have been dropped from riders before us. Nothing extremely technical but enough challenge to make it fun. The ride had a lot of loose rock and deep sand that would present problems for our two wheeled brethren, but is playtime for a Ural.
Following are a few shots from our rest times.
A desert blue bonnet patch
Traditional dessert flowering
Where am I?
Ural at home in the desert
A video of our ride can be found HERE.
After a while we become concerned about it becoming late. Every now and then we would stop and check the GPS for the quickest route back to the campsite and it would instruct us to turn around and go back the way we came. That meant we were not even half way to a major park road. We decide to continue on the route, I mean how bad can it be?
In truth, the trail did improve some so we were able to make some better time. We finally reach the main park road to head back to Terilingua. We are still over an hour away. This is a BIG BIG park and we had ridden a long way. The sun is starting to set, so we high tail it back. High tailing and Ural is an oxymoron, BTW.
Back at BJ’s RV park, the owners were treating everyone to a brisket dinner. Most of the “regulars” also joined in and brought side dishes, cake, cookies and home-made ice cream. The owners told us that in times past, this was a common practice at RV parks but now people just tend to stay in their RV’s while the owners collect rent. The Owners here at BJ’s RV park, however, do events like these about once a week to return to the way RV camping should be.
Short advertisement break. These owners not only assisted me in getting Lyekka up and running but also host events like these and supply loads of wood for nightly campfires. If you are ever in the area with an RV and need a place to stay, I highly recommend BJ’s RV Park
Now back to the story. Carl and company had already partaken in the food fest. Nadeem and I rolled in at dusk but fortunately there was enough food left that they were able to scrape together enough food for us. Yum, yum. Ice cream was all gone, but plenty of cake and cookies for desert.
After sundown, the RV park owner’s started a campfire so that we could toast our tootsies. We were fortunate to have live entertainment as well.
Stayed around the campfire, sipping margaritas for a while before retiring for the night. Another good day in Big Bend.
G’nite Y’all – end of day 7
************** Day 8 ***************
The weather forecast looks like rain tomorrow so Carl heads out this morning so he can get home without having to endure any storms on his way home.
We brave the pending rain and elect to stay. Today I had plans to go to Mexico via Boquillas Crossing but everyone ‘cept me had forgotten their passports. Passports are not required to enter Mexico, but if you want to come back, you better have one.
Hap Hazard (Hap Hazard is my brother Hap – the Hazard tag added to the end is well deserved) says he wants to go off-roading in a Ural. So, off we go.
Today we are doing a route called “Hen Egg Loop”. It is called that because it goes around “Hen Egg” mountain although I never saw a mountain that looked like an egg. Oh well.
Here is the VIDEO of the ride.
In this video, you will see that Hap actually takes over and pilots the Ural for a good portion of the ride. I don’t think Hap is quite ready to buy himself a Ural but he has a better appreciation as to why these things are fun.
After a mid-afternoon rest, we head over to the location of the rally festivities.
Food, food and more food
Complete with live entertainment. Btw, this is the same lady that sang at the RV camp last night.
Out of vodka and out of tequila so I guess the trip is now officially over and it’s time to go home.
G’nite Y’all – end of day 8
************** Day 9 **************
Pretty boring day. We hook up the RV early in the morning (in the dark) and head home.
We make good time and make it to my house late afternoon. After we unload Lyekka and unhook the trailer, Nadeem heads home. He still has about another 3 hours to go.
I rest and prepare for surgery in the morning. Dealing with my bum right foot seems to be an annual event. A few years ago I broke my right ankle and was in a “walking” cast for a long time, then last year I broke my right foot and a good deal of hardware was placed in my foot to hold it together. This year, they are removing the hardware because some of the screws had come loose (yes, its official, I have at least one screw loose). I still have a lot of problems with my ankle but with the amount of hardware in the foot, a needed MRI would not be possible, so the removal of the hardware will aid in the diagnosis of my ankle. This should be a fairly simple surgery and is supposed to only have me laid up for about a month, but I’m glad I got this trip in first.
I plan to be back in the saddle soonly and off on some other adventure.
G’bye Y’all – End of trip report.