Jdrocks rides west: One big freakin’ rodeo (tx, nm, az, ut, co) - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Jdrocks rides west: One big freakin’ rodeo (tx, nm, az, ut, co)

riding the V649HP custom Versys...thrills and spills through the wild west

RIDE REPORT ON ADVrider.com FOUND..

V649HP bike build link is found in the sig line below...
weljo2001 and saddlebag like this.

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post #2 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 11:09 AM Thread Starter
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Chapter One: “You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas“.

Day One: Sunday, October 19


…and I meant it, no freakin’ foolin’ around just now, wasn’t no piss ant common sobriete in that thought. It would be a real bad idea to say something dumb, even dumber to be standing in the way. The trip had been planned, calendar marked, prep and vehicle service scheduled, but then a series of events turned the entire process upside down in the week leading up to departure. The magic wasn’t working on the Virginia end of the line, and I had some schedule constraints in the Southwest along the way that would be inconvenient to change, at best. Edgy, yeah man, was feelin’ a bit edgy.

Tossed all the moto junk in the truck, seemed willy-nilly, who the hell cares, hope I didn’t forget anything. I did call it a rodeo, ain’t the first, so there was a level of confidence in the process even though my XO was shaking her head in doubt. Gotta run, and I was gone to Charlottesville for a meeting I had to attend along the way, been on the calendar for months. Never did bother to look at a road map, heard Texas is pretty damn big, should be able to find it.

Find it, that is if those little tiny Irishmen and Scotsmen who were throwing rocks at each other inside my skull would simply calm down, declare a truce, and go the heck home…and the one that was singing “Rose of Trallee”, just stop that crap. Man, those “see-ya-when-I-see ya” trip departure parties are a bitch.

I’ve traveled around a considerable amount, now I stay in my own time zone unless I get an itch that needs scratched, and I was dealing with that malady now, be nice if I fueled the truck for the big getaway. Alchemy was always a thought, but in practice almost never works, whereas running out of fuel is much more than a perception of a torpedo below the waterline. I used to fly a lot, but that was back in the day before airlines started treating people and livestock about the same. Heck, now ya never know what could be in the seat next to you, except it will probably be wearing jammies covered with shed pet fur. Unless there are big bodies of water in the way, or logistical problems, I drive.

Into the quick mart for diesel, could have saved $.25 a gallon by driving off course ten miles, but that would have construed mission interruptus, ain’t having none of that. I’m not entirely sure of the exact time frame in which the slogan “Spay and Neuter” started a fleeting popup in my line of vision every single time I stopped at one of these damn places, but there it was again, displayed like one of them digital signboards, guaranteed puzzler…or not, depending.

Depending…on whether the woman standing in front of me was clothed in all black leather, black kitten eye makeup that could have been tattooed, had her own personal lavalier sans diamond on a heavy chain, and at the end of which was a large carved bone-like thing which bore more than a passing resemblance to a…well, let’s say it was something you wouldn’t want to wear through the front door of the local Baptist church on this bright Sunday morning, someone might have to call one of them amboolances.

Her body seemed to be pulsing to some weird subliminal backbeat, but when I caught a whiff of what she was wearing, I knew I better get my sorry butt outta there and down to Texas. Yeah folks, the scent that was coming off her in shimmering overheated waves was Passage d’Enfer, and for the uninitiated colonial pilgrims out there, the French is loosely translated as “The Road to Hell”. Good gracious, feets, get movin’.

Got a long drive to dream up the lyrics for the song that accompanies that woman, and when done I think I post them to Mac Rebennack, the “night tripper“, he’ll know what to do with it…I think he’s been there before.

It was only thirty-five miles over to I64, and by the time I got there I had stopped squirming around in the truck, my pulse was back to normal, and the goose bumps had gone away. Sheeesh, there should be some yellow safety ribbon around anyone wearing Passage d’Enfer, bad things could happen starting at no more than ten feet, although having a St. Christopher medal in your pocket and doing a few quick signs of cross tends to level the playing field and fend off the worst of the bad doodoo.

I found out quickly on my way to Charlottesville that I’d better pay close attention to the vehicles around me, there were lurkers out there who would run up on the back of the truck, tap the brakes, and ride along in the blind spots to get a look at the bike. I don’t know if they were really interested in the bike that much, they might have been opportunists wanting to capture a YouTube moment when a big honkin’ moto falls off a hitch carrier. If it did fall off in that heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic, y’all could send me a postcard care of some beat tourist bar on the Pacific coast of Mexico, ‘cause I had absolutely no intention of stopping. Cervaza fria, por favor, freakin’ Dos Equis, love that stuff.

Charlottesville had no particular appeal, been there, but the chosen meeting location turned out to be the Whole Foods store, now that I found interesting. Man, what a selection, seems they had a hundred varieties of anything you could eat or drink. I also found out what the lower half of me would look like if i ever had any hankering to wear yoga pants, either that, or a few of those women where shoplifting a dozen loaves of bread and stashed the goods where their ass should be located, yeeeeeow. Talk about a varied clientele, I’m positive some of those people were once in the Manson Family, must be there for the organic labels.

Seeing that put a dent in my appetite, I should be cutting back anyway, and I ended up with just two oatmeal cookies and a latte. Two cookies sounds good, but I’d seen smaller pizzas, ain’t going to starve or nuthin’, and I went over to pay. The pixie haired student-type cashier was wearing her Faliero Sarti scarf like they all do, and was pretty…like pretty dangerous. Hope her old man has an open bar at the wedding, it will help the groom and the rest of the bros stumble through the ceremony, especially the part where the groom mumbles the vows. Prediction, she’ll get the house, he’ll get the toaster oven.

I went to hand over the money, and got a quizzical look, no big deal, I’d been getting the same since the age of three. Then I saw her wrinkle her nose and sniff, dammit, it was that d’Enfer again, must be stuck to me like freakin’ SuperGlue. She had a snarky smile, didn’t say anything, but the message was clear, like, we’ll just let this thing be our little secret. Powerful stuff from the French, too bad they’ve never had as good a recipe for gunpowder.

Meeting over, Charlottesville looked much better in the mirrors, and I rolled west out to I81, then south, turbo glowing, figured I’d run for 3-400 miles, then call the day when the sun went down. That was the plan…before I was mesmerized by speed, power, and head long motion, launched into one of those dimensions that defies explanation.

(to be continued…)

Last edited by jdrocks; 11-16-2015 at 07:41 AM.
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post #3 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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It was early afternoon, heading south in heavy traffic, news radio squawking about the discovery of the body of the UVA coed that had been missing for months in the Charlottesville area, suspect already in jail, be willing to bet he was a Whole Foods shopper, looked like fertile serial killer stalking territory to me…wholesome food though, lots of organic, great variety, find your Mace in aisle 3, get the hi-test put ya in the freakin’ hospital brand.

I was driving the speed limit, more or less, straight and true, the rest of the traffic shooting past me fifteen over minimum, braking and swerving as they changed lanes to get by. My plate was covered by the bike, and I guarantee they thought I was a Canadian from some vast roadless area up near the Arctic circle. Nobody, but nobody, from the States has ever driven the speed limit since horse and buggy days, plus everyone knows that those folks up there can’t drive worth a lick and are poorly equipped to deal with NASCAR Sunday on the east coast I system.

All the dudes and dudettes are listening to the race live, and it becomes a fully amped wannabe racer thing out on the road, oh brother, tighten the seat belts, we’re headed into the tri-oval, foot-to-the-damn-floor. Visualization doesn’t work if you’re driving something like a Fiat 500, sorry, has to be American muscle, 400hp pickups with custom exhaust work too.

Plate hidden, they were going way overboard with the Italian sign language as they zigged and zagged, wouldn’t be doing that if they knew I was a bona fide native USA citizen with a Glock in the console, just like everyone else with the same birthright. Heck, the hidden plate might say NY or NJ, might be from a southern state too, all of which are inopportune for those signing Italian, trust me. Road rage north or the border might mean a big dust up where they joust with hockey sticks, but south of the border, it’s gunfire from the git-go. Might find a hole in your radiator that measures exactly 9mm, rocks don’t do that, just in case ya were asking. Add Texas to the list, unless you want one of them huge black RanchHand bumpers stuck up your…trunk.

Eyes on that industrial age, machinery black moto hanging on the impossibly small piece of tubing locked in the receiver, and the obsession had a good foundation. A week earlier, the bike had been on the same hauler, but attached to the XO’s Suburban. During an ill advised high speed departure from a Target parking through a poorly designed uphill off camber exit, the bike had attempted a jailbreak. “Honey, I don’t see that bike in the mirrors anymore, did you strap it down differently this time?” It didn’t fall completely off the hauler, just most of the way off, the near disaster coming so close to this trip departure. I was taking it easy while in daylight, after dark I wouldn’t be able to see it back there very well. If no problems, I’d run with the rest of the dogs all the way to Texas.

Not many bikes on the road, mainly baggers and dressers, HD code for Steinway grand piano, wait, I think the Steinway weighs 100 pounds less and doesn’t require a costume to play it. Sun on the wane as I cross into Tennessee at Bristol, goodbye to all you crazy-ass drivers in Virginia.



…but now that I had made the turn west on I40, sure I had left the crazy behind, but now was rolling alongside the demented, those drivers that should be institutionalized, locked away in a safe place where they can’t get their hands on vehicle keys. Confiscating drivers licenses won’t work, I don’t think many at the wheel around me had one to start with.

Dark now, and I set a goal of 800 miles on the trip meter, better stop for fuel, and I rolled into a Pilot truck stop. The guy tending to the beat to crap and a half pickup across the island from me was drooling tobacco juice down the front of his shirt from a big chaw, had a loose pitbull in the bed that was silently estimating the distance between it’s teeth and my throat, and there was a twelve year old boy riding shotgun that some judge should give 25 to life right now, save the world a load of grief. When I hung up the pump handle, I noticed the old guy had a knife stuck in his right boot, never have seen that before except in the movies. Hmmmm, time to head over towards Memphis, and I was outta there.

The traffic had thinned after dark and west of Knoxville, pure dark now, running 80, wary of deer with all recent road kills along the shoulders. Far ahead I could just make out a faint tail light, and when I run up on it, I find a scooter redlined at 40mph out on the interstate at night. The guy at the controls was way north of 400 pounds, all white boy blubber wearing a football helmet, and his ass had completely eaten the back of the scooter, poor thing. I wanted to gawk and try to snap a few frames, might help the authorities identify the body when they peel it off the front of the next Kenworth to happen along. Shucks, can’t wait on the excitement, and I headed to Jackson, should be close to 800 miles.

I had been to Jackson back in 2011, and it held some memories…

The exit I choose (at Jackson) happens to be the road I will use to ride down through Mississippi on the way to Arkansas. I find a beat up Super 8, should be cheap enough, and when I ask the desk gal if there have been any problems with theft around the motel lot, she replies “Nope, only stabbings”. Comforting after a long day, at least the bike would be safe.

Pizza place next door, convenient, but when I walk in, oops, I’m the only white person in there. Luckily, I had a really dark end of summer tan, shouldn’t be a problem, like if I was really really white. Ordered my pizza, and struck up a conversation with the other people waiting. Had to dredge up my jive repertoire, and then told some stories about my first days on the road. I was the crazy white dude, got everyone laughing, then slipped out the door with my pizza before I got shot…or stabbed.


Jackson had several exits, and I stopped at a Loves station, fueled, then went inside for some junk food, but changed my mind when the food prep area smelled like deep fried Chuck Taylor. Got some water, and when I went to pay, the night cashier guy wearing the fake mohair T-shirt was way too friendly, and had bad blinky meth eyes, Lordy, gimme the change, I need fresh air.



Outside, I realized I had hit the wall at 800 and wasn’t going anywhere. I took a look around, the metal halides around the parking area were so bright directly under the poles that there wasn’t even so much as a hint of shadow at my toes, this will work. I had a bunch of gear on the back seat of the crew cab, shoved it aside to make some room, climbed in and locked up. I could have found a room, but a little gypsy is way more fun, part of the adventure…and I’m nothing but a hound dog on the trail of adventure.

(to be continued…)
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post #4 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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Day Two: Monday, October 20

The truck side windows were dark tint, nobody could see in, but if they could have, gawd, there was this old man in there trying to get comfortable on top of and between a mountain of junk, wasn’t no Sealy Posturepedic, but I’d slept in way worse conditions, only 40F and falling.

Figured I slept for three or four hours in the parking lot, fitfully, between truck engine noise, doors slamming, and one scream that woke me with a start, hair on end, fumbling for a defensive weapon, and all I could come up with quickly in the dumpster-like crew cab interior was a pocket knife…2 inch blade, hells bells, I wanted a damn sawed off shotgun, like right the flip now. Nobody makes a sound like that unless somebody is chasing them with an axe, maybe an ice pick, kinda brings the world to a stop, take a breath, sonny.

Whoever had screamed timed out, might be dead, and I climbed out of my cave, no cops, commotion, or crime scene van. Didn’t see any big pools of blood either, but I didn’t look real hard, had other things on my mind, like a big hunk of Chuck Taylor on a biscuit with bacon, don’t care if it was chewy, I was starving. Inside, past the two gals who where there to entertain the truckers, it was hoppin’, zombies mostly, lots of shuffling feet, but at least the CT smell was gone, now it just smelled like good ol’ healthy All-American grease. I ordered an egg, cheese, ham, and bacon biscuit, man, even the photo of it on the menu board looked greasy.

In due time, I was handed a wrapped up object resembling what I had ordered, except it looked like it was created using a 3D printer with flavored lard as the media, and whooof, I ate it right quick, might have gotten some of the packaging too. I thought hard about fetching another, but then I’d need to buy one of them American Heart Association bracelets with my blood type and contact info. There was another guy over in the corner, food tray buried in wrappers, heck, if someone had slipped in a hot buttered skunk, he’d have slammed that down too.

Huge cup of dark roast, then two for the road, and I was heading towards Memphis, the river, and Arkansas. I got over to Memphis, no drama, but I thought I might have a chance to beat rush hour, no luck. Urban traffic looks all the same in the dark, not the same skyline to offer differentiation, could be Chicago, DC, LA, or anywhere, goofballs bumper-to-bumper, inevitable construction zones full of upended barrels and squashed cones. I’m sure those folks around me driving with such grim on-task determination thought they were on a mission too, snobby me, it looked like droning urbanism from where I was sitting, V649 riding along obediently out back.

I had a full load out of caffeine in me, more than enough to mitigate fatigue, and with only one more cup of coffee, I would have stopped to get a photo of the Arkansas welcome sign that was bolted to the girders of the Mississippi River bridge, instantly causing a 200 car pile up. I might have been mentioned on the morning TV news, but Texas was at the other end of Arkansas, no funny business, I needed to get on down there.

(to be continued...)
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post #5 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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I was west of the Mississippi, officially West in that sense, could have worn my ten gallon hat with impunity now, and in truth the change was noticeable as the sun came up in the piney woods of east central Arkansas. A different kind of country, different kind of road…and a ton more broken down vehicles on the shoulder, no explanation there. When the sun cleared the treetops, the temperature rose, and I settled in for the long drive southwest across this state, only Little Rock in the way, zoom zone, and I was so impressed with my surroundings I managed to cross the entire state without a single photo, white line fever or some such affliction.

The trip log has a single simple entry, and reads “Finally to Texarkana”, you guessed it…



Fuel required, and up pops a sign for another Love’s, this time with an attached Subway, perfect. I needed the bread that was wrapped around one of them footlongs to soak up all the lard I ate for breakfast, just a comforting theory, but it better work quick, that morning biscuit was about to go through me faster than flippin’ fatback an‘ greens.

While pumping the fuel, I noticed a little sign that said 20% biodiesel, who knew, might explain the poor fuel economy from the last tank of Love’s, even if the exhaust didn’t smell like deep-fried chicken. I talked briefly with a guy interested in the bike, “That’s a dual use isn’t it?”, see, even the general public knows about this stuff, but then he had a Minnesota plate on the car, and those folks are supposed to know just about everything.

Into Subway, I was halfway through my order when a guy walked up, geeeeez, the mouth breather dude invaded my personal space, even the gal taking my order was shaking her head, suppressing a laugh. The guy was wearing a designer wife beater, way too short and way too tight nylon running shorts showcasing the junk, and mandles. The thing that looked like it was glued to his noggin might have been a blond porcupine, long dead, and don’t forget the cologne, pour a few drops of that stuff on one of them fire ant mounds they got around here and it would kill every one of them suckers stone dead. Oh boy, welcome to Texas. Gimme some room buddy, and as I rolled my shoulders around some, no subtlety, he jumped back five feet. When his turn, the guy placed a duplicate of my order, and I do mean exactly and precisely the same…I think I’ll eat my sub at the truck, outta nut case range, give the guy time to get back to the salon.

The weather was perfect for the parade of yoga pants marching around, the national uniform that bans boredom from the casually observant, and if ever there was ever a fashion trend, it was to make sure the thong was color coordinated. I’m happy to report that these Texas gals were very current in that regard, including the one that was washing the windshield on sugah daddy’s new Corvette, daddy himself looking on with approval. She was something, for sure, didn’t mind doing a little looking on myself as she stretched herself across the front of that car. I was thinking, damn big Brembos on that thing, looks kinda sulky, or something like that.

Rather than go directly southwest, I decided to drive south until I got more-or-less east of Waco, then turn west, routing me through some country I hadn’t seen before and taking me around Dallas, I’d already been there several times too many. I was hoping to find interesting things to see out there, turned out to be nuthin’, to be more exact, less than nuthin’. The only peculiar thing that happened was being tailed by a black Lexus LX450 for 200 miles, and I mean turn-for-turn. Couldn’t see who was driving, but every time I thought it was gone, surprise, it was back in the mirrors again.

I’d pretty much wasted the half day I had gained the night before, and as I got to the intersection with I35, there was a dump body truck parked at the light surrounded by one heck of a mess, the driver making a half-hearted effort to clean things up. When I say mess, I’m talking about what must be slaughter house or chicken processing guts a foot deep around the truck, as well as splashed over the cab of the truck. When the driver had tapped the brakes a little too hard at the light, the contents he was carrying rolled forward in a tidal wave of guts, sloshing right on out. Would have been impressive to see as it happened, still a highly unusual aftermath, and I was trying to get a camera on it as the traffic lined up behind me, couldn’t get it done, besides the driver was threatening to smack my truck with his shovel. Would have made a memorable photo, welcome to Waco, we got guts.

I35 was another construction nightmare, but I did find a new KLR roaring along, only running 45, I guess he already knew about that mystery oil loss deal. I picked another road that would take me out towards Killeen and Ft. Hood, hadn’t been there either. Heavy smog as I drove west, and I hadn’t seen anything that I could term upscale all day, Texans must be spending all that money in secret. I would have liked to reach Lampasas, but gave up at 696 miles in Killeen, done in. I should have kept going.

Got on the smart phone, there was a Super 8 up ahead, usually cheap and reliably clean…usually, and this particular one had NTERNET.



Negotiated a very reasonable room rate, got the keys to Room 103, write that number down…



Did a room inspection before officially moving in and found that there had been a mouse convention in there, probably beat anything the GSA could dream up, and one participant got so carried away that he drowned in the toilet amidst all the excitement. Hell of a way to die, come to Texas for the big mouse convention, outrageous plans for hookers and blow, then ya drown in the freakin’ toilet. The motel manager wasn’t amused, especially since there were some other prospects in line listening to the conversation. I got a new room, couple doors down the line, no conventioneers. Forgot to mention the pool, it was a beaut, didn’t feel much like a swim anyway.



There I was, Killeen, east central Texas, 1500 miles of time travel, drinking cheap bourbon chased by leftover fried chicken, pulse dead slow and body still thrumming from the motion of the road…glad I got here somehow, but man, I was a little foggy on all the details.

(to be continued…)
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post #6 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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Day Three: Tuesday, October 21

I was up early, anxious to get west and then south for a scheduled meetup with Fritz, fellow ADV inmate…and need I say, bike builder extraordinaire.

KLRsys build | Adventure Rider

Fritz was coming up from Brownsville with one of his Kawasaki 650 parallel twin powered late model KLRs, and had very graciously coordinated some of the logistics for the trip. We planned to ride together for two days, then split, Fritz needed to get back to work, and I needed to get to Arizona. Fritz and I had messaged back and forth over the last couple years via the ADV hotline, today we meet, and I get to take a look at his very cool ride…not to mention finally unloading the pig iron I’ve been lugging around for three days.

Inspected the hauler, I sure am glad I took a few minutes to fabricate a mount for the big LED tail light I had on hand. Both tail and brake lights, had to make a difference in visibility during all the night driving on the way down here, not 100% bozo tailgater proof, but better.



I happened to see the owner when I went into the office for coffee, asked if he knew about the 103 drowning, yeah, he knew, but could have cared less. Cross that one off the list folks, I should post up a review of the mouse house on the appropriate site, and don’t be giving me any of that baloney about it being “that time of year”, sounds stuuuupid.

Lampasas was west, right down the road, and I planned a leisurely drive to my destination, Fritz wouldn’t be up until early afternoon. The speed limit was 70, I had the cruise set at 60, moseying along, not that it’s done much in Texas anymore, when there’s a cop car in the mirrors, all lit up. WTF, can’t be speeding, I’m way the heck under. The officer asks the standard “Do you know why I stopped you?”, blah, blah, blah…“you were 58 in a 45”, say what? He was standing out in the roadway, and when I politely suggested that he move, he said “I’ve been hit three times already”, hmmmm, now I was worried that someone would plow into me by mistake when they were actually aiming for him.

It turns out I was in a town, even though there was no evidence of a town at all, zip. No stores, gas stations, post offices, or schools, no houses either…wasn’t April 1, the dude was serious, must be a freakin’ neo-ghost town, Texas style. “Everyone in Texas knows that the speed limit is 45 in a town”, but officer, I’m from Virginia, blah, blah, blah, and we chatted away for 30 minutes or so, turned out I had been in every single location in the USA where he had ever set foot, bar none. He was impressed, I wasn’t, but I ended up with a ticket for 5 over. Really, who the heck gets a damn speeding ticket for 5 over, think I’ll frame it. Jeeeez, I had only been driving for 15 minutes, what next?

Lampasas looked to be on the edge of the west Texas hill country, and was the first town I’d seen lately that was looking prosperous and neat, quite a change from the country east of I35. I wasn’t sure what was south of here, so I stopped at a Valero to top off, cheap diesel.

The quikmart had Corn Nuts for deer, apple flavor, Texas has everything, now I’m convinced. Baiting is legal here, back in the Commonwealth, baiting deer gets your name in the local paper.



I just needed a soft drink, but right inside the door was the biggest beer-by-the-can setup I’d ever seen, ten different brands somewhere under all the ice, plus little bottles of beer condiments, give it a shake. It’s so true, go big, or go home, small ain’t popular in Texas.



Southbound on 281, an open road, and it didn’t take long before I ran up on a white Jeep SUV parked on the shoulder, steam rising from the radiator, dead deer nearby. Speculation, but I’m betting that deer was in a rush to get to that apple deer corn on the other side of the road, forgot to look both ways. Expensive deer for someone, the front of that Jeep was pretty much gone.

I kept trying to get a good photo of the smog lying across the hills, don’t know what else you’d call it, but I intended to ask a local.



Since I had time, I swung into the park along the Pedernales River, wanted to see what the river looked like, ok, sluggish and muddy. There did happen to be a very nicely done post and beam pavilion there though, long view out across the countryside.





Continuing south on 281, I was tuned into all the small town radar traps, man, that BS about every Texan knowing about the 45 limit was disproven, there were vehicles of all sizes and descriptions pulled over. I was headed to Boerne and took the 46 cutoff, nice road with little traffic, working ranches along the way. There were a few classic hill country homes out there too, stone quarried locally.



I did say hill country, a relief from the table top flat topography found east.



Stopped for a small construction zone, I was thinking it would be hard to keep track of stock with all this brushy range.



When I moved the truck forward another 100 feet, I could see a herd of sheep back in the there, guarded by a vigilant mule, ready to battle any predators interested in his buddies.

The creeks were all dry, but each had a gauge pole with a top reading 6 feet above the road surface. These washes were all over, folks must stay home in a heavy rain, you couldn’t get far. Topped up the tank again at another Valero on the edge of Boerne, fifteen pickups and only one car on the lot, market share award going to GM, and most had a version of the ranch bumper, many with winches.

Fritz was in town, he recommended the Hungry Horse for lunch, ain’t smart phones swell, got me right to it, sorta. I was on the phone with Fritz as he talked me in on the approach, gear down, and I landed right behind his truck, whew, lotsa miles to Burn-nay, and don’t even think of pronouncing it any other way, folks will think you’re a Yankee, or something of other disreputable origin.

The Hungry Horse was a great choice, old timey Texas country atmosphere, and we spent a long lunch in conversation, A to Z subject wise, sharing a German ancestry, maybe that technically proficient gene stuff is true after all. Fritz was 100% German with a colorful family history that continues in south Texas along the border, while my German pedigree was nearly the same, but with a garnish of Irish which left me the ability to tell a detailed yarn on the mere suggestion of any given subject…and a taste for fine whiskey, actually, truth be told, any whiskey.

We both needed to get bikes unloaded and packed up for an early departure the following morning, time to go, and we drove over to our Boerne base camp where I would leave the truck for better than two weeks, a very big favor extended, indeed. Once both bikes were on the ground, they needed to be staged for a photo, the Texas high noon for this pair of bike builds. For anyone with a passion for motos, there was no possible way to suppress an ear-to-ear grin.




(to be continued…)
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post #7 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Comments on the KLRsys build thread always said “looks factory”, but in person, the description seems inadequate. The fabrication and overall attention to detail is exquisite. This engine swap is easy to talk about, but very difficult to execute in a home shop environment, the work all self performed. This is a benchmark hands-on build, if there’s a better ptwin swap out there somewhere, I’d have to see it.







By contrast, I never get any “looks factory” comments at all, it’s always “What is that?”, as people try to untangle the image in front of them. Remarkable contrast between the two, different takes on the concept, bottom line…they’re both runners and can really scoot, no question there.

Our basecamp host and hostess provided a 5 Star dinner and accommodations, conversation and laughter, accompanied by a Big Bend wine selection, cheers…we were off to Big Bend in the morning, and I was back on two wheels.

(to be continued…)
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post #8 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Day Four: Wednesday, October 22

Up at 5 local time, raring to go, seems early, but I rarely reset my watch on trips like this, so it’s a not-so-early 6AM eastern. Phoned the XO to report in, checked the mail, and thanked our host again for the hospitality, he was out the door for his commute to the office. Fritz was up, as was our hostess, breakfast, and we talked about their new home, both design and material selection thoughtfully made to blend with the hill country, and very well executed.

We were headed down to Big Bend, Fritz had a room reserved for us, the last available even at this time of year, it’s a popular spot to visit when the weather cools, not so much at 120F. As with everything in Texas, connecting the dots is never less than 500 miles, lucky us, it’s only 485 via Del Rio. Fritz wasn’t on a camping trip like I was on my loop west, and my comment to our hostess was “I think Lewis and Clark left St. Louis with less junk than this”, way less, and when I asked “Do we look intrepid?”, I got “Oh yes, very”, and with that we were gone.

I had what I thought was a decent route to Del Rio which Fritz reviewed, looked good, he’d been on all the roads, and after a short ride we stopped for fuel at Medina, the availability would thin out quickly as we rode southwest. Man, back in the saddle, felt darn good to be underway, beautiful sunny morning, smelled like sage.



The road out to Vanderpool traversed rolling ranch land, some high fenced for deer herd management, and I even ran past some of those little gray bambis, southwest whitetails I’m guessing, so small I think they were fenced out, not in. They were tempted to cross the road, but my non-aero moto makes a certain high pitch whistle that’s in an animal’s aural range, and they changed their mind. I need to patent whatever makes the sound, it works on most everything with four legs.







Once past Vanderpool, we were riding the famed 337, a moto magnet in west Texas hill country, a destination for any rider sick and tired of the straight and flat which comprised most of the rest of the entire state. There was even a big welcoming sign stating the number of riders who died here in calendar year 2014, dang, that was comforting. My only dang thought was riding by without a photo, I was in the midst of my new camera juggling stage show and missed the photo, dropped the camera too, but it was attached to a Gear Keeper and only bounced off my leg, whew. I had two new-to-me cameras along on this trip, I confess, I didn’t know how to use either one worth a damn.



337 was as advertised, cool bike road, hilly, twisty, long views across the hills…but, clouds were building to the west and south, naturally smack in our path.







I can understand the accident rate on this road, there are similar roads back east where poor judgment and lack of concentration will put the hurt on ya. One second you’re looking at the scenery, the next second you’re in a hairpin switchback, exactly the same as my home riding territory.





When we got to Leakey, aha, now that sign back by Vanderpool made more sense, there were two biker bars here, the Hog Pen and Bent Rim, maybe those ol’ boys fueled up on more than BBQ brisket before heading out east or west on 337.

The ride over to Camp Wood went quickly, Fritz cruising on the KLR, nearly twice the horsepower, FI, and a 6speed, no more shift fest trying to keep the pace, it was a breeze. Fuel at Camp Wood, where we met a high school field trip at the quikmart, kids in high spirits, not chained up inside for the day, braces, bangs, trendy Sketchers, the kids watch all the same TV.

A young blond cowgirl had the pumps blocked with her Suburban, how she managed to pour herself into those Wranglers this morning a mystery, pie pan size rodeo buckle, silver accents on the boots, it’s OK darlin’, y’all just take your time while I enjoy me some Texas. Matter of fact, if I could have found a comfortable place to sit, sipped on a nice cold bourbon and coke, I wouldn’t have minded if she took an hour. Shucks, keeping Fritz waiting, let’s git to Del Rio, and I rode away with all the nonchalance I could muster.

South on 55, we were out of hill country, or at least on the fringe, and into rolling range, wide open grassland along the road.





Southwest on 334 towards Bracketville, ranch country behind the big ranch entrances, and I have no idea how the size of the entrance relates to the size of the ranch, could be the Texas equivalent of “all hat, no cattle” for all I know. Huge feral hog recently dead in the road, I’d hate to hit one, or be on the wrong end of those freakin’ tusks. Miles and miles of game fence, some herds of exotics visible beyond, whatever rocks your boat, but I’ve never had the urge to pay to shoot an animal in a pen, must feel a little different than actually hunting, and I do know hunting, done a lifetime of it.







There was no traffic on 334, none, except for the three Border Patrol SUVs that passed going east, seemed a long way from the border for a patrol route, but they must know something I don’t, ain’t from here. These were the first Border Patrol I encountered…trust me, there were way more ahead.

(to be continued…)
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post #9 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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A long way to go to get to the lodge complex at Big Bend, so it was 90 west over to Del Rio for lunch and fuel, no photo stops. I was playing around with the Olympus hooked to the Gear Keeper, and that’s when Fritz passed me going 110, nah, not quite but almost, KLR man gots the rocket motor in there now, I think he was feeling racy. Considering how we were riding, a regular KLR motor would have melted into a little puddle of alloy about a hundred miles back.

We had Border Patrol ahead of us, behind us, and passing us going east towing a tricked out airboat, the same kind you’d see in the Everglades or coastal Louisiana. An illegal alien ant couldn’t have crossed 90 without getting cuffed. I don’t think I’d purchase or drive a white vehicle down here, might provoke gunfire.

Del Rio, a milestone, we were making progress, and it was the first town right on the border that I had visited since Nogales a few year ago. It was obvious that the cross-border trade was keeping the local economy in high gear, plenty of Mexican plates on the roads. Fuel, then over to Subway for some authentic Mexican cuisine, not that there might be petty thieves hanging around the parking lot. I left all my stuff on the bike, figured Fritz could run down any thieves, he’s young, and fleet-of-foot too, that‘s what he claimed anyway.



We were seated near a window overlooking the bikes, no worries, a Border Patrol guy was ordering a footlong, and his patrol SUV was parked in the lot, now that’s what is called a big freakin’ deterrent for anyone with bad intentions.

Done with lunch, west on 90 again, Fritz in front, he’s been out this way many times. I’m cruising behind, shooting away with the Olympus, pretty interesting exercise at 80mph, I’d never tried it before.



There were frequent roadway cuts that had been drilled and shot during construction, and we passed a teacher with either a geology or civil engineering class who were out here looking things over.







I had expected the country to flatten out along 90, and it did somewhat, but still had a roll.



We passed the Border Patrol dragging linked tractor tires along the frontage next to the fence, makes it easier to see fresh footprints, and this was the only time I was to see them performing this job, although I saw dozens of sets of drag tires along the roads all the way to Arizona.



I don’t mind a good bicycle ride, but this location would be last on the list, we were already way west of Del Rio, and there was absolutely nothing in between.



There were occasional old buildings along the south side of 90, none occupied that I could see, and I wondered if smugglers had these waypointed on the GPS.





Anyone venturing overland from the border needed to cross some rugged country to get to this road. In the unbroken areas, I could see the slight curvature of the earth. Probably more bones out there than anyone cares to admit.





It was overcast and hazy, still plenty to see. Riders cross this type of country all the time and report that they’re bored, not me.



The tire drag roads almost looked like frontage roads, here’s some advice, don’t go there…you’ll find an M16 stuck in your ear.



We went through a full blown Border Patrol checkpoint midway to Marathon, our men armed to the teeth and treating everything very seriously, the opposition had been doing some shooting lately. No chit-chat, take a photo, get arrested. Oversize loads, and I mean huge, were passing eastbound, machinery or equipment possibly destined for Mexico. The cloud cover was now producing a misty drizzle, thought it was supposed to be bone dry out here, oh well, we survived and eventually ran out of it. There were some small towns along the way, none prosperous, and a couple had simply dried up and blown away, done for good.

Plenty of windmills all across Texas, most were either working, or at least looked operable. In other areas I’d ridden in the west, most of the old windmills were in disrepair, or the heads had been removed, or stolen, there’s some value in those.



Along the 90 route out to Marathon, we crossed the intersection with 285, a road number I would come to remember later on, oh boy. We needed fuel again, can’t drive by, and I caught Fritz at the pump, camera at the end of the Gear Keeper.



The next turn would be 385 southbound into the park, and we needed to keep up a lively pace or we would arrive after dark, not good on a moto.

(to be continued…)




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post #10 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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We were racing sundown now, both in high spirits, and with a long run almost due south into the park, I was doubtful, may not make it before dark. Funny how these things work out, Fritz and I had never ridden together before, but it didn’t seem that way. Besides being an excellent rider, soft-spoken ol’ Fritz was just plain rock solid, of good judgment and even temperament, qualities not universally found among those on two wheels, in fact, getting rare. The road was showing promise already, the prize in sight ahead of us, rising above the mist on the horizon.





There was nothing out here, relatively speaking, a few modest ranch road entrances, hardly any vehicles on the road. We could have been riding the ton, but with my photo already tacked to the board in all post offices statewide, interstate scofflaw biker dude as of the previous day, we set the cruise, chilled. I was still trying to get my success rate above 5% on the Olympus, not much luck, and the scenery was getting better and better.





Sure, the day was winding down, but it wasn’t a bad place to have it happen.





The cloud cover was breaking up some as we rode farther south, partially offsetting the low sun.







We’d made good time southbound so far, then hit the park boundary, kiosk closed, new speed limit 45mph, WTF, better not test that too hard, I didn’t think Fritz was carrying enough bail money to spring me. Fines for traffic violations in these parks are a bitch, sometimes a 3X multiple of normal practice. Hold that thought, a truck passed southbound towing a trailer carrying two HD parade floats, 70mph at least, probably higher. Sho nuf, a mile later and they were on the side of the road, flashing lights behind, glad it wasn’t me. It wouldn’t have been Fritz, he’s the more law abiding type.

We were getting close to the park headquarters now, located at the junction with 118, we might just make it to the lodge in daylight.





The park offices were closed when we got there, bankers hours, we didn’t need anything anyway, and rode west over to Panther Junction for fuel, last stop before the lodge. One of the McCoys was on the other side of the pumps tying down a load of furniture in the back of his pickup, binder twine with granny knots, no wonder the load looked like it had fallen out once or twice already. Even from where I stood, he smelled a little fungal, maybe peat boggy, a very original scent, artisanal, although I fear without future, ok, maybe France.





Three miles west on 118, and we turned south on Basin for the ride to the lodge. This short road is a great stretch of scenery in itself.







Daylight was not a worry any longer, we were taking our time, didn’t want to meet any DWI types coming out from the lodge on this twisty road either.



I was ready to get off the bike, out of the gear, put away the cameras, but lordy, it was pretty country out here.







Enough, and I stowed everything away, up to the lodge office, Fritz checked in, got a key, and we rode around trying to find a door the key would fit. We were not staying in the lodge proper, the new construction section that looked like an aging Holiday Inn, but in one of the Roosevelt cottages, Civilian Conservation Corp construction circa 1933...much better as far as Big Bend style accommodations, well done in native stone, but it was at the top of a mountain, had to hike there, no valet service. I would have loaded my gear on a rented mule, no cell, couldn’t locate the mule rental folks. As with all motel type rooms used on a moto trip, there is no room ever built that will hold all the gear, even though it got there on the back of the bike, looks like a bomb went off, junk scattered everywhere, mostly mine.

Dinner at the lodge would time out before long, and since we had to ride back there, the gear stayed on, I don’t ride an inch without it, thus we entered the grand lodge sans resort wear, caused a stir, but thankfully no more than if we had sauntered in singing Viva Las Vegas… way off key. Our tatted up waitress was very good, very fit too, looked sorta like a middle weight cage fighter, in others words, if she says “No” ya better quit foolin’ around or your face won’t match those photos from last week. Usually I can engage the waitress in a little banter after a few beers, all reckless insouciance, not this time, the thought of broken bones made me kinda queasy. Even though close to the border, I didn’t hear any Spanish spoken in the restaurant, all speech that I heard was in the Texas mother tongue…Money, and plenty of it.

Couple beers, dinner, dessert…I’d requested Veuve Clicquot but they had never heard of it, and all over more good conversation. I had to find a pair of busboys to help me stand up, would have asked Fritz, but he looked tired himself. We found our way home under a star filled sky that has become hard to find except for places like this, climbed the mountain one last time, out of the gear, and out like a light, quite a day.

(to be continued…)
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post #11 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
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Day Five: Thursday, October 23

I was awake at 4AM local, dozed for awhile, then snuck out the door and walked down to check on the bikes, pitch black not counting star light, bikes were fine on the far side of the small lot, there was no space closer. The Big Dipper was directly over the spot where the bikes were parked, the dipper pouring towards Mother Earth, North star brilliant among the millions of others, and I sensed it was a good sign for these two travelers on the ever risky roads ahead.

Fritz was up, and informed me that sunrise was at 7:39, huh, the man might be brilliant, but I was pretty sure he hadn’t committed this kind of data to memory. Nope, he could hear the hiker dudes talking in the room next door, I’d met them last night, and one guy was from Hampton Roads, an hour south of my Virginia location.

We wanted to get on the road, packed up, and toted the gear back down the mountain, easier down than up. We were just about to fire ‘em up when a couple arrived nearby, loading their vehicle for a day trip, perfect, they looked like they’d been here before, and we needed to confirm some intel for a breakfast location west. The guy came over to look at the bikes, said he always wanted a KLR, but was a little confused as Fritz pointed out some features on his that couldn’t be found on the showroom floor. The guy had once owned a 441 Victor, pretty much instant cred in any moto discussion, and said he had never broken his leg trying to kick start the damn thing, one of the lucky ones.

We rode back through the lodge area to the office, idling along, trying for stealth, very few people out and about except for employees. Officially checked out, thanks again Fritz, we backtracked out Basin, the sun in the east and still low. The air was crisp and clean, desert smells, Virginia was way back there somewhere, more than half a continent away.

Sun was playing across the rocky formations, couldn’t help but stop.







I had forgotten how far we had climbed on our way up to the lodge location the day before, now descending, the tops of the rocky features were islands in the fog bound lower elevations, very surreal.







The long surreal view on top became soup below, freakin’ zero visibility, visor fogged both sides, couldn’t see a damn thing, also worried that the road warrior cowboys couldn’t see me. We missed quite a bit, scenery wise, and I just missed a dead javalina too, recently hit, just as we reached the edge of the fog.

Just that quick, we could see what we had been riding past, damn.







The Big Bend entrance sign marked the boundary, we’ve been here less than a day, the inevitable excuse to return.





Got a photo of Fritz at the sign too, he was turned towards the low sun, and needed flame cutter goggles to block the glare after our foggy ride.



The park boundary was also the line of demarcation between the pristine and billboard land, seemed like only 100’ before the first one was planted, the usual touristy two headed cow type attractions, don’t forget the desert tours. Beyond the signs, there were things to see as we made our way over to Study Butte, the intersection with 170...and breakfast, before I went back and scooped up that road kill javalina, man, I was hungry, needed dark roast too.



We found the recommended café, pretty easy, I think it was the only place to eat. They featured a darn good breakfast buffet for $5, it would be a losing proposition if I lived in the neighborhood and stopped by every morning. Genghis Kahn and his pillaging army got nuthin’ on me when it comes to a cheap breakfast buffet, left a little for Fritz, cleaned them out otherwise, drank a gallon of dark along the way. I was thinking about giving the cook time to catch up, but we had a long road west, time to go.

Our cheery waitress said they do have a snowbird population, even way out here, and they were starting to filter in. All the festival-like events were scheduled for this time of year, outside the blast furnace of summer, and they had several of those coming up, the place was hoppin’. I met an English couple in the convenience store, touring the western USA with their three school age children, kids wild and all surfer chic since their arrival in the States. I inquired about their travels and how they had found the interaction with the natives, “The best, we’re having a glorious time of it.” good, kept the record at 100%, I’d never had a foreign visitor say otherwise. When I asked how he was traveling, he pointed to the rental half ton pickup at the pumps, and said “The big one”, hmmmm, must have just entered Texas, that’s a subcompact around here.

There were a few off-the-grid types hanging around, found at the end of the road locations every single time, Unabomber wannabes, Santeria acolytes, cannabis vaporizer advocates because da weed was way righteous, minds teetering on the edge of sunstroked madness…got the picture, these folks were into lots of experiments you might hear about on HLN some day.

A little gear juggling on the bikes before setting off for Presidio, when asked, Fritz said it might be too early for lunch when we get there, damn.



Jogged the bikes across the intersection,170 west, hard on the gas, exhausts howling across the desert through the shifts, in the groove.

(to be continued…)
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post #12 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Southwest towards Terlingua through an odd mix of buildings, shacks mixed with newer construction, some on the grid, some off, a jumble of mixed use, and once clear of this mess, the scenery improved again.



We would be riding through some rugged country as we made our way to the border.



Lajitas is on the border, also the southeast corner of Big Bend Ranch State Park, another large parcel of land about half the size of Big Bend itself. Lajitas had a different feel to it, I have no idea what supports it, or who would chose to live here, but it looks like it was developed as a desert resort community, yeah, another one. The Rio Grand was right there, waltz right in quick as ya please, no fence, no Border Patrol, nothing…of course, ya might get wet up to the knees, but it ain’t like ya have to actually swim.



The road follows the border northwest along the river, with the state park sharing the border as the southern boundary for most of the way to Presidio. In many places, the road was so close to the river that I could have tossed a rock and had it land in Mexico. I don’t know what happens along this road at night, can’t be anything good. Pretty country in daylight, but I had the feeling that things could get sideways in a hurry along this whole stretch of road.





If Fritz lost track of me, he knew I was back there foolin’ with the cameras, and would show up pretty quick. We still made good time, between stops the throttle bodies were pinned, hard on the brakes though.









We passed Teepee Roadside Park, thoughtfully provided by the DOT, but did these Native Americans even use that form of shelter around here, don’t think so, but I could be misinformed.



The roadside is at the base of Colorado canyon, and we did stop at the top for a break. Hard to get a good photo into the canyon without a hike, still an interesting spot, and the canyon is a whitewater paddler destination, nobody running it today that I could see. Might be able to save the cost of a few miles of border fence around here.









Almost no traffic, we could just cruise along, taking it all in.







Couldn’t get lost, but sometimes Fritz had that “Where y’all been, sonny?” look.



Says 25mph, that sign was for the OP, Fritz went through there draggin’ the pegs.



I kept the camera out until we neared the western park boundary, then put it away as we faced the same phenomenon as exiting Big Bend, it got junky damn quick. I could see a line of houses that had to be sited right at the river, but I couldn’t tell for sure what side of the border they were on, could have been waterfront property on the Rio Bravo del Norte. We rode over numerous painted white line cattle guards on the dusty outskirts of Presidio, one day some cow will win a bet by crossing over, then they’ll have to dig up the damn highway and install the real ones. Might be soon, stands to reason that cows are getting smarter every day, looks will fool ya, heck, I‘ve been fooled by cow-like looks on human beings many times myself.

Presidio had almost the same level of activity as Del Rio, but on a smaller scale, and looking around, you might not know which side of the border you were on, although those white with green stripe vehicles were patrolling, always a constant reminder. There might have been some territorial acquisitions around here in the past that are still not generally accepted. We fueled up again, never make it where we were going otherwise, not a drop of fuel available out there anymore.



I went into Porter’s for some bottled drinks to pack on the bike, the temps had been rising right along with the sun, I think I was only English speaker in the whole store. The cashier was cover girl cute, and I was so tempted to try out my Spanglish on her, ya know, so I’d sorta blend in with the crowd, but…no stones, chickened the heck out, no use looking like a freakin’ dummy in front of a pretty girl, don’t care how old ya are. Add a spritz of La Panthere, and she would have had a line of cowboy hatted dudes in front of her register so long it would snake all the way back to the frozen food section.

We lingered for a few minutes in front of the pump island, kinda taking stock of where we were on the day, readying for the next push northwest up the Rio Grande. I was anxious to see what we’d find, adventure looming, that much I knew.

(to be continued…)

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post #13 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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After a short ride north up 67, we turned northwest on 170, a continuation of the road we’d been riding most of the day. There were half a dozen towns along this section between 67 and Ruidosa, most now gone entirely, or ghost towns, whichever, we didn’t even see the bleached bones of a town where a few were supposed to be located, except for this dominant remnant perched on a hill above the road.



I didn’t see an access road from 170, maybe we were looking in the wrong places, but buildings close to the road were scarce, although I could see some large buildings out in the desert, no clue what they were about. It was obvious that there had been some heavy rain recently, the road had been over washed in many places leaving sand and mud deep enough that the area needed attention from a road crew.

We were flying along, straight out into the desert, only passing one vehicle before Ruidosa, another of those lonely roads common across the west. The road must have been as close as half a mile to the river in spots, but I couldn’t see it below the banks.







At the edge of Ruidosa, Fritz and I parked the bikes in the shade by what used to be the general store, with the sun high, it was about the only shade around. The store looked long closed, complete with For Sale sign, and it looked like all the rest of the buildings on the Pinto Canyon corner were for sale too, including the church. The store must have closed in December of some forgotten year, a Christmas wreath was still tacked on up high.





There was a large cistern in front of the church, not sure of the water source, maybe it was used for baptisms too.



The shade felt good, we drank up some liquid, might need it, the road ahead was not paved, and had likely received the same rain that had fallen on 170.

When you buy this property, make sure ya get the bell.



I’d messaged back and forth with Cannonshot, a helpful ADV guy, about 170 road conditions past this intersection, mainly past Candelaria where pavement ends. The gravel road continues along the river, little used other than Border Patrol, a few ranch hands, the occasional recreation user, and smugglers. Besides the washed out descent on one hill, it looked doable, and would eventually drop us back on 90 up near Valentine. If rough going, it might take the better part of a day…we had less than half a day, no choice, lets go to Marfa, see the elephant.



The lower half of the Pinto Canyon road is gravel, usually well graded, and I read one comment that said you could drive the road in the family sedan. Sure ya can, but don’t pass go, take it directly to the scrap yard, you won’t be driving it again, ever. Nah, it wasn’t that bad…if on two wheels.

The road is a steady climb right from the start, Sierra Parda and Chinati Peak, both in the 7K class, are visible to the east from the lower road.



There was a hot springs ahead, a destination for some, but I couldn’t get enthused when the air already felt like 100F, maybe some other time. The road was in pretty good shape up to the hot springs turn off, only a live water crossing to cause me some drama when I chose a terrible line through the washout, suspension and motor saving my butt, while Fritz chose something more sensible and breezed right through.







(to be continued...)

Last edited by jdrocks; 11-15-2015 at 01:28 PM.
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post #14 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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We met a pickup at the entrance to the Pinto Canyon Ranch, and a grader had be working beyond that point, filling in any recent washouts, but also making the road surface loose and rough, full of large rocks turned up by the blade. I don’t known what it looked like before, but it was a mess now. The pickup was the only vehicle we would see on the gravel, 25 miles. Working along through the boulders, a javalina ran out of the brush on the left, nearly collided with the front wheel, did a 360, and ran back in the brush, thing must need Lasik, can’t see worth a damn.

Once past the graded road, through more live water, and still climbing, the road had changed. Once fairly wide to accommodate stock trailers, it was now narrow, even tight in a couple sections. We’re casual about using these roads in the present day, but this route to the top has probably been used for centuries, we were riding the only way to get there.







My eyes were on the horizon, way the heck out there, can’t forget what’s a little closer.





The old adobe along the road looked too big to be a line shack, and might have been the main ranch house at one time, a small creek carrying a trickle of water ran behind it.



The road is always described as a beautiful ride, I can understand the reasons.



Looking ahead, I could see what looked like a series of big ascents and descents that would eventually get us to the top, over hill over dale, maybe four or five miles of road, got to start somewhere.







I finally found a level vantage point where I could stop to get a shot back down the canyon, quite the place.



There was a ranch headquarters at the top of the road where it transitions back to pavement, beyond that a lone Border Patrol vehicle, the occupant with the loneliest job in the world, and he gave us an enthusiast wave as we went by, no kidding, we might be the only humans he had seen all day. The guy probably wished he was down at the river chasing banditos, an unfair choice, face gunfire down there, or die of boredom up here. Open range with views to the horizon, and it was there that we stopped for a break, a pretty remarkable change in terrain.





We needed to roll, Marfa ahead, fuel and a late lunch, and it was also where we would part, Fritz eastbound, me west. We both needed to get somewhere before dark, remember, this is Texas, ain’t nothing close by.

This was a high speed run to the northeast, but I still caught a few things along the way.









Put the camera away, had to get to town, and we rode right into Marfa city center looking for a café. I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly, never been here, but I sensed a weird vibe, this little town in the high desert didn’t look like it was the center of cattle ranch society, but something else. If there was a cafe, it was damn well hidden, and we were back out to 90, lunch at the quikmart Subway. Felt good to sit down, we’d been hustling right along, yet both of us had hours to go. Fritz had an idea of were he was going, I was footloose, no precise idea of where I’d land, as long as it was west.

A lone Border Patrol dude came in, and I asked if he was the guy stuck down there at the top of the Pinto Canyon road, he laughed, no it wasn’t him, but he knew exactly where the patrol vehicle was parked, he’d drawn that duty at some time himself. A rancher asked where we had been, and when I said Pinto Canyon, he replied “That’s the most beautiful road in Texas.” He said it had “drizzled” all day earlier in the week, that’s why the roads had washed out, damn, what would have happened if it had rained.

While we fueled the bikes, the another Border Patrol vehicle drove up, and one of the guys came over to look at the bikes, a KLR rider, oh boy, this should be good, and when he said his KLR was too slow, it got better yet. Fritz gave him the hotrod KLR tour, and he looked over what he said was the “MadMax” also, “Are there instructions somewhere on how to build one?”, well, since you asked….

I had to part with Fritz, my Texas riding buddy, too few miles, and it had gone too quickly. When leaving a riding friend, I always say, “So long my friend, until we meet again”, for in some respects, it’s not that big a world after all, and we surely will. Back on 90, I had Fritz in the mirrors for a minute, then he was east and gone.

(to be continued…)
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post #15 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Solo now, man, I’d been there for thousands of miles on these trips, and here I found myself again. I wasn’t even much beyond Marfa when I started thinking about destinations, not Texas, not New Mexico, but Arizona. Regardless of where I stopped today, I wanted to be in southeast Arizona by the same time tomorrow, some miles, mountains, and unknown road conditions in between.

I had the camera out, held upside down in my hand as Fritz suggested, blasting away with the shutter on this long straight highway, 80 freakin’ mph, headers glowing, wind howling, all the while doing the mental calculations, hmmmm, El Paso minimum, had to be near 250 miles ahead. I’ll need to cross New Mexico tomorrow in one big swoop, gravel too.



Stock ponds still held some water.



I was watching my left side, south of the road, looking for a road sign I’d recognize as one of the gravel ranch roads coming up from the border west of Candelaria. No luck there, all I saw were roads that were very deeply rutted, more evidence of recent rain, glad we didn’t go in there, might be stuck and unable to advance.

Far down the road I saw a building close to the shoulder, might be for the local electric or phone utility, the rail line was also on the north side of the road, but as I went by, the name on the front of the building said “Prada”, what the heck is that fashion house name doing out here? I clicked the shutter as I went by, but I wasn’t counting on anything, a west Texas mystery in the swirling dust.

I had been watching for the Crispa Ranch road, never did see it, even as I rode past Crispa, I think I’ll come back for a major exploration effort of this wide open country.



Looked interesting ahead, water crossings too.





I saw the headlight of a train coming southeast down the track, I’ll try for a shot, but I’m going 80, he’s going 70, the photos might look like a runny watercolor. Shot a dozen, got two, expected none.





Nearing Van Horn at the top of 90, I took one last photo and put the camera away for awhile, I needed miles not photos.



Van Horn is the intersection with I10, and I stopped for fuel, water, and a snack. I also took a sneaky peek at one of those nice laminated Texas road maps, for $18 I didn’t want the whole map, and found a state park located conveniently just east of El Paso, hey, I’m in business now.

The I10 slab looked like all the rest, and I had every vent open and the zipper down on the jacket, felt like 100F. My park was Hueco Tanks, and it looked like the best way to get there was cross country via Sierra Blanca, might make it before dark. I took the exit and stopped for fuel and water again, some extra water for meals added to the bike. I asked the folks at the quikmart about Hueco Tanks, they were unanimous “It’s beautiful, you’ll love it”, except for one grizzled old rancher “It’s a long way from here, son”. Turned out, he was right, the rest were wrong.

There happened to be a thirtyish gal in the store sporting a multi color tattoo placed in the common stripper tat location above her muffin top low rider jeans, not that a tat is unusual, but this one was the Dante quote in script, ya know “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”, and had a couple scrolling arrows pointing…let’s just say those arrows were pointing south. She might have carried it off a little better in spike heeled Louboutins, but I doubt it, the reality was an accidental life on display.

If you happen to look at a map and draw a line between Sierra Blanca and El Paso, you’ll find nothing under the line, it’s all desert out there. Worse, my route wasn’t a straight line, but a huge dog leg made up of straight roads. Got a guffaw out of the old guy when I asked for a hand drawn map, sure thing, and he drew two lines intersecting at a T, “When ya get to the freakin’ intersection, turn left, that’s it, got it?”.

Duh, thanks, and I set out, my little map on the tank bag, sun getting low, me getting nervous,100 miles to the Tanks. I don’t know why Texas Parks would put up a sign for Hueco Tanks at Sierra Blanca, cute little arrow pointing the right direction, some minivan family could run out of gas in the desert while looking for it just around the corner, kids screaming their lungs out “Are we there yet?”, Mom and Dad contemplating a murder suicide pact.

I did say that the roads are straight, glad I had fuel and water, there wasn’t another human being out here.



Straight, except when it wasn’t, must be a shift in the tectonic plates.



Desert or not, there were things to catch the eye, natural, and not.



I found the intersection with 180, made the left turn, plenty of traffic on this road, and I stowed the camera, too dangerous to use. 180 was slow going, many vehicles well under the speed limit as drivers fought the glare from the sun low to the west, didn’t care for it either. It seemed like forever to find the county road access for Hueco Tanks, sign at the turn. It was light, but just barely, a sliver of sun above the horizon, damn, I made it…sure ya did.



I was screwed, little chance of finding another suitable camping spot, justifiably concerned about gypsy camping in this neighborhood, and I took the only option, find a room in El Paso. I continued on 62, no idea where I was going, and for anyone approaching El Paso from this direction, it ain’t exactly upscale, looks even worse at night. I rode for miles before seeing the first motel, then a Super 8, looked a little sketchy, but the smarmy India Indian gave me a good rate. So as I settled in…El Paso it was, and when I cover ground like thunderbolts flying out the ass, it takes some thought to recall the day’s events before they deconstruct into a jumble of jigsaw pieces. Timing is critical on days like these, do it before ya look in the mirror…and find there ain’t nobody home.

(to be continued…)
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post #16 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Day Six: Friday, October 24

I woke up rockin’ to Dick Dale and the Del Tones, why not, Arizona is one step closer to the surf…if I can get there, always a mighty big if. At least it looked like a good travel day, no rain, already hot and smoggy in El Paso, and I was ready to bolt, but first I had to find out where I was in this town.





Loaded the bike in minutes, back to the office to check out, picked up a free city map, and I asked the girl at the desk to point out exactly where the motel is located. Ok, remember what I said about cows getting smarter every day, not true, in fact, way off the freakin’ mark. If blank stares are directions, I left with the turn-by-turn to San Diego, might go there some time, not today, better turn on the GPS.

Had the map, the GPS told me where I was, and I picked an I10 onramp. The banked ptwin fire lit with a shriek at the touch of the button, reverb bouncing wildly around the courtyard, hope anyone left had called in a wake-up for that precise minute, ‘cause if they weren’t awake now, somebody better dial 9-1-1, got a DOA. I had the ramp waypointed, goto working, and after 50 turns I arrived at the top of the ramp to find it barricaded, closed for construction, can’t say I’m inconsistent.

I eventually found the next ramp north, ran I10 north to my exit at Artcraft, lots of those expensive BMW sports cars juking around, El Paso must be positively over run with dentists, then south again towards highway 9 where I would turn west. I stayed with that plan for only a few miles until I realized that there wasn’t going to be any fuel out there, and had to backtrack to the quikmart at I10, not an auspicious start on the day so far.

All I needed was fuel, but in an effort to confirm the road south to the 9 intersection, I asked a local guy at the next pump, yes, I was on track, but he gave me kind of a funny look as he got in his truck, WTF’s wrong now. I checked in the mirror on the bike before I put my helmet on, holy crap, there was this thing that looked like one of them garden slugs hanging out of my nose, no wonder, must not see that type of crazy too often in El Paso. Better move along before the authorities show up, I’m still a wanted man in these parts.

I found my way to the 9 intersection just above a busy border crossing, turned west, and found a huge Border Patrol facility on the south side of the road, must be hundreds of those white vehicles there, no photos, ain’t that stupid, no matter how I looked back there in El Paso. This was a road running generally west along the border, must be a favored smuggler and alien crossing area, the Border Patrol vehicles were everywhere. I saw numerous little telltales along the stock fences lining the road, a green bucket, rock cairn, tinsel hung in the mesquite, numerous other things that could only serve one purpose.



The next stop was Columbus and fuel, snack and a drink too, I’d skipped breakfast, unusual for me. Flat country where I was now, didn’t look flat ahead.



Looking south, it must be easier to hide out there than it looks, the border was less than half a mile away in several locations, rarely more than two miles as the road jogged around, north or south.



Mexican cows or USA cows, wouldn’t make much difference if you hit one, and there were plenty on the wrong side of the fence. In some areas, there were more out than in.





Once again, there was still surface water visible, it must have rained like heck.



Columbus is a little crossroads town only three miles from the border, usually a fuel stop for the moto rider, the next fuel is Animas, a good ways out. The guy at the counter was friendly enough, but only spoke English because he had to, probably not very often in the course of his day.



Pancho Villa State Park is located west of the intersection, and I had it down as a destination if I could have gotten this far. I didn’t go in, but it looked tidy, and had a bunch of late model snow bird type motor homes in there already.

Some observation equipment was mounted on a mast near the state park, and when down the road a little farther, I happened to look north and found one of those observation blimps in the distance. Very difficult to photograph without a tripod, I finally got an image at 40X zoom, one of a dozen attempts, it was just a white speck way out there.



West of Columbus is a 2000 acre agricultural operation, where they find the water I don’t know, but it looked like a big deal way out here, I hadn’t seen anything else that came anywhere close to it in scale.







When I ran up on this ranch headquarters east of Hachita, I wasn’t sure if it was in operation, then saw that it was a fairly substantial house surrounded by all the scrap, they were somehow making it go, tough, but in the middle of some pretty country.







(to be continued…)
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post #17 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Hachita is just one of the little towns between Columbus and Animus that has dried up, surprising, because it’s at the intersection with 81 which goes down to the border crossing at Antelope Wells. Antelope Wells is either the start or stop of the Continental Divide Trail, depending. No fuel here anymore, no nothing as far as I could see.





Speaking of the Continental Divide, the low range ahead of me was the Divide, and I would cross a short distance east of Animus.





The Border Patrol was set up at the intersection with the Playas road, a manned truck portable post with a tilt-up mast, an arrangement I would see often ahead. From the Texas to the Arizona line below highway 9 there is a corn maze of gravel roads, I don’t know how they keep track of what’s going on out there.



Arriving in Animus, first on the list was fuel, didn’t see any possibilities right off, but I asked an older woman driving a pickup with a lawnmower in back where I could find it, got a smile and a shake of her head, no habla I guess. I only got her to point in the right direction after saying “gasolina?” a couple times. Maybe she thought I was asking about Daddy Yankee at first, kinda confusing I admit, but she caught on when I pointed to my gasolina tank. Whew, that was enlightening, now I know I’m bilingual, don’t need to buy the damn Rosetta stuff after all.



Fueled the bike, then spoke with a rancher for quite awhile, two saddled horses in his trailer. His family had ranched in the area “since forever”, and the ranch was northeast of Animus up against the Divide. He knew the Geronimo Trail road I wanted that would take me over the mountain to Douglas, but advised that there had been much rain down there, the road was likely to be in very rough shape, not what I would call good news. When I asked about Border Patrol activity, he laughed, calling it a very expensive “catch and release” exercise. He said the local ranchers have more problems with the Border Patrol crossing their range than they do with illegals. “The illegals don’t cut fences, but the guys chasing them will drive those trucks right through our fences, never fix a damn thing.” Shook hands, wished each other luck, he back to the ranch, me into the store, better get more water.

The four girls minding the store were a surprise, all completely different sizes, shapes, looks, and adopted personas, all juiced wit da funky, no homogenization here, maybe that’s more confined to an urban setting. Bought my water, and found there did happen to be one thing they agreed on, besides random tat embellishment, don’t use that Trail road to get to Arizona, never make it, go over to 80, then south. Gee, that makes me feel so much better, but I think I’ll stick my nose in there anyway, besides I was still amped, couldn’t exactly talk my way into Arizona, figured I better start riding instead.

(to be continued…)
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post #18 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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Highway 338 runs south from Animus, and at the outskirts of town I rode past cornfields, a farmstead complete with grain bins, could have been a scene from a Midwest back road, and I sure didn’t expect row crops down here.



Road signs warned that pavement ended in twenty miles, then signs warning of a “primitive” road ahead, and then the first of several water crossings on 338, don‘t ignore the warning signs, just a suggestion, that water is deeper than it looks.



I didn’t mind the water crossings, solid bottom, about 15” deep, but it was live water, not just a puddle, and that told me that the rancher had been right about the heavy rains, not good for the Geronimo Trail road conditions. I’d discovered a big Charlie Foxtrot on the GPS, and didn’t have a waypoint for the turnoff, only one thing to do, find a Border Patrol guy, they’re hiding behind every bush. Don’t believe me?, it only took about 5 minutes to locate a Border Patrol vehicle, the guy very friendly, probably wanted to practice the English he’d nearly forgotten how to speak. He knew the road and where I was going, and when I asked about what I would find, he kinda waggled his hand, known sign language for “sketchy”. Here we go…

The road did have a small sign near the mile 28 marker, CR004, I would have found it ahead, made the turn and found another live water crossing less than a mile in, this one deeper, still no problem.



The first section of road climbed a rocky grade to grassland on top, and once there, I found deep ruts left from ranch or Border Patrol trucks trying to get in and out, and it looked like they could barely move in 4-wheel drive. The fun started when I came off the top and descended into the Coronado National Forest, the road no longer the responsibility of the county. There was a dramatic change in the road from flat and muddy to up and down grades, washed, rocky, and narrow. Frankly, it didn’t look like a promising start, and I was concerned that I might find the road cut, unable to cross.

I should have kept track of the number of water crossings, but I simply lost count. The road washed in dozens of places, some easy crossings, others very difficult where the flow was strong enough to create boulder berms across the road…no photos, don’t own a GroPro, I had other things on my mind, some of that stuff was downright treacherous. I found myself through a whole mess of crossings, on a graded stretch, stopped for a drink, hey, I’m home free now…what’s all the fuss about? Well, the fuss wasn’t over quite yet, the rest stop was just a short reprieve.



Somewhere along the road I crossed into Arizona, now on NF63, slow going, the small victory was not about crossing the first 3000 miles, it was about crossing the last 15 miles where one little mistake would produce a result that would have consequences…not that there was any immediate danger beyond injury if ya happened to put the bike on the ground, unable to move, one or either. The high peak to the west is named Outlaw, some things remain constant.



There were other small crossings, nothing like what was already behind me.



The memorial for the Mormon Battalion is an interesting read, more online for those willing to look, and I’ll admit to a lack of knowledge about this part of southwest history, these folks went all the way to California.



The descent on NF63 proved tricky and slow, every steep grade was heavily washed, and in several places the road was cut, barely enough room to get through. I stopped for a photo near the top, the last until I got down off the grade.



Near the bottom, I met a half ton 4x4 pickup creeping along, the first vehicle since 338, they would never make it much farther with that rig, not near enough ground clearance, no winch, and the only possible track would put the truck in danger of a 500’ roll down the mountain.





The lower road had received much more traffic, and a grader had straightened out the worst of the damage from the rain, smooth sailing again, but still a hike to Douglas.



The country had taken on a different look, now the arid southern Arizona I had been expecting.





While I was riding up top, the county grader had been working below, and now I could really run.



The Geronimo Trail passes within 400’ of the border, stands to reason that someone might be watching. I can see why the Border Patrol wants these posts mobile, the mast can be seen for miles, ain’t exactly a secret, but at least they can move them around.



The observation post was looking out over this country, and I wasn’t sure whether the topo features were even in the States.





Suddenly I was back on pavement, it had taken four hours to cross this chewed up road since I had left pavement on the other side, an accomplishment, but also a timely reminder…don’t go in there if there remains any question on the outcome, ya can’t just wish your way through, it’s confidence in your ability to prevail that lets you see the other side.



The sun was beating down on my black Klim, I was more than hot, and made the decision riding the last miles into Douglas to forget about the camping, I wanted to trade the tent for some AC. Douglas was another busy border town, the mirror community to Aqua Prieta on the Mexican side, and a strategic border crossing. I rode around the center of town, found my cheap motel, but also found I couldn’t budge the rate into the cheap cheap range. One of the young guys at the desk had a lipstick tattoo on his neck, and when I asked whether his girlfriend liked it, he replied “She’s ok with it”, and when I said “I suppose you blamed it on your ex girlfriend”, I got a hearty laugh, “How in the world did you know that?”

I got back on the bike with directions to the Donald’s, one mile and one turn, great, that’s about all I could handle. Got my tray of advertised food pyramid calories, got about 10 free refills with my clown cup, cooled off some, and watched the local residents come and go…some fine people watching and interesting dynamics, I needed cultural immersion to go with my bilingual skills.

I got back to the motel, AC set to make ice cubes on the louvers, and got out my Butler map for the AZBDR, hmmmm, I wonder what I’ll find out there?, but then, that’s always the question. At least I had made Douglas as planned, I could sleep on that.

(to be continued…)
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post #19 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Day Seven: Saturday, October 25

Up early again, and I hiked the gear back down the stairs to the bike, pain in the butt, the motel was booked solid, I was lucky to get a room at all, as I said, Douglas is a busy place. Maybe there was something going on in town, but more likely it was the fact that the Border Patrol had permanently booked most rooms at other motels, or maybe it was just the 40 buck rate.





I did a walk-around, bike was dirty after some escapades, no damage, everything was tight, new fender style keeping the radiator clear.





Over to the office to turn in the key, get a cuppa, and I was surprised to see the same lipstick kiss tat kid there, and I asked him “Y’all workin’ 24/7 or what?”, and he replied “I works lots of hours, it helps me achieve my goals faster”, there ya go folks, don’t be judgmental, you could be very wrong. Coffee was terrible, melt your freakin’ teeth right down to the gums.

I didn’t bother catching breakfast in Douglas, I’d find it on the road somewhere, and I hit goto on the GPS, I did have a waypoint for the bottom of the AZBDR plus a good Butler map idea of how to get there. Northwest on 80, I passed Chochise Community College, they must have an aviation program judging from the campus airstrip.

On the west side of the road, I passed a border patrol truck, two agents getting set for a foot patrol, geared up like the footage from Afghanistan, including the vests and firearms. There had been recent shooting all along the border, including this area, the game was evolving quickly. They might have been responding to a call from the observation post overlooking the entire valley.



The morning air was crisp, felt great after riding in heat the last few days, and I was soon up the road to Bisbee. I’d been there years earlier, not impressed, could be better now, but I wasn’t interested…unless I happened to see a café with a bunch of ranch trucks parked outside.



No café, but I did stop for fuel and water, I couldn’t be sure of what was ahead. Southwest on 92, then west, fast food but no café, the road was now parallel to and only three miles above the border. I rode past a café on the south side of the road near Palominas, reconsidered, and turned back, there were pickups and cars in the lot, good sign. It turned out to be a great decision, when I went through the front door, I found the café tables filled with locals, a country style breakfast menu, and ridiculously cheap prices. The regulars had their personal coffee mugs stored in a big rack, popular place, maybe the only place. I ate a lot of breakfast, the owner brought over extra home made salsa, and even the cook looked out to inspect the wreckage and ask if I got enough to eat, must not have folks around here who can eat breakfast for six. When I asked for apple pie it was too early, damn, I might have eaten a whole one.

I stopped outside to talk with an old timer sitting on a bench, smoking handrolled, his dog years old timer mutt begging from everyone exiting the café. Learned all about treating snakebite, healing burns, heard some Border Patrol gossip, and an opinion on the desert sprawl that had worked it’s way down from Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca to the north. He also said that the Texas cop I encountered who referred to rattlesnakes as “rattlebugs” was a freakin’ idiot, yeah, thought so myself. Thanks for the info mister, gotta be goin‘.

That guy wasn’t kidding about desert sprawl, it took up the whole desert, some big houses out there too, not just double wides.





I turned due south off 92, Coronado Memorial drive would take me to the park entrance when the road turned west a mile above the border, then Sonoita, 52 miles north on the other side of the passes.



The AZBDR starts right here at the park entrance.



After a short ride on pavement, the road turns to gravel for the climb up to Montezuma Pass, great looking country along the climb, except the only two vehicles I encountered both came around a corner in the wrong lane nearly hitting me head on, one being Border Patrol, the other a pony tailed blonde in a pickup. Why they would not expect to find someone else on this road is just plain dumb, it’s a weekend in a freakin’ park.





The road was graded smooth, but dusty, and I finally found a spot where I could get a look back down the mountain, beautiful.





The top of Montezuma Pass is a park facility with restrooms, viewing area too, y’all can see quite a bit of the continent with the right equipment, maybe the string bikini girls on the beaches at San Blas if ya squint a little through the viewfinder.





(to be continued…)

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post #20 of 51 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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From the top of this pass, I was looking out over the Coronado National Forest, one of them forests with mostly imaginary trees, didn’t matter much ‘cause I still liked what I saw, and the route went right through it.



I’d had two incidents climbing to the pass, and when descending on the west side here comes a Toyota pickup, he’s on the wrong side too, jerks it back right and nearly drops the front wheel clean over the edge, WTF is with these Arizona drivers? There were drag tires along this road too, seems like any smuggler would have learned some stealthy tricks by now. I rode up on a group of hunters standing in the middle of the road with a spotting scope pointed straight up the mountain, weren’t happy to move out of the way, I must be scaring those darling tiny deer, should paint the bike camo I guess.

There was some live water here too, the picture perfect stream, and was the object of some kind of restoration project according to the sign.





Eeeek, a water crossing, I’d taken the photo just for fun and was putting the camera away when a pair of KTMs rode up, 690 and 990, both tricked, no luggage. They had stopped to make sure things were ok, good on them, and when I said “You guys have the right bikes for these roads”, he said “Yes, WE do”, ok, I think I get it…thanks for stopping.



Just in case you think you’re drifting too far away from the border, the route turns southwest on Lochiel Road, entering the grassland I could see from the higher elevations, but first a warning sign, speed limit too.











It was very tempting to crank it up, no expert, but I wasn’t without some experience on these types of roads, and resisted. Sure enough, like others, there were surprises out here that could put you down hard if you rode up on them carrying too much speed.

Grass to the horizon, one of the joys of riding these roads is the varied terrain, changing constantly.



I was still riding generally southwest, a few old fallen down buildings along the route.



The grass was fenced and I was expecting to find cows, hoping they wouldn’t find me.



The route follows NF61, then onto Duquesne, and I continued to roll, I was enjoying this, the wild west, just a man and his horsepower.









Get big air off this, and you might find yourself upside down in the water crossing below.



Before turning north, the route ends up only a quarter mile from the border, there’s a small ranch right there, wouldn’t care to live there myself given all the festivities in the area, and I couldn’t see any border markers until I was on top of the next hill. The Border Patrol had already claimed this one.





Looking back south, I could see the secure southern border of the United States of America, gotta have a sense of humor about this stuff.



I was making the defining turn north from the border, and I’m betting that I had been under surveillance continuously while riding the border area starting somewhere around Camp Wood back there in West Texas. I’m going to file a FOI, get my hands on the video footage, it’ll make for some interesting viewing…and beats the heck out of foolin’ with one of them GroPros.

(to be continued…)


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