|Big Bend National Park - Chisos Basin|
The three days before Mother's Day four of us took a quick ride out to Big Bend National Park. Marco, Hiram, Tomas and myself left on Thursday morning about 5:45am under overcast skies with 80% chance of rain in the forecast. As we often do, we took the back roads way West with only us and a few thousand tractor trailers from the fracking fields cluttering up what were once lonely roads with great scenery. Now most of the highways are in terrible disrepair from the heavy tractor trailers going to and fro the fracking wells.
|Dilley's under the center pin!|
May 10, 2012 at 11:45am
|Hank From Motohank Dilley, Texas|
We headed northwest first toward http://www.motohank.com (Motohank's) so that Marco could get a new set of tires on his BMW RT. Hank owns the shop and he's a certified BMW motorcycle mechanic in Dilley, Texas. You'd think that he wouldn't have any business out in the middle of nowhere, but he's got a healthy clientle from both the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. Dilley is approximately 85 miles North of Laredo on I35 and 75 miles from San Antonio. It's approximately 230 miles from Mission, TX.
About an hour before we hit Dilley it started to rain and soon thereafter we rode into a heavy shower. It rained most of the way into Dilley, but as we approached Dilley there was a cloud off to our West side that was so dark that it looked dark green instead of just black. As both cloud and riders raced toward Dilley it became obvious that the cloud won by a mere five miles or so. It really started raining hard, but it was no time to pull over as we knew we were close to Hank's shop. Again my waterproof BMW Motorad All Around gloves with the rubber visor wiper on the forefinger were a life saver. I was on my 2008 Harley Ultra Classic while Tomas and Marco were on their 2010 BMW RTs and Hiram on his BMW GS. My bike started to miss badly as water was sucked into the air intake, but I was able to make into Hank's covered garage area. It wasn't five minutes after we reached Hank's that quarter size hail started to fall. The whole scene was bleak, dark, wet and windy. We were just grateful we had made it safely and knew that we weren't about to rush off as Hank began the tire replacement on Marco's RT.
|Sanderson After Thunderstorm|
We moved on from Dilley about 1pm headed Northwest toward Uvalde and then West on Hwy 90 to Brackettville. Brackettville is home to the movie set "The Alamo" filmed in 1960 starring John Wayne as Davy Crockett. From there we continued West to Del Rio where we stopped at Rudy's BBQ for a late lunch. By the time we left Rudy's it was starting to rain again. We flew by Langtry and rode into Sanderson for fuel before moving on to Alpine.
The rain finally started to clear up in Sanderson and dark skies began giving way to some sunlight.We rolled into Alpine about 8:20 in the evening still with our rain gear on, but it had stopped raining most of the way between Sanderson and Alpine. We met up with a rider on a BMW GS from Houston named Andy. He rode into Alpine about three hours ahead of us and asked if we ran into the hail before Sanderson. We hadn't, but Andy said that it covered the highway for about 300 yards or so approximately ten miles before entering Sanderson. Thinking he was just seeing a water reflection on the highway he rode into a layer of hail between an inch or two thick. Andy said he'd figure he was going to lose the bike, but managed to keep it upright and slow down in order to slowly pass through it.
|Alpine Best Western|
Friday morning Andy was headed out to Terlingua to camp out a couple of nights, but we mentioned that camping at the Chisos Basin within Big Bend National Park was a lot better than Terlingua.
We spent the morning in Alpine before riding about 82 miles South on Highway 87 down to Study Butte and Terlingua. Study Butte and Terlingua are at an elevation of 2,582 feet so its sometimes really hot especially around July. Compared to Alpine at 4,500 feet and the Chisos Basin in Big Bend at 5,400 to 5,700 feet which are much cooler Terlingua is usually very warm. It's an interesting area with its share of interesting people much like Marfa with its art community.
After a short rest we entered Big Bend National Park
from the West entry which lies just a couple of miles outside of Study Butte. Unlike the North entrance, the Western entrance is more stark and moonlike looking with weird rock formations that don't look like they can support much life, especially not livestock. A few miles further into the park is the lone entry booth and this time it was actually open with a female Ranger charging an entry fee. That's kind of rare, seeing anyone in that booth since its about 26 miles from Panther Junction where the Park Headquarters is located. I flashed out my senior pass and driver's license and went right in. We headed to the Chisos Basin 30 miles away at the posted speed limit of 45mph.
We rode around the basin campsites and picked out one with a nice flat area which would hold our three tents. It was within about 25 yards from the host park ranger (a volunteer position). We quickly made friends as we introduced ourselves. As it turns out, the Ranger, Rick Trimble a retired school teacher from Plano High School District. He was orginally from our neck of the woods, La Feria in the Rio Grande Valley; small world. We also met up with Andy, our friend from back at the Best Western in Alpine. Andy joined us for dinner at the Basin Cafeteria where we each had a few Shiner Bocks and we took two bottles of wine back to the campsite. Andy and Rick joined us as we enjoyed our wine, the sunset and just general chat about riding and camping out. It was one of those times where you say, "it doesn't get better than this!". As Andy and Rick retired for the evening we just stood out by the tents looking at the millions of stars that we just can't see from the city.
We were up at daybreak and breaking down camp as we readied ourselves to leave after one quick night at the park.
We rode out about 8am and headed north exiting the North entrance and making our way to Marathon about 80 miles from the basin. We had breakfast at the Coffee Shop on the West side of the Gage Hotel (I have a blog piece on the Gage Hotel). Coffee and breakfast was great as we sat outdoors next to a group of birders trying to imitate the Great Horned Owl. I tried to help out with the Three Amigos bird call, "loook...up...here.....loook...up...here". They didn't get it.
|Entry From Western Side|
We had to make up some time in order to get back for Mother's Day so we rode hard without any lengthy stop until we made it to Hebbronville where we stopped at the local Dairy Queen. We rode up on Thursday logging in approximately 678 miles, only about 120 miles on Friday and another 650 or so on Saturday. It was too short a time, but a great ride. Can't wait to do it again!
|Our Campsite at the Basin|
|Casa Grande at base our our camp area|
|Marco and Hiram |
|Big Bend National View|
|View at Cafeteria |
|There's a View at Every Angle|
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|Marco & Hiram|