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800 S. Francisco St.
Mission, TX

Our website is all about motorcycles, especially BMW cycles. We cover rides in the Southwest and Mexico, motorcycle modifications and review motorcycle products. 

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Filtering by Author: Ricardo Perez

Riverside Bar on Rio Grande River

Ricardo Perez

At the Riverside Bar in Mission, Texas just across from Mexico
We took a short ride over to the Riverside Club on the Rio Grande River this Sunday to see if anything was going on. With all the talk of violence in Mexico and it spilling over into the US we figured things would be dead. Apparently the Canadians haven't given it much thought as well as a whole bunch of winter tourist. The Riverside was going full blast with a live band and boat cruises.
The river is probably at its widest close to Anzalduas Dam, about 75 yards or so, but it sure isn't too wide. There was little activity on the Mexican side. Must be because they are the metric system!
It was a cool, overcast day and perfect for an afternoon ride. Wish we could have kept riding into the week as the weather looks and feels great. Anyway, if you hear about the violence in Mexico and how it's spilling over onto US streets, don't think that it's the wild frontier down here in South Texas. The flat bottom boat, the Riverside Dreamer was packed with winter tourist, mostly in their 70s, but they sure weren't fearing for their lives. The Riverside and Crazy Joe's down by the river are still great hangouts.

Chimney Park Just Upriver 

Live Music & Lots of Beer!

Here Come the Zetas!

Oh No, it's the Canadians! 

WWII B24 Crew Chief - Seething England

Ricardo Perez

Note: This is not a motorcycle related posting.

I just finished a book, A Higher Call, about an American B24 pilot and an encounter with a German fighter pilot during WWII. The book brought memories of my dad and the stories he told of his days during the war. He was a Crew Chief mechanic on a B24 in Seething, England from 1943 to 1945. The following are some of his memories.

Sigifredo P. Perez
1912 - 1996
B24 Crew Chief
Seething, England 

Life was moving along just fine until that fateful day on December 7, 1941.  That’s the year that threw us into war with Japan and Germany; the start of World War II.  Six month later on June 9, 1942 I was drafted into the army. As it turned out, it was the Army Air Force.  I didn’t like the idea of leaving since my wife, Juanita, was pregnant with our first child.
The Army was a whole new experience for me. To begin with we were lined up before a string of men that were examining us.  These guys had us all stripped, completely naked, and we were checked over like some kind of fruit; some were rejected others were not. I was taken accepted.
Now, here in the Army, life was completely rare to me.  They would get you up in the wee hours of the morning, march you to eat break¬fast, which I seldom ate. One of the first things we did was to get our clothes and equipment needed by a solider. It seems like we marched all day.
I was so disgusted and depressed about being drafted that when they offered us our first leave of a few days so that we could go home and get our business in order, I didn't take it. I was really depressed about the whole thing. My wife still remembers I didn't come back like the rest of the men in town and has never let me forget that.  I figured second goodbyes were harder than the first.
Now in the Army I was checked and rechecked on my education which was limited to the fifth grade, but my IQ showed that I had a lot more knowledge than that. A lieutenant and a corporal held me over after we all took the intelligence test. I thought I was in trouble seeing that I was the only one left in the room. Eventually, after having rechecked my score they came over to me and began to quiz me. I told them that I read a lot and learned from that. They wanted to send me to OCS (Officer Candidate School), but they elected not to because they said I was too old. I was twenty-nine. 
I guess that my IQ scores got me out of going to the infantry and instead I was sent to an Aircraft Mechanic School.  This was in Shepherd Field, Texas near Wichita Falls, Texas .
I was stationed at Sheppard Field when my wife gave birth to our first son, Sigifredo P. Pérez, Jr.  who was born premature. I was also home, on furlough recovering from surgery I had in the hospital at Sheppard. I was on leave for two weeks. About three months later our baby got very sick and I got an emergency furlough through the Red Cross to go home. Our local doctor, Dr. Walker tried everything to save the baby, but he died in May of 1943. I had gotten several extensions on my leave, but after the funeral I had to return to Sheppard Field. Word was we were to go overseas to England.  I barely made it back in time to get my shipping orders, but I made it.
I was sent to Will Run Airfield in Ypsilanti, Michigan  to a crew chief school.  I made corporal at Will Run and had several weeks of training on the duties of an airplane chief.  It was at Will Run that I finished my training and was assigned to a brand new B24,  a four engine bomber which was manufactured right there in the huge Will Run plant that used the assembly line technique to manufacture the airplanes. This was the Henry Kaiser factory making "B24" bombers in an assembly line.  
The airplane I was assigned to was number 168 or something close to that.  I had to board it with all my belongings and go wherever it went.  This was the first time I ever flew in an airplane and I was really nervous.
As it happened, this first flight was a short one about 15 minutes. It was the delivery of the plane from the civilians at Will Run to the military at Romulus , Michigan.  This was sometime in mid-1943.
Now the civilian that delivered the plane was, I heard, a Canadian working for the plane manufacturer as a test pilot and as a regular pilot that made deliveries.  He was a talented pilot making very smooth landings with these big clumsy airplanes.  We called the B24s “Ruptured Cows”, but they proved their worth in Europe as they were the deciding force in the war. Even though they were not publicized as well as the B17s they were very good and kept coming back to fight another day, day after day, all through the war.
During my stay in Ypsilanti, we had weekend passes that we would use to go into Detroit.  Detroit had plenty to see and places to go and big dance halls and musicians.  That was what interested me. It was here that I went to the Ford Museum.  This was quite a place that had almost all the machines invented to-date.  It had the first light bulb that Edison made, it had other inventions by Edison, Marconi, Graham Bell and a lot of inve¬ntors like Eli Whitney and what seemed like hundreds of others.  It had planes that pioneered trips into the arctic.  This place was full of the first models of those inventions that are so important to us now.
More than anything it had all the early models of cars and locomotives some with the radiators and boilers made of pure bronze.  I have always been mechanically inclined and this place was paradise for me.  I have never forgotten the intrigu¬ing things that men invented to help change the world.
During my time in school in Romulus we were going at it hard as I was in¬doctri¬nated on the duties of a flying engineer, I had to know all the fuel and oil flows to every engine from the different wing gas tanks and the oil reservoir and all the duties that fell on an air engineer and gunner.
As it turned out, I could not do sustained high altitude flying because I had infected sinuses. Freezing conditions at high altitudes grounded me; therefore, I was given an M.O. designation of crew chief.
It was September and we had graduated from the schooling at Romulus and ready for the next step. I remember it was a cold, freezing morning in Michigan as we were awoken that early morning. I knew it would be colder in the plane so I struggled to put on a leather-flying suit, flying boots and heavy clothing for our flight.  We were whisked to the airplane and in the air in no time. I was alright until we landed a few hours later in Montgom¬ery, Alabama. I was almost roasted alive with all the winter clothing I had on.  I threw stuff off all around me as I couldn't even stand my undershirt as hot as it was.  I'll never know why the fellows flying the airplane did not tell us we were going south to hot weather. Must have been their little joke.
In Montgomery the airplane went through a winterization process that would prepare it for cold weather flying . 
Montgomery was a wonderful southern post where big trees grew and people had a leisurely pace.  Montgomery was nice because we had nothing to do for several weeks, but wait for our plane. So we visited all throughout Montgomery. I got passes to go into town; Montgomery was a very large city.  I remember a buddy and I went downtown and stopped for lunch at a restaurant where we ordered a T-Bone and French-fries.  Well, they gave us a steak that covered most of a large oval plate. What a steak!  I had all I wanted and had enough left for another meal or more.  
Once the plane was ready we were alerted that we were shipping out. 
From Alabama we flew to St. Joseph, Missouri where the plane went into weight and balances procedures, which I didn't get to see because I stayed in a hotel several miles from the base where this work was done.
I guess that this job at St. Joseph lasted a couple of days and after that I rejoined the plane and flew to Sioux City Army Air Base  in Iowa. It was quite a base, busy readying planes to go overseas.  It was at Sioux City that we were issued our clothes and equipment for wherever we were to be.  Some were issued tropical gear others were issued cold weather gear.  So it was here that we got our first clue of where we might be heading; the Pacific or Europe.
It was in Sioux City that I got baptized to real snow, with real honest-to-goodness snowstorms, so extreme that it was difficult to stay outside.  I was issued cold weather gear so I got to use my new gear right away.
From Sioux City we flew to Camp Shanks , New Jersey, just across the Brooklyn Bridge from New York City, New York. My plane went from Sioux City to somewhere where they prepared it to be ferried or flown to Europe or wherever.
While I was at Camp Shanks I would go into the big city every night to 42nd Street, the heart of New York City.  New York City was always going, round the clock. It didn't matter if it was midnight, three in the morning or daytime; it was the same with crowds around the clock. After visiting London I discovered that not even that city compared to New York City, a city so impressive I'll never forget it.  It would stretch for miles in all directions.  We would use the subway because it was a fast way to get from place-to-place and in 1943 it only cost a nickel to ride it.  I rode these trains all the way to the outskirts of town where they became elevated tracks. I still marvel at the engineer¬ing network of the subway as it ran throughout the city.
It was at Camp Shanks that we were to leave for parts unknown.  As the days passed they assembled us out on a field and told us we were shipping out.  We were going overseas to war and real fighting.  For a few days we practiced parachute jumping on a high trapeze tower so we thought we were flying out.  As we worked we also trained to climb and go down on a net made of thick rope; up and down about 20 feet or more, this was hard work.  If we had trouble getting to the top the Lieutenant in charge would yell, “ If any of you fail making it to the top and obstruct the way of the others, I'll shoot one man to save the others.”  Everything was serious and deman¬ding.  They would tell us that this training would one day save our lives.  Later we would realize that this was true.
I forgot the exact date, but it was November and Thanksgiving Day was coming soon.  We were assembled with all our gear and led to a train. They boarded us on a fast train that took us to a seaport where we were marched to a big ferry, which took complete companies of soldiers to a ship that was so big it staggers the imagination.  It was the Queen Elizabeth  the largest liner ever to plow in the oceans of the world.  You would find it hard to believe that this ship could carry so many troops, sailors, marines, all branches of the armed forces, including WACs. We were somewhere on the high seas when thanksgiving came.  We celebrated the day in the mess hall where we expected a good turkey dinner, but instead got a thick chop of pork, all fat. I didn't touch it.
They said 20,000 persons were on board for this trip across the Atlantic.  During the cruise I remember I lost all my money gambling and was really broke by the time I got off the Queen Elizabeth in Scotland, but I had a lot of fun.  We would have dice games on the stairways of the ship since everything was fairly cramped. In order to carry as many troops as it did every compart¬ment had six bed racks for six soldiers in a space of about six by eight feet. It was really close contact, but it was good for moral support since we were heading to the unknown.  It provided a good opportunity to talk about everything especially what we would like to eat, or where we would like to be, but seldom about the war. 
Another thing I saw in the promenade of the ship was an old fellow surrounded by GIs as he had a flea circus.  He had, he claimed, trained fleas that would pull a little paper cart, ride a bicycle and several other feats of strength. Later, after the war, whenever I talked about this, guys would just laugh at me not believing a thing. (I later read in the Enquirer an article with pictures of the entire flea circus.) 
While we were at sea we had no idea where we were headed.  Everybody had his own idea and thoughts about places we were going. Mostly, we thought we were going to replace fallen soldiers, which in a way was right, but mostly it was to form a force strong enough to keep pressure building up in preparation for the biggest invasion in history.  Anyway, in our discussions while on board we talked about everything including the possibility of never returning home, but this thought didn't last, it was a passing thing.  We all had dreams of getting our job done and coming home to our wives, girls, mothers and fathers and family.
When we got to Scotland, I was amazed when they lowered the anchors of the Queen Elizabeth. Each anchor had a mountain of piled chain as high as a big house and each link as big as a truck.  The metal was about 18 inches thick weighing, I suppose 15 or 20 tons.  The anchor slid down and took this big chain with it.
I remember sharing some chocolate bars with a buddy I had met back in the states named Richard C. Kelly and as it turned out, we were to remain buddies all through the war.  We would go on our passes together in the states and we continued it overseas. Richard was a slim, good-looking fellow about 5'10" tall. He was an easygoing guy that usually went along with whatever I wanted to do, but we would also do whatever he wanted to do as well. We had a good friend¬ship. Once when we were in Ypsilanti, we went to Detroit on a day pass and it happened that the Detroit Tigers were playing.  We were right outside the stadium and Kelly said, “let's go in and see the game,” but I said, “no let's go and have some fun.”  So I lost a chance to have seen a major league baseball game and never got to see one. I guess I wanted to have fun because we were all on edge not knowing what to expect, except that we were going to the fighting zones somewhere around the world.  We thought all kinds of thoughts, about where we would go, always expecting the worst places.
Germans reported the sinking of the Queen Elizabeth while we were halfway across the Atlantic, but luckily it was not true though some submarines were reported near the area at different times during the crossing.  After the fourth day we landed in Glasgow, Scotland.  It was a cold day when we were ferried into Glasgow in the early morning; some Red Cross Ladies were ready with hot tea, coffee and doughnuts.  These goodies were a real change of routine.  While in England we had very heavy foods, fatting and different for us, especially from what we were used to eating. 
Upon our arrival, everything was backwards to us, the traffic was on the left side of the road and the cars had the steering wheel on the right side.  It was really a hassle for us to get accustomed to driving our vehicles on the wrong side, but even on the base we were under the rules of the host country and had to abide by their rules.
From Glasgow we took a train that traveled due south all night. It would make stops along the way to let passengers off and on. Those passengers were not in our cars, ours were full of GIs. We didn't sleep all night as we rode the train and in the morning the train kept going at a very fast pace.  We had a chance to see some beautiful countryside as the train kept moving south.
It was about noon when we finally arrived at a place where we were to get off the train. We waited by the tracks and soon our transportation arrived. They were army trucks which had us load up by name and rank. We were separated into groups and loaded on these trucks. Richard Kelly and I were assigned to different vehicles, but as it turned out, we ended up in the same place. We were tired from traveling with no sleep and no rest, eating food we were not accustomed to eating, and had had no time to shower and cleanup. 
The trucks roared away having left us at an air base near the coast by the English Channel where our B24s joined us. The airbase was in Seething . As we got settled I was sent to a Quonset hut or barracks that served as our home in England. We settled down to live our new life in England, as a part of the force that was to eventually win the war in Europe.  I had quite a lot of experienc¬es that remain in my mind to this day.
This was November 1943 when we got settled in at Seething where the nights were so long and the days short.  It also rained everyday, freezing in the morning and thawing out during the day making a quagmire hard to walk in.  This was England in wintertime.  I also had a hard time understanding the way the British talked. My first memory was the very next night. That first day, just at dusk our allied planes, the British, were coming back from fighting with the German planes. Apparently the Germans came right over the channel and carried on a dogfight with our fighter planes.  I remember seeing several planes going down in flames over the English sky.  I don't know whether they were German, British, or American, but it must have been some from each side. So this was war.
From that day on, we were under fire every night and day.  The Germans were more active during the years 1943 and 1944, but they never ceased the bombing and strafing raids until the very last months of the war when our forces took the initiative and drove them back into Germany. The Germans main¬tained regular bombings over England destroying many towns, cities and air bases.
We never really had a full night's sleep because the raids were mostly at night when it was harder to defend ourselves as the Germans used the cover of the night. They had wonderful machines and navigational systems, but they would still lose a lot of bomber and fighter planes to our guns, anti-aircraft guns and fighter planes.  These losses didn't stop them or slow them down, but our raids on their oil reservoirs, railroads and factories did a lot of damage.  Little by little, we were gaining in this terrible conflict.  
At first we were busy getting the base ready for action; we would dig ditches, build roads, and do all kinds of work on the base itself.  We built some buildings and gun-holes.  We cleaned the area and our barracks, which housed about 28 to 30 men each.
The first few months we were restricted to the base and didn't get passes to go off the base grounds. We would work all day and play poker at night. Of course, it was a complete blackout at night.  We could not have any light showing through the windows or anywhere else because of the night bombings. We were also bombed during the day when we first arrived, but not as often.
During these early days I got a job cutting hair for the guys.  I had to clean the Commanding Officer’s Headquarters, but I didn't like the idea of having to clean the CO’s quarters. I told the CO how I felt and he sent me to my airplane, but he busted my corporal stripes.  So I was back to being a plain GI, but a mechanic on my B24, the one I was assigned to in Willow Run, Michigan. I worked on this airplane until December 24, 1944 when it was shot down over Germany. Before her demise our crew got a Presidential Citation for service. It was in the form of a picture with all the crew and airplan¬e.
With my plane we started to prepare for the bombing missions to Germany.   This soon became a round the clock routine.  Since late 1943 until the end of the war in 1945 I worked on B24s and I worked hard most of the time in real cold weather.  I would wait for the plane after a bombing mission and as I directed the plane into the hard-stand I usually could tell how bad the damage was. At times I had to go over the plane very carefully, looking for hidden damage to the fuselage. Sometimes the crew would tell me they had a difficult mission and showed me the area where the probable damage could be.  I always was afraid of fuel tank damage, which was the easiest to find because the tanks were rubber tanks of the self-sealing type.  The sealer worked for several hours and would allow the plane to keep flying back home, but damaged tanks had to be replaced. As far as I was concerned, this was one of the toughest jobs on the whole aircraft. 
The rubber bladder gas tanks were easy to handle in hot weather, but in cold weather as we
had in England, they were tough to manipulate.  The first step was to get the punctured tank out, but first draining it and squeezing it out of the wing as best you could.  The tanks were intercon¬nected and under the wing so the leading edge of the wing had to come off, then the under part of the wing. They had hundreds of screws, but even after everything was exposed it was still hard to get the old tank out and the new one in and insure that there were no gas leaks.  We had to work very hard to get the aircraft back in action so we had our hands full most of the time, working all night to get the plane ready.
Flack would sometimes damage a cylinder or firepower and we had to change the cylinder or any parts damaged during the mission, and have the airplane ready as soon as possible.  At times whole engines were damaged enough that we would replace it.  In came the sheet metal men that knew the work it took to fix a damaged fuselage. For example, if a de-icing boot on the leading edge of the plane’s wing was damaged, it would take us, the mechanics, to remove it and if the damage was deep enough to damage the metal part, then it would take the body men to work on it as well. It was a long tedious job.
One early morning as I was going to the mess hall for breakfast and then to pre-flight the airplane I passed three guys going the opposite way.  I glanced up at them and at the same time one of them looked at me I saw my old friend, Tony Muñoz, from my hometown of Mission, Texas.  We had been in school together, but we never dreamed we would see each other again, especially in such a far off place like Seething, England. Tony was a tail gunner on a B24.  I didn't see him often, but sometimes his crew would fly my airplane so I’d get to talk with him.  Later I was to have quite a few anxious moments for him because I feared he had been killed or lost-in-action.  On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1944 his crew took my airplane on a bombing mission over Germany.  As we would always do, I went to the field and our hard-stand to wait for the return of the planes.  As they started coming back from their mission, my plane had not come in so I waited; then one plane from another squadron passed by and the gunners gave me the thumbs down sign telling me that our plane was downed. I couldn't believe it.  I had been assigned to that airplane in Willow Run, Michigan and had been with me in England since 1943 so I was unconvinced, but the plane that was parked next to mine came in and the gunner walked over to me and said the plane was shot down over Germany and they had seen four parachutes open. To me that spelled curtains for Tony, he was a tail gunner a very hard place to get out of even under good circumstances so I thought he had been killed.  The flight line sergeant told me we wouldn't have a plane for two or three days so I went to the barracks where the gunners stayed to talk to the guys about Tony. As I walked in the first guy I saw was Tony writing letters back home.  Boy was I happy to see him. I told him what had happened and he said a fellow gunner wanted his place so he could finish his tour and go home.  
I had lost my airplane and felt I had lost a good friend, but at least I didn’t lose my good friend.  Tony still lives in Mission and has a local insurance agency.
I remember a very sad thing that happened to an airplane from our group right at the end of the runway.  A plane crashed at the end of the runway trapping three crew members in the nose section of the plane. The crash caused the top gunner turret to drop and trap the men inside the plane. The firemen and rescue groups tried to save them, but were unable to. It was an ordeal for us watching from across the field because we knew the bomb load would go off at any time. It did with a terrific blast. The guys trapped inside were all killed as the blast scattered parts all over including whole engines, plane fragments, and unexplod¬ed bombs.  That tragic event still remains vivid in my mind.  
The place surrounding the crash area was put off-limits for three days as we waited to see if any unexploded bombs would go off. Eventually they were left to the demolition men to go in and disarm them and secure the area. Some bombs were hard to find as they were scattered over a big area. Some ended up in ditches or in soft damp earth where their impact would camouflage them with dirt, weeds and/or mud. It was no easy task to really be sure everything was secure and free of danger.  After three days the area was secured and we were left the grim task of looking for human remains.  
Well I hate to talk about this, but it was some¬thing that happened. It was unreal and really it shouldn't have happened, but things happen within the operations of a war machine.  The incident also happened early one morning to a truck transporting men to the flight line.  These were army trucks with a canvas top cover with benches along the sides for the men to sit. Three men were killed instantly by an airplane’s propeller blades. Others died later from their injuries.  
I forgot the date now, but we really got a scare during the Battle of the Bulge .  In the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans stood and concentrated their forces for a last push that almost succeeded. On the night of the Battle of the Bulge, I was selected to guard our airplane.  I guess I was a funny looking guy; I had a carbine, a 45 cal army pistol, a bayonet, a dagger, gas mask and more stuff.  A lieutenant told me to be very alert.  We were expecting German paratroopers and an invasion was very possible, but thank God nothing happened.  These were anxious days, even though we knew we were not far from bringing Hitler to his knees.  
As we began our raids into the countries captured by Germany, we would lose planes and their crews everyday, but our replacements and the ability to continue our constant bombing missions into the heart of Germany began to take its toll.  If I am correct it was in early 1944 that we started penetrating Germany itself.  We bombed some city with ball bearing factories which were the wheels of the German armies and war machine, also the air craft factories.  They denied any harm, but our underground was seeing their desperation and their empire was crumbling.
All during the day we would bombard them and at night the Germans would bomb us.  British bombers bombed Germany at night.
As the battle raged on day-after-day, a baby called V-1  surprised us.  This was a jet type plane that depending on the amount of fuel they put in it, it would crash land and in it was an armed warhead. Their aim was bad at times, but London was their target.
One night we were walking from a little "pub" (beer bar) towards the barracks when one of those roaring V-1 flew overhead.  We scrambled around as it ran out of fuel, running and looking for a ditch to hide.  It spurted a few times and went down about a half mile away, but the concussion was strong enough to topple us down.  Later Germany came out with the V-2, a really awesome rocket and the 262  jet plane.
One morning before daybreak I was safetying the gas tank caps on top of the wing of the B24 aircraft ready to pre-flight it when I noticed some gold streaks forming on the eastern horizon.  As the streaks were forming I kept looking at one and saw it go up, up and I kept looking and saw an object going up until I couldn't see it.  I kept looking until I saw the thing coming down.  I got off the plane and saw the thing coming down, it was so high I thought it was coming our way, but it was not coming to our base.  When it fell it seemed the ground trembled with the explosion.  This was the V-2, the so-called Bon Brown Rocket and the beginnings of our space travels. 
When I first heard the 262 jets coming in for raids at night.  We were puzzled by the whooshing noise, which we had never heard before.  It was the jet fighter used sometime in late 1944 or early 1945.  These exotic and destructive machines were just imaginary things to us.  They were the stories about world and universal travel that we read about in comic books, but they were now very real and in use against us by the Germans.  So in fact, the space age was starting as the war was ending.
On June 6th I was pre-flighting our airplane around three o'clock in the morning when an armored car came by and wanted that I cut the engines off and I asked why so early.  They answered, “This is "it"!  We think it is D-Day.”
As it turned out it was the invasion of Germany on Omaha beach.  I sent the plane three times on bombing runs which was very unusual since we were used to one long trip a day, to the heart of Germany, but these were short trips across the English Channel carrying antipersonnel bombs.  These were packed in a bunch and were detonated and scattered over a large area exploding and scatte¬ring shrapnel over large areas. 
I forgot to tell you about Axis Sally, we would once in a while hear her on the radio.  We would hear a sweet voice telling us that the war was as good as lost, to give our¬selves up and surrender so we could go back home.  She’d say that our sweethearts, wives, and girl friends were running around with 4Fers.  She had such beautiful voice that at times we would think about it, but we knew about her and Tokyo Rose, the Pacific version of Axis Sally.
After the Battle of the Bulge it wasn't long before Germany was overrun and surrendered. Soon we were shipped back home.  I installed two engines on the B24 plane that would take us home.  I had installed them by myself because the rest of the crew was on furlough.  I was nervous flying back.  Our first stop was Vale, Wales across England about 5 hours away and from there we flew to the Azores Islands.  We had a two-day stay there and Kelley and I walked to the beach and I told him, "Hey, Richard, let's go swimming," and we went in.  It was nice, but we didn't know where we were or how deep it was, but I guess we were happy to be going home.  As we got out we saw a Portuguese man tending goats.  We talked to him, but he didn't understand so I talked to him in Spanish and he understood some.  I asked him if he could get us a bottle of Champaign.  He said he could so we asked him how much it cost.  We gave him two dollars and he left.  We had to trust him.  He did come back with a green bottle.  We had a little trouble opening it, but we finally got it open and drank it. We didn't feel anything, so we think it was regular soda.
The next day we had our longest flight, the flight from Wales to the Azores Island, St. Marie that took seven hours.  This flight was over cloudy sky.  We saw the ocean only a few times.  I had a headset on and so I could hear the conversations between the pilot and navigator.  I was surprised when the navigator said,  "Navigator to pilot, turn 45 degrees to the right and prepare to land."  I was looking out a window and it was like cotton, you couldn't see anything.  He prepared to land as he went through a dark stretch of clouds and there below the clouds was a beautiful green land.  The plane just kept going down straight to the runway, no turning, just straight in.  I admired the accuracy of the navigator.
As we took off from there we went across the north Atlantic to Newfoundland in northern Canada during this flight that lasted 12 or so hours.  We would wonder whether we were lost or something, but we eventually landed in a bleach, barren land, no trees, nothing.  This was the last place in which we landed before reaching American soil.  It was  Bradley Field, Connecticut.  I remember we kissed the ground and did a lot of bragging and hoping that the war was over for us, but no, we went by rail to San Antonio.  I got a furlough, 15 days and was told to report back to San Antonio, Texas.
I went home and by coincidence, Tony Muñoz was on the same bus.  It came to McAllen, Texas where we got a cab to take us to Mission, Texas, our hometown.  The taxi dropped me off, I fumbled for money, but Tony said he would pay this and told the driver go on. 


200,000 Page Views

Ricardo Perez

Thanks to all our loyal readers! Today we hit the 200,000 milestone for page views so thanks for checking out our blog and following our ride reports.

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BMW Water Cooled GS Pictures

Ricardo Perez

Here's a quick look at the major different look from the GS and the new water cooled GS. I took a few pictures of both bikes while over at Lone Star BMW in Austin.

Old GS

Old GS

New GS
New GS with Exhaust on Bottom

My 2013 BMW R1200RT Makes It Home

Ricardo Perez

2013 90th Anniversary R1200RT

 My new bike, my 65th birthday gift from my wife, is finally home. I ordered it over a month ago while it was still in the motherland, but it gradually made its way across the Atlantic to the BMW warehouse in New Jersey or thereabouts and to Austin's Lone Star BMW on Friday morning March 01, 2013. My wife and I towed up my motorcycle trailer on Saturday, arriving at the dealer at 4:57pm, with a whole three minutes to closing.
It was a real adventure getting to the dealer as I decided to get off the stop-and-go bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate Hwy 35 and take Red River Street, a parallel urban street, as it was faster than I35. That was true until I got to the Longhorn Stadium when a DPS Trooper stopped me and proceeded to wave through the Longhorn marching band followed by a few thousand fans right in front of us. By then I figured it was useless to get upset so I recorded the band as they marched by. Anyway, I made it to Lone Star with plenty of time.
We loaded the bike and we were back on the road to Mission within 15 minutes. It was slow going between Austin and San Antonio, but we finally made it South of San Antonio and opened it up a little. The 660+ mile round trip had us home about 11:30pm; a long day. My wife, Irma, was a real trooper on the 12 hour tow. I had thought of spending the night in Austin, but couldn't bear the thought of having the bike sit in some lonely parking lot so we headed right back home. It was a good decision to trailer the bike home instead of riding it through all that stop and go I35 mess.
Of course, I was in a hurry to get out of Austin and through the 5 o'clock rush hour so I didn't even bother to start up the bike or test anything on it. I took it on faith that the good folk at Lone Star BMW had checked everything out. When I entered the dealership the bike was right next to Gary, my salesman, with a "SOLD" sign on it.
My brother and I unloaded the bike, checked everything out and took it down the street two blocks and back. It had 5 miles on the odometer when I took delivery of the bike. Next report will be on my first long ride coming up at the end of the week.

Only 5 Miles on OD

At Home In Garage

Meyers' - Elgin Smokehouse

Ricardo Perez

In ongoing quest to find the best BBQ places in Texas we made a visit to Meyers' Elgin Smokehouse in Elgin, Texas. Elgin is in mostly in Bastrop County (part of it is in Travis County) and is about 30 miles East of Austin and 15 North of Bastrop. A small town with a population of approximately 8,000 served as the location for the filming of the 1974 movie, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', but it's more famous for its sausage.

As you walk into Meyers' there stands a huge sausage "Boss" press just to let you know that they are serious about their sausage making.
Walk through the retail market and there's a variety of sausages that'll make any sausage lover take a long pause to check out the lineup. Red banners telling us just how many awards those little links have snatched up during the years line the walls.
If you can get through the market section, the larger part of the establishment is the actual restaurant where a plate of BBQ runs about six or seven dollars. It's good food.
Over the years we've made a circle around San Antonio and Austin with our favorite BBQ locations and in the spring there's nothing better in Texas than a bluebonnet and BBQ ride. Linking our favorite restaurants together can make a very nice ride. We'll map them out make that run this spring.  

Sausage Press

"Boss" Press

"Take Your Pick"

Of course, you can get different sides

Motorcycle Workshop: Built Over Holidays

Ricardo Perez

My Motorcycle Shop
Well, not exactly over the holidays, but close to it. I'm building this workshop in my backyard to house my motorcycles. I started by laying an 18'X14' slab with a 24" perimeter and an 18" cross-section all in rebar and No. 6 mesh to make a slab. It's not going anywhere. It's finished off with a four foot ramp onto a patio with pavers. The framing is all in 2'X4's and the trusses are in 2'X6's. The roof is covered in a 30 year asphalt shingle and the edges trimmed in cedar. Three sides are OSB and the front facing is OSB covered in tongue and groove cedar planks. I installed a 14ga steel 6'X7' garage door with lock as my only entry. The windows were salvaged from my house; the front pane is about a 4'X4' glass pane (it's about 60 years old so it's very thick) and the side windows are two, very heavy, still functional steel crank windows. The front window has security bars, but it won't keep anyone out, but it does protect it from footballs and soccer balls. I'm about 85% finished, still need the corner and door cedar trimming and the roof soffit.
Inside I have yet to do anything except I have already run my 12/2 wiring for 10 plugs. There is no insulation and I am debating whether to do that at all since I'll mostly work with the door open and the walls will be covered with heavy duty peg boards. 
I'm open to any recommendations as I try to finish it up within the next couple of weeks.

Preparation for Slab

Freshly Laid Slab
Starting Framing
Cedar on OSB

About 85% Complete!

Motorcycle Riding & Diabetes

Ricardo Perez

Crazy Joe's
This past weekend a few us took a short Sunday ride over to Crazy Joe's in Granjeno (see map location). Crazy Joe's is just a stone's throw from the raised Anzalduas International Bridge as it spans the Rio Grande flood-way and river. If we were any closer we would be directly under the bridge. During the summer months Crazy Joe's is primarily a biker hangout providing live music so it's a nice place to stop for a cool one, come late fall it becomes a winter tourist hangout. It gets crowded with guys wearing shorts and in black socks with dress shoes. They're a lot of fun.

Recognizing that it was a senior crowd I started telling my buddies that I was going to ask the bartender if I could take this captive audience and do an infomercial on diabetes. I figured the majority were either diabetic or know someone who is a diabetic. That's when Albert Chapa pulled up his tee shirt and said, "I've got the OmniPod and I can go up on stage with you! If we  could get a hold of the microphone for our infomercial we could probably charge $15 a head and make at least $500! We had a good laugh.
Of course, once I had seen the OmniPod, I had to ask Albert how it works. Albert said, "it's great for those of us that are insulin dependent and require a pump to manage our diabetes. I wear it all the time, I shower with it, get in the pool with it, and even go snorkeling with it. It has a little control unit like a cell phone that I use to program how much insulin I need. I can look up what I've eaten and program the correct dose on the spot." Albert went on to say, "I've looked at other pumps, but I refused to be tethered to a pump and tube. The OmniPod is tubeless and just what I was looking for. It's worked great for me and this month is my third year with it. I can go on long rides without a worry and if we're going to eat something that's out of this world, I just look it up on my monitor,select it and it will wirelessly deliver the correctly calculated amount of insulin."
So if the day comes when you get diabetes you may want to add this nifty little pump to your list of motorcycle farkles!

Official End of Summer!

Ricardo Perez

Courthouse Where Billy The Kid Was Jailed - Las Cruses, NM
Ricardo & Tomas - July 28, 2012
We've had two days in the 60s with highs around 74 reminding us that summer has come and gone. I guess none of us will miss those 104 degree days when you're as close to turning into beef jerky as you're ever going to get and then you start thinking, "at what temperature tires start to melt?". When its summer we long for those cool fall days and then, not too long afterwards, we long for those summer days. I guess we've narrowed it down to the perfect range for riding is between 78 and 82 degrees. In South Texas we have about four or five of those days or at least it seems like it. I shouldn't complain since guys are already talking about putting their bikes up for the winter. At least we get to ride year round. Whenever I complain about the weather I just check my weather bug appl and check the weather in Cooke City, MT just north of Yellowstone National Park which we rode through on a cool July day. Tonight it'll be a cool 66 degrees and clear in Mission, Texas while my friends in Cooke City will enjoy a low of 23 degrees with freezing rain or snow!

Victoria, Texas & Aunt Jo's BBQ

Ricardo Perez

Aunt Jo's BBQ
 Here's another BBQ place that's worth a stop if you're riding anywhere near Victoria, Texas.
Just South of Victoria on highway 77/59 as you speed North at 75mpg you may want to hit the brakes, hard, and make a quick turn into Aunt Jo's BBQ. It a welcome site where you can sit outside and enjoy good BBQed brisket, chicken, or pork. Aunt Jo's BBQ Urban Spoon Review  There's lot's of shady spots to relax and enjoy BBQ either on the plate or in a sandwich.
If you're hungry as you make your way to or from Houston you may want to give it a try just be careful trying to make that turn or crossing the highway.

Aunt Jo's

"When meat is cooked at high temperatures, amino acids react with creatine to form heterocyclic amines, which are thought to cause cancer." (from Harvard Health Letter - June 2007)

So which is worse, living to an old age or never having BBQ? You know my choice.
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Indy 500 Race 2012

Ricardo Perez

Dario Franchitti Leading the Pack at 2012 Indy 500 Race

My brother and I grew up watching the Indy 500 on TV back in the days when the popular names were Parnelli Jones (won it in 1963), AJ Foyt, Jim Clark, and Dan Gurney. Things have changed quite a bit since then. Parnelli Jones was the first race car driver to break the 150mph limit in qualifying, today the qualifying leaders are just shy of 230 mph. This year it was Ryan Briscoe at 226.484mph.   
Irma & Ricardo
My wife, Irma, and I flew from McAllen, Texas to Indianapolis, Indiana on a Friday afternoon so that we have plenty of time before Sunday's race. We stayed with my son's father in-law, Marvin, in Carmel, a bedroom community to Indianapolis with some great history and plenty of green spaces. Marvin and his wife live in a great area with a small lake behind their backyard. The race starts at 12 noon on Sunday leaving Memorial Day (Monday) for a possible makeup day if there's a rain delay on Sunday. We made our way to the track by leaving Carmel at 9:15am. Marvin had given us directions to the raceway via the back roads which would get us close to the track without having to deal with the long traffic lines, just imagine 300,000 people all headed to the same place at the same time!
We parked on a side street just across the massive parking areas reserved for the race which left us with about a half mile's walk to the track. To give you an idea of how big the track area is, the loop is approximately 2.5 miles and fits 10 Rose Bowls within the track.  Fortunately our gate was the closest to us as we walked up to the the stadium. We were inside before 11am, but too close to the pre-race ceremonies to try and get inside the race track. Within the oval there's a museum, the race car paddock, and lots of other stuff going on, but it's a good walk since things can be over a mile away from you.   
My son Geraldo & his wife Ali 
The pre-race ceremonies had past champions parade by as well as antique race cars, a parade honoring our veterans, and a special ceremony honoring Dan Wheldon the 2005 and 2011 Indy winner who died last year in a racing accident. They passed out white sunglasses to everyone as we wore them on the ceremonial lap as well as on laps 26 and 98, his car numbers when he won the Indy 500.
This year's race was the hottest on record. Without a cloud in the sky the temperatures quickly shot into the 90's and the track temperature was at 120 or 130 degrees. There was another major difference as well, the race cars changed dramatically from last year. Before this year the Indy cars were V8s, now they're turbo-charged V6s so racing dynamics changed. Turbo lag caused cars to drop off if they released the accelerator at the wrong time making it tougher to makeup any lost time. This was evident in another record set that day, there were over 31+ lead changes in this race, a new record. So all in all, it was a historic race and a great one to see. As it was stated by the drivers, this race was not one of preserving gas, just flat out racing which made it more exciting.
My money (play money) was on two time champion Dario Franchitti simply because he was bumped in the rear during the first yellow caution flag, sometime early in the race, well under the first 20 laps, by another driver pulling from pit row. It spun Dario into his pit damaging his car's nose and it had to be replaced.  By the time he was back out on the track, still under yellow, he was dead last.
Dario was in the Number 50 Target Honda powered vehicle. The Honda cars were getting less mileage than the Chevys during the month-long time trials, but for some reason during the race the Honda cars were getting better mileage than the Chevy's, about two laps more per tank is what I remember hearing. That was a great advantage for the Honda cars and apparently they had been taking a beating this Indy season from the Chevy power plants prior to this Indy race.
It was somewhat ironic when I went down under the stands about the halfway mark to get a cap for myself and one for my brother. I picked the one I really liked, of which they only had two remaining, and as it turned out they were Dario Franchitti's racing cap. So it's without question that I brought Dario enough luck to win his third Indy 500. Dario is a Scottish racer married to Ashley Judd the movie star who was prancing around once Dario won the race. Times are different today than in the past. The field of racers had 24 foreign racers and only nine American drivers, and the field included three women. A very different makeup from the 90's.
Noteworthy were the two Lotus powered race cars that were black-flagged (pulled from the race) for going too slow. Reminds me of the British MGs and Triumphs I use to drive, I remember the Lucas electrical stuff, affectionally known as the Prince of Darkness.
Dario must have some basic racing skills because he went from trailing the field after that pit stop incident to winning the race. He was not the home town favorite, but he did put on a great race. The finish was under the Yellow flag and all three of Dario's victories have been under Yellow. This time, on the last lap and entering the first curve, Takuma Sato made a charge to pass Dario, but was squeezed out by Dario. Sato bumped Dario's rear left tire, spun out and Dario managed to keep his car from skidding out. Dario stayed in front of the field so he was declared the winner since there's no passing under yellow. As Sato said the following day, "I'm a small guy, but I needed one more inch".
The next day I read some of the radio communications between drivers and their pit crews and it seemed apparent to me that Marco Andretti was the biggest whiner in my opinion. He complained about the cars in front, his car, and the pit crew's failure to adjust or replace his rear tail section. One of the fan favorites had to be Tony Kanann. He briefly led as he zoomed past four or five drivers as they lifted the yellow and went to green.
Three Across Going Into Turn 4!
All in all, it was a great race to see. Seeing it on television for years still doesn't prepare you for the absolute rush that comes over you as they speed by on that very first lap. All the senses are in play as you see the entire field, hear the hum as those engines revving to the 12,000 rpm redline, and smell of the track and rubber. It's an unforgettable experience and definitely something I've had on my bucket list.

South Padre Island Seafood

Ricardo Perez

Okay, it's in Port Isabel and not really on South Padre Island, but if you want some good seafood at a great price try Joe's Oyster Bar on the mainland just before crossing the causeway to SPI. It's just a few blocks before the causeway on the north side (left as you head to SPI) just one block off the main drag, directly behind the Lone Star National Bank drive through, at 207 Maxan St. in Port Isabel, Texas 78578. You'll likely find Joe Castillo the owner standing behind the cash register taking orders and handling the Mini Mart traffic. So you can stroll in and just buy seafood, drinks, and other stuff, but the main attraction has to be the restaurant. It's cozy and you get the sense that you're not paying for artificial ambiance like you normally do on the island.

SPI Food
Joe's Oyster Bar in Port Isabel
My wife and I rode out to SPI for the day, spent some time at Clayton's Bar which is beachside and out towards the end of the developed Island, just before and behind La Quinta Hotel. It's a modernized Wanna Wanna's, but it's much bigger, with better sitting and imho better food, and definitely cleaner restrooms. Of course, the beer is just as good. There's also plenty of parking and a small section close to the entrance for motorcycle parking. We decided to eat an appetizer at Clayton's and then have the grilled flounder at Joe's. A wise decision. The food is great, the prices are even better and although it can be crowded, it just feels more like a restaurant should. Our table was next to a couple that had just arrived from Oklahoma City. They asked us if we were on a bike or trike and I replied that we're on an Ultra Classic Harley, but probably working our way towards a trike if this aging thing didn't slow down. They were in good sprits having just escaped some of the tornadoes that hit around Oklahoma City.
Yep, They'll Grill Your Catch!
Lots of Shrimp
Joe greeted us at the cash register and we mentioned that he had a great place. He smiled and thanked us and said, "and it sure beats the prices on the island, don't it?". That's for sure! Next time you're headed to SPI I'd recommend a one block detour just before crossing over to SPI for some good seafood at very reasonable prices.

Main Resturant Section
Mini Mart Carries the Essentials 

Drinks Priced Right!

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My Harley Davidson Bike

Ricardo Perez

My 2008 105th Anniversary Ultra Classic

I have a 2008 105th Anniversary Ultra Classic, commonly referred to as the Copper-top bike because its colors resemble those of a Duracell Battery. Over the last four years I've modified it just to make it more my bike. Here's a list of my modifications:

Tires: Changed to Metzlers from standard Dunlops
Engine: Modified to 103 with Cams
Intake: SE Air Intake
Exhaust: Installed V&H Monster Ovals
Chrome Front Forks
HD Front Fork Oil
Lights: Changed Lens to Smoke Color
Lights: Installed LED Headlight and Spot Lights
Starter: Installed Heavy Duty SE Starter
ACR: Installed Automatic Compression Releases
Straight 8: Installed stabilizer from oil pan to frame
Lowered Rear by installing shorter shocks by approximately 1.5"
Replaced Compensator Sprocket with Heavy Duty SE Sprocket
SE HD Starter
Installed Longer Chrome Handlebars
Installed Zumo 550 GPS w/XM Radio
Installed Painted Inner Fairing
Installed Chrome Trim on Fairing/Windshield Brace
Replaced Speakers with Boom Speakers from HD
Installed Clearview Recurve 9" Windshield
Installed Long Riding Pegs to Crash Bar
Installed HD Oil Cooler
Installed HD LED Readout Oil Dip Stick
SE Spark Plug Wires
Installed High Output HD Horn
Installed Nostalgic Riding Foot Board for Rider and Passenger
Installed Chrome Levers; Billet Shifter Connector; Shifter; Removed Heal Shifter; Brake Pedal; 105th Cam Cover; Air Cleaner Cover; front fender chrome cover; chrome Tour Pak hinges;
Portable Air Compressor

On the functional items the most noticeable have been the 103 upgrade along with the air intake and Monster Ovals exhaust.
Those items that are not worth the money include the high output horn that always sounds like its just waking up when you need it most and the LED dip stick that went South really quickly in the South Texas heat.
The Metzler tires are really great imho and provide great road handling properties. Only caution with metzlers from my BMW days is that they must be properly inflated or you'll get cupping on the front tire.
I'm thinking I will keep this bike since I know that I won't get any money on trade-in for all of the above options. To replace what I have will require that I get the CVO Ultra or Road Glide and those bikes now run $37,000 plus TT&L, a bit too much for a two wheeler in my opinion.