2013 Big Bend National Park

What happens when you plan for a month to take a trip to Arkansas to ride some amazing roads and visit an old friend from days gone by?

Well this time it was the late cold snap.

The forecast on Thursday for the Little Rock area was for sleet and light snow mixed with occasional rain.

Now I don't like riding in the cold or the rain but most of us have done both. But with the probability of cold and rain, I'll have to pass.

I canceled my reservations in Mount Ida called my friend to postpone my trip for a few weeks.

Now I've got a loaded bike, a few days off and no destination.

I looked to Hobbs / Cloudcroft and the forecast for Saturday was clear but 17 warming to 40...ouch.

Then I looked south...toward Big Bend. One look at the forecast and a couple of calls to motels in the area and I had my destination. Finally!

My GS up, loaded and ready to go.

Somewhere on the west side of San Saba on 190

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

Right when the landscape makes real changes before you get into Iraan.

And another marker at a stop west of Iraan.

Somewhere between Iraan and IH10

Through Marathon and Alpine and headed south toward Study Butte.

The landscape is getting better and better every mile.

And few buffalo.

And the view from my doorway at the Chisos Mining Lodge

A quick run to the local cafe for a burger and fries and an early bedtime as I'm not used to 550 miles in a day of riding.

Up early the next morning and headed into the park.

I got a map and basic info at the entrance gate and I asked some questions but my main concern was the condition of "Old Maverick Road" towards Santa Elena Canyon. She said just gravel with a few sandy spots.

Cool, the shortcut it is.

My first stop along the shortcut.

The road was washboard and pretty rough but just about any bike can make it if you are comfortable riding gravel.

One end of Chimney Trail.

Getting closer to the Canyon.

And closer.

You can't drive this close. I had to park my bike and walk about 100 yards to the end of the walking boards.

This picture is from the overlook just after the pavement starts.

At the start of another trail.

Nice roads and beautiful scenery throughout the park.

A few old machines behind a slightly newer machine.

I found a trailer for the GS with just enough ground clearance, now to fabricate a hitch.

I'm sure these peaks have real names but it looks like dog ears to me.

This is me at Burro Canyon? I've got to take better notes.

Nice old farm house from back in the day. You have to hike to get any closer.

Croton Springs trailhead. And nice remote camping spot.

On the way toward the Chisos Basin

And once again, the star of my little story.

I saw a few tourist taking pictures of cacti so this one is for them.

And the Boquillas Canyon overlook.

And the tracks from "something" crossing the river.

One sign at the Hot Springs entrance said "Vehicle thefts common in this area".

This was another sign.

So I never wander out of sight of my bike. One of the hazards of traveling solo. Check out the old stone house.

And a view from the living room window.

Another trail and camp area...

Ran into a TWT forum member "moody blues" and another rider they were camped at Rio Grande village. So I rode around a bit and finally settled on a campsite.

A microwave rice meal cooked on a camp stove.

Sort of looks like a cup-o-maggots.

And got rid of the fries left over from my burger basket special the night before.

I drank some rum and started listening to some tunes when these wandered into the campground.

It started with one but then another couple moved in for the grazing.

I also shot some Wild Hogs video

Wild Hogs in Big Bend - YouTube The javelina were around for over an hour and were not to concerned with anyone or anything. There were people taking pictures, cars driving by, and it did not seem to bother them.

After a while I stopped paying them any attention.

Moody Blues and the other rider (I'm horrible with names) wandered over to the campsite and we talked bikes for a while. I would have offered them a drink but I was out of rum... note to self...pack more spirits.

Early to bed again. It had been a great day, I had covered all of the paved roads inside the park and a few gravel roads just because.

I wanted to ride River Road but I'm going to have to have some company and my smaller and easier to pickup DRZ.

The warning signs are there for a reason.

Traveling alone I would have had zero help if I got stuck.

To be continued...

The final chapter.

Woke up before light. Kept tossing and turning wishing I had sprung for the big agnes pad instead of the thermarest.

Trying my best at lightweight camping. It isn't working.

A couple on morning landscape shot on the way out of the park.

I saw a spyder heading into the park.

At the Hwy 385 entrance

I was headed toward Junction but had decided the night before to take the long way so I headed down US 90 toward Del Rio. This is a nice drive, nothing really special about the roads just nice views all the way into Del Rio. Topped off with fuel in Sanderson and surprised to see a couple motels. Might be a stopping point for a future trip.

Another historical marker.

Finally made it to Langtry.

Last time I was here you could just park in front no fences or official entrance.

Another marker in Langtry down at the canyon. Notice the local modifications to the sign. I've never understood the fascination with this.

The other side of the Pecos and out of Judge Roy Bean's jurisdiction.

And a shot of the Hwy 90 bridge.

From the overlook I saw a boat ramp further south on the river and went to investigate.

And as usual I had to water test my boots.

Headed into Del Rio for fuel and lunch. This is headed north on 277/377 crossing Lake Amistad. Actually there is suppose to be water here. There was water about a half mile on the other side of the bridge. They need rain in this part of Texas in a bad way.

When through the border patrol check point without incident. No ID required. They just asked if I was a American citizen.

As I was headed into Junction I stopped at a road side park and chatted with a couple of guys riding cruisers.

After a rest I decided since I was this close I would run 335, 337, and 336.

Made a mistake in Leakey and got pull over but was sent on my way with only a warning.

Pulled into Junction and found a cheap motel. Nite nite.

Breakfast as Isaak's the next morning. High recommended.

I stopped to fiddle with my GPS and these guys came a running.

When they discovered I was not going to feed them, they promptly left.

Typical Texas two lane FM roads.

Burnet County road 220 To Maxdale.

Crossing Lake Belton Dam I believe

And crossing the false 50k mark on my GS. The speedo was replaced after I bought the bike so add 22435 for a grand total of 72435.

The view of the landscascape where I stopped to take the false 50k pic.

Home again, Home again.

I had a great time on this trip. Total trip mileage was 1429 miles via the hyper accurate BMW speedo.

The bike ran great. Never a hiccup. The only issue I has the entire way was dodging vultures. I'm going to invest in a proper horn for the GS hopefully that will help.

The Big Bend area is well worth the time traveled and with $10 for a 7 day pass not counting camping, is a great deal for a wilderness vacation.

Tent camping runs $14 a night and you have to get a permit to do backcountry camping. Something I'm going to put on my list for my next trip to Big Bend National Park.