Day 1 MSN–El Paso

TommyG picked George and me up at O’ dark thirty (6:00am) and we were soon on the way to Mitchell Field in Milwaukee.

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Of course, George had his portable scale along and weighed his bags one more time before checking in for the flight. Southwest allows two checked bags for free and his were both right at 50 pounds. The one he is weighing contains his bike!!!

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An one hour layover in Houston and it was on to El Paso where when we exited the plane and it was a LOVELY 83 degrees with a slight breeze. DELICIOUS!!!

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We are at the Hyatt Plaza Hotel for two nights and will be picked up by the tour leaders on Saturday morning . . .

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. . . big room. The G checking out the view. You can see all the way to Mexico one way and to Costco the other way!!

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I have been ‘on the wagon’ for the last three days and promptly fell ‘off the wagon’ with the announcement of ‘Happy Hour’. Three versions of happy hour later . . .

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. . . Roberto, our personal shuttle driver, gave us a ride to Carlo’s and Mickey’s the #7 rated restaurant in El Paso. Food was great and beer was cold. When George asked how much a Mexican beer was we all thought the waiter said $14.50. George said he would think about it for a while. He asked again and it ended up being $4.50 . . . lost in translation. Bottoms up!!!

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. . . and there was entertainment!!!

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. . . we needed a little exercise so decided to walk back to the Hyatt. Oh . . . the county is hiring. Free benefits!!!

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We are thinking of going to the range tomorrow for a little ‘shooting up’ at this place. Only 1/4 mile from our place . . .

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. . . mixing God with Guns . . . sounds like Texas!!!!

Day 2, El Paso

A good night sleep at the Hyatt last night. We were all up by 5:30am and ready for the HUGE breakfast buffet that started at 6:00am.

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It was time to head out to the pool area to assemble our bikes. The boxes will  stay at the Hyatt, where we will stay for a night after our trip before flying home . . .

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. . . everything went together and there were no extra parts left over, which is always a good thing. The new hard-shell bike transport box  emJay bought me for my birthday worked FABULOUSLY!!!

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Our trip leaders Megan and Russ were also at the hotel early . . . with the rig they would use to transport our gear during the coming week.

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. . . and the G stopped by to make sure there was room in one of the five coolers for HIS beer!!! They were checking the inventory and going to do a BIG shop today for groceries.

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. . . after we got the bikes squared away, it was time to get our gear squared away for loading tomorrow. My new Helke compression bag system for packing is working GREAT!!!

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Today my brother in law, who lives in El Paso, picked us up for lunch at the #1 rated restaurant in El Paso, The L & J Café!!!

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. . . quite the place. We got there at 11:15am and by 11:45am the place was PACKED!!!

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. . . it was our waitresses birthday today and she was wearing a special badge you could contribute a money gift to, so of course we contributed!!!

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. . . after lunch away we went on a driving tour of El Paso and ended up high above the city on a scenic drive. Below us lay El Paso with it’s 600,000 residents’ and just south was Juarez, Mexico with a population of 1.3 million. It was quite a view!!!

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. . . one last stop before returning to the hotel was for the boys to get some beer. I am ‘back on the wagon’, again, after waking up at 2:15am last night, wide awake and ready to go for the day !!! Will sleep good tonight!!!!

Day 3, El Paso – Ft Davis

We woke to a beautiful morning and filled our tummies with lots of goodies again from the breakfast bar . . . probably won’t be eating like this for the next week or so!!

It was Sunday morning and a local car club was having a meeting at the hotel. Some great old cars. I had a ‘Bug’ as my first car, way back in 1971. No problems with rusting running boards down here from road salt!!

Megan and Russ had the coolers full and several days worth of food on board and it was time to go . . .

. . . we stopped at the ‘Crazy Cat Cyclery’ to pick up  Nancy, Rachel and Jo-Anns’ bikes that had been shipped to, and reassembled, at  the local shop

A three hour drive landed us in Ft Davis and the Stone Village Tourist Camp. Our ‘interesting’ overnight accommodations.

Megan used some magic formula to determine rooming assignments and the G and I ended up in the same ‘room’.

The ‘tourist camp’ had been sort of a traditional motel with a car port in between each unit. The traditional rooms were quite roomy and had their own bathrooms. This is the room George and Russ shared . . .

. . . somewhere along the way, one of the prior owners figured out a way to double their profit margin by turning the carports into ‘rooms’.  Here was the unit the G and I shared . . .

. . . a screen wall across the front, with a privacy curtain, cement floor and a ‘community bathroom’ down the hall. Unique!!! The beds did have flannel comforters and sleeping was wonderful as the evening temps cooled, once the sun set . . . cozy. Soon it was time for a group dinner at a local ‘Mexican buffet’ followed by our first map meeting.

Each night after dinner we would have a map meeting, where Russ and Megan would alternate taking the lead, in explaining our activities for the next day. This is a common activity on all ACA (Adventure Cycling Association) trips including the three cross country trips I have done. At those 90 evening meetings, the essence for me of the following day was condense down to three facts:  1) where are we sleeping tonight? 2) who is cooking tonight? 3) when is the next rest day? Everything you needed to know!!!

Tonight we would have a treat. After the meeting we all vanned up to the McDonald Observatory run by the University of Texas. It houses the 10th  longest tubular telescope in the world. There were two programs tonight; an indoor lecture, and an outdoor twilight ‘Star Party’

We took in the lecture presented by Kelly, who was very entertaining and presented a great lecture regard the constellations using a young boy in a spacesuit as his ‘prop’ to help explain the cosmos!

We did not stay for the Star Party because of our need for an early departure the next day . . .

. . . but as we left the observatory, Venus was just showing up for the night!!

 

Day 4, Ft Davis to Marathon

Away we would go today on our first day of biking . . .

. . . first chore of the day was to ‘break camp’. Once you get all your gear packed up, you drop it at the trailer where Russ and or Megan will load the it up. The two alternate riding ‘sweep’ (the last one in the string of riders to make sure there are no stragglers or to help riders with breakdowns) or driving the van.

. . . and the first order of business for the pair that are cooking for the day is to get the water boiling for coffee!! The group agreed coffee would be ready by 7:00am each morning with the breakfast and lunch goodies out by 7:30am. This three burning stove was a HUGE improvement over the the two, one burner backpacking type stoves, we used on the cross country rides!!!

. . . all the lunch makings and breakfast goodies look so nice and orderly

. . . before the swarm of bikers come through like a plague of locusts  and pack/eat everything in site!!

It was a beautiful morning and soon we were on the road to Marathon.

Of course, Texas is know for tumble weeds and this was the first of only two I saw on the whole trip. The plants mature, disconnects from their rooting stock and ‘blow’ away distributing their seed as they roll around. Either it was too early in the year or they have not reached this area of Texas. They are thought to be native to Eurasia, and their seeds entered North America in shipments of agricultural seeds. They became naturalized in large areas.

It was already 80 degrees and it was hard to believe it could ever get cold enough here to have icy bridges. Oh, we would experience those type of temps later on the trip!!!

Mom teaching her little one the ways of the world . . . and what interesting creatures there are running along side the road on two wheels!!

It was DRY here in Texas and range fires are a BIG issue. In fact, the Wisconsin DNR had just sent down four forest fire engines and 8 rangers in a cooperative agreement with the State of Texas to help with the fire situation . . .

Another thing you may notice at a county line is the change in the pavement structure. Not a big thing when you are in a car running down the road at 70 miles an hour, with good shocks, the windows up, the AC blowing and the tunes loud and clear . . .

. . . but a big deal when you are on a bike. When we rode the Southern Tier, from San Diego to St Augustine, we all agreed Texas had the widest range of road surfaces, mostly a type of pea gravel with asphalt binder. Gravel is the key word here where the size of if ranged from smaller than peas to about the size of softballs. The larger the size the ‘rougher’ the ride, especially on skinny 25mm tires like I was running!!! Paving roads is surely an  economic issue for a county but you can really see the difference at the county lines.

Soon we rolled into Alpine, which looked familiar. With the US Courthouse and the round turret . . .

. . . the donut shop and the ‘asparagus’ plants (everything is BIGGER in Texas) it was like de javu all over again!!!

However, I did make a new friend, Mary. She and her husband were on the way home from a Veteran’s Convention on their Harley. Quite the wind protection mask she wore. Never did see her face!!!

Although the Wisconsin Boys would not be cooking what we envisioned to be our, ‘Wisconsin Night at The Grill’, we stopped in town with the first four cooking groups to shop for our brats, just in case the next grocery store, four days down the road in Cottonwood, did not have brats. Hard to have a brat fry with no brats!!!

Just outside of Alpine, I met Elroy heading west on his recumbent. He was biking from Atlanta, heading to Oregon and then east again. No real end point in view . . . ahhhh, the joys of road touring!!!

It soon became evident that the road was not friendly to the Texas hare. By the HUGE number of road kills we saw during the trip it is a good thing they ‘breed like rabbits’ because the species would soon be extinct!!!

From about a mile away, I could see someone walking towards me and of course I had to stop and chat. It was ‘Walking Tom’ who had started with a backpack at the Santa Monica Pier in California and was walking to Bar Harbor, ME.!!! Not raising money for any organization, or going through a mid life crisis, it is just something he always wanted to do. Half way through his walk he switched from a backpack to a Thule ‘Baby’ Carriage’, to haul his 6 gallons of on-board water and other gear.

Since he changed to the carriage, at least once a week he is stopped by police who have received a 911 call from motorists who have seen a man walking down the road with a baby, in a carriage, in 100 degree heat!!!

On our route there will be a ‘Prada storefront‘ constructed near Marfa, TX. A piece of ‘art’. Not to be outdone, some other ‘artist’ has created this poorer sister, the ‘Target’ Store!!!  FUN!!!!

About 6 miles out of Marathon, our home for the night, I road past this white bike, a memorial to someone on a bike who had been killed. I definitely remembered this from three years  ago on our Southern Tier ride and knew I had been on this road before. Sure enough a quick check of the maps that night revealed these miles were part of the Southern Tier ride. The green line was our Southern Tier Route and the red that of this Big Bend Ride.

Rene dies after being hit by a drunk driver. You can read about it here. Very sad.

We were staying at the Marathon RV and Motel again where our group had stayed three years ago, in cabins. I checked the price of a cabin and it was $120. No takers on splitting a room so it was on the ground tonight. Unique vehicle used by the cleaning staff. Who needs doors!!!

They had a GREAT patio area where we could hang out in the shade . . .

. . . just like we did three years ago as we waited for our rooms to be cleaned!!!

Jane and David drew the short straw for cooking the first night and set the bar high with a great selection of viddles including farro grain with chicken strips and roasted veggies, followed by strawberry shortcake!!!

It was soon time for our map meeting. I had been waiting for ‘Walking Tom’ to come walking by and sure enough soon he appeared on the horizon . . .

. . . ACA has a policy where one can invite ‘guests’ to dine and stay with the group for a night. I invited Tom to dinner, and to use our campsite and shower. He gladly accepted!! Denise, a fellow rider from last years Northern Tier ride, is about a week ahead of us this year on the Southern Tier ride. She met Tom a week ago and he remembered she was from MI. Small world!!!

I sent Denise this picture because having talked to Tom on the road while he was ‘dressed for work’ with sunglasses and his hat pulled down around his face to shield him from the sun, she never got a look at his full face!! He has a great journal and you can follow him here.

Day 5, Marathon to Stillman Ranch

The first night sleeping on the ground on a trip like this is always somewhat restless but soon morning rolled around and we were on the road to our new home for the night, a private campground located just outside of Big Bend National Park, the Stillman Ranch . . .

. . . but not before passing this US Border Patrol station. Only the traffic going the other way had to stop at this one. Not a National Guard troop to be seen  . . . yet!!!!

Texas road side stops are minimally equipped (ie no water or bathroom) but do usually have an awning to get out of the sun . . .

. . . here the G and I met Raymond, a Canadian who had just become an American citizen 10 years ago, He came to the US many years ago to enlist in the Army. I didn’t know you could not be an American and yet served in our Armed Forces! He was an Army Ranger and shared several of his experiences with us, including  HAL0. Very interesting discussion!!!

Rolling towards Big Bend National park . . .

First of many elaborate roadside memorials we would ride by during the trip. This one, as many, were located on a straight, flat section of road out in the middle of nowhere!!!

There would be a scattering of roadside historical markers along the way during the trip . . .

. . . telling tales of native american and early settlement lives. Looking across the barren desert landscape it is not hard to imagine what happened. The landscape has not changed here for eons!!!

Hard to believe sometimes, but the desert is full of life. The many forms of cacti were just starting to come into bloom . . .

. . . and the bees were/are busy!!!!

. . . it was along stretch today with no services so about half way there was the van with water and goodies!!!

. . . and a few rollers began to appear.

Soon we arrived at the gravel pit that was the Stillman RV Park and Campground. Most of these types of affairs in the west are set up for RV’s.

A cement pad, water, electric, sewer and internet hookups all available as additional ‘addons’. A feeble attempt is made to accommodate tenters and this place was no exception. If you were car camping, you would not even slow down to look at a place like this. BUT . . . when on a bike, and it is another 30 miles to the next campground, you set up your tent and call it home!!! (You can sleep anywhere for just one night . . . except Howard’s Hotel in Louisiana, on the Southern Tier, where we had BEDBUGS!!!)

We did have a great Mexican dinner . . . and soon with full tummies . .

. . . we drifted off to sleep !!!

Day 6, Stillman Ranch to Rio Grande Campground

Today we would ride into, and camp in, the park .. .

. . . and were happy to leave Stillman RV and Campground behind. Jo-Ann had checked to see if the trailer on the right had  been for rent last night and the office staff person said . . . ‘Not today’!!!!

G, Nancy, Jim and me in a shot taken by Sue and Jerry. They had stopped at the sign the same time we did and we all took the obligatory photos of each other. When they asked where we were from the G said Wisconsin. Jerry asked me if I was a Packer fan . . . and with my ‘hearing issue’ I thought he said ‘Are you from Pakistan!!!’ We all had a good laugh about that and away we went on our merry ways. We would see Sue and Jerry again in the park in several days later at Chisos Basin.

Nice cloud cover early in the morning provided some relief from the sun . . .

. . . but it didn’t last.

Throughout this wide open area you can see evidence of past violent water/stream/river actions

This has been the scene of many flash floods in the past that caused bridge and road damage. The rain can fall miles away but because of the flat terrain, and the sun-baked soil, not much of the rain soaks into the ground instead it . . . floods . . .

. . . same scene with no flooding

. . . where the water goes.

But water brings life to the desert . . .

. . .and there were flowers . . .

. . . everywhere

. . . some just blooming

and some already finsished.

It is a very interesting landscape . . .

. . . which was explained at a GREAT

archaeological exhibit . . .

. . . area

provided by the Park Service.

. . . the park was home to lots of critters . . .

. . . long extinct . . .

. . . but that have been discovered over the years . . .

. . . and fossils of their remains

. . . were on display

Including these HUGE bird type creatures

with long beaks used to feed . . .

. . . to these guys with large teeth to feed!!!

. . . to these two ‘modern creatures’!!!! It was a GREAT stop!!!

As I rolled away, I ‘discovered’ the ‘badgerous wisconsinous’ fossil on the horizon and claimed it for Wisconsin!!

We biked by some beautiful features as we rolled towards the Rio Grande Campground in Big Bend Park . . .

. . . and had some great discussions that night with Jane regarding the unique formations we saw during the day. Her father had been a geologist so she was a wealth of knowledge!!!

More cati in bloom . . .

. . . and the unique ‘jalapeno’ fruit bearing cactus!!!

As we neared our campground, I could see on my GPS we would be RIGHT on the Rio Grande River with Mexico right across the river (the area in yellow on the map).

A tunnel . . . FUN!!!!

. . . and from the other side we could see green vegetation (the first we had seen all day) growing along the river and Mexico right there. Still no National Guardsman in site. Who will protect us!!!!

We ended up in the group camp where our group was the only one, there was soft ground, some grass, no bugs and the bathroom was only 100 feet away . . .

. . . and Cliff and Jamie made us a nice vegetarian dinner to boot!!!

All of the women seemed to flock to George!!!???? (it may have been because he had worked as a bike mechanic and was very generous with his camp time in ‘fixing and adjusting’ chains, derailleurs and shifters).

Soon it was time for the map meeting. At altitude, the sun is still very intense, even late in the day. Here you can see that instead of the usual ‘circle around the leader map meeting scenario’, the group tonight settled for a more linear setup, around Russ,  in the shade of a large cottonwood tree’s trunk.

Word had spread in the animal kingdom that there were visitors in the group camp and before long the javelina started showing up again working the camp and tree line for goodies . . .

. . .  the collared peccary, are medium-sized animals that look similar to a wild boar. They have mainly short coarse salt and pepper colored hair, short legs, and a pig-like nose. They are evidently one exotic type animal that does not taste like chicken!!!!

Oh, and before long, the roadrunners showed up too. They are nervous birds . . .

. . . that do spend a lot of time ‘running around’ rather than flying.

. . . after dinner I took a walk down to the boat landing on the Rio Grande . . .

. . . 50 feet way was Mexico. A very peaceful, quiet  scene and not a National Guardsman to be seen!!!

Day 7, Rio Grande to Chisos Basin

Today would be a big ride day. Only 34 miles but with close to 5,000 feet of climbing. Almost all uphill from the shores of the Rio Grande up to our campground in Chisos Basin, the floor of a collapsed  volcano.

Right across the river from us was Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico, that visitors to the park could visit. All one needed was a valid US passport to get back in the US of A. My friend Denise had ridden this ACA Big Bend trip last year and had  waxed poetically about what a great time her biking group had when the were poled across the Rio Grande in a jon boat, loaded on donkeys for the mile ride into town and had a delicious authentic Mexican meal. I was looking forward to repeating that!!!!

Unfortunately we were told there is only one US Border Patrol officer for this area and he is off on Mondays and Tuesdays so the crossing wa closed. Today was Tuesday!!!!

This was the Park service building for jumping off to Mexico. On this morning, four of our gang decided to cross and do a little shopping, before heading up the mountain climb. The water was shallow enough they just rolled their bikes across and rode them into the village!!! The rest of us chose to get on the road and try to beat the heat of the day. Most of the the climbing was in the last 6 miles of our day . . .

Oh . . . you could see the Chisos Mountains up ahead waiting for us. This was the first day we biked west so had the sun at our back during the morning. Nice riding . . . I really like the desert in the morning. Cooler, the air smells fresher and it’s VERY quiet.

Another type of cactus in this area of the park that had finished flowering . . .

They are getting nearer . . .

. . . plenty of time to look down and see what is crawling around . . .

. . . and to look for TommyG’s words of encouragement written in chalk on the pavement . . .  this one pronouncing beer on the side of the road . . .

. . . unfortunately it was empty . . . by him???!!!

Very nice flowers today . . .

. . . including this unusual flower display. Every desert plant has adapted to conserving it precious water resource.

Finally we made our turn up to the Chisos Basin and our last 6 miles of up, up and away!!!!

I stopped along the way to chat with Nancy and guess who also stopped by . . . my ‘Pakistani friends’, Sue and Jerry, who were heading up to the basin for a nice little picnic. Seemed appropriate for another round of photos taken by each side!!

More words of encouragement from the G. You would think he was a Tour de France coach or something like that!!!

Nice of the Park staff to post the local bears speed limit in the area. As long as you can ride 16 miles an hour or faster  . . . no problem!!!

Climb climb and more climbing . . .

It’s ‘fun’ to watch the feet of elevation ‘roll by’ on the gps screen as one climbs up the mountain. The little blue dot on the left represents my location, so you can see I still had a ways to go!!!

. . . but soon I was at the top and rolling down the other side. There were switchbacks and one REALLY had to keep your speed down which was done by heavy braking. My hands got sore from braking so hard!!! Megan and Russ had told us the road network in the group campground area was sort of tricky and ‘do not go downhill in the campground’ (that would be the wrong way and one would need to climb up again). Megan was nice enough to mark the final turns with chalk, Nobody missed it!!!

Another stone quarry for a campground but the bathrooms were close by, the showers were hot and tonight be would be eating dinner in the Chisos Basin Mountain Inn dining room, on white table clothes. Yippee!!!!

We returned to camp just in time to see the sunset through the ‘window’ as it is known locally. No problem sleeping tonight!!!

Day 8, Chisos Basin to Lajitas

Today we had to climb back up out of the basin (the opening in the rock above Rachel’s head in the photo below) but then had a BIG downhill into Maverick Ranch our home for the night in Lajitas, TX

Kudos to Rachel and Shuresh who were the only pair on the whole trip to deliver us a hot breakfast . . .

French toast, butter, syrup and eggs prepared to your liking!!!

Oh, and bacon too!!!!!

Soon it was time to make lunches for today . . .

. . . take down camp . . .

Overlooking the ‘window’ . . .

Since we ate dinner in the dining room last night, we held the map meeting this morning before we headed up, out and to the west!!

After an 800 foot climb back up to the basin edge, it was a LONG downhill for 5 miles. Up ahead in the morning light I saw something HUGE crossing the road. At my downhill speed, it took a minute to stop and reverse course back up hill to see what is was . . . but it was worth it.

By now the brown tarantula, Aphonopelma hentzi, had walked into the ditch and I stopped for a photo or two. It was about 4 inches long. I searched in my handlebar bag for a coin to put down next to it to provide scale but found none. All the better because I’m not sure I would have put my hand so close to it!!!

It wasn’t long and this nice sign appeared . . .

. . . and I looked down at my gps and YIPEEE . . . another BIG downhill. Banzai!!!

. . . and what a ride it was, Sun at my back, blue sky, no traffic and the sweet smells of morning!!!

. . .  and I rolled onto the sweetest section of pavement we had on the whole trip. Actually just traditional asphalt with no chip seal rock. Smooth as a baby’s bottom. NICE!!!

What’s to come layed ahead . . .

. . .  so it was better to look around. Another form of cactus . . .

. . . and soon we exited Big bend National Park.

. . . up ahead I could see Lajitas . . .

. . . where the G and Jim were waiting for their cooking partners to arrive for the final grocery shop of the trip.

. . . and it was a good thing the Wisconsin boys had bought the five packages of brats way back in Alpine because there was only one package left in Cottonwood. Would have been a pretty meager dinner for 15 hungry souls, and not up to the usual gluttony associated with Wisconsin cuisine!!!

We had dreams of Marie Calendar’s frozen German Chocolate Cake for dessert and the store actually had two. Bought both. Two cakes for 15 people . . . sounds about right!!!

ACA does not allow liquor to be purchased with group funds. Makes sense because not everyone drinks (or drinks as much as some do) but for our brat fry we needed to ‘baste’ the brats in a ‘special sauce’ that included beer as an ingredient.  Here the G is trying to convince tour leader Russ we needed to purchase this hefty can with group funds . . . didn’t work!!!!

. . . oh, but Tom did replenish his personal stock before we left the store. What would we do without the van????

On the way to Lajitas we notice this sign . . .thirty miles ahead, we would worry about that tomorrow!!

Now it was time to pull off into the ghost town of Terlingua . . .

the population peaked at 2,000 . . . now it is 6!!!

there is even an International Society of Chili. Read about the festival here

But they still have a liquor store . . .

. . . a combination General Store and museum . . .

. . .  a working theater . . .

. . . interesting bar stools . . .

. . .  instruments at the ready for an importune hootenanny . . .

. . . and stuff I never understand why people buy when they are on vacation????

. . .oh, you can still get into trouble in Terlingua, where a night of ‘rable rousing’ may end you up in local houskao . . .

. . . up on boot hill!!!

. . . the local folk do have a sense of humor, though. As we exited ‘town’ we passed this defunked ‘water park’ (in the middle of the desert) called the ‘Passing Winds’ that had a schooner and submarine.

. . . a mirage ahead . . . no, actually water on the road. At each of these ‘natural water crossings’ there was a flood gauge (the yellow marker) showing how deep the water was at any given time. No problem crossing today!!!

If the water had been a little deeper, I might have taken a dip. The temp on my Garmin showed 100 degrees!!!

One last sign of the friendliness shown by Terlingua residents (all six of them). Even their ‘No Trespassing’ signs were ‘kinder and gentler’!!

I turned around, and looking back I could see our home for last night, Chisos Basin  . . .

. . . which at one point eventuality had been a working volcano that at some point collapsed, created the basin floor where we slept last night.

100 degrees and a 15 percent climb . . . glad it was not too long.

We have been riding on the Texas Mountain Trail the last several days and the Texans are very proud of it.

As we rolled into Lajitas, we were met by the mayor and his aide. The biggest tourist attraction in town but sort of sad for these critters to be penned up in such a small enclosure. Of course they ate a steady diet of junk food well wishers purchased at the store around the corner.

We were staying at Maverick Ranch tonight complete with a boulevard of palm trees leading into the camp.

A typical RV park with row after row of RV pads, we were located on the outside loop. George happened to snag the only piece of grass in the place!!!

This place, so far, did have the best amenities on the trip. Air conditioned ‘club house’,  many showers and bathrooms, full laundry and a POOL!!!! Nancy, Jim and Jamie were the first ones in the water . . .

. . . while the Wisconsin Boys began our ‘Wisconsin Brat Feed’ prep . . .  I was still on the wagon and enjoyed a nice lemon lime soda . . .

 . . . while the G broke into his new beer stash . . .

. . . and George emptied his three liter vino box.

. . . biking in 100 degree weather all day, starting to drink at 3:00pm, being dehydrated . . . it’s surprising we even got dinner on the table!!! (we were a half hour late because of a LP tank mishap . . . no explosion involved!!)

. . . no flames at this point!!!

. . . Megan rangled us up a new tank and soon we were back on track.

Spicy, cheddar and traditional brats, sauerkraut, diced raw onions and sauteed onions, relish, mustard, potato chips, potato salad, beans and colesalw . . . everyone happily became an ‘honorary Wisconsinite’ for a night . . .  

. . . in fact, Jim who lives in Indiana, is thinking of moving on over to the Badger state.

David, now living in Austin, TX, is originally from Poyentte, WI, and where I started my 34 year career with the Department of Natural Resources, enjoyed a plateful of goodness. The next night he raided the coolers for the leftovers, making a brat, cheese onion burrito in his motel rooms microwave!!!

Oh yeah . . . and we almost forgot the German Chocolate Cake for dessert. A sweet end to the meal.

At the map meeting Megan told us we were staying in a motel tomorrow night in Presido, TX. Yippee (especially since the winds were going to blow 50-60 miles and hour for most of the day). There are and odd number of men and women on the trip so there would be two folks getting single rooms. The hat was passed and Jo-Ann was the first to draw a smiley face out of the hat, and I was the second . . . sweet, my own room. No snoring but my own!!!!

Day 9, Lajitas to Presidio

The wind blew hard all night, didn’t show any signs of stopping and would be a headwind for the riders!!!!

We said goodbye to our wonderful community building . . .

. . . with the wide selection of seating, and the AC running all night, a few of the riders had ‘considered’ sleeping on the floor in there overnight . . .

. . . ahhh . . . I guess we were not the first to think of that idea!!!

The G, George and I were up at 6:00am to get the water going for coffee  . . .

and the goodies out for breakfast and lunch . . .

. . . and soon hungry riders started appearing in the darkness as the sun was just coming up.

Ends up that because of the wind conditions, and the distance, riding would be optional today for anyone not wishing to ride. This ‘sagging’ is out of the ordinary for ACA tours but today would be an unusual day. 50-60 mile an hour headwinds and that ‘steep’ climb that was promised by the roadside sign we saw yesterday . . . load up those bikes!!!

Soon we were ready to roll . . .

. . . many of the RV folks had left early because the owners were concerned about afternoon wind gusts blowing their rigs over!!!

Five of the riders decided to ride the first 20 miles, that included the killer hill. We picked up one of them before the climb . . .

. . . and the other four . .

 . . . continued up . . .

. . . and up.

The van motored ahead to a rest stop at the 20 mile mark where we waited for the remaining riders. Time for a hike into a slot canyon. Jamie donned her special footwear!!!

Then . . . a beautiful drive to Presidio . . .

. . . where we stayed at the Three Palms Motel.

. . . and I fulfilled my week long dream of just flopping out on a queen size bed with no rock jabbing me in the back or sand blowing across my face!!!

. . . oh and there was a nice pool right outside the door!!

Even though we were moteling it, we had our camp dinner on the patio. Nancy was on the griddle handling the pork carnitas , . .

. . . while her cooking partner, Jim, was preparing everything else in the narrow walkway and warning folks not to get too close!!!

We ate and had our map meeting on the lee side of the two story building and went to sleep with the wind sounding like it was going to blow the building down. By 6:00am the front had past and it had blown itself out!!!!

. . . we are on the road again!

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