(You can click any picture below to
I could write up a bit about Big Bend in this story, but what’s the point? All you ever wanted to know about Big Bend can be found here:
I took this trip with the Houston Land Rover Club, so there is a
lot of references made to the club since I originally wrote the story
for that site. If you want to read that version and see all
of the pictures, you can by clicking here.
Maybe when Land Rover builds this... OK... not exactly that
because "that" is ugly... .
I left for Big Bend (called BB because I am too lazy to keep typing B i g B e n d) on Wednesday morning around 7:00AM. The plan was to leave around 5:00AM, but as happens to most well laid-out plans… I left at 7:00.
I took I-10 into San Antonio. The wind was completely miserable. It was beyond miserable actually. It was blowing out of the north at around 20-30mph and didn’t let up for about 250 miles. Since I was heading west, it was a nasty cross-wind. It was hitting me at about 80º, so I had a portion that was a bit of a head-wind. It sucked. It more than sucked! I usually average 200 miles on a tank of gas. With my bike loaded down and the wind, I was getting 150 miles to the tank. What made matters worse was that there was a storm trying to drench me. Driving over the completely flooded Colorado River, I don’t think that area could have stood another drop of rain. Just a nasty way to begin a vacation... Yuk!
Anyway, once I got to San Antonio, I took 90 to 385, which is the road into BB. 90 goes through Del Rio and several other towns that run along the Rio Grande River. There was a long section between Del Rio and Marathon (the little town where you turn off of 90 onto 385) with very limited fuel stops. I found one little place while running on fumes. Gas was $2.39 per gallon! What are you going to do though? I mean, you need gas; they have it; you either pay it… or walk. Since I only need 3-4 gallons at each stop, I chose to pay. The lady working at the store was really nice though. I was looking at chips and crackers, and she asked me if I would like a BBQ sandwich. “Sure!” She went into the fridge and dug one out for me. She nuked it, and she and I sat with Miss Muffy (her dog) and watched a little Columbo on the television.
After my little break, I continued my journey to BB. It was still light outside when I arrived in Marathon and paid $2.39 again for gas. I didn’t know the road from Marathon to the park was so long—like, 80 miles of nothing. I finally got to the park at 7:00PM to find everything closed. I tried the cellular phone—no service. I dug my flashlight out of my tank bag and looked around the bulletin boards for a note. The little yellow sticky note the guys left me told me that they were at Cottonwood campground. What it didn’t
say was that the campground was 25 miles away. I finally made it to the campground and found Steve-O, and his boys, Clay and Billy (Clay’s dog), and Susan, Donna and Logan (Donna’s dog). I got my tent
set up, ate a hamburger, drank a coke, and went to sleep.
My total mileage for the day was 630.
Our camp was at N29º 08.228, W103º 31.363.
I woke up to a sunshiny day Thanksgiving morning. Steve-O made us egg tacos! After we loaded up all of the gear, we took River Road to Santa Elena Canyon and hiked up into the canyon a bit.
Next, we headed up Old Maverick Road and had lunch at the Basin. On the way there, we saw Walter, so he followed us up there to have lunch. When we arrived at the Basin, Susan and Donna ate at the restaurant while the rest of us ate in the parking lot and took in the sun and scenery. We saw Erik’s truck in the parking lot; he and his roommate had arrived on Tuesday and had backpacked up into the mountains to camp. About halfway into my turkey sandwich (it was Thanksgiving after all) Erik comes around the corner. He and his roommate had literally just come in from the mountain and headed to restaurant to get something to eat. After mapping out a plan, we stopped at the Chevron to gas up so we could continue our journey. While there, I met Phil and Kate from the UK. They were on an 1100GS that they had shipped over from the UK. They told me they had taken off 18 months and were riding around the US and Canada. Kate had a bike just like mine (650GS), but it was at their campsite.
The plan was to go to our next campsite, Talley, via Glenn Spring Road then to take Black Gap Road, which is an un-maintained road in the park. We had to meet Sergio at the main building in the park, so we assembled there and waited for a while playing fetch with the dogs. We got to talking a bit and decided we would split up. The majority of us would head out to the camp, and Clay and Steve-O’s son Steven would stay and wait for Sergio. So off we went… with the sun setting on one side, and the full moon shining on the other, we had a very enjoyable journey. The pictures don’t do it justice.
Sergio, Clay and Steven arrived an hour or so after we did. With them, they also had David and a friend of his in a Jeep bringing up the rear. Sergio’s truck was acting up, so he did a little work on it. We also had a nice dinner that Steve-O cooked. Walter broke out the fancy gear—table cloth and all.
The total mileage for the trip was up to
718 (88 for the day)
Our camp was at N28º 59.695’, W103º 11.254’.
The sunset and sunrise in the morning were both amazing. We got up around 7:00, and Steve-O cooked egg tacos again! After breakfast, we had to hang out because the dew was everywhere. While we waited, it was very interesting to see all of the fossils of seashells. We were in a desert, but millions of years ago, we would have been camped on the ocean floor. We finally decided to head out around 10:00. Everything wasn’t dry, but we were tired of not doing anything.
Friday we spent most of our day on River Road, though we ended up in Terlingua and visited the Terlingua ghost town in the afternoon. Again we had lots of beautiful scenery along our route. Sergio’s truck started acting up again, so we pulled over for a trail repair. First, he replaced the fuel filter, but it was doing the same thing, so he then proceeded to replace the fuel pump. Yes, the fuel pump. Yes, he carries an extra. After about 45 minutes, the fuel pump was replaced and his truck was running perfectly.
We ate lunch at Johnson’s Ranch and had a nice day taking in the scenery. We ended up in Terlingua late in the afternoon. We were going to have dinner at the little restaurant in the ghost town, but decided to set up camp and eat what we had. Again, Steve-O cooked! We had steak fajitas!
The total mileage for the trip was up to
800 (82 for the day)
Our camp was at N29º 19.653’, W103º 32.021’.
Saturday morning we woke up to the moon shining. My plan was to take off and head back to Houston. Steve-O, Clay and Sergio were going to spend some time in Terlingua and explore some more 4X4 trails. I knew I had a long ride ahead of me, so I got on the road about 10:00AM and headed up 118. I knew it took me 12 hours to get to BB. Since I left at 10:00, I knew I wouldn’t get home until 10:00 at night.
In theory, I could have made it, but reality set in when I literally saw 35-40 dead deer along the side of the road around Kerrville. I pushed on until San Antonio, but it was dark and there was way too much traffic on the road, so I opted for a hotel room in Seguin. I stayed at the Super 8, and although it was ~$60, it was money well spent given I was tired of a few days of riding and camping and it was now dark and I was getting tired.
I was up to 1300
miles (500 for the day)
Sunday morning I got on the road around 8:00AM. I arrived at home around 10:30.
Total trip: 1456 miles.
I also checked the GPS and found out my butt had been in the saddle for 26 hours and 39 minutes over the course of the trip. Aside from freezing a few times, it was a great time. I would have liked to hike more, but we simply didn’t have enough time. The park is HUGE! It takes quite a bit of time to get from place to place… more time would have been good. Next time, I need to spend an entire week at the park to take in all of it.
At the gas station...
"Where you goin?"
looking around for what else I may possibly be
"umm... yeah... on that."
Inside Dairy Queen...
"You been camping?"
no... I just load as much gear on my bike as possible and
"umm yeah, I'm going camping."
In the parking lot at
"What you need is a few more things to carry... I
don't know where you'd put it though (redneck chuckling
what I really need is some glue to help you hold your
dentures in your mouth when you talk...
"(returned the redneck chuckle with a
little more emphasis on the "redneck")."
If you want to see all of the Land
Rover pictures as well, click this link: http://www.houstonlandroverclub.com/photo_bb_11_2004_bill.html
Thanks for coming along on my trip!