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Old 10-24-2013, 07:09 AM   #1
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Location: Texas Hill Country, Zip Code EIEIO
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LoneStar: The Chinati Mountains

I spent a few days in west Texas, exploring, camping and testing some photo gear.

I'll post story and pics shortly, but for you ADD types here's some video I shot to get you started:

More soon amigos...
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Old 10-24-2013, 07:36 AM   #2
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Sweet video! Thanks for sharing...
2014 ?
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Old 10-24-2013, 08:27 AM   #3
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Robin Trower. Nice touch.
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Old 10-24-2013, 09:33 AM   #4
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Enjoyed that...

...thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:55 PM   #5
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:41 AM   #6
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Nobody likes a show off.

Enough foreplay, get the show on the road!

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Old 10-25-2013, 08:46 PM   #7
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Well done!

Nice teaser- can't wait to see the rest!
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Old 10-27-2013, 11:28 AM   #8
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Scotty you made me cry but I got over it
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Old 10-27-2013, 12:11 PM   #9
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Nothing like a good ride to the Big Bend region of Texas to clear the mind and rid oneself of the garbage that collects from life's clutter.

In the past, my trips to the area have been fast and relatively furious, squeezed in between work projects, with the need to see as much as possible. But this time I wanted to enjoy the area with no agenda or schedule and to play with the GoPro and Sony, trying out a few things and experimenting with video a bit.

I planned to camp, shoot some video, a few stills and edit on the laptop to get a feel for the realities of documenting a long future trip both on still and video on the road. Shooting still and doing a ride report isn't difficult, but adding video into the equation was something I wanted to try.

I decided to hit Marfa first, just because I've never spent any time there other than a lunch or gas stop on the way through heading somewhere else. A friend had sent pics of "El Cosmico", the hipster campground located on the edge of town and I decided to give it a try.

With that in mind, I loaded the bike and hit I-10 west to get out there as quickly as possible. If anyone has stumbled across my threads lately, my GS has been suffering poor fuel mileage for a while, and despite my best efforts to resolve it, it still has been getting crap mileage. I-10 west from Kerrville has an 80 mph speed limit and headwinds, so gas mileage drops anyway and this trip I hit several stations along the way to keep topped up.

ThunderPig in it's overloaded glory

I didn't get on the road until noon or so, and by the time I passed Ft. Stockton and took the highway south for Alpine, the sun was slipping fast to the horizon.

Turning west on 90 into the setting light of the sun, I felt the tinges of excitement and freedom that each ride brings.

Approaching Marfa in the face of a beautiful sunset, I was feeling the fatigue of the day's 80 mph buffeting, but the wide open spaces and a beautiful west Texas sky made me feel the peace that freedom brings.

It was nearing dark as I rolled into the El Cosmico campground and luckily the tatted hippie chick in the registration room hadn't closed shop yet. El Cosmico is a funky chic campground, with tent camping areas, teepees, safari tents and 50's era travel trailers, owned by the owner of several funky chic boutique hotels in Austin. Prices are commensurate for a chic spot, but tent camping is $12 which is a plus.

It had been a long day, and I was tired, so I decided to splurge and stay in a safari tent the first night, rather than set up in the dark. Yes, I wussed out.

I was the lone camper that evening

After unpacking I inquired about any places open for a meal and was told that only the restaurant and bar at the old Paisano Hotel were open this particular evening.

I fired up the unladen beast and rumbled into downtown Marfa, parking in the darkness on a side street and finding a table on the patio to avoid the few folks inside. The meal was good, and it felt great to be in another world.

For those unfamiliar with Marfa, Texas, it is an enigma. It is the classic west Texas town, with just enough buildings and businesses to support the local ranchers, but was put on the map as the place near which the film "Giant" was done. Rock Hudson, Liz Taylor and James Dean stayed in the Paisano for a few months while filming.

The New York artist Donald Judd moved there in the 70's and Marfa soon developed somewhat of a mystique for the art intelligentsia and has been a draw for tourists and seekers for quite some time. Amidst the old buildings are small galleries, small and pricey dining establishments and urban style places to stay. Having grown up in Texas, it seems surprising that such a tiny classic Texas town has enough interest to draw any visitors, but I suppose it is the extreme contrast to urban dwellers that makes it seem interesting. But more on that later...

Marfa's other claim to fame is the "Marfa Lights", a series of well established reports of strange orbs of lights and various optical and luminous shenanigans in the vast prairie south of 90 on the east side of town. The state, for safety reasons, finally built an official viewing area to clear the right of ways of cars and midnight gawkers.

I will say I spent several hours freezing my butt off looking for them over the years, and though never having the dramatic encounters others have had, I have seen some distant lights moving very rapidly and doing odd things in general.

More soon amigos!

LoneStar screwed with this post 10-27-2013 at 03:21 PM Reason: Fixed image link issue
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Old 10-27-2013, 12:51 PM   #10
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Bring it on Lonestar. This old Pasadena boy has been running I10 for
the last 50 years and only made it through Marfa and Marathon twice!
Big Bend has always called, but the duty of family has kept me on the

I'm in.
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Old 10-27-2013, 01:59 PM   #11
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Old 10-27-2013, 04:43 PM   #12
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Thumb Great video...

And great start
Thanks for sharing
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Old 10-28-2013, 05:46 PM   #13
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I awoke early to use the potty, in the hip chic bathroom/shower stalls that have as much privacy as a cattle pen, and frankly look to be one lol. The two bathrooms are separated as loosely, and it could be a peeping perv's heaven (not that I know anything about that btw). But it fits with the laid back stoned hippie feel of the place, and I can easily adapt, ponytail notwithstanding.

It was a bit cool early, as Marfa sits about 5000' in elevation IIRC, and is the recipient of winds coming down from the plains and plateaus further north as well as the Davis Mountains, so I dragged the laptop into the small lobby area and stared bleary-eyed at the wall where I fantasized hot coffee would be waiting. Eventually it did materialize and tasted pretty good.

I popped open the Mac and checked emails, hoping for the chance to rescue a Nigerian prince's millions from an account, so I too can become wealthy, God Bless Me… No luck however so I decided to people watch as a few stragglers came in from the 50's trailers looking for java. I lifted my feet for the cleaning lady to mop under them, and watched a nicely dressed Spanish looking man check his email on his Mac, everything about him pristine and perfect, expensive watch, perfect leather organizer and pen, each hair in place, and pondered the yin and yang of the lobby, he and I in perfect contrast, keeping the world from spinning off it's axis.

I walked outside and looked up at the dull, gray, hazy sky, a bit bummed as I was anxious to get out and shoot some pics. One's percentage of good shots on overcast days is slim, especially in a vast flat landscape that screams for contrast and color, so I decided to hang in the lobby.

In short order a young lady came in with her camera and Mac laptop, dressed absolutely as if shopping in Neiman Marcus, perfectly made up, skin tight fashion jeans with top and expensive scarf wrap. Suddenly I was feeling underdressed for a chic hippie campground, as both she and the Spanish guy were quite squeaky clean and spiffy. God knows I'd tried to keep my favorite UnderArmor tshirt in good shape, but it has a furry strip of fabric pulls right down the center of my six pack abs from various zipper catches and lens caps flapping against it. Oh well, I was on vacation.

Bored of leering, I went outside to check the sky again and ended up at an old porcelain Corona table with a British couple, he having a bushy black beard and round Lennon sunglasses. I asked how they'd ended up in Marfa, and they said they'd flown to California to be with the wife's dying mother, and after her passing decided to drive across the U.S. to see the country. They'd rented an SUV, and left California with intense warnings of how dangerous America was. They'd been warned that their car was guaranteed to be broken into, so somewhere along the way they had decided to make color copies of their passports and send the originals back to California for safekeeping by her sister…

Needless to say, I felt a bit sorry for them that their journey had been so jaded by fear and bullshit, but I also said that they did need to be a bit cautious near big cities. He continued with the story, and that they'd had good luck until they reached the Border Patrol checkpoint on I-10 near the junction with I-20, where he said the agents treated them as criminals since they only had copies of their passports. After lengthy interrogation they were told they would be allowed to go to Marfa with an escort and had to remain there until their passports arrived.

When they found out I lived near Fredericksburg, they asked about local cuisine and produced a list of restaurants and dives across the U.S. they planned to visit. Turns out they were chefs in England and wanted to sample great or at least different foods on the trip, I suggested they hit Alamo Springs Cafe outside Fburg for a great burger and music, and if possible to hit Cooper's BBQ in Llano, telling them on a good day it was some of the best in the world depending on which cow had died the previous day.

After talking them to death, I headed for downtown Marfa to walk around a bit and hope the skies would clear, hitting the courthouse to climb to the top of the tower where some friends had gotten married, but it was closed that particular day. My amazing charm and looks could not persuade the County Clerk nor the judge standing next to her to allow me to go up.

So I wandered the empty streets, peering into vacant buildings through cloudy windows and reading faded signs, checking the galleries only to find them all closed. As an aside, if you visit Marfa be prepared for almost everything there to generally be closed, opening only at odd hours and random times of the week.

Bored and ready to ride (as you are from reading this), I decided to head south for the Chinati Hot Springs to check out the place where I planned to spend a couple of days camping. I'd heard of it and seen it on the map but in previous trips was never able to take the time to ride out to it.

The cloud cover began to lift into high veils in the sky as I raced south on Ranch Road 2810 through the vast plains of the big ranches on the plateau. I stopped briefly to putz around with my GoPro for a bit of ride capture on the narrow blacktop road.

One thing about the area Marfa is in, is that if you like wide open spaces, you're in heaven. Beautiful open areas with great skies, the occasional windmill or pronghorn antelope and long stretches of open road.

Heading southwest, I eventually reached the end of the blacktop as the road begins to edge off the plateau and down into Pinto Canyon as it heads for the Rio Grande and the border of Mexico. I stopped to take in the view and noticed my custom made filter mount for the GoPro had somehow let loose of the filtration I was using, tossing it somewhere in the last 30 miles. Oh well.

The high hazy clouds had left the landscape somewhat flat in color and the winds with continuous dust created a soft and distant feel to the canyon, as I headed off for Ruidosa and the river road north of Presidio.

Pinto Canyon is a favorite road of mine, and I enjoyed the vistas and terrain, eventually passing the cut off road that heads for Chinati Hot Springs, but decided to go all the way to the border before returning back north to the Hot Springs.

Eventually I rumbled into the entrance to the springs, and parked in front of the adobe style cabins. I was the only vehicle there in the hidden little oasis. I walked around, looking at the campsites and community kitchen, listening to ringing in my ears in the dead silence of the little canyon it resides in.

I eventually wandered up to the main house, to the sound of intense barking from a large dog inside, it's female owner's voice shushing the dog, or at least attempting to. When she opened the door, I told her I was planning on staying in a couple of days, and she said they stayed steadily booked but if I was camping there was no problem this particular week. Good to hear. I told her I'd be back then wandered to the hot spring pools and enjoyed the utter silence.

The sun was slipping low and I figured it was time to start the trek northward for El Cosmico.

Running through the canyon was beautiful, and a ride I always enjoy. I paused at the top and shot a few photos in the setting light, sitting on the edge of a steep hill and looking out at the timeless landscape, puffs of wind whistling in the Spanish Dagger and dry grass.

I fired up the rig, and headed north to the blacktop and the beautiful open land and sky ahead.

The fields on each side became a beautiful gold as the sun skimmed lower, my attention and bike being drawn to the shoulder for photos and just to watch the light change.

Each time I see this lone tree, I wonder if it's the one the Coen Bros used in a scene from "No Country For Old Men" as some of it was filmed in the area

Eventually I crested the large hill before descending to Marfa miles ahead, passing the lone white Yukon and Border Patrol officer stationed at his watching post just over the crest. I waved to him nonchalantly, figuring my bike was probably the most interesting thing he'd seen all day. I also figured at some point he'd stop me out of curiosity and I may as well start the brown-nosing now.

I arrived back at Cosmico, swapped clothes and checked email on the patio, watching as a stylish couple arrived in a rental car and proceeded to unload. The girl, a stunning blonde Brigitte Bardot-esque model type in painted on black clothes, matched her companion, a tall thin man with sunglasses and black hair, he too in skin tight painted on jeans and shirt. As they struggled to put their luggage into the little wagons provided for campers, I heard them arguing in French and wondered if, in fact, they had flown all the way from France to this little berg in west Texas. Paint me blue and call me a Smurf, but I can tell you I'd sure as hell fly to somewhere else in the world if I had enough money to choose.

Somewhat tickled by the idea, I chuckled inside and watched as another rental car pulled in and a thin wiry guy and two girls got out, their clothes also betraying the fact they "warn't from around hyar" either. The threesome proceeded to mumble and unload a tent and backpacks and head for the tent camping area.

I was getting hungry and again asked the hip chick inside where to eat. She repeated the litany from the night before, asking herself what day it was, and then looking at the clock, then telling me I'd missed the one place that had been open that day and for 3 hours that afternoon. Again it seemed the bar at the El Paisano Hotel was the only place open.

I again repeated the same physical litany as the night before, this time eating inside rather than the patio and choosing a corner from which to eat, since I appeared about as attractive as a wet rat after riding all day. My thoughts wandered to the next day, when I hoped to get a bit more serious about shooting a bit of video.

More maρana amigos...
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:35 PM   #14
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Chinati Hot Springs

Please tell us more about the hot springs. I passed through there last February but had not made a reservation so we flew on up Pinto Canyon to Marfa. Considering heading back there some day with intentions of staying at the hot springs but I am always a sucka for more information.

Nice story so far. Keep it coming.
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:30 AM   #15
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Love the pics. I miss Big Bend.
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