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Old 10-29-2013, 06:09 PM   #16
tricepilot
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Really good story telling and photos, Joseph.

I sat in the Paisano two nights ago having just returned from Mexico via Ojinaga (and left Marfa the Monday before on the way to entering at Douglas Arizona/Agua Prieta Mexico); Marfa was the starting/ending point of the journey.

I checked out the other "top tier" restaurant in Marfa, the Cochineal, but decided it was too "New York Proper" for me.

The lone local banker (he's still in Marfa} was the extra cast as the guy first murdered on the side of the road by Anton Chigurh in "No Country For Old Men".

Beyonce herself (a Houston girl) was in town last year and in fact, stayed at the El Cosmico as well.

Morely Safer of 60 Minutes did a great piece on Marfa recently, check it out on YouTube.

I stayed just outside of town at the Riata. While pulling in from Mexico, there was a bunch of models being photographed with the vast grasslands as a backdrop.

Go figure - it's Marfa.
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:32 PM   #17
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Hey Trice

Where'd you go from Douglas? I rode out there a couple years ago and did the border roads from near Douglas to Nogales and beyond and am thinking of heading back

Would like to hear about your loop

Marfa, what an interesting place indeed. You meet the biggest variety of people out there

About to post the next bit...
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:51 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by gregdee View Post
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.
Greg I'll be posting more on it shortly - great place
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Old 10-29-2013, 09:00 PM   #19
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Morning consisted of my usual routine: stand up, try to remember who I am and to put pants on before going out in public. Wonder if they'd notice at Cosmico? Probably.

But the coffee was good once again, and I warmed my fingers over a hot Mac downloading pics and trying to think of witty comments for the report. I got stuck on the first line, which started with "I..." (cause it's "all about me" ) and was about to think of the second word when the wiry guy who'd arrived the evening before popped into the Cosmico lobby, fiddling with the artsy door latch that every person who enters does, and proceeded to look around, exploring the general vicinity of the coffee pot and then boldly and loudly asked the tatted hippie chick if they had any "hot tea"…

The words thudded to the ground with no response, and he seemed a bit lost, so I stood up and told him to hang on, that I had some individual tea packets in my tent, and would he prefer English Breakfast, Earl Grey or Irish Breakfast tea? He looked at me like one would look at Frankenstein asking for a dance. He said "well, any is fine actually." Using my brilliant powers of deduction I figured he would actually need three and headed for my tent to find the 8 year old packets I'd been carrying around in my tank bag for 6 years, glad to pawn them off on someone and still look like a hero.

When I returned he thanked me in a slight yankee accent, and made up a couple of cups and disappeared. I was still stuck on "I…" when he returned with the two girls, all carrying Mac laptops and cell phones with notepads. The two girls spoke in lovely British accents, or maybe it was two lovely girls who spoke in British accents, or maybe it was two lovely British girls who spoke in lovely British accents - it was early what can I say - but they proceeded to start making calls, checking emails and talking to various folks about "shoots" and I realized they were doing production for some form of media.

About the same time, the girl who'd been dressed so designerly the previous morning, came in with her cameras and laptop, followed shortly by three guys in the current style of bushy beards, tight pants and plaid shirts, all sporting old film cameras including a Hasselblad 500CM. They all began discussing shooting and such, and I enjoyed eavesdropping, finding it interesting to see them shooting film with retro gear. As a photographer for 30 years, it was fun seeing the art still alive, and I started talking to them a bit. Turns out the girl had been driving to Marfa and needed gas, pulling off the highway at what she thought was a gas station only to find it abandoned. Shortly after stopping, an old van pulled in and the three guys had piled out, they too needing gas and fooled by the sign. The guys were on the way to Austin from LA to play a gig, and she told them about Marfa, so they had followed her and were going to spend a couple of days in town. Cool.

About that time, one of the Brit gals came over to thank me for the tea, and I acted as if it were nothing (now concerned that they not die from "old tea poisoning"). In conversation it turned out that the two girls were filming a documentary about the most famous lion tamer in the world, a guy from Texas who'd lived in the early 1900's, and so impressive that Haile Selassie the Emperor of Ethipoia had given him his two royal lions as pets.

That was news to me, but at this point in my life and especially in Marfa, I'll believe anything. The guy with them was a filmmaker from NYC, and they'd flown in to Midland, rented a car and driven down the day previous. She told me that they had a week and were going to drive from Marfa to Houston and then down to Brownsville and then maybe El Paso. I asked if she realized just how big Texas was, and just how much driving they would be doing in one week. We continued talking, and it turns out both girls had worked in production for films in London, before striking out on their own in documentaries.

She said that they had managed to record a video of an amazing phenomena, and it had gone viral, being picked up by news agencies and television the world over. The money they'd gotten from this had financed their current trip. She showed me the video and I got chills watching it.

It's called "Murmuration" and was filmed on her iPhone after all their camera batteries had been used up filming that day. Truly stunning.

Murmuration from Islands & Rivers on Vimeo.



They asked if I had any suggestions as to travel from Marfa, and I told them to hit Presidio then Terlingua by Hwy 170 and catch the sunset from the porch, dinner at the Starlight and then thru Big Bend out to Marathon. From there I told them to take 90 east to see the old sights, telling them to stop at Langtry, seat of Judge Roy Bean, and was about to explain a bit of history when the wiry guy jumped in, excited and said he'd studied Roy bean extensively in college, and was excited to know they would be passing through Langtry.

After I'd gotten a lengthy history lesson on Bean from him, I told them that if they went through Brackettville to find the ranch where the recreation of the Alamo was and to charm their way in, since it was now closed to the public. I told them it was a Texas symbol and may be useful for imagery in a story of Texas.


The skies still sucked, being overcast and gray, but I hit the little Mexican restaurant in town for a breakfast of huevos rancheros, with possibly the hottest sauce I'd ever eaten. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaa!

After I could see again, I floored it for Pinto Canyon to start shooting some video and testing some mounts. I flew past the Border Patrol suv and waved again, cresting a hill to find a woman trying to have a peaceful walk with her retriever who of course bolted onto the road to all of our surprise. All I can say is thank God for ABS brakes. When she had him under control I waved and floored it again.





I spent time slowly exploring the dusty roads, hoping the sky would clear but to no avail. Most of the afternoon was spent stopping and setting a camera or laying on the ground adjusting a GoPro, and by the time it started getting late and the light began getting good, I was worn out from dragging my fat ass on and off the bike all day.






I'm sure I looked suspicious to whatever technology the Border Patrol uses to monitor the roads, and sure enough an SUV arrived to question me. The guys were all young, sweating and tired looking, so their questioning was half hearted and they moved on, but I surreptitiously watched as they drove higher in elevation and eventually stopped to glass me for a while.


(This is my surreptitious look)



I spent the afternoon shooting some video and fiddling with things mostly, but eventually the light began to improve late in the day.

Forgive my lack of imagery but the day was spent with video - so tough titties


I continued shooting as the sun began to set, and worked my way up to the plateau to take a break and watch the sun set.



Indulge me a bit on the sunsets...










I don't know what it is exactly, but there is a magic to this area of Texas, especially in the evenings, that enters one's soul and never leaves.
It's found when you sit in silence and watch the hills change in the light, and yet never change.












It was after dark by the time I hit the asphalt on the way back to Marfa, and I was wishing for more headlight, my Wunderlich duals an improvement over the stocker by far, and just as I began to relax a bit, a large herd of javelina rocketed from the brush and flowed across the road like a stream. I barely missed them and the adrenaline popped me wide awake to say the least.

I stayed intently focused on the road for a while and eventually saw what seemed to be a large black blob in the road ahead. I blinked multiple times to make sure it wasn't fatigue, but the dark mass seemed to stay ahead of me.

I began to wonder, and hit the throttle to see if I could discern what it was, if anything.

As I sped from about 65 up to 80, I began to see more and more shape as I got closer, and by the time I began to get close, I saw that the black shape was in fact the tail end of an old flatbed truck, and as I moved into the opposite lane and closed on it, I could see there were no plates, no tailights or lenses, no glass windows and it was painted in flat black and primer brown. Whatever truck it was, it had been blacked out and any form of reflectivity removed and it was going about 65 in complete darkness with no headlights or lights of any form.

By this time I was peeling past it and trying to figure it out when I looked ahead and saw another flatbed a few yards in front, traveling fast and totally blacked out as well... only this truck had a high tech dune buggy of sorts on the back - flat dull black brown as well. I felt a bit weird and really pegged the throttle to blast past and get on ahead. Both trucks were old 60's era flatbeds, beat up and painted flat black and dark brown and were hauling ass down a pitch black road with no lights of any sort.

As I wondered how shocked they were to be overtaken by a motorcycle coming out of the canyon behind them so late, I also was a bit wowed and figured I'd just passed some sort of secret military observation unit or something, because all I know is they had to be using NV goggles to drive that fast with no lights.

In short order they disappeared in the darkness behind me and I raced on at higher speeds than normal. Marfa was still a long ways away, as it is roughly 30 miles of blacktop from the canyon entrance.

After a while, I saw the reflective stickers of a Border Patrol truck ahead, and began slowing as I knew there was no way he'd let a motorcycle coming out of the canyon in the dark go past. In fact I debated just pulling over and rolling up to him to save him the trouble, but also knew he'd be very tense and I had no desire to be shot.

So I slowed to about 60 as I went past and watched in the rear view as his lights came on, the beams wavering back and forth as he slid around gassing it. Shortly after, the red and blues began flashing a good 1/2 mile behind me, so I pulled off into the long grass and waited, remaining on the bike and keeping both hands on the bars for his sake.

After stopping a good 20 yards behind, he made a wide berth with flashlight to my right, hand on his gun and began asking me questions. I asked him if I could remove my helmet, and he agreed, and I told him I'd been photographing in the canyon late and got caught after dark. After he'd checked my license and talked a bit, I saw him relax and the tension dissipated. We ended up talking for a long while, illuminated by his headlights in the dark. I joked that I had debated just pulling over to his car, but had thought better of it. He laughed and then we talked motorcycles and travel. He said he was from Chicago and had never been anywhere before taking the job with Border Patrol, and he and his wife and kids were assigned straight to Marfa. I laughed out loud and said what a change that must have been. He said that it was a shock, but now they'd fallen in love with the area and lifestyle and didn't want to leave.

I told him I'd probably surprised some of his buddies many miles back by overtaking them in the dark, and mentioned the blacked out vehicles and dune buggy. He stopped and expression changed a bit, then said he didn't know of any operations like that. He paused then said it probably was some ranch hands moving some equipment to another pasture. Could be I s'pose... Hard to imagine ranch hands with a need to run fast and dark in pitch black with no lights... and seems like two headlight bulbs would be a bit cheaper than a couple sets of Gen 4 NV goggles.

We shook hands and I headed for Marfa and straight to the Paisano for dinner, cutting out the middleman...


More tomorrow friends

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Old 10-30-2013, 06:06 AM   #20
tricepilot
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I can't tell you how delicious I find this report (and photos/video). Sat and sipped coffee enjoying endless bits this early morning, while the world was waking up outside - the piece about the tea bags (8 years old!) had my dog lifting his head and looking at me because I was laughing so hard.

Story telling skills par excellence
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Old 10-30-2013, 06:49 AM   #21
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Wow, what a great report! Your storytelling really captures the atmosphere of the area. Until now I had never heard of "murmuration" and it is an amazing video. Murmuration sounds like the way I act in the mornings before my required allotment of caffeine. I have always suspected that you are surreptitious, and now it is confirmed. The blacked-out trucks are sorta scary actually. Further contact with them probably wouldn't have ended up good.

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Old 10-30-2013, 09:25 PM   #22
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Having laid awake in the tent til late, pondering the evening's events and especially the blacked out trucks, I awoke tired and draggy.

The lobby was quiet this morning, and I was the solo coffee hound, at least as early as I had gotten up. It was time to move on to the Hot Springs and a change of place. I reminded myself I was in no hurry and had no agenda, except riding and shooting whatever I felt like. I tend to be purpose driven, having been self employed all my life and have been trying to learn to slow down and just enjoy the moments in life I passed so quickly before. So I took my time before packing up the camping gear and loading the bike. I checked out and was gearing up when I saw the stylish French couple rolling their wagon down the gravel walkway from the trailers to load their car. Such an incongruous image, and yet it captured the entire Marfa enigma in one moment.

I rode around to look at other places to potentially stay in the future, including a motel nearby that was restyled in modern metro, but the girl could not have cared less that I inquired about rates, so I wandered on back to the downtown area to stretch my legs a bit before heading out.

As I wandered about, I saw a young, tragically hip couple wandering about on the opposite side of the street, he dressed in skin tight black jeans and skin tight black shirt with a huge bushy black beard and sneakers. I had seen them each day I'd hit downtown, both morning and evening and they were always dressed exactly the same, wandering as I was, trying to find any place open. What a tragedy.

It was yet another sucky sky day, and I began to wonder wtf was up, as the skies out yonder were almost always clear and blue. I was still having trouble waking up and decided to hang out for a while, moseying and being nosey until the small sandwich shop across from the courthouse opened. I had lunch there since I hadn't eaten breakfast and talked with a couple of folks on the patio, enjoying a delicious sandwich, feeling fat, happy and sleepy. I decided I'd forego any shooting today and fired up the bike for the Hot Springs. The more I thought about it, the better a soak in the springs sounded.

I arrived at the place and checked in with the manager, the lady I'd spoken with a couple days before. She told me a room had come available, and having camped the last few days I decided to take it for the night. It turned out to be a great little place and I had the chance to spread out my gear, clean out the dust and charge all my batteries.






























My Sidi Adventures smelled so bad they could have killed Bin Laden and his entire compound, so I left them outside along with my riding pants. Sheesh, aaarf and God Help Me they smelled.






The room was great, the bed was good and the hot pool was even better after dark. It felt good to just relax in the super silence there.

The Chinati Hot Springs had of course in ancient times been an Indian camp, and sometime in the 1800's were taken in by a ranch. They have had a couple of owners, including the artist Donald Judd, and are tucked away in a small canyon, devoid of cell signals and wifi and far enough from Presidio to take away any desire to search for either. It is a genuinely quiet, peaceful place to hide from the world. The manager told me they have worked very hard to keep it that way, and due to the lack of water they are very careful as to how many, and when, they allow folks to come. They say not to show up without advance reservations, and I can assure you they will turn you away otherwise. I had gone by just to see the place, having read about it and circled it on the map for years, not expecting to be able to stay, but was lucky when she said camping was not a problem and then the timely cancellation the days I was there.

A couple of other folks arrived later, but I went out like a light in the comfort of the bed.





The next morning I took my kit to the common kitchen area, and boiled water for fresh coffee and my Mountain House scrambled eggs pouch.






Kitchen with everything you need and two fridges



Sitting on the porch alone, I enjoyed the rising light of the sun in silence. It was going to be a clear and gorgeous day.














I spent the day on the bike, riding and enjoying the scenery, shooting stills and some more video. But most importantly, enjoying the solitude that seems to purge your mind and give you clarity again.






I saw one other motorcyclist that day, a guy on a DR650 who'd ridden up from Terlingua. We talked a while and moved aside as a Border Patrol truck rumbled past, each of us waving. He headed on north and I continued putzing with my rigs until another two riders came by. They stopped briefly to see if I was ok, advise me that my GoPro was mounted in the wrong place, then tore off on their KTM's with their race faces on, as if in the Dakar.







At one point, high up in the mountains I stopped for a breather and to cool off a bit. The afternoon sun was dropping low and I took my helmet off to feel the wind. As I sat with eyes closed I heard the far off sound of a jet and turned to look towards the sound, just as a black B1 bomber came low over the mountains from back up on the plateau. I was amazed to see it so low and so close, maybe a mile or two away and rocketing low over the valleys. I was thunderstruck for a moment, not realizing that we even had B1 bombers anymore, and watched as it banked and turned south. As I sat watching it, suddenly a second B1 came rocketing behind it, mirroring the moves of the first. I was so surprised and enthralled I didn't even think of trying to catch a pic, and they were gone almost as fast as they came. A very cool sight to see.



That was a good cap for this beautiful day, and I was hot tired and beat as the sun sank low. I headed back south, into a setting sun and dust storm, thinking of the hot springs and a good shower. Here and there I had to stop, the light creating interesting images at each turn it seemed.






















I stopped to watch the sun set over the mountains across the Rio Grande as I exited the mountains into the river valley, the dust coating my face with fine powder in the wind.







I took off my helmet and looked around, the winds whistling in the brush and the clouds moving rapidly, at times imitating the silhouetted mountains to the point one wasn't sure which was cloud or which was mountain.


























































As the sun finally dipped behind the range, I headed on into the darkness, riding slowly to minimize the front wheel washout in the creek bed crossings.









I got back to the room, truly exhausted, and took a long shower in the hot spring shower rooms, before getting in the hot springs and having a long conversation with a young couple from San Antonio. I made it back to the room, crashing on the bed, too tired to mess with batteries, downloads or much of anything. It had been a great day, with images and sounds forever printed in my memory.

LoneStar screwed with this post 10-30-2013 at 10:04 PM
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Old 10-31-2013, 12:14 AM   #23
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Wow!

Nice job Joe! Great ride report and photos all the way around amigo!

I really should have rendezvoused with you down there in BB, but I got stuck in the Ozarks and Ouachitas! Closest I got to TX was the Talimena Drive on the AR/OK line.

Besides, I was just down there after the MotoGP races in April and I don't want to wear it out for myself. While there in April I saw Trice Pilot, but he was much too involved with doing laundry over at the store at Rio Grande Village to slow down and visit. That, and the fact that I'm pretty sure he was just wearing womens underwear while doing "ALL" his laundry? Were those what they call "spanx" Trice?

I love your graphic descriptions of Marfa and it's visitors ......... priceless, and spot on.

Rob
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Old 10-31-2013, 12:24 AM   #24
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Subscribed.

Gotta love West TX. Those hot springs have been circled on my mental map for ages. Thanks for the reservation info.

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Old 10-31-2013, 06:48 AM   #25
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Nice job Joe! Great ride report and photos all the way around amigo!

I really should have rendezvoused with you down there in BB, but I got stuck in the Ozarks and Ouachitas! Closest I got to TX was the Talimena Drive on the AR/OK line.

Besides, I was just down there after the MotoGP races in April and I don't want to wear it out for myself. While there in April I saw Trice Pilot, but he was much too involved with doing laundry over at the store at Rio Grande Village to slow down and visit. That, and the fact that I'm pretty sure he was just wearing womens underwear while doing "ALL" his laundry? Were those what they call "spanx" Trice?

I love your graphic descriptions of Marfa and it's visitors ......... priceless, and spot on.

Rob
LMAO got any pics of Trice you want to share?

Yeah I hear ya - Ozarks aren't a bad place to get stuck and Big Bend ain't gonna change any time soon
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:56 AM   #26
tricepilot
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LMAO got any pics of Trice you want to share?
There might be some if I was there doing laundry in RGV, but I've never done laundry on a trip to BB. But apparently the horny Road Damage visualizes other men in women's underwear, so keep your distance!
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:12 AM   #27
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Hey Trice

Where'd you go from Douglas? I rode out there a couple years ago and did the border roads from near Douglas to Nogales and beyond and am thinking of heading back

Would like to hear about your loop

Marfa, what an interesting place indeed. You meet the biggest variety of people out there


This loop began and ended in Marfa last week. Myself and Jimmex rode out to Marfa separately (he from San Angelo and I from San Antonio).

Loop: Marfa - Douglas (Agua Prieta Mx) - Banแmichi - Y้cora - Creel - Hildalgo del Parral - Marfa.

Stayed at the historic Gadsden Hotel in Douglas.

Gunshots at night on the streets of Parral.

Left out of Marfa on 90 West to El Paso then the border road through New Mexico and Arizona to Douglas. Back into Texas at Ojinaga/Presidio via the libre from Chihuahua (city).

Completed the loop, and it's 4,888 twisties past Basaseachi Cascada and the Copper Canyon, etc., this past Monday.

If you're thinking of heading back, do this loop. I'd be glad to expand off-line with you on some important tips and cautions before you go.
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:17 AM   #28
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Thanks for another great RR in true LoneStar fashion...

I've been to the area twice in the past 12 months and look forward to another return in December.

Several years ago, I was engaged to a lovely woman who still works at the Metropolian Museum of Art, NYC (!?!). In one of her first visits to Texas, she asked if we could drop by Marfa as she had read and heard much about the town.

"Babe, its only 500 miles from this small town to that small town..."

She laughed, not realizing the enormity of Texas.

I stayed at Paisano during my last trip... sent her a note on hotel stationary...

Wasn't quite enough to win her back...

NFE
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:48 AM   #29
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I stayed at Paisano during my last trip... sent her a note on hotel stationary...

Wasn't quite enough to win her back...

NFE
Cool story NFE - I think it's the appeal of such total contrast to NYC and urban areas that folks find interesting.

I also think that in some ways "I spent some time in Marfa" carries the similar mysterious bragging rights as "I climbed the Himalayas to find the Dali Lama while whipping myself with Thai noodles " when discussed at dinner parties.
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:53 AM   #30
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Trice, when you mentioned "Cochineal", I started laughing, as I'd forgotten that I was told it was open one night and a great place to eat.

I'd walked over to try it out one evening and when I saw the little tables and the guests all dressed as if at a Country Club, I felt like Bill Murray in Caddyshack looking in the window. I beat a hasty retreat


Thanks for the loop image and looking forward to your ride report Will get more info from you later
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