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Old 10-31-2013, 08:43 AM   #31
SR
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Nice Photos!
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Old 10-31-2013, 10:15 AM   #32
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Nice Photos!
Gracias!
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:54 AM   #33
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Thanks LoneStar.
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:45 PM   #34
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Diggin it!

There’s just something about West Texas. Your photos and narrative capture it perfectly. Thanks man!
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:42 AM   #35
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Thanks guys! Appreciate the comments
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:49 AM   #36
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Hey Lonestar, thanks for the report.
I have a group doing that trip in December. We had planned to camp at Chinati but they are closed for a party the night we were to stay there.
Do you think El Cosmico would be a good place for six or eight guys to camp one night?
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:15 AM   #37
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Hey Lonestar, thanks for the report.
I have a group doing that trip in December. We had planned to camp at Chinati but they are closed for a party the night we were to stay there.
Do you think El Cosmico would be a good place for six or eight guys to camp one night?
Hey Don!

Yes it's a good spot to camp. They have old scout tents, the safari tents, teepee's and trailers, which are all pricey, BUT the entire campground is open for tent camping - they just ask that you try not to set up too close to the other stuff. It's several acres in size. I think it's 12 a night for tents

Might contact them and make sure they aren't having a music event or something, as they do on occasion and it fills up.

Also the entire region gets full around Christmas and since there's not a lot of places, they fill up fast in Big Bend, Terlingua, Marathon etc.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:44 AM   #38
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Castolon's Revenge

Slept well and headed for the community kitchen for morning java and a bit o' breakfast, having company in the kitchen, a couple from New Mexico who'd camped a couple nights. Nice folks who were retired teachers and a looked to be old hippies gone straight, still in a VW van however, only a late 80's Vanagon version.

We talked about things in general, and they shared how much they liked Texas and thought of moving to the state. Eventually the conversation rolled around to politics, wherein the subtle innuendo of our ignorance and backward political thinking came forth. Being the courteous Texan that I was raised to be, I bit my lip and said nothing. However, after a lifetime of watching people f-up their own states with their enlightened concepts of government control, then moving to Texas "cause it's such a good place to live and the people are so friendly", that I'm about to lose patience. I feel a little sorry for the upcoming dumbass who finally trips my trigger. Damn I'm tired of hearing that sh*t.

Ok, now I feel better.

After they left, I was wishing I'd given them some 8 year old teabags. Anyway, the manager came in to clean a bit and scope things out, and we ended up talking while he leaned on his broom. He and his wife had moved to Ruidosa years before, after he'd retired from a large defense contractor. He discussed the area, the few folks who'd moved here just as they did, to get away from life's BS and to be free to live the life they wanted. He discussed the history of Pinto Canyon road and it's use as a smuggler's trail throughout history, having been used for rifles, whiskey and even candle wax when it was prohibited by the Mexican government. He said the recent appearance of the Border Patrol and it's mandate had of course led to issues with treatment of locals, and certainly the destruction of some families and children who used to attend school in Candelaria, living 75 feet across the Rio Grande. He went on to share that he and his wife drove to Presidio and Ojinaga on almost a daily basis, and one day recently a new BP officer decide to be a smartass with his wife. He said "I'm not anyone special, but by God having worked in the defense industry I did know some. I made a call to a friend in Fort Worth, and at 9 a.m. the next morning there was a knock at our door. I opened it to find the head of the Border Patrol and a few officers standing in the yard, and the head man officially apologized to both me and my wife, and said the offending officer had been dealt with." Score one for the little guys. He then said he's been greatly disturbed by the continuing buildup of government agencies and the kids they hire to carry a gun. He said one of these day the U.S. will be just like Mexico, where only the Federales and Banditos have guns with us as the innocent peasant population cowering between.

But I digress. My only agenda for the entire trip was to make it into Ojinaga to get my vehicle permit canceled for the bike before the 6 months expired from the last trip into Mexico, but I had a couple of days left til it was due and I planned on coming back before heading home, so I bypassed the crossing and hit the local grocery store for something to toss in the tank bag, coming out with a pack of tortillas and a couple of bottles of water. As I began gearing up, I was approached by a tatted up girl who'd been sitting under the awning with a couple of other characters who seemed a bit dirty and somewhat methy. I normally have no issue with anyone, and especially enjoy talking with the various characters I meet on the road, but this didn't feel right nor did the two guys watching her. I've learned through some dangerous events in life to always trust the gut and my gut said "git your ass outta here." I acted like I couldn't hear her since I had my helmet on, and proceeded to fire up and take off. Don't know what was up but didn't matter, cuz I don't stay to find out anymore.



I don't think I'll stay here - but I bet it's cheap



From Presidio to Lajitas is one of my favorite motorcycle roads, Highway 170, and known as "the river road" to "the hill" where it crests a high rise in the peaks, as it winds it's way right against the Rio at times.

It was a clear day and the road didn't disappoint, passing historic Fort Leaton without stopping, as in all times previous, then the flatter desert area disappearing a little after Redford and the curves and scenery increasing by the mile.

I rode for a while then stopped at an overlook to eat my plain tortilla brunch. I'd been there shortly when a van pulled up and a couple got out with a big, older boy who had Downs Syndrome. The boy walked over and looked at me and I started to offer a tortilla but the dad came up quickly and gently dismissed my intentions without a word between us. The boy then turned and began taking photos… of everything… and continuously. He wandered away just going "click, click, click, click, click, click…" with the camera. I can't imagine how many thousands of images his dad would have to go through later. The father sat down as did his wife, so I offered a tortilla to them. They were from Canada, and had been traveling and staying in Big Bend for almost 6 months. He thanked me for the tortilla offer and said he didn't mean anything by his glancing my earlier offer away from his son. I knew he meant it could have started something they'd have to deal with. They told me that they had been given the opportunity to be the caregivers for their son under the Canadian medical laws, rather than institutionalize him, and if I remember correctly he said they were given monthly income which sort of was a form of retirement. He said they loved Big Bend and were able to come stay each year for a certain length of time, having done so for years. When I reflect on life, it is folks like these that I consider unknown heroes, as they, like many people, suffer their loss of dreams in silence, but continue on.


I continued on 170, the rollicking road soooo much fun. No matter how many times I've ridden that road, I always manage to pinch the seat vinyl a few times on the surprise off-camber drop away turns just as you crest a blind hill. Finally, over "the hill" and past the Tee Pee's to Lajitas and then Terlingua and the porch.



Time for a cool Mexican coke and some much needed wifi






The Three Wise Men of Terlingua

Uh Clem suggested I pay his modeling fee with a beer, which sounded reasonable to me






I ended up camping that night at a friend's place, listening to the coyotes some distance away as I fell asleep, slowly sliding downward in my tent against the bottom. Dammit. The spot had looked level when I set up the tent…



The next morning I was ready for coffee, and a couple years later I'm still bummed about Kathy's Kosmic Kowgirl no longer existing. Best breakfast, best company and best fire ring around. Kathy babe, you know I love you girl but you're killing us













A morning buddy
















I had coffee at the little place across the lot from the General Store - can't ever remember the name - and sat with a couple of the local sages staring down the road towards the cemetery. It was quiet and enjoyable.

In short order a white Jeep SUV came racing down the road, and zipped into the lot pulling straight in to the one available space, a cloud of dust rolling over us silent patio coffee dwellers. A teensy bit uncouth, however we assumed it was a tourist.

A man bolted out of the Jeep, pasty white from lack of sun for a lifetime, yet wearing the typical adventure tourist outfit of cargo shorts, Columbia fishing shirt and goofy boonie cap. His face was slightly darker than his snow white legs, and he was a nervous type - sort of a chubby version of Don Knotts - excitedly and loudly asking in a definite far northern accent "Where is the local carwash!?" As the words exited his mouth, his wife in the car yelled "I told you you were driving too fast" at near the top of her lungs, as we all heard her clearly from inside the car.

To describe the contrast of a quiet peaceful morning, trying to wake up, surrounded by the classic quiet, thoughtful Texas boys and suddenly being hit by a high pitched, nervous tourist tornado is difficult at best. In the long ensuing silence to his somewhat demanding question, I started to chuckle inside, wondering what response would come forth from the silent, stone-faced weathered warriors on the patio, knowing that their minds were busy despite their lack of emotion.

After he'd looked quickly back and forth at each person, his white triple chin wobbling like a rooster's wattle, a voice went forth stating calmly "We don't wash our cars around here." He looked slightly stunned then said "I need to wash my car!" The voice then said again, "We don't wash our cars here. It's dusty all the time and we don't waste water." He just looked blankly, and then the voice said, "The closest one is in Alpine", to which he asked where that was. The response disillusioned him, and he began explaining why he needed to wash the car. His wife again yelled out "I told you you were driving too fast."

Again I chuckled inside trying to imagine the thoughts rolling in the heads around me. He went on to explain that they'd flown in to San Antonio from upstate New York the day before, arriving about 3 and when he looked at the map to Big Bend, he told his wife they didn't need to spend the night in San Antonio. Instead he decided to drive, thinking they'd be there in a few hours. Rookie mistake.

They'd finally reached the region sometime very late in the dark, and he was driving fast trying to get here when a herd of javelinas ran across the road and he plowed into them in the white SUV. He said it was horrible, and needed to wash the car. Everyone's head turned to look at the grill and bumper, and indeed there were a couple of strips of pink meat and brown hair embedded under the engine, but nothing particularly gruesome. Again, the voice said "Just leave it sitting here a while and the dogs will take care of it."

Whitey Tighty looked around said "Is this a breakfast place?" and then told his wife to get out and they'd eat. Eventually they settled down a bit, and his voice quieted some while they ate and drank coffee. The sages and I continued our silent staring towards the road, until the couple got up and expressed their thanks, telling us they were here for a week in the park and area. Folks smiled and said "Enjoy the time", at which point the couple backed straight out in the Jeep. As the car turned while backing out, he exposed the passenger side of the white suv to the patio. A huge roar went up from the patio as everyone exploded with laughter, now understanding clearly why he so desperately wanted to wash the car...

Somehow, during the javelina herd incident, a pig had sprayed a gigantic stripe of green diarrhea poop all over the passenger side of the white car, even covering the side door window and rear quarter panel window in a sickly green paint job. We all looked at each other and still chuckling, shook our heads.

Several hours later as I drove through the park on the bike, I thought about the whole scene and began laughing so hard I had to stop in the road and lay on my tank bag for a minute til I could breathe. To this day I have the vision of a portly woman in a boonie hat, sitting in the white Jeep with fully 1/3 of the side covered in dried green poo. It was even funnier to me that for an entire week they'd be driving around that way.















I took it easy playing tourist in the park, stopping here and there until I got hungry late in the day and stopped in the Castolon Store for a coke and snack. I grabbed some chips and one of two deli sandwiches, asking the clerk if they were fresh. She said "I ate one and I'm fine" and laughed. I sat under the ocotillo roof and chilled a bit.


































The ride back to Terlingua was good and the park is such a beautiful place I never tire of it.







Dust. It's what's for dinner.











I ended up at the Starlight late, and signed up for a table, wasting an hour outside as the seating dude simply left and went home. I went in a bit pissed and Kathy saw me from behind the bar, motioning me over. She asked if I'd been waiting long and apologized, then poured me a big, strong bourbon and coke for my troubles. She ran into the kitchen and shortly produced a huge sandwich with other goodies for me. God I love that gal - bestest woman in the west!














I returned to the camp, and had been asleep about an hour when I felt it. Yep. That damn sammich from Castolon.

Lets just say, for you squeamish types, that I introduced a new creature to the fauna of the Big Bend region... "Furry forest friends, meet your new animal, The Growling Splash Monkey." To say I began the Technicolor Yodel, is an understatement. It was the honey-baked howl, clams on the lam and liquid scream all rolled into one. I barked at ants. I talked to Ralph. I was the big bird feeding my young. I asked God to kill me. In short, I got sick.

It was a brutal 36 hours of barking and sleeping, and you know it's bad when the coyotes start howling when they hear you at 3 a.m.. Jeez that is the sickest I've been in I can't count how many years.





By the time I came out of it a day and a half later, I was weak and never wanted to eat again.

I got up early and decided to try some coffee at the place by the porch and it stayed down ok.








Beat to a pulp, I spent the day on the porch and in the old church, shooting a few pics and a little video here and there. I was asked by some German tourists if I'd shoot a pic of them on the porch on a bench, and I pointed out the bullet hole in the wall next to them, which got their excitement up a bit. I had to mime shooting the hole as they didn't speak English, but laughed when they understood. One of them, a younger guy with long hair came over to look at the Beemer and laughed at the concept of a guy in west Texas on German bike.







































I retired early, braving a lone tortilla from my tank bag and went to sleep gingerly.

LoneStar screwed with this post 11-03-2013 at 07:45 AM
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Old 11-01-2013, 12:38 PM   #39
bigdon
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Hey Don!

Yes it's a good spot to camp. They have old scout tents, the safari tents, teepee's and trailers, which are all pricey, BUT the entire campground is open for tent camping - they just ask that you try not to set up too close to the other stuff. It's several acres in size. I think it's 12 a night for tents

Might contact them and make sure they aren't having a music event or something, as they do on occasion and it fills up.

Also the entire region gets full around Christmas and since there's not a lot of places, they fill up fast in Big Bend, Terlingua, Marathon etc.
Thanks for the info,

Tents first come first serve @ $15 per person and she said they have plenty of room!
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:05 PM   #40
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Muchas gracias, Lonestar

Really enjoyed the fabulous video, photos, and narrative. You get a medal for spending the time to write a great story!

Gotta head back to West Texas soon - it's a great time of year for it.

Mike
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:46 PM   #41
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Excellent report Lone Star. My aunt and uncle and cousins grew up in Marfa so I've been going out there since a little kid. We really enjoyed using it as a start/end point on our recent Mexico Sierra loop. Thanks, Jim
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:12 PM   #42
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The next morning I was ready for coffee, and a couple years later I'm still bummed about Kathy's Kosmic Kowgirl no longer existing. Best breakfast, best company and best fire ring around. Kathy babe, you know I love you girl but you're killing us
Not the best exposure, but about the best capture of her smile....here's Kathy in the window of her bus not long before she closed up business.

Lord, yes, do we miss her greeting like this in the morning around the fire ring.



Delicious words and photos, Joseph

Job well done

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Old 11-01-2013, 08:39 PM   #43
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well done!

outstanding photography and narrative!
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:10 PM   #44
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Thanks everyone! Next trip I need to just shut up and shoot more pics...

Trice, you got the best pic of Kathy I've ever seen hands down

Jimmex hope we bump into each other sometime out there



More tomorrow...
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Old 11-02-2013, 12:17 AM   #45
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Thanks, LoneStar. I long for that area. I miss it so much. Haven't been there in about 24 years, and I keep wanting to go back. I want my wife to see Big Bend country.

Chinati Hot Springs has changed since the last time I was there, in 1988 or '89, before it was sold to Donald Judd. Back then a couple owned it, and it was called the Attitude Adjustment Center.

I can't remember how I learned about the place -- probably from a friend in El Paso, where I lived at the time. I arrived at the hot springs for the first time shortly after sunset, and the owners and a couple of visitors were sitting next to a light atop a high pole, watching bats catch insects that had been drawn to the light.

On another visit, I had the place to myself for three or four days. I stayed in a tiny cabin, and I shuttled from cabin to bathhouse to a blanket under a tree near those white cliffs, reading "All the Kings Men" and pausing frequently to ponder, or absorb the silence, or have conversations aloud with myself. It was a magical place to spend time alone. I was in my mid-20s and it was an unusual thing to do at that age -- to retreat to a vacant hot springs resort in the middle of nowhere to read a book and talk to oneself.

I'm so glad you named Pinto Canyon Road, because I've described that road to my wife for 20 years but couldn't remember what the road was called. Driving that road was a wonderful, eerie, sometimes sinister experience. I remember driving past a perlite mine, and wondering to myself, "What the hell is perlite?"

I long to ride those roads on a motorcycle -- Pinto Canyon, River Road, the highway between Marfa and Presidio, the section of blacktop (170?) from Pinto Canyon Road to Presidio, past a crumbling adobe church. Back then, you could stop and take a rowboat across to Candelaria for a meal, but, dammit, I didn't take the time to do that.

I was the Associated Press correspondent for West Texas, southern New Mexico and northern Chihuahua back then, and Big Bend was part of my vast coverage area. One time I went to Ojinaga to ask the cops there some questions (a couple of American rafters had been shot by a rifleman on the Mexican side of the canyon). I walked into the police station, and next to the door were many cases, piled more than head-high, of a beverage called Tehuacan. This carbonated drink was used by Mexican police for water torture. I didn't stay long.

The Big Bend country -- especially the western stretches in the Marfa-Presidio-Chinati area -- gets into your blood and remains there. It's so beautiful and silent and forbidding. Thanks for the photos -- you convey the feeling of the place well.
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