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Old 11-02-2013, 06:20 AM   #46
LoneStar OP
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Thanks Merckx! I think it's pretty amazing you got to cover that area for the AP - not that it was a hotbed of newsworthiness but I bet it had it's moments .

I remember when the rafters were shot - in fact I think it was about a week or so after my first visit to the region, where I fell in love with the area and the spirit of the people. It was 25 years later that I was able to return for the second time, but I never stopped thinking about the area. I guess for some it's a deeper connection than others.

Did you ever know the photographer Blair Pittman? He was Houston newspaper photog and also did work for Nat Geo. He loved the area and documented it, eventually living out there.

Thanks for the additional story on the Hot Springs. I have to admit that when I got settled in and had a moment to sit and reflect, I felt as if I'd found my sanctuary - and frankly wished it to magically disappear off the maps so I could keep it all to myself

As in all places the area is growing somewhat - Study Buttte and Terlingua of course, with the influx of tourists who decided to travel at home since the economy is wavering. But due to the harshness of the region ventures don't seem to last long.

Still, the Austin yuppies have discovered it now and it's sort of an REI catalog runway display at times - the Land Rover arrives, the family of four spills out in their latest outdoor techno clothing and look around with that plastic smile of contentment that they are indeed the center of the universe (Can you tell I can't stand shallow people )

But hope springs eternal that a couple of the drunks on the porch will horrify them enough that they won't return.
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Old 11-02-2013, 06:47 AM   #47
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This was awesome…….start to finish! Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2013, 06:24 AM   #48
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I'd spent enough time on my knees talking to the dirt in Terlingua to say we'd become close, and my Mexico vehicle import permit was due, so I figured it was a good time to say "adios" to Terlingua and head back for Presidio. I slowly packed up, the day a gorgeous one, and headed for coffee before rolling back west. I got brave and ate a muffin, sitting and watching towards the cemetery as was custom. The occasional dusty old truck rattled up to the store or into the roads past, with little activity in the morning, the majority of Terlinguans probably nursing hangovers as the national sport here seems to be drinking - and they're darn good at it too. Practice makes perfect.

In a little while, I saw a convoy of 5 suburbans whip off 170 onto the Ghost Town road from the Lajitas direction, all traveling fast and bumper to bumper. They came up the road very fast, barely slowing as they entered the store parking area, doing a loop through the lot and leaving a cloud of dust as they circled through and exited as fast as they came.

To say they took the quick tour was an understatement. I could see the passenger in the first Sub, a lady in hi-neck North Face type vest, black hair in a ponytail pulled so tight on her head it seemed to make her eyes bulge. She leaned forward and peered at the place before they sped off like the president's convoy and hit the blacktop, accelerating past the High Sierra and disappearing. I can't help but imagine what a great vacation they all were having, racing through west Texas with the windows up and never slowing. But I'm sure she'd be able to say "Yes we saw Terlingua on our trip."

When I went to get a refill of coffee, there was guy at the window in front of me. Dusty jeans and boots, dark tan, twin braided ponytails, well used handmade knife and holster along with other Terlinguan accoutrements. He stepped back and I said hi, recognizing him from a year or two before. He said hello guardedly, in a heavy French accent. He didn't recognize me, but I'd picked him upon the bike in Lajitas when he was hitching back to Terlingua a couple years before. At that time he was freshly in town, with clothes and coloration belying his arrival from somewhere else, not to mention his French accent. I never inquired as to whether he was from France or French Canadian, but we had talked a while on the porch. He had only a backpack and was sleeping in the community center at night, excited to be in this world. I didn't try to remind him, but just smiled and filed away the fact that he had integrated into the community quite well, looking far different and much more Texan.











Stopping briefly in Lajitas for gas, I roared along the roller coaster ride known as 170, listening to my earphones for the first time on the trip, Sounds From the Ground and Underworld being my soundtrack to this sunny day's ride.

I had determined to stop more on this trip, to take in sights and more history, so when I reached Fort Leaton on the edge of Presidio I made myself pull in and walk around. It was hot and I was sweating, but the ruins of the old fort are still impressive and in fairly good shape. I was overwhelmed with the sense of difficulty of those times and the rule of strength over law. In the courtyard there is an old ox cart from the age of the Spanish rule and though it's a replica I'm sure, the massive size blew me away. I had no idea the ox cart trains that traveled to Santa Fe utilized such massive carriages. They were indeed the tractor/trailer rigs of the day and I visualized the long trains of them being pulled by oxen, guarded by Spanish soldiers as they rolled through the murderous heat and rugged conditions northward.

The fort itself was the hacienda of a man named Leaton (imagine that), a somewhat controversial figure and likely a strongman more than a savior to the area. As I wandered around the interiors, I came to a large, windowless room near the back and stepped in. I stopped quickly, as it was very hard to breathe in there and there was a palpable feel of darkness in the room. I tried to rationalize it away, but couldn't walk further in and stepped back out. It took a bit to shake off the dark feeling. Very strange. I read the map description of the room and it had been a storeroom that he had imprisoned his enemies in in the darkness, and there were rumors of torture. All I can say is that it left a tangible feeling in there that I could feel.




Back out in the heat of the parking lot, I headed for the border crossing into Ojinaga and found the Aduana booth easily. A cute little Mexican gal took a pic of the bike's VIN plate, smiled and handed me the printed receipt from her hand held mobile VIN receipt printer thingy.

I swung back into the U.S. with the brief questioning of a bitter and tough female BP agent, who approached her job with all the personality of someone who had to give a herd of cattle enemas and wipes, then headed north on 67 for Marfa, enjoying the high speed and easy sweepers along with some major wind. It was nice to cruise and listen to music, and my mind wandered to the early settlers in the region and the difficult conditions they endured. In fact, I can say that my motorcycle trips over the years, though purposed by me fulfill my need for speed, and to ride fast and far, have in fact sparked my interest in both humanity and history as never in the past. I've always enjoyed history, but when riding the areas, terrain and conditions, the past really comes alive. Perspective brings understanding.

The whole shebang started as I explored Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and realized the vast distances covered by Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce as they traveled from Oregon and fought their way east to escape. The logistics amazed me. Again I was captivated by the terrain and desert in Arizona where Geronimo not only led his nation, but fought wars in doing so. A few hours on a bike solo across those wastelands really makes you understand the difficulty of finding food, water and camp in unbelievably harsh terrain.

West Texas' history with the Commanche, on their yearly raids into Mexico is also a fascination. Names like Big Spring have meaning when you realize that it was a main water stop on the way south on the Trace, with names like Fort Stockton and Fort Davis, and the small cavalry post in Marathon coming to life in my mind. These forts were designed to interrupt the Commanche raids into Mexico, where they'd historically split south of Stockton and entered Mexico through Boquillas and Presidio. Now when I ride those areas, I visualize the parties and the intense conditions in which they thrived. And I bitch about having to ride my Beemer 60 miles to get a coke.




My thinking was brutally interrupted by a fearful sight, and powerless to do anything about it, I shut my eyes and waited for the worst. I was entering a tight sweeper that wrapped around a large outcropping, and with steep slopes on either side. As I curled into the turn at 75, a massive black bee cloud seemed to blow like smoke up from the slope and covered the entire lane. It was so close and wide I could do nothing but shut my eyes instinctively and plow fully into it.

It sounded like rain on my helmet and face shield and I felt the hits on my arms and body like a jelly bean storm. I grimaced in anticipation for the nightmare of stings on my neck and in my helmet... I popped my eyes open and could barely see through the face shield, which thankfully had been down in conjunction with the interior sunshades, but no stings came. I kept waiting and nada. I kept waiting and zilch. I couldn't believe it. I'd plowed into a huge black cloud of bees and didn't get stung once. I opened the shield so that I could see and just kept rolling along. Amazing.





I rolled into Marfa and felt a bit hungry and definitely thirsty after me mornin' muffin had worn off. Luckily the "Food Shark" van was set up under the pavilion so I pulled in and parked, getting off the bike carefully in case there were live bees hiding and surveyed the situation. My windshield and front facing areas were splattered with beegoo, and the oil cooler had a bunch packed in it's grid of cooling tunnels. The jacket was covered with bee spats but I was still amazed.



Eric, the half-a-bee




I walked under the pavilion to get in the shade and take off my jacket and helmet, stopping at one of the huge tables. Behind me I heard "Hallo you" in a German accent and turned to see the group of Germans I'd seen on the porch and taken their pic. The long haired guy gave me a thumbs up and I laughed and waved. I spent the waiting time picking bee parts from under the plethora of tabs and flaps on my Olympia jacket and helmet.











Food Shark's falafels and middle eastern based food is awesome and not to be missed when you're there. I washed down some pulled pork tacos with a Mexcian coke and watched the few tourists wander and peer as I had done.






Sex on serving paper







But Marfa was not my destination, for I'd not been to Fort Davis in a couple of years and decided to head for the high country. I arrived late in the afternoon, walked the downtown block and snagged an ice cream to cool off and sat outside. An old gentleman came and sat next to me and we talked a bit. His wife showed up and he had orders to follow so he winked at me and followed his boss into the store.

All the hotels were full save the newer one on the outskirts of town, so I ended up there. The room was musty, and the wifi was maddening but I was ready for a shower. I rode back into town and ate at a fancy place on the drag, which was definitely overpriced for the fare. But I went to sleep full.

The next morning I headed for the McDonald Observatory and the great loop road back south. It was a beautiful ride in the morning sunshine, and I zipped up to the observatory and stopped in front and stared at the tourists for a moment, then continued on south until I reached 67 again. Shortly I was back in Marfa, then turned east for Alpine, eventually stopping for gas at a Shell station on the edge of town.

As I was filling up, an old Harley came rumbling in and pulled up for gas as well. I say Harley, but honestly I don't know for sure. It was in fact a semi-homemade rat bike like I've never seen before, built not by it's owner for the genre but because it was built for himself... and "himself" was the wildest and toughest biker I've yet seen. He and the bike looked like a much meaner, older and more badass version of the biker in Raising Arizona. It was covered with chunks of chain, pieces of rebar and big bolts that had been sharpened into spikes and God knows what, that been welded on years before, now old and rusted. This bike was not for show, but a reflection of his inner demons.

His face was dark and leathery with scars, his jacket dirty and his grey bushy hair permanently in a windblown position. His first words to me were "Where's the liquor store in this town? I need a bottle." I actually hated to tell him I didn't know, and said I had just pulled in. He didn't give a shit. I told him his bike was cool and he said he'd built it himself. He got off the bike to fill up and appeared to have a false leg, major tattoos from top to bottom and they were definitely old school from before it became the fad. He told me he'd ridden from LA to Phoenix and slept on a concrete sidewalk the night before, and had made it to Alpine today and was ready to get drunk. Wasn't sure what to say so asked him where he was going. He told me he'd been diagnosed with a major illness a few years before and had just decided to ride. He said he was still alive so was just gonna keep on riding. End of conversation. His tank was full and he fired up and rode off east into town.

I've known some real 1%er's - not the accountant / lawyer pretenders - but this dude was in a league of his own. Had he not been cranky for whiskey I'd have shot a pic...

I had made the decision to head home rather than go back to Terlingua while riding the McDonald loop earlier, so I headed east and as it began getting later, going north to I-10 instead of 90, and headed for home. Was a damn fine trip indeed and filled with some interesting events.

Adios amigos!

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Old 11-06-2013, 08:56 AM   #49
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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.
That's "Agua Tehuacan" from Tehuacan, Puebla, a couple of hours and a nice ride from where I live. It's a natural mineral water, you'd have been safe.
They were probably mixing it with the Chivas scotch they had hidden!


Lonestar, I really enjoyed this ride report of yours immensely. Trice turned me on to it. Your video work is very interesting, in fact, I paused the first video from time to time and saw your photographic composition shining through. Have you thought of doing some black and white video? As an experiment?

If you are riding down here in southeastern Mexico, hope I get a chance to meet up with you some time. Thanks again for sharing your photos and videos!
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Old 11-06-2013, 02:15 PM   #50
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MikeMike thanks man - much appreciated

B&W video would be very cool if done right - I've actually been planning a monochrome project for some time but hadn't been able to find the right lens for it til recently.

I am really wanting to get into Mexico much more and if things fall into place may try to spend some time in and around San Miguel/Guanajuato and maybe take an immersion class. Would be great to meet ya
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Old 11-06-2013, 03:40 PM   #51
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Contact the Rocky Mountain Oyster on the Is Mexico Safe thread. I'm pretty sure he can recommend a good school for you around those parts. He's quite a character and...oh man!...does he know video.
You need to meet him some time, trust me.
I'm always up for a ride, I enjoy shooting black and white, give me a heads up if you are coming down, I'm always around.
I'm going to look for your other ride reports.
By the way, how do find that Olympia jacket in the heat?
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Old 11-06-2013, 06:32 PM   #52
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Thanks

Thanks LoneStar, I enjoyed your art and story. I'm fascinated by the darked-out rigs you passed. They have the earmarks of being from a large, well-funded organization that is NOT the US government...
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Old 11-07-2013, 05:04 AM   #53
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Contact the Rocky Mountain Oyster on the Is Mexico Safe thread. I'm pretty sure he can recommend a good school for you around those parts. He's quite a character and...oh man!...does he know video.
You need to meet him some time, trust me.
I'm always up for a ride, I enjoy shooting black and white, give me a heads up if you are coming down, I'm always around.
I'm going to look for your other ride reports.
By the way, how do find that Olympia jacket in the heat?
Thanks a bunch for the info - would love to ride around and shoot some bw

I just sold the Olympia about 3 days ago - just too hot for Texas. I tried to make it work and hoped in the summer with it's good vent system and light coloring I could survive, but no cigar. Back to my fishnet bodystocking for summer riding - oops I said too much...

I think it's an excellent jacket overall and below 90 it's good, and tolerable above when moving. If I didn't live here in the 1st Level of Hell for summers, I'd probably wear it year round but will seek another mesh jacket and goretex rain shell for summer.

Have my eye on the new Firstgear mesh adv jacket due out in spring
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Old 11-07-2013, 05:28 AM   #54
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Thanks LoneStar, I enjoyed your art and story. I'm fascinated by the darked-out rigs you passed. They have the earmarks of being from a large, well-funded organization that is NOT the US government...
A fast baja buggy could certainly deliver several hundred pounds of cattle feed to a more northern pasture quite quickly...
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Old 11-07-2013, 06:01 AM   #55
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Hola Joseph. On Tuesday this week, I went down once again to Dilley and had my long-time wrench Hank put new shoes on the GS and a few other tasks. We also went to the newer Taqueria in town.

While there, a moto pic of you came up on Hank's shop TV in a series of travel images. I also saw again the "Exit from Real" video where Hank almost bought it when his front wheel hit the rock on the cliff trail. That episode being part of your excellent Run to Real ride report adventures.

We discussed many compliments for you regarding your talents telling stories and capturing images.

Check out my friend Skip Hunt and his photography work. You two guys are at a different level than the rest of us (read:have actual talent). Among other links on his site, check out his Mexico tab.

Nice having friends who love photography/video, Mexico and the American Southwest, and using motorcycles to get there and enjoy it all.
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Old 11-07-2013, 06:05 AM   #56
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I've got a First Gear mesh long cut ADV jacket, an older model, and it is good to around 95f and high humidity, the problem is messing around with the liner when it gets cool or wet.
I've been searching for something better, here you can go from around 100f to 40f in less than 3 hours from seaside to mountain top.

I just watched the "almost" video Trice mentioned. Thanks, now I don't need my second or third cup of coffee! Nice dab and catch. Something like that could make an AirHawk vanish.

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Old 11-07-2013, 06:07 AM   #57
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Hey Joseph,
Another great trip report. You always have great storytelling and photos. Writings such as yours inspire me to stop lurking on this website, and start doing my own trip reports.

If you make it to Guanajuato, you will love it. We just spent 2 nights there last year, but I would have liked to stay at least a week.

Mark
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:12 AM   #58
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I just watched the "almost" video Trice mentioned. Thanks, now I don't need my second or third cup of coffee! Nice dab and catch. Something like that could make an AirHawk vanish.
Either that night or the next day when we looked at the footage all I could do was go OH WOW and shake my head - my same reaction each time I see it The rock was buried under the dust and was a cam-like lever. He had the brand new TT shocks on the bike and had ordered them set up as stiff as possible. I suspect the wheel bounced off the rock a bit due to the lack of give, but holy moly it was close and the wide GoPro lens perspective makes it seem "roomier" than it was.
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:29 AM   #59
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Nice having friends who love photography/video, Mexico and the American Southwest, and using motorcycles to get there and enjoy it all.
Hey makes me want to ride down to see Hank and get some Mexican food! I have a love/hate relationship with going to his shop - we end up looking at pics, video and discussing Macs and cameras the whole time (while fondling motorcycles ), I stay too late and then end up spending more money on things I shouldn't

His shop is coming along nicely and will be a cool shop/hostel when he's done - and he's a damn talented photographer as well.

I agree, just enjoy being around other folks who like to ride and take pics no matter what skill level. I think we'd all prefer to live in Tuscany, but SW Texas and Mexico has some amazing history. And thanks to you b*stards - Trice, MikeMike, Jimmex and others - and all your posts and ride reports from Mexico - I developed a yen to go and now it's all I think about. Damn you!
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:30 AM   #60
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Hey Joseph,
Another great trip report. You always have great storytelling and photos. Writings such as yours inspire me to stop lurking on this website, and start doing my own trip reports.

If you make it to Guanajuato, you will love it. We just spent 2 nights there last year, but I would have liked to stay at least a week.

Mark
Mark if you head down to Mexico again let me know so we can hook up - we can be a tag team in lucha libre
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