A CannonRide Around the Bend (Big Bend Region)

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. CBAT

    CBAT occasional wanderer

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    Another Texan here; really enjoying the report. :beer
  2. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Location, Location.
    Cannonshot - enjoying the RR as always.

    Maybe its been asked already... What kind of camera are you using?


    Thanks,
    -Brian
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Glad you find it entertaining Klay!

    Pretty cool to see your friends Justin!

    Nice to hear from Greece as well! Glad you are enjoying the ride and the history.

    I sure had a nice time on this trip. Lots to explore and lots more to come including more from BBRSP. I took extra fuel to the park in a fuel container since there is nothing available there. What is nice is that you can loop back to the headquarters (from some areas at least) to top off when you need to. Thanks for the nice remarks. I really enjoyed my time in Texas.

    Thanks for the nice remarks about the report. Pretty easy to come up with some interesting stuff when there is so much in the area to draw from. I met a few of the TWTs and they all seemed like pretty nice folks.

    Thanks! I'll post a little more about BBRSP. What a great destination for a group ride. I guess there is a big ride planned for there for next January. Not sure if that is the TWT folks or not. I would really enjoy coming back there and riding it on my DRZ as it would be even more fun than what I did this time.

    Thanks. Texas riding in this area is great. I knew about the TWT event based out of Terlingua. I left a CannonCard over at the Starlight. I never got over there during the event though as I had pretty full days in the national park and didn't get back each day until dark. I did see a bunch of the riders in the national park though and got to chat with a few in Study Butte and on the trail.

    Thanks! I'm glad you are enjoying the report. I hope I am doing Texas proud!

    Thanks Brian. As usual I am carrying a Nikon D60 with an 18-200 lens. With that lens I never have to change lenses (open the camera in the dust). I carry the camera in a Kata torso case. I also carry a waterproof point and shoot in a magnetic flap holster on my belt. I can draw, arm, and fire the point and shoot on the fly with one hand. I have a Gearkeeper retractable lanyard on it so I can drop it if I need to grab the bars. The point and shoot proves handy for those unexpected wildlife encounters where I wouldn't otherwise have time to get a camera out.

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  4. No False Enthusiasm

    No False Enthusiasm a quiet adventurer

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    Every self-respecting cannoneer keeps a lanyard close at hand...

    The detail and depth of your report is remarkable. Thanks, and continue...

    NFE
  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    The pavement goes away in Candelaria and the road turns into more of a trail for a while.
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    Just as I was fixin' to ride on, a well armed posse pulled out in front of me.
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    I just kind of rode into their group and tagged along for a while.
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    When we got to this river crossing, they stopped. This the site site of a detour. The original road that your City Navigator might route you on disappears into the Rio Grande near here.
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    I introduced myself to these friendly folks and we chatted for a bit. I was kind of embarrassed because I was the only guy there that didn't have a handgun, a knife, AND an assault rifle. :shog
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    Now most people might feel a little nervous about encountering a well armed posse out in the bush. Actually, I felt more secure with these guys than I otherwise had. In Wisconsin, perhaps this whole situation might have been considered a little curious. Here in Texas, not so much.
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    I wouldn't have wanted to be a coyote or a rattlesnake and run into these guys.
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    I wasn't sure how this would turn out. Sort of a "mexican standoff".
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    The green line is the old road that disappeared and the red is the current track that by-passes that section. I ran into a couple of border patrol agents on ATVs earlier and I asked about the trail ahead. One of them told me about a steep hill ahead. He said an agent had been hurt there on a dirt bike in the past and that he had ridden it on his ATV and found that it was a challenge.
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    I asked the posse folks if they were headed that way and when they said they were, I asked to tag along through the tough stuff. They were all anxious to see me negotiate "Godzilla" on my bike.
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    So off we went.
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    Nice by-pass.
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    We stopped on a hilltop above Godzilla. Looking toward Mexico.
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    Candelaria.
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    Town in Mexico across from Candelaria. The brushy river bottom used to get farmed a lot.
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    Some of my new riding pals. Very nice group of fellows. Helpful and generous. Proud to have met them. Nice folks. One of these guys told me they were out doing their thing some years back when a border patrol helicopter landed nearby and a crewman agent came over and checked each one of them pretty closely. :lol3
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    I walked over to take a peek at this descent at Godzilla since I was curious to look before I committed (after hearing all the hype).
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    It starts off easy enough. Be sure to keep your speed down or you will soon be in trouble though.
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    Lots of loose rock to slip around on. Steepness never really shows too well in these shots though.
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    I went down it fine, but I had to creep it down because of the loose rock and erosion. The KLR is too top-heavy to mess around. Like that ridge on the Great Divide (Fleecer), it is no big deal, but you have to respect it. Like that ridge on the Great Divide one wheel or the other would lock up and slide. Sometimes the back end would want to come around and take the bike sideways in the loose stuff.
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    I think climbing it would be easier than going down, but if you lost traction on the loose stuff you might have a little trouble.
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    The erosion could get you too if it caught a wheel in a rut. Overall, it wasn't that big of a deal, but it surely is worthy of respect. Not just anyone on any bike should mess around with this thing I guess. Once you get clear of the worst hazards you can let the bike go and slingshot out onto the Army Corps of Engineers built water crossing below.
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    My posse friends creeped 'er down as well.
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    Of course, like in any group those that made it took up observer positions to "wish the others well" in their own attempts.
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    If any of these guys see this, I want to say "thank you" again for letting me hang with you through this. It was great meeting you all!
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    "Adidas . . . er, I mean adios!"
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  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Thanks NFE!

    But I have to admit I'm not sure those people were really watching Lawrence Welk when they were attacked . . . they might have been watching Gil Faver on Rawhide instead. :D
  7. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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  8. JT

    JT Been here awhile

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    Elgin, Texas
    Hi Bryan, it was great meeting you in the park. I did want to confirm that we followed your advice and tracks (in the sand, not gps, ha!). Here is a screenshot of the creek loop tracks CCW. I hope we meetup again someday.

    Cheers,
    John

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  9. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Thanks for reading along!

    Hi John! Likewise it was nice seeing you, a couple of times I think, during my time in the area. Always nice to meet a friendly and helpful ADVer! I think I snapped a nice picture of you riding over near Glenn Springs after we talked at RGV. Don't know how you guys made out getting back to Terlingua that evening, but I didn't get back to Chisos until dark (hard to quit as there is always so much to see). :D

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    When I put the GPX out for download, I'll complete that small loop (verified by your tracks above) and include it in the file. I think I'll add a notation though about the indistinct part in Cienga Creek. :lol3

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  10. Saltydog86

    Saltydog86 village idiot

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    Awesome ride report Cannon!!! I was introduced to southwest Texas and Big Bend area on a last minute detour with fellow ADV member Bobcat in 2007. I've wanted to get back and see more of it since then...
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  11. Pantah

    Pantah Red Sox Nation

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    What did your ATV friends use all that fire power on? Any clues?
  12. back2thefuture

    back2thefuture Adventurer

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    Un-official Border Patrol, of Texans. :nod
  13. back2thefuture

    back2thefuture Adventurer

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    Great History lesson, even for us Texans. At the intersection of FM170 and Chinati Springs road, we found this old cemetary and this marker. It does say 1488. ALSO, thanks for sharing the NW part of BBRSP. we didn't get to make that area when we were there last spring. GREAT JOB on the report.

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  14. bomose

    bomose Long timer

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    So this guy died here before Columbus discovered America?:huh
  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
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    A little brushy and grown in along the river. Further on it closed in even a little more. Ran up on a herd of javelinas in the closer stuff.
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    The mighty Rio Grande . . . not such a formidable border obstacle.
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    Another look at the border/Rio Grande.
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    Easy place to smuggle.
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    Looks like mesquite took over the river bottoms.
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    I guess this is a nuisance to ranchers because it can take over and crowd other stuff out. I saw some ranches further north where they would clear mesquite with an excavator and burn it. I understand it is tough to keep from regenerating. The plant is well suited for the area since some plants have been found to have a tap root that extended up to 190 feet. There are other roots to take advantage of water closer to the surface like in situations like this one.
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    The plant produces bean pods that can be made into flour. Coyotes eat the pods too. The wood is very hard and has some excellent properties. It is probably best known for the smoke it produces when used to barbeque.
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    Once you get away from the river, this path is a lot like the river road in BBNP.
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    One of the ATV guys warned me about this river. He said the crossing had a firm bottom though.
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    I went downstream a tad and crossed on some rocks instead.
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    On the other side of the river is/was Presidio de Pilares. It was established in 1775 as a military and penal colony. Convicts and soldiers were required to farm and did a little silver smelting. The presido was abandoned in 1875. As a side note, the spanish tried to set up a bunch of presidos to get control of this region way back when. The concept failed because they were too far apart to give mutual support and the indians just went back and forth between them.
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    Pilares had been a hot spot for crime during the bandit years. In May 1915, 3 Texas Rangers and 2 mounted customs agents rode out of Valentine on horseback for a routine patrol of the border. When they got to Pilares, some of Villas men told them that bandits had some horses and mules hidden on the American side back in the mountains.
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    The agents ran into some bandits with a few horses and a running gunfight ensued.
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    The next morning the group split into two elements. Two guys scaled a peak to watch for the bandits while three of them went into a canyon to recover some horses.
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    The bandits let the three enter the canyon and once the bandits had them completely surrounded they sprang an ambush. It was a hell of a fight. Eventually the three worked their way back out of the canyon and out of range of the bandits' guns. They tried to get to the position of the other two (four times in fact) but couldn't make it.
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    They were in a bad way and ended up walking five miles for water. When they finally found the other two of their party, they found that they had been killed and their bodies mutilated by the bandits. Of the two, the customs guy only got off one shot before he was neutralized. The ranger was able to put up a hell of a fight getting off 60 shots before he was killed.
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    A ranch right on the river near Pilares.
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    Eventually the three survivors got to a ranch and summoned help that motored out from Marfa. Then they all took to the trail to chase bandits and recover what they could. The bandits split for Mexico, but not before stealing what they could from the bodies.
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    One of the posse guys told me that they once ran into a USDA agent that was patrolling for and rounding up Mexican cattle that strayed to the US side. He would offload his horse from a trailer, ride around rounding up cattle, put them into a temporary pen he would build as he found them, and then later haul them off for quarantine, etc. I don't think this guy is USDA, but the rig reminded me of the story.
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    I ran into this ADVer on his KLX 250 (rebranded as a Suzuki) and we stopped and chatted for a while.
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    When you come from the river area back out to the highway you'll get screened by some border patrol agents. Everyone of them that I met was very professional and seemed like nice folks. From what I could see, they work at their jobs pretty hard, although much of their work must be pretty boring. Seemed like a lot were former military. When we were chatting I asked what kind of wildlife they ran into when they were out knocking around the brush. They said they see rattlesnakes all the time but neither of the two knew of any agent that had been bitten. They did tell me that they have an aggressive and potent rattler in their district (Mojave Rattlesnake) that has more wicked venom and a disposition nasty enough that they had them chase their trucks before. I guess I have heard similar lore about Mojaves before.
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    Let me add that the Lomas de Arena crossing is just off this path as well. It was a well used crossing for smuggling drugs into the US and guns into Mexico by vehicle. I don't know the current status of this crossing but imagine it is under the watchful eye of the border patrol. A couple of smugglers ran a truck load of marihuana into a ditch on the American side one time. A few days later other smugglers had to go find and recover the load all the while prepared to shoot it out with US authorities in the event a police ambush had been set around the abandoned truck.

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    It used to be just a quiet crossing for drugs to go out. In fact, the enterprise in Ojinaga had someone keep fuel barrels near here to refuel vehicles. When the barrels were empty they were replenished in Ojinaga. The ranch on the US side had locked gates, but the drug people had keys so they could run the ranch roads to the nearby interstate highway where they used to be able to just disappear in traffic. The guns thing started after a shoot out at the crossing between Presidio and Ojinaga. No one used to check for guns coming into Mexico at Ojinaga - some say because of government protection. Then a drunk and boisterous runner got into a point blank shootout with a young Mexican customs agent after the runner drew down on the the agent who wanted to inspect his vehicle. The US border folks then figured they needed to start checking vehicles going into Mexico for guns themselves. Hence, the illicit gun importing for the Ojinaga folks moved to this crossing.
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  16. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface 30-125

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    The Mojave is the one with the particularly nasty neurotoxic venom. I wouldn't want to meet the business end of one of those anywhere, but particularly so far from civilization.

    John
  17. jthomas82

    jthomas82 Been here awhile

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    I was born and raised just on the other side of Fort Stockton, and that is a rough area. I spent my childhood riding bikes around the Fort Davis area on back of my dad's Honda Trail 90. I was back there in Jan. and it has changed very little since the 60's. Great place to visit and ride a bike. You always do a fantastic job with the History wherever you ride. Great report!
  18. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    Great RR Cannonshot. I've been down there three times. Thought I'd seen a lot..
    Looks like I've barely scratched the surface. I will see it differently next time thanks to all the historical perspective you've added.

    Just curious, toughest to easiest, please rate King Kong, Godzilla, and Suicide Hills.. I've only ridden KK.

    Thanks,
    Jeff
  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Thanks! I hope when you go back you will find some of this material, and maybe the GPX I'll share, useful in planning your own trip.

    Nah, I didn't ask. I didn't want to sound impolite. Besides, what if I wouldn't have liked the answer . . . might be better not to know. :lol3

    Nah, just a bunch of business guys off on a get-together at a friend's border ranch having a little fun.

    Thanks. I think the history part is kind of fun. It is pretty neat to consider what was going on in the past at some of the places you visit today.

    Early riser? :dunno

    :D

    Nasty critter for sure. No scientific evidence that it is more aggressive than the others though, just more wicked venom-wise. I attended a couple of rattlesnake round-ups in Apache, OK, when I was at Fort Sill. I noticed that some rattlers in the snake pit (hockey rink looking thing) didn't seem to care too much about someone stepping around in the pit and some others were pretty aggressive. :dunno

    Thanks. I thought about rolling Fort Stockton (great history) into this report too but I wanted to concentrate on riding the Bend and Stockton was just outside the limits I set. I really enjoyed the Fort Davis area. Worth a visit for sure.

    Hi Jeff, I think there are a few more layers to peel back as far as exploring this area, and I certainly have a lot more to cover as well. Hopefully all this stuff will make a trip a little richer for someone that wants to visit. As you know, it is a pretty cool place.

    As far as rating the hills, I dunno. I'm just one opinion. My experience for the condition I found them in when I was there is as follows:

    The most significant would be Godzilla because of the length of the slope, the loose rock, the steepness, and the erosion.

    The next most significant, although not very long, would be Suicide Hill because of steepness, loose rock, and some erosion.

    The least significant of the three, although still a great climb and descent, is King Kong. King Kong was in great shape and although it has a couple steep lifts, it also has some less steep "landings" mixed in that allow someone to get back into coordinated flight along the way.

    I'll show pix of Suicide and King Kong when I cover another loop I did in BBRSP. Even though it is hard to judge steepness from pictures, people will be able to better make their own judgements once they get a look at all three of them.
  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Once you pop out onto the highway west of Valentine, it is a pavement run back to Marfa. I skip ahead to where we start SW on Texas Hwy 2810. The other points of interest on the US highway were already covered in the Fort Davis day ride loop.
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    Heading out on 2810 toward Pinto Canyon. This end of the things is paved.
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    Still scenic and entertaining though.
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    I think it is a 54 mile leg from Marfa to Ruidosa. Don't forget to get gas in Marfa.
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    This highway becomes Pinto Canyon Road and turns to gravel.
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    The Pinto Canyon stuff going through the Chinati Mountains. Pinto means "painted" thus Pinto (Painted) Canyon.
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    Spectacular scenery along the route.
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    People ask what the ride is like. It is a great path to just take it easy and look around on.
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    Some hazards might be that some of the surfaces can be a little slippery with the gravel and the turns and camber may be more about terrain than scientific engineering. Best to take it easy.
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    I think the path is good for about any bike.
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    Heading down to Ruidosa (foreground). A town in Mexico is across the river bottoms. Ruidosa means something like "noisy/windy place". I guess it is pretty windy and noisy, especially in the spring.
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    I didn't have any background on this structure but it would have been a nice place for an outpost.
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    Despite the no burn ban, I came upon a fire burning in the bush. It was just into Mexico. You could smell it a long way off.
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    Looking across to Mexico. At one time these towns were more connected to the US than their homeland. Lines of communication were better in this direction. I think some of these places get electricity from this side as well. The local cantina and store commerce between towns that straddled the border seems to have fallen off since things tightened up border-wise in recent years.
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    These folks were building their adobe home themselves. They would go to Mexico and buy adobe bricks for 50 cents each and bring them back. They went to the place were the bricks were being made. Men were still stomping straw into the mud to mix it.
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    When I was drafting some GPS routes, I noted that in spite of this bridge being in place in Presidio . . .
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    . . . the track would sometimes use this dirt road that crossed the wide riverway. There was a dirt path highway of sorts running up the riverbed from the border patrol trucks patrolling the area. I'm sure that blows out every time it rains.
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    The disheartening thing when you head back to Sauceda at BBRSP is traveling so far on the gravel only to reach this sign at the boundary that says you still have 17 miles of rugged road to go. :D
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    Riding back in the dark. It is very dark. At least until later on when your eyes adjust to the darkness and the starlight puts out a pretty substantial glow.
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    I missed dinner so they left it for me to microwave.
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    Pretty tasty. Some breakfast and dinner meals were mexican fare as well.
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    Transferring tracks and photos, some cool drinks, a shower, and off to a very peaceful sleep.
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