America....by Helix!

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by TucsonStan, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. olderigetfasteriam

    olderigetfasteriam Adventurer

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    Subscribed, from one Arizonan to another.....have a great ride! :clap
    #21
  2. windburn

    windburn Long timer

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    I'm subscribed!
    #22
  3. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

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    I left Las Cruces at the crack of dawn. Well, it was a bit past that and a bit chillier than I thought it would. It's problem living in one area and going to another, I expected warmer mornings.

    There's an old David Allan Coe song with the line, "It's cold in the desert, I'm chilled to the bone". I thought it was chilly at the motel but it was even colder riding Hwy 20 south towards El Paso.

    It got mentioned earlier about Hwy 50 through Nevada as being the loneliest road in America. I stacked New Mexico's Hwy 9 up against it. If that's true about those highway's, then Hwy 20 between Las Cruces and El Paso has to be the most aromatic highway in America. For a while, I was beginning to think that every cow in America lived near that stretch of road. It was funny, you couldn't really see them from the road but you knew they were there.....in spades! I must have been down wind. I grew up back east, in dairy country of the garden state, so the south end of a north bound cow isn't all that offensive. Those dairy farms might have add 200 cows, not the thousands that these places were holding.

    In El Paso, I wanted to take a few pictures but always managed to be way past the picture spot before I found a spot to pull over. For a while, I was riding right along the infamous border fence. Since the road was an old city street, I always managed to be passed the picture spot I liked before there was anyplace to pull over. I figured that, since I'll be following the river and the border for most of the next two days, I'll have plenty of opportunities to take pictures of the border. I was still riding on highway 20 as I rode into and through El Paso. Somewhere in there it turned into Paisano Ave, then Almeda Ave, then I think something else.

    In the 6300 block of Almeda Ave, just in case you find yourself in El Paso with nothing to do, there's a two story building with name on the top that says, "Naked Harem". When I went past it, it was 9 o'clock in the morning and it appeared to be closed or, right now, I'd be giving you a much more detailed report.

    As you wind your way south out of El Paso, you pass every rundown, used up adobe building you can imagine, housing more odd, eclectic businesses. All of them are painted in very bright cloors, yellow being the most domanint. Shortly, the buildings gave way to farm fields but only on one side of the road. The farm fields were on my right while the buildings, of all shapes and sizes, continued on my left. Then I would ride through a small area that I'm guessing passed for a town. Most of them could have fit inside the average Walmart Super Center. Tornillo, Alamo Alto, Acala and more whose names I can't remember, on into Fort Hancock. Don't think that Fort Hancock is the next big town. Well, I guess it is. It might take 2 Walmart Super Centers to cover the whole place.

    Yeah, right! Who are they kidding.
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    Since there will be so much interstate riding later on in the trip, I'm trying to stay on the back roads as much as possible. Besides, there's more see and usually better roads to ride. In Fort Hancock I had to get on I-10 for the 68 mile ride to Van Horn, Tx. I'm guessing that when they built the interstate, they built it right over the existing road because I don't think there are any paved back roads between Fort Hancock or Van Horn. At least my map didn't show one. Of course, that's assuming that the road they built over was paved in the first place. It might have just been a cattle path, formerly used by all the relatives of the cows I passed for the last two days.

    Before arriving in Van Horn, you pass the thriving metropolis of Sierra Blanca, Texas. Other than being another town that the interstate is in the process of killing, Sierra Blanca is actually in the history books as the meeting point of the second TransContinental Railroad. The first TransContinental Railroad was completed at a place called Promentary Point in Utah, the second was here in Sierra Blanca.
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    This picture pretty much sums up the long term prospects of Sierra Blanca, Texas
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    Van Horn, Texas.....I've camped here in Van Horn on more than a few ocassions but the campground is closed now, as is the Dairy Queen and the Pizza Hut. Van Horn has a wide main drag and you can tell that this place was once a thriving little west Texas town....before said interstate!
    I'm guessing that there were more businesses here, when the highway went through, that has allowed it to hang on. More so than Sierra Blanca.

    Van Horn is where I pick up highway 90 for the next 600 miles as I head south to the valley, that part of Texas at the very bottom. First stop, Marfa. Marfa is the art center of west Texas. Why, you ask? Because a New York artist by the name Donald Judd discovered, way back when, that he could buy up a whole bunch of the area around Marfa real cheap.
    So, Donald Judd moved to Marfa. I've been to Marfa several times but I always manage to get here at the beginning of the week and all of the art exhibits are only open later in the week. I guess that if I want to see all the art stuff, I'll have to make a special trip.

    Somewhere between Van Horn and Marfa, you come across this.....
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    Note the location...
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    I'm guessing that this is somebodies idea of funny. But, ladies, there are some very nice looking Prada purses and high heels in there. There's also a camera pointed at the front door, so I guess my ugly mug is stored on somebody's computer right now.
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    From Marfa, it's only a 30, or so, mile ride to Alpine, Texas, a much bigger, more prosperous West Texas town, probably because it's the home of Sul Ross State University. I think Sul Ross was a former governor of Texas, but I could be mistaken.


    Alpine is where I am right now. As soon as I finish this ride report and fill up on the free breakfast here at the Highland Inn, change the oil in the scooter, I'll be on to Eagle Pass, on my quest to find America.....by Helix.
    #23
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Enjoying your journey of discovery... :thumb

    :lurk
    #24
  5. aboveangkor

    aboveangkor Adventurer

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    You didnt see the marfa Lights?
    #25
  6. Brooktown Geezer

    Brooktown Geezer scooter guy

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    Fallbrook, CA
    I'm in for this one. :clap
    #26
  7. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    You mentioned having to pull over to take a picture. It's not hard taking pics while riding if you have a point and shoot camera. I hang my camera around my neck with a fairly long strap. If I see something worth taking a pic of, I use my left hand to turn on the camera and take a pic. I have been able to get a lot of pics I would otherwise have missed if I had to pull over.

    For example, one day I was riding along on the highway and a scooter passed me. I decided to get a pic. Yes, it was a helix and he was moving along at a good speed.

    [​IMG]
    #27
  8. 103sp

    103sp Adventurer

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    Paris
    very nice trip :thumb
    #28
  9. garfey

    garfey Scruffy Adventurer

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    "The road" used to be US 80. Way back when, it ran from Savannah to San Diego. Pretty sure it now dies in/near Dallas.

    Enjoying your RR - keep on scootin'!
    #29
  10. Shorin

    Shorin Adventurer

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    man, just missed you! I live near the border patrol station just north of Tombstone. I would have joined you on my burgman for a bit of the trip. Best of luck, will be following this thread. maybe catch you on the flip side.
    #30
  11. travelintoNY

    travelintoNY Globe Trekker

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    NY, US of America!
    :lurk
    #31
  12. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
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    Tucson, Arizona
    Today, I got a very late start, at least for me it was late. I'm normally a very early riser but with writing yesterday's ride report, changing the oil in the scooter, the free motel breakfast and jawing with John and his lovely bride, whose name I regrettably did not get, about their upcoming ride down to Terlingua, I didn't manage to get on the road until after 9AM. I've read ride reorts where the writer didn't hit the road till 10 or 11. I always wondered about the late start. Next time, I'll understand why.

    I always see people post pictures about their meals. I had to post this Belgian waffle. Those of you in and around Texas may have seen them before but I never have.

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    Pretty much since I left Tucson I'd been thinking about changing the oil. Originally, I thought that I could make it to Giddings, my first long stop. By Alpine, the oil was looking pretty dark.

    Several months ago I'd written to several companies about sponsorship, especially for the Cannonball portion of the trip. One of those companies was Jiffy Lube. Their response was no response at all.

    As I rode along, I'd been trying to come up with a relatively quick, very clean way to change the oil. Here's my idea. I stopped at the local grocery store a bought 2 gallon jugs of water, .79 each. One quart of oil from Auto Zone, where they'll recycle the used oil. I dumped both water jugs out and cut the top out of one jug to use to catch the oil. After draining the oil, I then transferred it to the good, sealable jug, which later got taken back to Auto Zone. I then wiped out the oil catch jug and put it in the dumpster. Oil change completed and not one drop of oil hit the motel parking lot.

    The oil change project......you can see just a bit of the jug catching oil and the good transfer jug.
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    Here's my neighbor last night. This beast is owned by John and his lovely bride whose name, regrettably, I did not get. It's a Honda 1800 Something-er-other. John and his wife were on their way to Terlingua and the Big Bend Country.
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    Leaving Alpine, it was bright and sunny and getting warm.....but the bright and sunny only lasts for about 50 miles.
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    By then, I noticed that I seemed to be riding under a dark and ominous cloud. I also noticed that the normally dry desert was glistening with water this morning. There were water rivulets cut in the dirt, more than a few large puddles and all the grasses next to the road were all pushed over in the same direction. The night before, in Alpine, it had rained about 12 drops. In Alpine, far west Texas, 12 drops of rain constutes quite a rainstorm but it looked like they'd had a gully washer out here.

    A few miles on, I noticed that the edges of the road were wet, then puddles where the road surface meets the shoulder of the road. This was not looking good for riding in the dry all day. Now there were drops on the windshield. By the time I stopped in the little town of Comstock for gas, it wasn't exactly raining but it was sure a damn thick mist. I filled up and put on my rain gear. I asked the lady at the station about any weather reports that she'd heard. She said there was cold front coming through and that it would be here for a few days. I told her that I was headed to Eagle Pass. She thought that I could probably ride through it. Great, I thought. I'll ride all the way through it only to get hit with it again later.

    Now, my putting on rain gear is usually a sign to the universal powers that be to stop the rain. In another 5 miles, I must have ridden out the other side of the cold front because the drizzle stopped. Even though I was sweating in the raingear, I hated to stop to take it off as that's a sign to the universal powers to make it start raining again. It did stay overcast the rest of the day but no more wet stuff.

    I love riding through country that looks like this. We have a lot of country thhat looks like this in Arizona, up around the towns of Holbrook, Taylor and Snowflake. Can't you just picture Matt Dillon and Chester riding out from behind one of those scrubs? As I ride by, in my head, I can hear Matt Dillon say to Chester, "Come on, Chester, Let's get back to the Long Branch a see what's going on with Miss Kitty and Doc". I know it's weird but I love it. If you're too young to remember Matt Dillon, Chester, Miss Kitty and Doc, feel free to stick the western movie stars of your choice. I'll stick with the Gunsmoke people.
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    I've been taking quite a few pictures of these historical markers but, with around 15,000 in the state, I've got quite a few picture taking opportunities ahead of me.
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    You can learn a lot from these signs. This one tells us that crime doesn't pay, at least it didn't pay for these two guys.
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    Right behind the historical marker in the previous picture is this. For those of you who haven't seen it, this is the border road. Even though the border is around 50 miles or so to the right of this picture, the only thing between here and the actual border is a whole lot of nothing. This is the road that the Border Patrol rides looking for people walking north.
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    This picture is looking west. Notice the tractor tire on the right side of the picture, used by the Border Patrol to drag the road and keep the surface fresh so that they can see footprints.
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    This is Emily.
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    Right before I took this picture I had no idea who Emily was. All day long, on Hwy 90, I'd been passing people on bicycles packed similiar to Emily's. I decided to stop. It seems Emily, and all those other people on bicycles, are traveling the Southern Route across the country, from San Diego to San Augustine, Florida as determined by something called the Adventure Travel Something-er-other. Since I have no intention of riding a bicycle anywhere, I didn't get the exact name of the organization. Emily was from Portland but I think she started this trip started in San Diego. She left back on March 6th. The halfway point is Comfort, Texas so, in almost a month, she's not quite halfway yet. Funny thought, we'll both probably finish around the same time, the middle of May. Have fun Emily, thanks for taking the time to talk with me and may we both enjoy our rides.

    As you cross Hwy 90, I think every vehicle, except the big rigs, stops here.
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    A bunch of old, or recreated buildings, reasonably close to where the original ones were but.....it's free!
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    The only thing I thought of when I stopped here was Paul Newman as Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos.

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    All day yesterday I'd been watching the odometer on the scooter. I wanted to document the rolling over to 20,000 miles. I knew it would happen shortly after I left Judge Roy Bean's place in Langtry. I guess after I left Langtry, I was thinking about other things because I missed it by 11.8 miles, but here's the picture anyway. When you look at the picture, take a sharpie and draw three extra zero's on the computer screen, that's what I did. It works but only once!
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    It seems like I've been writting this ride report for the last 4 hours, due to my fumble fingers and a lousy internet connection. Now, I'm bound for Los Ebanos, Texas and the ferry to mexico in my search for America.....by Helix.
    #32
  13. long distance rider

    long distance rider Adventurer

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    Kingman, AZ
    Excellent ride report, but I have a couple of questions on your choice of roads.

    I have ridden a bunch of miles over the past 40 years, most of them on Interstates and major US highways. My experience has always been positive. One thing I have wondered about is local law enforcement guys you might have occasion to run across. On the Interstate I typically run 10 over the limit all day long and have not had a ticket in decades. On the back roads however I've always imagined local LEO's might have reason to try and keep the county coffers filled with tourist cash, is this a legitimate concern on my part or have I been watching too much TV?

    My only recent experience was with a camera car in Prescott Valley, AZ where I was clocked at 46 in a 35 and sent a ticket in the mail for $230. Prescott Valley police evidently are too busy dealing with real crime to actually catch you speeding and write a ticket. I'm curious if Prescott Valley is the exception to the rule or are a bunch of little jerkwater towns doing the same thing with camera cars, radar traps, and such.

    The reason I ask is I'm planning a trip from Kingman to McMinville, TN this spring for a memorial service....I was planning on blasting back on I40 and being 2000 miles from Kingman in 3 or 4 days. Your trip report has got me to thinking about a slower, more relaxed trip thru the backcountry, maybe south going on my way to Tennessee and a more northern route returning home.

    Your thoughts and experience would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Mike
    #33
  14. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer

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    The only place on my recent ride from California to Houston that I saw those camera cars were in Prescott Valley, AZ. I have never seen one anywhere else I've been which includes Texas. There is a rhyme that I've heard some people use reportedly from some law enforcement folks:

    "eight safe, nine mine"

    On interstates I generally run 10mph faster but you do have to watch some of the small towns. I got a ticket in a small town approx. 80 miles southwest of Abilene last year where they had a sign dropping the speed limit 20mph after a bridge under the trees just before a downhill grade with another 20mph drop at the bottom of the hill.

    As for the rider if you are staying on 90 all the way through Texas there's a rally in Houston this weekend. http://hiptobesquarerally.com where I know some Helix fans will be attending.
    #34
  15. bbjumper

    bbjumper Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Just the other side of normal
    Camera cars are all over the Phoenix area, and the only place I have seen them. I'll be leaving this weekend headed to Tyler TX with stops to see friends and family in Austin. I'll be visiting the Trinity Site, Carlsbad Caverns and then will be using pretty much the same route as you through Uvalde. Wonderful time to be riding in Texas, the Bluebonnets should be in full bloom..

    Following along

    Cheers
    #35
  16. xto777

    xto777 n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2013
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    Location:
    Fullerton CA
    I do have same 2001 Honda helix, Black, 8000 miles on it.
    My longest trip was form Orange county to Laughlin , Nev, 306 miles in 7.5 Hours.

    Great RR,
    I am subscribed.
    :clap:clap
    #36
  17. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

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    Tucson, Arizona
    Hi Mike.....Didn't you say you were planning to ride a Helix to Alaska? I'm guessing that your not riding a Helix 10 miles over on the freeway. In west Texas, that would be 90mph. So far, I haven't had any trouble with local cops but then, I'm usually right around the speed limit. Today, on Hwy 83, a few miles north of Laredo, there were three state troopers pulling people over on a regular basis. Other than that, I've seen plenty of cops but they're not looking for guys like me, I'm not pushing the limits.
    #37
  18. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

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    That's pretty much the story of my life, if there's something going on this weekend, I'll be there next weekend. And that's the truth. It's my intention to be in Giddings this weekend and Houston next weekend. Do you think that any of those Helix guys might have a spare muffler just sitting in the garage that they'd like to get rid of? I seem to have done something drastic to mine because it's beginning to sound like a badly running cement mixer. I'll see what I can figure out in the morning and try to see if I can limp it into Giddings where I can do some work on it.
    #38
  19. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

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    Somewhere around Del Rio our paths split, you're headed east through Bracketville and I headed south through Laredo. The El Paso to Del Rio section of Hwy 90 is a real nice ride. You're going through Uvalde to get to Tyler? Wow, even a back roads kind of guy like me wouldn't have thought of that.

    If you're looking for the Bluebonnets, I think this is a bit too early in the year. I'm thinking another month or so. There were some flowers along Hwy 90 out in West Texas but very few. Spring hasn't sprung just yet.
    #39
  20. Valker

    Valker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2003
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    366
    Location:
    Pampa, Texas
    In Giddings their Downtown restaurant has great chicken fried steak!!!!
    #40