Two Tigers go to Big Bend

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by gregdee, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. acejones

    acejones Long timer

    Joined:
    May 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,437
    Location:
    MS. Gulf Coast and Puerto Vallarta, MX
    FWIW
    I've left my bike parked at a trail head while hiking with no problem.
    #41
  2. DLOOP

    DLOOP Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2012
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Beaver, OK
    Thanks for the tip on thread.
    #42
  3. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    535
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    The problem I see isn't so much the bike, it's all that funny looking non-hiking friendly gear we wear. I've thought of running a cable through the jackets and pants, and then stashing boots some place out of sight. Have some ideas for some peak bagging trips up north of the Platoro reservoir in southern Colorado I might try this summer. Figured we'd base camp near the trail head and then just leave all our gear in the tent.
    #43
  4. harley1550

    harley1550 Touring Rider

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    226
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    nm
    #44
  5. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    535
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    The previous evening we had rolled into Marfa off the glorious 2810 road as the shadows were getting long. We stopped to gas up and do a quick search to see what kind of reviews we could find for local places to stay. We were tired and hungry and not in much of a mood to search about. Using Kerry's phone we read a few poor reviews of the local hotels and decided to take the advice we were reading and headed into Alpine, about 20 miles away. This highway cruised at nearly 5000 feet and was really quite cold. The local campgrounds looked like dried up weed patches - not the most inviting places so we decided to camp at the Hampton Inn once again.

    Getting out of the area is no small feat as Big Bend is a long way from every where and west Texas is a pretty big place. This would be a day of exploring creative ways to entertain oneself while riding a motorcycle. For starters I drove up next to Kerry and took a few shots from the side. I guess she needed to adjust her mirrors because she didn't see me behind her anymore. :evil
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    We drove back into Marfa to see what we missed. The Court House was a bit of a beacon.

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    We parked and walked around a bit. As we walked passed a store she noticed they had scarves so she went in to investigate. I stayed outside to do guy stuff.

    I spotted this cool car. Cannonshot posted a picture of it in his RR but I had a slightly different take so I don't feel like I am infringing too much by posting my own shots. I'd say this car gets its' picture taken a lot more than it gets driven since it sure looks like it is in exactly the same spot when Cannonshot took his pictures.
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    This image on the rear quarter panel was pretty cool.
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    The statement over the windshield was bold as well.
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    I then noticed some construction activity going on across the street. The two guys were standing on top of this structure to pull off the 4x8 sheets of plywood after the guys below t would knock them loose. Darwin award?
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    While waiting for Kerry to finish her shopping I ran into the dude from Louisiana again. We chatted for a bit and he took some shots of our two Tigers. I think he was going to trade in his Vespa for a Tiger when he got home. He was talking about taking a trip to Alaska.
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    Kerry scored a new scarf and it even matches her bike. Very cool:norton. The collar on her jacket had been rubbing her neck raw and she hoped this soft scarf would help out a bit.
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    And now for the really long straight boring part - getting back to NM. We saw a blimp, some sort of Air Force thing.

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    This is what the scenery looked like the rest of the morning.
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    I was really wishing I had some highway pegs like I have on my KLR. I started looking around to figure out where they might fit and decided to stick my leg out to see if the crash bars would be an appropriate mounting location. Turns out the crash bars work pretty well so I just rested my calves on them for a while and enjoyed the scenery. I managed to twist my camera mount around enough to get this shot.
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    Now that I was comfortable swiveling the camera every which way, I took some shots of the dried up pecan ranch we were passing. After several miles of this I noticed a crew out in the trees clearing branches. Guess the trees weren't dead after all.
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    And then came the selfies. While shooting these at highway speeds you have absolutely no indication if the pictures are turning out or not. So I shot several dozen - they're free.
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    Eventually we got to Van Horn - woohoo. OK, Van Horn sucks! We gassed up and got on I-10. The only good thing I can say about I-10 is that the speed limit is 80 mph. We blasted the ~120 miles into El Paso but while doing so I got bored and decided to figure out what the ratio of truck to non-truck traffic was. I counted 57 trucks and 43 non-trucks... really exciting huh? If you cannot handle this kind of mind numbing boring road for half a day then do not ride your bike to Big Bend. :deal

    Once in El Paso we thought we'd grab a late lunch but the traffic on I-10 was horrendous and cars were actually stopped on the on ramp. Had we magically time warped all the way to southern California? This traffic sucks! We did actually get off at one point but couldn't find the Subway we had seen a sign for so we just got back on and kept going. Eventually we came to the next town in Suburbia - I think it was Sunland Park or something like that. We found a sandwich and took a much needed break.

    While eating I decided it was a good time to figure out where the heck we were going. We had tentatively thought of getting out to Bisbee, AZ but that was still an entire state away and it was pushing 2:00 p.m. We decided to find highway 9 and cross the bottom part of NM and just figure it out as we went.

    Highway 9 was a lot like west Texas, only a bit hillier and there were actually a few turns. I did like this road but the odd thing was that there were at least a million Boarder Patrol officers out. Seriously, our government is broke but we spend billions of dollars to fend off people who want to pick our salad for us?
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    More creative driving photos.
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    We rolled into Columbus, NM. Looked like a cool little town. There was a neat looking museum but it was just closing. We didn't need gas so we scored a couple more of those Frappuccino things from the gas station instead. :D

    Didn't appear to be any worthwhile lodging or camping in Columbus so we decided to head on up to Deming. No sense in wasting a few good hours of sunlight when we could be getting a little bit closer to the twisty goodness that awaits us to the north. :wink: It was Thursday already and we wanted to be home by Saturday evening to give ourselves one day to reintegrate back into reality before heading back to work Monday. That meant getting to Bisbee was out but we still had some cool roads to the north. Along the road to Deming I saw this crazy rig. That sure looks like a garage door to me. :eek1
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    #45
  6. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    535
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    Today’s goal was to make it through the twisties, lots of twisties. The route was to be from Deming, NM over to Hillsboro on 26 and 27, up 152 over Emory Pass into Silver City, and then up 180 to 78 and over to Three Way in AZ where we’d catch 191 and ride through the mining town Clifton. We didn’t really know how far we’d get up 191 as we had a long day ahead of us but we had called ahead to the Hannagan Meadows Lodge and they said we didn’t need a reservation as they were open and were not busy. So off we rode.


    Taking highway 26 towards Hatch from Deming was pretty dull and I cannot believe that anyone actually uses these picnic tables, they're actually on the other side of the fence from the parking area.

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    After about 20-30 miles we headed north on 27 the Lake Valley Backcountry Scenic Byway and this road was much more interesting.

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    Definitely backcountry and not much traffic to speak of.
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    We soon arrived in Hillsboro and headed left and up. I had ridden down this road back in November and have driven in my truck several times. Good times ahead for sure. I won’t bore you with tons of pictures of Kerry turning left – they all pretty much look like this. (The way my camera is mounted the right turn shots usually have her out or partially out of the frame.)
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    We stopped in Silver City to gas up and discussed whether to get lunch. We decided to press on. So up 180 to 78 we went.

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    Above is a shot of highway 78 as it is heading out of NM. I really enjoy this road and the descent off the west side of those mountains into Three Way is superb. Unfortunately my camera battery died here and I was having too much fun to stop and replace it so I rode on. Good thing I wasn’t concentrating on pictures though because this stretch of highway demands all your attention. It’s hard enough to keep your eyes on the road – I kept finding myself gazing out into the distance. If the Butler Maps guys did a map of AZ I am certain this section would rate a G1.
    We both arrived safely at Three Way and then zoomed on up to Clifton. We were hungry and headed for a BBQ joint I had smelled my last time through here. The place is decorated with all sorts of old pictures and paintings of the old West, and there’s even a few stuffed heads hung on the wall. Hmm, just like home – not.
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    Turns out this place used to be a car dealership but is now a BBQ joint and apparently it’s packed at dinner time. We were there at about 2:00 p.m. and there were only a couple of other customers. Food was good. Brisket sandwich in the first shot and pulled pork in the second one. We're definitely not vegetarians. :D

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    With our bellies full we pressed on for to meet the Devil, the Devil’s Highway that is. Highway 191 used to be 666 but the number was changed a decade or so ago. But before you get to the good stuff you've got to ride through the mine. The mine is a crazy place and there's a lot of traffic in the area. After gassing up we sat at an intersection for several minutes waiting for a break in the traffic so we could make a left back onto 191. I actually got through after a couple of minutes but then had to pull over to wait for Kerry to get a clear shot. She's still not all that confident with her take off's so making a quick break into traffic where there's lots of big trucks about is a little nerve wracking.

    What follows are a few shots of us coming up on and riding through the mine area.

    It's a big place!
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    This conveyor belt shoots rocks right over the highway!
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    Here's a shot of it as we passed under it.
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    Peering way down into the mine. That's one super big hole in the ground. And this goes on for miles.
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    I don’t recall the exact number, and certainly have not counted them, but the stretch between Clifton and Springerville supposedly has 534 turns in 91 miles, or something like that. That’s a lot of turns. The road climbs from around 3500 ft up over 9000 ft. Here's a shot of me taking a shot of the highway we just rode up.
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    And the highway.
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    This is not a road for the super bike but rather it is more for just cruising. Many of the turns have posted speeds of 10 mph and that was about right. On many other roads you can easily run much faster than the advisory signs state but not here, and certainly not this late in a day of riding. In fact, back in November when I had ridden this north to south I was mentally exhausted by the time I had reached the mine after just a little over two hours of riding. The north end is fast with great sweepers but the southern end of this stretch of highway is extremely tight with almost no room for error.

    After about an hour of riding we were definitely getting up there in altitude as it was getting really cold. We were both getting tired too as riding a motorcycle, even in good weather takes its toll on you. We’d been in the saddle since before 9:00 a.m. and it was now after 5:30. Kerry was riding slower and slower with each turn. She was now crawling along at 25 mph or so. I was cold and tired and wanted to get there already but you just cannot push someone to ride faster when they don’t want to. Finally we saw a sign for Hannagan Meadows but this was for a trailhead not the lodge. Agonizingly we rode on. Then the Lodge appeared. We had made it. Phew!

    We entered the lobby and found a nice roaring fire but no one was around so we just hung out basking in the warmth of the flames. After a few minutes the manager walked in and booked us into a room for the night. He inquired whether we'd be having dinner this evening and we told them we would definitely would be. The alternative would have been our remaining freeze dried Mountain House camp food. There was only one other group staying a the lodge, a group of three from Michigan, and we were told to come down about half an hour after them to give the kitchen staff enough time. The food was good and the staff were warm and gracious. Hannagan Meadows Lodge has a nice country charm to it. It's not fancy, just inviting and comfortable. We enjoyed our dinner and slept soundly through the night. What a day. That was a lot of turns for the day.


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    #46
  7. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    535
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    The final day on the road. We awoke early and headed downstairs to the dining room to enjoy a "country" breakfast. I had the biscuits and gravy and what a pile of food it was! Ummm. Here’s a shot of us in front of the lodge packing up getting ready to head out.
    [​IMG]

    Nice lodge. Rustic but very comfortable. I’d stop there again but in the warmer months I’d probably just camp as there seems to be lots of primitive camping around those parts. In fact this is an area I think I will explore more of on the smaller DS bikes as it’s only 4-5 hours away.

    But that’s 4-5 hours of backcountry roads through some rather remote parts of New Mexico. One route through is across the Plains of St. Augustine. There’s about 30 miles of super straight road running across the plains. Our route for the day took us from the Lodge along 191 up to Alpine, AZ where we jumped onto 180, headed east picking up 12 through Luna and then over towards Reserve. Alpine was a nice little town with a frozen lake, a campground, and nice picnic area. We noticed one fellow out bird watching from his truck. Apparently the lake is known for the eagles that hunt here. Rolling over the border in Luna, NM, the difference was stark. While far eastern Arizona has nice well maintained summer homes and cabins, Luna is run down and forgotten. Reserve isn’t much better.

    After Reserve the next option is to turn north at Apache Creek and head up to Quemado but we’d been through there several times and opted to stay on 12 into Datil where we’d join 60. Twenty or so miles after Apache Creek the road got straight, real straight.

    [​IMG]
    There was almost no one else on it so we flew under the radar so to speak. We hadn't stopped for gas since Silver City so we paid our dues in Datil. Fortunately buying 8-10 gallons of gas isn’t too painful. There was a fella in front of us at the pump who was not only filling up his beater F150 ranch truck but about ten red plastic 5 gallon gas cans as well. Guess he was going to be out for a while.

    We pressed on to complete our run across the Plains of St. Augustine. Typical NM foliage can be seen collected at the base of this sign.:D
    [​IMG]
    The only thing that makes this section of highway 60 worthwhile is seeing all the dishes at the very large array. Caught of few pictures of the radio telescope dishes at the VLA as we went by.

    [​IMG]
    Guess they going for high resolution as the dishes were all super close together. Finally reaching Magdalena we decided to stop for some lunch at the Bear Mountain Gallery and Restaurant.

    [​IMG]
    We’ve been here several times and the food and service are always good. The owner is a retired lady who moved to Magdalena from Berkley, CA. They have great quiche and awesome pie. The specials are usually pretty good too. This day I tried the green chile chicken enchiladas and they were excellent. I have had the chocolate pecan pie in the past and it rocks!

    Being tired we opted to pass on the dirt route through Riley and then on to 60 to Mountainair which would have allowed us to bypass Soccorro and the super slab north. We suffered through Soccorro and then about 20 minutes on I-25, exited to join 60 once again going east to Mountainair. We were now back on our regular weekend routes. It was too early in the year to catch FS422 up through Red Canyon and through the Manzano’s so we just stuck to the highway. We decided to stop at the Abo ruins west of Mountainair for a coffee break. The ruins are a cool spot to see if you are passing through. Unfortunately most of the ruins in this area close at 5:00 so getting pictures in good light can be tough.

    [​IMG]

    Cruising north along 55 the light was nice so I snapped a few more “selfies” on the way through. Here’s one that came out.

    [​IMG]
    I truly enjoy riding back up South 14 through the Manzano’s. This is a wonderful stretch of highway. Great trip. Thanks for tagging along.
    #47
  8. Serbchaser

    Serbchaser Chasin' the Serb

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    286
    Location:
    NC
    Great report. Big Bend is high on my list. Nice that you did it together. :clap:freaky:deal

    Thanks
    #48
  9. y0y02369

    y0y02369 Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,326
    Location:
    Bay Area
    Awesome RR! Great read for a quick break! :D Never been to NM but now i definitely will plan to! What would you suggest is a good time of year?
    #49
  10. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,562
    Location:
    Concord, CA
    Great RR. I see you upgraded your bikes over the winter. What a difference over the KLR and DR... I love my 800 XC. Glad you guys didn't go KTM. You'd still be out there...

    It's nice to see a couple like you guys enjoying moto trips together. Easier to do without kids.

    JG
    #50
  11. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    535
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    Late September through to Thanksgiving is when the weather is the most calm. Depending on what you are wanting to do earlier is probably better than late.
    #51
  12. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    535
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    Indeed, the triples are nice bikes. I really liked my Sprint ST but no way that thing was going off-road. And we didn't exactly upgrade, we expanded our collection.:D But it's getting tougher to find excuses to ride the Japanese bikes when we're doing stuff like this on the Tigers.

    No kidding. I have a dear old friend, we'll call him old fart, who has a stable full of KTM's. Every time I ask if he wants to join us for a ride I get the same story - gotta do maintenance on such and such. I prefer to actually ride my bikes.

    Yes but we have this little problem named Buster the beagle.
    #52