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Jack JohnsonMember's Ride

Big Bend Ride April 12 - 19, 2014
Submitted by: Jack Johnson
Richmond Texas

Three bikes, six riders, 1955 miles of constant fun fun fun. The group included Lorraine and I, Rick and Joann Bartle and Robert and Catherine Hood. We agreed to meet up in Brookshire at the Shell station to get started. I forgot there are two shell stations at TX 359 and I-10, so with that two bikes went to the one on the North side of I-10 and Lorraine and I went to the one on the South side. So after a few text messages between Lorraine and Joann, we got it figured out and were on our way. The weather was warm with overcast skies, which makes for a nice ride with less chance of sun burn. We agreed up front to set the maximum speed to 70 mph, with most of the highways we would be on running 70 or more that seemed like a good speed to keep the group together. We were off to Del Rio via I-10 and US 90, both good roads but straight as a board, or is it bored.

Spent Saturday night in Del Rio, La Quinta is an excellent hotel which serves a hot breakfast for getting started the next morning. We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, food was great. You may notice a recurring theme in our choice of dinner restaurants. We weren't the only motorcycles there, seems there were two other large groups with us that night. Motorcycling must be catching on.

On GoldWingSunday morning we're off to Alpine, where we will spend three nights and doing day rides around the beautiful Davis Mountains. It was once said that there was no law west of the Pecos and no God west of El Paso. Well we chanced it and crossed the Pecos, after a few miles, we came across the town of Langtry, where the sign bluntly stated, "Judge Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos". His court room/bar and billiard hall are being kept in very good condition by the Texas Highway Department. We spent some time there walking around and talking about what it might have been like to ride across southwest Texas by horse along the roads or trails available in 1884 rather than by motorcycle on US 90 one hundred and thirty years later. After our brief visit, we mounted our steeds and continued west.

Next stop was Marathon, TX for lunch and a look at the Gage Hotel, built by Texas rancher Alfred Gage in 1927. The hotel has a beautiful lobby, bar and dining room, all furnished with antiques. Shortly we must leave and continue our westward trek to Alpine. There, Rick, Joann, Lorraine and I stayed in the Best Western and Robert and Catherine stayed in the Railroad hotel just across the parking lot from us. Like a lot of other small towns, finding dinner on Sunday night was problematic. We wound up eating in the coffee shop at the Railroad hotel. After dinner, we rode out to the Marfa light viewing sight but there was nothing to see that night.

Monday was a comedy of errors, as Lorraine and I remembered that it was April 14th and we were in dire need of a tax extension form. Some of us needed to stop by the bank and Lorraine and I had to find the tax form. In any event we got separated from the group and didn't get back together until we were on top of the mountain at the McDonald observatory. A late winter weather event blew in overnight and while it wasn't wet, the day started at 34 and got to a high of about 60 with 30 mph winds. We stopped in Ft. Davis for an afternoon snack, didn't want to eat heavy as we had planned dinner at the Reata Café, which serves up some of the best food in west Texas.Back at the hotel, the sun was well under the yard arm. So we tested the libations before going to dinner.

On GoldWingTuesday, we planned to go to Marfa for lunch and then take a ride through the Davis Mountains. The place we had intended to eat was only a coffee house. Found a cafeteria that seemed to serve health food and ate there. I thought two very strange finds in a west Texas town. From there we rode out to the McDonald observatory by another route and back to Ft. Davis. Excellent twisties through the mountains. We stopped at historic Ft. Davis, first built in 1854, enlarged in 1878 and closed in 1891.

Wednesday we departed Alpine for Terlingua, via Presidio and the River Road. Lunch at the Lajitas resort then on to Terlingua and the El Dorado Hotel. There was another motorcycle group there, somewhat noisier than us but very friendly.

Thursday we went into the Ghost Town for breakfast, excellent breakfast tacos and coffee. Then into the park to see everything we could. Upon entering we took a 14 mile unpaved road down to the river, although it was fun, I can't really recommend it because it was washboard rough in places and soft in others.

Wound up at Santa Elena Canyon. From several miles away, it looks like the entrance to the city of Petra in Jordan. We walked part way through it and climbed up to the vantage point. Very beautiful. From there we rode up to the Chisos Mountain Lodge for lunch, then on to the other end of the park. When we were through, we had ridden every paved road to its end. So back to the El Dorado and of course the stop along the way for some Mexican food.

On GoldWingFriday we started back home, we rode back into the park so we could pick up the direct road to Ft. Stockton. Nice ride from the park up to Ft. Stockton, but then it was I-10 the rest of the way. We stopped in Kerrville for the night and to go to one of Lorraine's favorite Mexican Food restaurants.

On Saturday, Robert and Catherine dropped out of the group to visit some relatives in Bourne. Rick and Jo Ann, Lorraine and I continued on back home. It was a wonderful ride and we can't wait to do it again.




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