Saturday, January 8, 2011

Well, here we are at home with the trip but a long lasting memory. It was an uneventfully 1500 mile, twenty five hour trip that finally ended about 4 pm Monday evening as I drove into the driveway. All the way we talked of the rides through the wilderness of the Big Bend Ranch State Park, the people we met and the plans for the next epic ride.
We all had a great time with the only regret not being able to ride with all the folks attending the B.U.T.T. Ride. There were so many different rides going different directions it was impossible to do them all. Those I did have the opportunity to ride with were a hoot. Exploring places with those of different riding ability lent itself to helping out in a pinch to being helped out when down (oh yeah I was down but not out).
A special shout out to Mr. Bill for being my riding partner. I look forward to hooking up this summer for a ride down your way, thanks again.
The B.U.T.T. Ride stands for Big Ultimate Terlingua Tour put on by the fine folks at and hosted by Texas Wildlife and Parks Department at Big Bend Ranch State Park. The Red Beanie was offered as a badge of honor to those who attended and will be worn with respect by all those who made the trip. If you ever have the opportunity to attend the ride you will find many great folks, great roads, great scenery and great memories.
I hope we have shown that we can all share this great land with responsibility and respect to others. Enjoy while we can and tread lightly.
Thanks to all……………..

The Last Day

Well here we go. Saturday morning and it was time to ride. XRDave and I made it to the bunkhouse in time for another great breakfast. Unfortunately I ate a little too much. With the bacon, eggs, pancakes and toast it was hard to control the hunger and I wanted to make sure I was able to ride all day without stopping, a lot. Off we went, five or six of us, back to the northwest part of the park to crack the hidden trails on the West Piedra Trail Head. Bringing up the rear in the formation I was eating dust and bouncing along for about 13 miles until it hit me. I had to stop and give up my breakfast. I don’t know if was the pancakes or bacon but it didn’t set well at all with early morning riding. Trying to hurry I drank some water, rinsed my face, and rode on as I knew everyone would be waiting for me at the park entrance. Just as I got to the entrance XRDave had just turned around to see if I was OK. Letting him know quickly I was OK but wasn’t going to make the ride with them, off they rode. Bad things turn out good sometimes as I rode back to camp at a leisurely pace soaking in the day and the sights. Realizing it would be my last day I wanted to absorb as much as I could. 
At camp SingleShot was busy tearing down his camp as this was our last day at Big Bend Ranch State Park. I helped him get his things together and load his KLR 650. Man, I have to give him major props as he rode the wheels off that KLR. I was on my WR450F and there was no way I could have ridden parts of the park on my KLR like he did.
After getting his bike loaded I just wasn’t ready to load my bike. I geared back up and headed out to the Solitario, a mountain range viewed from the main road about seven miles from the South Levay campground. Off I went keeping in mind I was riding alone in this unforgiving terrain I took it slow, stopping for pictures along the way. The view of the Solitario was magnificent! My camera skills don’t do it justice. I set for quite awhile soaking in the beauty. After some time I know I needed to go. Along the way back I saw a trail that warned “Danger Rough Road, High Clearance 4x4 Access Only”. Well I just had to try it out. Riding cautiously I made it to the primitive camping area at the end and found the trail to be rather unchallenging. I don’t know if it was my semi-improved skills or just a greater expectation of what the signs warning but felt it a rather comfortable ride with a low fear factor. Not wanting to venture too far alone I made my way back to camp realizing this was the end of the trip. Feeling a little sad I started tearing down my camp and loading up. XRDave was still on the trail with another group but with the help of SingleShot I managed to get everything packed up and the trailer loaded. We figured no sense in waiting in camp for XR so we made our way to the Ranch Office just as XR rode up. With a big smile he was happy we did all the loading as he was wore out and ready to leave. As he showered we loaded his bike and gear, said our Thank You to the Staff and goodbyes and hit the road. With a 1500 mile road trip back we wanted to get started before dark. Returning to the cold and snow wasn’t an option and something we weren’t looking forward to but the time spent in Big Bend Ranch State park will be keep us warm with memories for many days to come.

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Adventure Starts

Ok, here is the latest. We headed out for Big Bend Ranch State Park at 8 am, Sunday December 26th, from Indiana on a cold and blustery morning. After a 13 hour drive we stopped for the night just outside Oklahoma City, OK boon-docking in a fast food parking lot. Up at daybreak we hit the road again and managed to get to Presidio, TX. just at sunset, about 7 pm. If you have traveled this great country of ours you pretty much know how, let’s say, uninteresting the interstates can be. We were told of the road into the park headquarters was a 27 mile gravel road and we didn’t want to head in while it was dark so we stayed at the Porter grocery store parking for the night. At about 8 am Tuesday morning we were on the way into the park. WOW what a road! We had our doubts about how rough the trip through the park could be but we became believers instantly. “Just” a gravel road does not describe the surface. It was two and a half, 10 to 12 mile per hour, ride over some of the roughest “gravel” road we had ever been on. Almost immediately we sensed the vast wilderness of the park. Finally we made the park headquarters where we check in to our camp site and proceeded to “set up camp”.

We had bought some fire wood form the Sauceda ranger station and set about getting a fire going and burning some hot dogs for our first meal in the park. The fire was a fun ordeal as XRDave (Dave W.) wanted to use his new fire steel to get the fire started. After about an hour of striking and striking, all the while SingleShot (Mark C.) and I poking fun, we resorted to the old trusty lighter. Having a great dog dinner, chips and cold beer we talked of the great riding to come and the wilderness we were experiencing. Sometime after the ipod ran out of power we headed off to bed to the sound of SingleShot’s generator ringing through the valley. About 4am we noticed the generator had run out of gas and all was dead quit, thankfully. Around daybreak we were awoken to a high pitch screeching inside the camper. Apparently without an open window for venting XR and I had managed to suck all the air out the inside of the camper and the roof vent was being sucked in! We both jumped up and after figuring out the problem walked out to, uhumm, relieve ourselves. XR opened the door and commented “wow look at all the forking stars”! While standing outside near SingleShot’s camper we talked briefly then headed back in to our respective beds. Within minuets we hear a “BANG”, like a tire had blown out or a shot, then SingleShot instantly yelling out. XR jumps up and finds SingleShot standing in the dim light in his underwear holding his firearm and looking totally freaked out. “Someone was outside my camper and I heard them talking and I think they were trying to rob us” Like a bolt I was out the door and XR was up the path to the vista overlook looking for evidence of unwanted intruders while I listened to SingleShot’s story. After some time, realizing everything was OK, I headed back to bed while XR tried to convince SingleShot it was just him and I out in the night. The “BANG” we had heard was the single shot fired through the pop up camper by none other Mark C., now referred to as good ‘ole SingleShot. XRDave came back to the camper and we laughed at what had just happened. Mark was truly convinced we were being attacked by raving bands of illegal’s wanting to make off with our gear! Finally at breakfast we had convinced SingleShot that we were safe and the whole event was just a bad dream, for him, as XR and I laughed our asses off for many hours. Thankfully no one was hurt or robbed and we had a Hugh laugh over the incident.     

After breakfast we suited up and five of us headed out for an “easy” ride. Easy is a term defined by your riding experience! Man this stuff is rough! Having little, well almost zero, experience on a dirt bike my WR450F was a handful. The WR has waaaay more know how than I do so I just twisted the throttle and held on. We rode a designated loop route that was layered with gravel, fist size rock, broken ledges, drop off’s, dips and thick, thick river sand. I made it about 13 miles before a water run off dip took me down sending me into a frenzied display of flailing arms and legs before sampling the fine dust and rock. By the time everyone made it back to me I had the bike up on the side-stand before the cameras could come out. Shaking off the fall and getting the hand guard straight we were back on our way. Almost less than a mile another in the group, Mr. Bill, goes down turning a corner at just about a dead stop. Upwards and onward we go as the trail gets rougher and more challenging. After what seemed like hours we made a clime that was the end of me and the other, let’s say advanced aged, member in our group. We made a flat spot that left us looking a 200 foot clime, to me, almost straight up the mountain. That was it, I was done. Having very little experience this climb was not on my list of things to accomplish on the first day. My elderly companion also said “no” as I said “hell no” many times over. Being a motorcycle instructor I know my limits and skills and I was at the end of both. As SingleShot was trying to get off his bike he fell over breaking the end of his clutch lever off but still useable, third fall on the first morning of riding. The other three more experienced took a run at the hill and all made it up and back down with no injury or drama. I admit defeat on this climb and am happy to leave the hero stuff to the ones with the confidence and skills. At this point we turned around and retraced the miles we had ridden in and made it back to camp around mid afternoon. After a while the big three suited up and went back for more torture, I mean fun, as myself and Mister Bill, now my riding partner, stayed behind to heal our wounds, and egos. The guys returned just before dark and told of a beautiful ride on the “Road To No Where”. It was described as a fairly easy (once again depending on your definition) two track until it turned to a six inch deep avocado sized rock filled single track zigzagging along the edge of the mountain! Oh yeah I wanted some of that! Right! Once again everyone was back safely and we stoked the fire once again and burnt some more dogs for dinner, tails of awesome riding then off to bed.


After a fit-full night of sleep listening to the wind batter the camper and tents around us we awoke to the smell of campfire stuck to our clothes and a fine dust covering everything in sight. Twenty mile per hour wind pretty much assure the top layer of fine silt ground cover moves quickly and covers everything in sight. It was off to breakfast at the Bunkhouse where several more of the B.U.T.T. riders had arrived. The thing about the Bunkhouse food system is if you are not first in line when the bell is rung your pretty much guaranteed very little, maybe. XRDave got in on time for a bacon sandwich while SingleShot and I were relegated to having coffee; thankfully we had food left at camp.   
This was the day for revenge! Thursday and I was ready to attack the terrain, well maybe tread slowly to a kinder and gentler area to rebuild some confidence. We readied ourselves and met at Mr. Bill’s camp spot and eight of us headed out to explore. The ten mile per hour in the truck main road was our trail out to the north western part of the park. The speed limit, believe it or not, is twenty five and on a motorcycle the lead pack was moving briskly at a thirty five to forty mile per hour clip. It wasn’t long before Mr. Bill slowed and said he was uncomfortable with the pace and was going to fall back. Not wanting anyone to ride alone at anytime I rode with Mr. Bill at a leisurely pace of twenty to twenty five. Now don’t think I wasn’t grateful to slow down and ride at a more relaxed pace so I could enjoy the scenery and eat less dust as I was happy to do so. By the time we made the fifteen mile ride to the “official” park entrance the other six members were waiting patiently on us to arrive. As I had told XRDave, don’t wait on us. I knew Mr. Bill’s and my riding abilities were much closer than to those in the group and had made it clear we were fine doing our own thing. Once again we headed out and quickly the group disappeared into a cloud of dust as we rode at our relaxed pace. Mr. Bill and I rode all day together stopping at will to take pictures, explore small trails and just fart around in general. About mid morning we rode down the West Casa Piedra Trailhead, about a seven mile trail dead ending at a locked gate on the northern boundary. After passing the “4WD Only” sign we found a pretty tame two track leading into the valley. Well, always simple at first it wasn’t until we hit the ten inch deep sand wash we realized it was getting more challenging. We both made it through the sand without going down and were pleased with ourselves until the decent started. At first a few steep water washed deep ruts then it became steeper and bigger washes. I stopped to get a line on one tougher section, stood on the pegs and went for it. After reaching the bottom I look back to Mr. Bill and he was shaking his head NO! OK I’ll turn around. Up I went in second and was almost there until, well you know, I fell. My rear tire caught the deeper edge of a rut and without enough momentum I was doomed.  Down I went, nothing big just a lay-down to avoid falling off the steep side. After a few minuets of getting the rear end around I hopped on and managed to tractor my way up the hill to freedom. Did I mention we are riding between 4400 and 5000 foot elevations! Man it makes you tired fast muscling around a couple hundred pound bike in full gear. Having met our end we decided to sit and have lunch. Potted meat, crackers and a power bar for me and trail mix bar and granola for Mr. Bill. After lunch we made our way back to the main road, crossing the deep sand wash again while stalling twice and Mr. Bill once we were back out and riding. We headed back towards camp stopping for a break at an old covered wagon for pictures, water and conversation. All day the wind had been up but now at late afternoon it was howling twenty five to thirty with forty mile per hour gust. At times you would think a truck was heading your direction only to find a dust tornado blowing your way. Just as we pulled into the last little trail head to explore XRDave and SingleShot rode past, circled back and we rode in together then on to camp. Today, all in all, was a great day of riding for Mr. Bill and me as we managed 75 miles of dusty trail.
We made it back around 4 pm and proceeded to get ready for dinner at 6. We drove up and arrived at 5:15 to the Bunkhouse for dinner at 6. I was out talking to the wife trying to catch up with home life when the dinner bell sounded at 5:45. By 6 everything was about gone. Damn! I hung out until the others were finished with their dinner and went back to camp for cold cut sandwich and chips. Thank goodness I brought food.


HAPPY NEW YEAR! Today is Friday and the 31st of December. I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and a big Happy Birthday to XRDave. I would especially like to thank my wife for letting me make this trip and I miss her and the girls (my two dogs Shadow and Divot) deeply on this year ending day. I should also thank XRDave’s wife for letting him come along as well as Teresa, SingleShot’s wife, for putting up with him making the trip.
We came to breakfast this morning early in order to get in on the chow. We had made it in time to enjoy a breakfast of coffee, eggs rancheros, sausage, beans and toast, quite filling and full of carbohydrates to keep you running for the morning.
When I returned to camp sadly I found Mr. Bill had packed his belongings, taken down his tent and was packing to go. He had a twelve hundred mile drive and had to be back in order to work Monday morning. I helped him load his bike and we said our fair wells and I watched as he drove off to home. Damn now I gotta ride with the experts! Not really as of now everyone attending the B.U.T.T. Ride is here and riders of all skill level are making trips to different parts of the park so there is always someone to go with regardless of skill level. I have forgone my morning ride today in order to see Mr. Bill off and to arrange to have a cake baked for XRDave by the Bunkhouse kitchen staff for his birthday which we will present at dinner tonight. I had brought a cake mix with me in hopes we could surprise him.
It is now down to this afternoon and tomorrow of riding and it will be our time to pack and head back towards winter. No matter how much time you have it just never seems enough when you are having fun. On the same hand I am anxious to get back to the wife and sleep in a “real” bed and make dinner in time.
I’ll end things here and catch up with more later……………………

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

OK, this is the start of a new blog, a first for me, to keep friends and family posted on the fabulous trip to Terlingua Texas for the B.U.T.T. Ride with The trip actually starts on December 26th, 2010 and we'll head home January 3, 2010. I say we as my friend and co-worker Dave W. will be accompanying me on this week long ride through the desert.
Stay tuned as we hit the road for some serious dual sport fun in southern Texas!