November, 2014

An ideal time for riding in the Big Bend region of Texas is just after Thanksgiving.  Of course, that may not be the best time for riding through the central plains on your way to the Rio Grande valley.  It's worth the gamble.


I'd be threading through the Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma.  The word "Mountains" is of course relative to the rest of Oklahoma.

Roosevelt, Oklahoma on US-183.

Frederick, Oklahoma.


Crossing the Red River into Texas. Throughout the U.S., you'll find a Green River, a White River and a Blue River (and several other colors). At least the Red River really is red.

Munday, Texas on US-277.

Haskell, Texas.

I'm a little too far west to properly be in the Texas Hill Country, but this is still a surprisingly hilly area.

Sonora, Texas is on I-10, but the town center is yet just far enough south of the freeway to retain its identity.

How is it that the community that could build such an attractive courthouse as this (on the left) would then build something as dismal as this (on the right) when they outgrew the original?


US-277 drops south from Sonora to Del Rio.  But, I wouldn't be on that road.  Instead, I'd be taking Texas-189 through Val Verde following the Devil River.  A map shows a single town--Juno--along the route.  I looked for it along the way; but, I'm afraid Juno doesn't exist.


Notice the yellow water-level marker at the bottom of the hill.  At times, there must be a great deal of water flowing through the valley--not today.

The Pecos River Bridge was completed in 1957.  It is the highest bridge in Texas (273 feet).

The Pecos River canyon was a serious obstacle to the southern route of the transcontinental railroad (Southern Pacific).  The high rail bridge was completed in 1891.

Langtry, Texas.  Judge Roy Bean was the law in this remote town.  The courthouse and opera house still remain and are part of the Judge Roy Bean museum.  The museum is pretty much the only thing in town.  The town was not named for Lillie Langtry (of the Isle of Jersey), but Judge Bean made the most of the name and seems to have been infatuated with the lovely Lillie.  The two never did meet, although Lillie did pass through once.


Langtry sits on the edge of the Rio Grande valley.  The bluffs on the right are in Mexico.

Sanderson, Texas.

No longer following the Rio Grande, we're cutting straight west towards Marathon along US-90.

Marathon, Texas.  There's a nice hotel in town (I've stayed here twice), but I wouldn't be staying here on this trip.  Considering that this was the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it prudent to call ahead to see if the Big Bend National Park Lodge had any vacancies.  No.

So, I checked around for something else.

Big Bend National Park

The road into the National Park.


Following the road down to Boquillas Canyon.  The speed limit within the park is a snail-like 45 mph.

There's a short (but steep) path from the parking area to the river.  In previous times, there's been somebody from the Mexican village of Boquillas selling walking sticks and other simple art works.  That's probably still the case when things are busier.  But, today, the painted walking sticks that are for sale are displayed along the path along with a can to deposit your money.  It's an honor system, and likely works just fine.


Mexico on the right; Texas on the left.  You can canoe through the canyon, but I don't believe it's possible to walk.


Now; let's find the hotel.

Earlier, I made reservations at the Terlingua Ranch Lodge, which I thought (naturally enough) would be in Terlingua.  It's not.  You need to drive about twelve miles north from Terlingua and then turn off on a side road for another sixteen miles into the hills. 

Incidentally, the last three miles are not paved.

By the time I reached Terlingua, the sun had set and it was quite dark (and cold) when I made the turn-off.  I did not enjoy that last three miles of dirt road.  The Guzzi Stelvio lights are very good, but still...

The lodge maintains a black-out policy (to better see the stars), so it was a bit of a trick to find my cabin.  Rather surprisingly, the Bad Rabbit Restaurant had live entertainment that evening.


The view of the lodge the next morning from my cabin's porch.


Breakfast at the Bad Rabbit the next morning.


The Terlingua Ranch was created in the 1960s (that 1860 date on the logo not withstanding) by a bunch of car and racing enthusiasts (including Carroll Shelby).  The logo was created by Bill Neale. 

Many people wonder why hes holding up his right foot; but, the reason is simple. Hes saying, No more peppers in my chili, please!!!
-Bill Neale


Leaving the ranch.  This time, I can see the road.

Texas-170 follows the Rio Grande to Presidio.  It's one of the great motorcycle roads in the country.

This road can be quite steep, and often when cresting a hill it will unexpectedly veer off in a new direction.  You'd be well-cautioned to hold down your speed; there is no run-off area, and not much traffic.

Presidio is the small town on the U.S. side of the border.  That's larger Ojinaga we see in the distance, on the Mexican side.

Shafter, Texas is only a ghost town these days.  Four thousand people once lived here when the silver mines were in operation.

Riding north on US-67.

Marfa, Texas.

Fort Davis, Texas.


On Texas-17, riding north out of Fort Davis.

Wild Rose Pass.

Wink, Texas.  Roy Orbison went to high school in Wink and played with the Wink Westerners.  Evidently, he couldn't wait to get out of Wink.

Kermit, Texas.

Thousands of oil pumps on a cold Texas evening.  Within ten minutes of the sun dropping below the horizon, the temperature would go down fifteen degrees.

Andrews, Texas.

Levelland, Texas.

Most of the cotton fields were clean.  Soon these stacks will be hauled to the gin.

The broad Canadian River valley.

Conlen, Texas.


Hooker, Oklahoma.

Each morning I'd wait for the temperature to rise above thirty degrees before starting out.  Generally by the afternoon it'd be up to the fifties.  But, one morning, I waited and waited, and ended up waiting until the next morning.  Even so, for riding into December, I couldn't ask for much better weather to enjoy the really pleasant days along the Rio Grande.  A good trip.


last edit: 12/4/2014