Big Bend Excursion - Feb 2015

For the past several years Roger Hazlewood has graciously hosted a crew of mostly MSTA folks at his Terlingua, TX compound for a week or so of riding in and around Big Bend National Park. This probably started years ago as an Eldon Rix just-for-fun event and is now mostly a dual sport outing but only because those tend to be the folks most interested in riding that time of year. The street riding would be excellent too if someone wanted to do that.

Last   (2015) Mickey T and I could stand no more winter so we decided to join the Big Bend festivities. Most people camp on Roger's property. Good for them. Personally, I prefer walls, heat, warm showers and a comfy bed so Mickey and I opted for lodging at the 5-Star (Ha!) El Dorado hotel in Terlingua Ghost Town. It did provide the essentials, however, and it was just across the road from Roger's place so it was all good.

So, a picture blog of our trip follows. Did we have a good time? --- Oh yeah, what a great break from winter. I hope to go back again. 

After a long ride on the trailer the DR enjoys our first sunrise in west Tejas

It was pretty awesome!

Our "luxurious" accommodations at the El Dorado Hotel in Terlingua. But hey it was clean and we didn't get bedbugs :-)

The encampment at Roger's place. Most of the crew was camping here and we had breakfast and dinner here most days. Roger and Wanda got married while we were there!

Roger's back yard. The bluff in the distance is across the Rio Grande.

Day 1 - 65 miles

First day riding north west of Big Bend NP along the edge of Big Bend Ranch State Park

Mickey T. We were actually in Terlingua Ranch which is a multi-thousand acre private development originally owned by Carroll Shelby (Shelby Cobra, Shelby Mustang, etc)

Looks a little like desert, huh?

That's the Chisos Mountains and the National Park to the southeast

Good gravel roads - very little sand but some rocky sections up here north of the park

Where we came from

And where we're going

More Chisos

This was kind of hairy - lots of loose baseball sized rocks

Cool cul de sac


Meanwhile back at the Terlingua Trading Company the locals were jammin in the warm afternoon sun

While we washed down the Tejas dust with una cervesa o dos.

We got separated on the way home - here we're waiting on the rest of the crew at the Trading Company. They claimed we abandoned them just because there was muchas fria cervesa waiting at the store! Who would do such a thing?

We were riding this area the first couple of days

Cool chainsaw art

Day 2 -70 miles

Day 2 Crew

That's Brad up there. He rode Cinda's bike out of this canyon but I'm confident she could have done it herself. It actually looks worse than it was. There was a pretty solid path up through there and the traction was good.

Lunch on the edge of the park.

Dave checking out the view

Jeff messin' with modern technology. Why is there no signal??? Nice spot here.

Brad and Mickey taking a break


Jeff, Cinda and Max. Diminutive Cinda routinely left me in the sandy sections. That girl can ride!

A view over the bars. Looking almost due west here.

The parking lot at the "5 star" El Dorado. The building down below is the High Sierra bar which was a popular watering hole for the locals in the evenings.

Day 3 - 125 miles

Old Maverick Rd on the way to Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon. There's a foot path up the mountain to the right that goes out to an overlook. We didn't walk out there since we had a long day ahead of us and we were all wearing stiff motorcycle boots.

I'm standing in the Rio Grande or Rio Bravo el Norte if you're on the other side.

A view of the Rio from the Old River Road. Old River Road was in good condition although there were a few low sandy areas, particularly in the arroyos. The folks who had been here before said sometimes it's all but impassable on a bike. I actually began to get somewhat comfortable on the sand although in all fairness it was nothing like the bottomless moon dust we encountered last summer in Nevada. On a bike it's a matter of weighting the rear wheel and keeping the speed up so that the front one kind of "skates".

This is an excellent resource. Available online.

Day 5 - 170 miles!

Old Ore Road looking south. Great ride but a little rocky in places. The sun had just come out and felt great. Earlier we were getting ice on our face shields at the high altitude Panther Junction visitor center but by mid-afternoon it was well into the 60's. I was pretty comfy with my electric vest and heated grips but Mickey got cold so we stopped to warm up. There were Interesting displays in the visitor center though and on the day 3 ride through Panther Junction we rode up to the basin. Nice hotel on top and surprisingly there was a lush high altitude cedar forest on the way up.

 Interesting canyon off Old Ore Road. Old Ore Road was once a haul road for ore from the cinnabar mines near the river. Cinnabar is the raw ore from which mercury is refined.

On Saturday we ate lunch in Mexico. This is the Boquillas International Ferry - no, really, that's what it's called. The village at Boquillas has no modern infrastructure. No paved roads, only limited electricity probably from small personal generators, no water treatment facility and no landline or cellular telephone. The nearest Mexican grocery store is several hours away via 4WD roads. There is a small grocery at Rio Grande Village on the US side and there is a pay phone at the immigration station. It appears the Mexicans can come and go easily. We saw some locals bringing groceries across on the ferry (it's a 14' jon boat!) while we were eating. Even so, the little cantinas in Boquillas are reputed to have excellent food. Might be a good idea to choose the bottled water though.

There is a US Immigration station on our side and a passport is required to reenter the USA. There is no road/bridge across the river here but the local folk will happily ferry gringos across the river for $5 round trip. The older Mexican gentleman who collected our money at the top of the embankment spoke excellent English and he sang a pretty good rendition of "Cielito Lindo" (Ay Yay, Yay Yay)

My Mexican amigo. Language is no barrier when there's beef jerky, ear scratching and tail wagging involved.

Mickey in Mexico. Boquillas village is about a mile away behind him.

And Jim in Mexico. Note the horseback rider behind me to the right. Transportation!

The hombres at the crossing would rent the burros for the short ride into to town or you could buy a ride in the back of an old Ford pickup.We didn't go into the village but instead just ate our standard "trail" lunch of energy bars, beef jerky and nuts sitting on the bank of the river. They like US currency here!

This formation is called the Mules Ears in the US publications and visitor centers. The Mexicans call it chichis de la bruja. Yeah, you can look that up :-)