Big Bend greeted me with a cold clear morning after my first nights camp at the park. Another bird also greeted me as I was making coffee and grabbing a bite to eat. This feathered foul friend was a road runner like the ones from the cartoons. He scoped me out for a bit hoping that I would drop a few crumbs off of my bagel. Little did he know, I was on to his strategy and no crumbs were spared. Besides, who wants to get a fine for feeding the animals? The park is also full of these wild pigs known as Javalina. (hav-a-leen-a) The evening before the camp host told me that they’ve worked really hard to keep the new group of Javalina away from human food. I’m not sure of the fate of the old group and I don’t think I want to know. I finished breakfast and made my way up to the camp store for some wi-fi. While I wrote up a post two road runners made laps around the parking lot looking for handouts like two true seasoned panhandlers. Other than taking pics of them, I tried to igonore their persistent begging. They even eyed up the Goose. Before I left a British fella came over who was currently working in San Antonio and living in Vancouver. We talked travel and he asked if I saw that motorbike movie with Ewan McGregor in it. I said “Man, I watched that thing twice. Movies like that make people like me do crazy things like this”. At least it’s not my fault, I can always blame my actions on Ewan McGregor. Anyway, he and I chatted a bit more and he headed off to San Antone.
My plan for the day was to stay off the bike and explore what was closest to the camp first. Right to the south of camp is a ridge with a 3/4 mile loop and an absolutly stunning view of the Rio Grande and the Sierra Del Carmen mountains of Mexico. I was very apprehensive about going so close to the border. A few people from camp assured me that there was nothing to worry about and that I’d be fine. These were folks who have been there and done that, so I felt that their advice was solid. They did say that Mexican vendors would be set up along the path. That had me a bit nervous. Surprisingly, the vendors aren’t actually sitting on the path. They just make a bunch of crafts across the river and, at some point, stack them in strategic positions along the hike. They also leave little hand written notes asking for donations. Signs along the path strictly warn not to buy any of the illegal merchandise. The penalties are confiscation and prosecution. I stopped at a few of the vending sites to read the notes, but didn’t buy anything. Once I finally made it on top of the ridge, my breath was taken right from my lungs. Without a doubt, I’ve never seen a view like that one. From my couple hundred foot perch you stare straight at the 6,000 foot high Sierra Del Carmen mountains a half mile away. The cliffs rise a few thousand feet and overlook the tiny Mexican village of Buquillas. I can’t believe views like this even exist. No man could create a work of art up to the standards of what mother nature did here. West Virginia has a few spots that are nice, but nothing like this. I chilled out on that ridge for a few hours and came down just before dark. I wanted to make some dinner and stay up and do some star gazing. The skies down here are renowned for lacking light pollution and putting on a spectacular show. I put the Goose on the center stand and my sleeping bag on the seat and layed back against the trunk. A few stars pierced the darkness until the pesky clouds came in and destroyed my moment of zen. After that it was time to hit the sack.
Day 60. Sometime just before dawn, someones yappy dogs woke me up while mindlessly barking for about a solid half hour. I’m camping at the, no generator, section of the park and I wish it was the no yappy dog section also. I’d take a five horsepower generator beside my tent anyday before listening to two overly excited mutts yap at the absolute silence. They would stop for 20 seconds and then one would make a squeak and that would send the other one into a frenzy and five minutes later they would finally calm down. I was a milisecond away from walking over to the other campsites and spraying both of those bitches with bear spray. At least it would give them something to yap about. Speaking of peace and quiet. The desert out here is 100% quiet this time of year. No crickets, no tree frogs, no spider monkeys, no nothing. Just silence. It is unreal. It’s kind of hard to sleep at night without some sort of ambient noise. My thoughts have never been so loud. At night I can hear a conversation from 150 feet away pretty clearly. It’s a wild experience.
The sun came up a few hours later and the coffee and bagel routine happened again, although I wasn’t joined by any birds this time. My plan for the day was to visit Terlingua Ghost Town about 50 miles away and just outside the parks boundaries. Before I took off a fellow rider named Don, from Washington state, stopped by my site to say hello. He and his wife are permanent RVers and like me they recently sold their house. When I asked if he liked living like that better he quickly responded yes. He gave me some advice about a few of the parks features and we talked a bit about bikes and our similar hobbies. He is a Goldwing guy and I told him how I wanted to do the trip on one, but didn’t have the money. He headed back to his site and I was off for my daily adventure. The ride out of Rio Grande Village started off great. 20 miles into it, at the foot hills of the parks highest peaks, it turned into the thickest fog I’d ever seen. Everything was covered. My face shield didn’t stand a chance. I kept on though and once I made it to a lower elevation everything was fine again. The ride just turned amazing after that, all the way to Terlingua. Terlingua is the remnants of an old mining town and now it makes its fame from being a hot spot to stop and grab some nice pics and a place to stay while traveling Texas’s big open country. A while back a guy at Huaco Springs campground told me about a porch that I had to sit on once I made it to Terlingua. I found what he was talking about at the Terlingua trading post. The view from the porch is stunning. Huge mountains touch the sky as far as the eye can see. As hard as I tried I couldn’t make my camera tell the story of what I was seeing. You’ll just have to come here and see for your self. Down the street, there is a place called the Ghost Town Saloon. They only serve breakfast there. I ordered a 10″ breakfast burrito (best one ever) and met a fellow named Steve who is currently living in the area. He pulled up on his Suzuki V-strom 650. Steve and I would go on to hang out the rest of the afternoon. He was an Vietnam Vet and a hell of a good guy. He gave me some priceless advice about getting the bike fixed on the road. We made our way up to the famous porch again and hung out with some other locals until it was time to head back 50 miles to camp. I plan to stop in Terlingua on my way out of the park in a week and I’m gonna look for Steve again. The ride back to camp was phenomenal. For the first time since I’ve been here, Emery Peak, the parks highest mountain, showed her face. Once again it was just unreal. 7,835 feet high. I was loving it.