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Marfa, Shafter, Texas

Day 64 Amazing ride with a mysterious side

Here is a poem about my camcorder, which I’ve named Ojo. That’s pronounced oh-ho and it means, eye, in Spanish. After the day it’s given me, I should have named it Oh No.

In the morning when I wake. It is cold and you shake.

You shake and shiver and always quiver. I drink more and ruin my liver.

Your favorite form of flattery. Showing off your dead battery.

There’s a picture I must take. You go on lunch break.

Lovely trails with trees and rocks. Your pictures are bad, like my socks.

I seek terrain and great shots. You seek blurry pics with lots of spots.

Night falls and it’s not rainy. All of your efforts make my pictures grainy.

Morning came and it was fantastic! Cascading fog flowed over the peaks of the Chisos mountains like an ancient river of lava. I ran for Ojo the camera. This was going to be some great video footage to put on the blog. I mean, this fog was on the move. I haven’t seen it so forceful since that evening on Mt. Pisgah. Camera in hand, I went to turn it on and NOTHING. I knew for sure that the battery wasn’t dead because I just charged it. This was one of the latest tricks learned by my little electronic friend. I’m not sure where he learned to play opossum, but he had it down. No matter what I tried, no response. I plugged the charger in. I cleaned everything. I took the battery out and reinstalled it, still nada. The fog was fading fast and I was cursing up a storm. Plan B kicked in and just before it faded away, I whipped out the cell phone and snapped a few low quality pics. My day was doomed to be a cell phone pic only day. Nooooo! I could throw in a double NO because the plan was to ride west along River Road 170west to Presidio TX. This stretch of road was recently named one of the best roads to ride a bike on by some big, popular motorcycle magazine. More than a few people told me that while staying in Big Bend.

Soon my panic attack was over and camp was all packed up. I wanted to grab some coffee at the basin restaurant before heading out. A very short ride up the hill and I was there. As soon as I parked, a crowd formed on the sidewalk and everyone was staring at the little black bear that just stole a bag of trash and darted for the bushes. I didn’t get to see the bear at that point, but I could hear him up there tearing that plastic to shreds. After a couple of minutes  lurking outside, waiting for a glimpse, I went in to get some coffee. While sitting there drinking the cup of joe and eating some biscuits and gravy, the juvenile black  bear made his way around the restaurant and onto a hill right in front of the lookout windows in the restaurant. Everyone sitting down for breakfast had a chance to see the little guy before they left. He must have found what he was looking for in that trash bag. I think it put him in a food coma. He took a nap right there on the hill and remained motionless until I left.

Finally it was time to say farewell to this surprisingly good national park. One more trip past the ghost town of Terlingua and then all of the roads were new to me again. The stretch of 170west to Presidio is 67 miles long and stays tight to the Mexican border the whole time while crossing through Big Bend Ranch State Park.  In 67 miles I only saw 4 cars on the road and two of them were border patrol SUV’s. Whoever designated that road as a great motorcycle road hit the nail on the head. I must have stopped thirty times to take pictures. The Rio Grande is a snake-like oasis in the middle of a giant brown moonscape and the green vegetation just stands out tremendously. I wish, wish, wish I had a good camera on me for that ride. To be honest, the Mexican side of the river was twice as dramatic looking. Our side, although quite nice, looked like a massive rock quarry most of the time and the Mexican side was full of legit mountain ranges. They may be lacking in resources, but they are not lacking in scenery. While driving through an undeveloped area like this, with no real fences, the thought that one side of the river is Mexico and the other Texas, just don’t seem important. It all blends together like one region instead of two countries. My little trek through paradise ended in Presidio TX were I fueled up and turned north toward Marfa TX. That’s when it got cold. About ten miles out of Presidio, I had to put my winter gloves on. The sky turned a very unwelcoming grey and the wind picked up dramatically. I can’t say too much about the ride north other than that the terrain is just empty looking. One large ranch after another full of yellow grass, cacti, and shrubs. In the 59 mile ride north to Marfa only two things grabbed my attention. One was a large big horn sheep or ram or something (he was to quick on the draw and I couldn’t get the cell phone out fast enough for a pic) and the other was Shafter Ghost Town. Shafter has a bunch of ruins and an eery looking white church. Not much else to say about the ride to Marfa. Marfa itself, on the other hand, is quite the town. Years ago a film called Giant, starring Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, was filmed here and Marfa is home to a strange light phenomena called the “Marfa Lights”. My mission for the very cold evening was to go check out the mysterious lights. I found a room east of town at the Riata Inn motel. The lights were 8 miles east of that. I checked in and rode a ridiculously cold ride to the lookout area. While there it was pitch black and in the distance I noticed one steady white light a blinking red light and four orangish lights that I thought was  a town in the distance. I stood around for a half hour waiting for something wild to happen. Finally some locals stopped in and filled me in on what was going on. The Marfa lights were the little orange lights way off in the distance that I’d been ignoring for the past half hour. Once I found that, out I gave them my full attention. They did disappear and reappear. They did seem to flicker. They always seemed stationary though. I left feeling a bit let down by the tiny, tiny lights in the black distance. I did some research back at the room and read a few articles that tend to lean toward the lights being car headlights on route 67 north. (the road I took to get to Marfa) I could see that as plausible. I guess the Mythbusters should do a show about them. The kicker about the lights is that they were first documented in 1883, way before cars were traveling this area. The mystery continues…..

About mikekrabal

I'm a fella who finally let the inner traveler come out. A non-standard sort.


4 thoughts on “Day 64 Amazing ride with a mysterious side

  1. I’m sorry about the bad camcorder advice, bro. Totally my fault. Tried to find you something that was affordable and had good features, but the plan backfired. I should have manned up and given you my tried-and-true Canon HF-S100 or sugggested something that has been proven in the field. I guess when you try something in the store, it means nothing about how it will handle out in the real world. You made a great choice on the T2i and now that i’ve been folowing your blog i realized that you really needed a good photo camera that could function as a decent camcorder, and not the other way around. Im glad you’ve been abale to pull some stunning photos with the limitations you had though. im sure the rest of the trip will look picture perfect, and dont forget to shoot a video clip every once in a while, ok? We’ll put together a bad-ass video for you when you get back. Peace out and remember that it is worth the extra five minutes to pull over and get your best shot of whatever amazing place you are passing. We are all watching and living this trip through your stories and photographs.

    Posted by igordmitry | December 19, 2011, 11:21 pm
    • No worries about the camcorder man. It has been tested to the limit. I have taken thousands of pics with it. I think what started doing it in, was the cold weather. There was no way of knowing how it would react to the cold while you were checking it out in a 73 degree best buy store and I had no idea it would be so cold this far south. Not your fault at all man and I would never hold it against you bro. It has captured some great memories and will be used again I’m sure. I can’t lie though, I am in love with this new canon. When I hold it, I feel like a mechanic with the right tool in his hand or a musician with a finely tuned guitar. I have quiet a bit of video uploaded to my laptop. Just don’t have it transferred to my U-tube account yet. Sometimes it takes hours just to upload one 3 minute video. I think it’s because of filming in high-def and poor internet connections. I need a name for my new camera. Any suggestions?

      Posted by mikekrabal | December 20, 2011, 10:42 am
      • Yeah that HD video will really hog the internet bandwith. it’ll be even worse with the T2i because it camputres more inormation per second and does not compress it as much. Just keep it on your harddrive and wait until you return or until i get there with a hard drive an copy it from you. Right tool is always good to have and i think you’ll be happy with the t2i. Naming is very personal and I’m not tall that creative in that particular sphere, i just call them by the name the manufacturer gave them at birth 🙂

        Posted by igordmitry | December 21, 2011, 1:24 am
      • Oh yeah one more thing i forgot to mention, try turning off the Image Stbililisation feature next time your cam is shaking, I think that may be the culprit, the little gyro that hums inside you cam to make your footage nice and steady. Lil Samsung is no T2i, but it is still good for time lapse footage or for video recording when you need auto focus and a zoom fnctions (think about things far away or things that move doo darn fast). The sensor in t2i is at least five times larger than that’s in your camcorder, and the lens allows for a lot more light to get though, so in the dark or in for a large-resolution still pictures that’s the way to go. Just like a screwdriver vs an impact gun, use the right tool for the job and you’ll be golden!

        Posted by igordmitry | December 21, 2011, 1:37 am

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About Me

My name's Mike Krabal and I am from Jefferson County WV. I'm a thirty year old guy who still believes that you can be anything you want to be. I'm on a mission to find out exactly what that is.

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