Lone Star BMW Riders Big Bend Trip

March 7, 2008

The early ride south out of Abilene Friday morning was a chilly one, but the sunny sky was a welcome change from the previous day’s snow.  My right big toe was getting numb in the cold shade of the K75S as I rode to meet the club.  Many of the riders left Thursday from the Dallas are in the peak of the seven-inch snowstorm to rendezvous in Brownwood before the Friday morning group departure.  One of our riders even crashed Thursday in a low-side and slid through the slush into a bar ditch near Weatherford.  He was OK with some sore ribs and continued the ride.  My plan was to meet the pack of riders at Menard in route after leaving Debbie in Abilene to visit her mom.  It turned out to be a good plan since I did not have to tackle the snow on two wheels.

Once I joined the group led by Bo Griffin, we rode together through some small roads on the way to the Mexican border. Along the way, we stopped at Fort McKavett for a quick break. The general store there was filled with interesting relics.


Pete has been watching over the store for nearly 20 years.

Not really sure why anyone would consider diving from this bridge!

We moved on towards Amistad Reservoir and the Pecos High Bridge. Bo had arranged for a lunch stop near the bridge, but we could not find Easy’s place. It turned out that Easy’s place was around 50 miles out of the way.  So the next quest was to find fuel for our riders that did not have big tanks. A State Trooper stopped by to see what the gathering was about. He confirmed that Langtry had some fuel. The fuel stations are far apart in this part of the country.

The ride west on Hwy 90 was a swift one at times with few obstacles to worry about. I was wondering if the highway sign was actually the speed limit.

We stopped in Sanderson at an oasis of a restaurant.  The wait staff was very friendly and the food very good.  But, we were starving at this point.

The mountains started appearing on the horizon as we made our way to Marathon. Their varied shade of purple in the distance was a pleasing sight and made the ride so enjoyable.

After fueling in Marathon, we turned south towards Big Bend. 

We slowed down for the 45 mph speed limit in the park, and took in the sights.

The hills continued to grow higher until we could see the Chisos Mountains in the center of the Park.  Javelina were loitering on the sides of the roads in the park and demanded attention to avoid.


I dropped back a bit to snap some shots of the waning light on the mountains and desert floor.

The sunset was an obvious quest, and oh so difficult to capture in the camera.

In Study Butte, I met up with our riders at the Big Bend Motel. Our rooms were at the top of a hill and the whole building looked like it was ready to slide down that hill. Study Butte is an interesting place, with some residents that appear to be still living the hippie life.

Some of us had dinner at La Kiva, which was an interesting dive. We walked down into the restaurant as if entering a mine shaft. There were massive chunks of wood that made up the tables in the place, along with large tree burls that were carved into chairs. Service wasn’t too great, but the company of our riders made up for the time waiting for food.

March 8, 2008

Saturday morning, the majority of the group went to Lajitas for breakfast. I turned back towards Big Bend to make a ride up to the Chisos Basin for photos.

The morning ride up the twisty road to the Basin was a treat. I ran into a group of riders from Austin at the Basin that I would continue to see throughout the day in the park, along the River Road, at McDonald Observatory, and finally at Fort Davis.


I made my way out of the park and on through Terlingua.  This ghost town now coming back to some extent was made up of more interesting folks from the region.  A traveling gypsy-like circus bus was parked in the center of the town.
There are many ruins left from the mining days of past.  The deep blue sky was a contrast to the stone walls left from the buildings.

The River Road (Hwy 170) starts from this area going through Lajitas and follows the Rio Grande very closely winding up and down steep hills.  The road would pitch me up and very quickly change directions demanding attention to avoid an undesired event.

<— United States             Mexico —>

I stopped several times along the River to shoot some images and listen to nothing.
A bighorn sheep wandered across the highway at one stop and carefully picked his way up the massive boulder-strewn hillside.  



Elke (my German mistress) found her way down a short stretch of dirt until the ruts in the road said no more.  I parked the bike and continued walking back into the desert towards some very tall hills with tinges of greenish-blue tints likely containing copper.  The Ocotillo was just starting to bloom with their red tips on the end of dead-looking stalks.  A couple of weeks more and the blooms would be a very vivid red attracting hummingbirds and bees.

Arriving in Presidio, my stomach was growling.  I stopped at a store for fuel where the locals were grilling up some very tasty burgers.

After the burger and a cold drink, my ride continued past the Mexican border and up Hwy 67 and 17 through some very enjoyable high-speed sweepers towards the Davis Mountains.

Old Church at Shafter

Joe making his way through Marfa towards the Fort Davis rendezvous.



I met up with the rest of the group at the motel, had a cold drink and quickly headed up the mountains for a quick visit to McDonald Observatory.

The clouds were gathering quickly, light fading just as quick, and the temperature accordingly.  A couple of deer were hanging out on the side of the road as I left the observatory grounds.  They did not look too intimidated by me in my gear on the bike.

By the time I arrived back in Fort Davis, the majority of the club was already at the Mexican food restaurant waiting for their orders.  I wanted a cold brew, but they did not serve any libations, and pointed my across the highway to the local brew dealer.  I ran across the road, picked up my evening treat, and enjoyed it along with the tasty meal.

March 9, 2008

The next morning was a chilly 29 degrees at the motel, and as I left for the return ride to Abilene, the temperature dropped to 22 before Wild Rose Pass.
The temperature rose quickly towards 60 degrees at Balmorhea, and then slowly dropped back into the 40’s before San Angelo.
The ride back to Abilene was great weather and the roads south of San Angelo on into Abilene were relaxing.

  Barnhart, TX

Elke celebrated her 50,000 mile birthday literally as I pulled into the last turn before seeing Debbie ready to greet me in the driveway.


  So, I left my German mistress for my lovely wife, and gave Deb a big hug and kiss.  The weekend trip through the Texas southwest logged 1,010 miles through some rugged and beautiful country.  Can’t wait to do it again!

Photos   https://photos.app.goo.gl/nWmKuiS1wTEt8dEK6

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7 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    Richard, The pictures are beautiful, and commentary make me feel like I am there. I think tho, my favorite one is the last one of you safe and sound with Debbie. Your Conservative Auntie, Nancy

  2. Ronman says:

    Great blog my friend. I really loved all the photographs. I need to look around your sight and see if you tell what camera you are using. The shots from the bike are a great touch. I’m not comfortable enough to try and take shots going down the road myself though.

    Ride Safe


  3. Richard Swim says:

    Thanks for the compliment.  I use a Canon A85 point-and-shoot tucked in my jacket for most quick shots.  And… I don’t advocate shooting while riding.  I only do it when there aren’t obstacles or turns to negotiate.  I recently started using an Olympus E-410 digital SLR for some off-bike shots.

  4. Your ride stories and pictures are just what I need to see as my scooter sits in the garage. The last brief snowfall sort of took the wind out of my riding sails though I will ride to work tomorrow.

    I look forward to following your adventures. The landscape is so different that what I see here!

    And welcome to MBI!

    Steve Williams
    Scooter”>http://vespalx150.blogspot.com“>Scooter in the Sticks

  5. Richard Swim says:

    Thanks much!  I’m sure the warm weather will be heading your way soon, about the time the hot weather hits down here.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    You have a great eye for photography! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Richard Swim says:

    Thanks very much for the kind words.