Big Bend and Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico
Wake up. Get dressed. Go to work. Implement health IT. Commute home. Kiss my lovely wife. Sleep. Repeat…
Understand I’m not complaining. I feel I have a wonderful life. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful wife and children, a comfortable home and an interesting career. But, it can still add up to stress and pressure over time. What’s one of the best medicines? A ride, of course…
Leonard and Herman had been working on the spring ride down to Big Bend. I figured it would be good to get out with the club. I signed up on our web site and did not think much else about it. Charlie dropped me a line and said he had a room. Deal. I like traveling with Charlie. He’s low pressure and always has a smile and a good attitude to share. He already had a booking at the Indian Lodge in the Davis Mountains.
Additional to the always-enjoyable Big Bend country, I also wanted to go into Mexico now that Boquillas Crossing is open again. It was quietly opened last April, and the village is nothing like the busy and dangerous border towns at the major highway border crossings. There is no vehicle traffic allowed across the river. One must either wade the Rio Grande, or take advantage of the Mexican ferry service in a row boat.
March 20, 2014
Thursday morning was cold, but I was ready to ride. Pressures keep mounting at work, and we were right in the middle of turning up a new patient monitoring system. But, my team was handling everything well, and me leaving did not make a big difference. The time away would help refresh me for the next big thing at work.
I left the metromess early before traffic became an issue. The open road immediately began its therapy.
Commencing decompression sequence…
I left from the Hitchin’ Post a bit early to try to catch up with Charlie. As I was riding west on I-10, I started messing with the GPS to see what roads were ahead. I recognized a nice twisty road that led down to Hwy 2400 and on to Sanderson. I split quickly off of the 80 mph interstate onto the quite twisty two-lane.
Decompression sequence status: Pressure continuing to drop…
As I dropped into the canyon onto Hwy 2400, I experience more and more the wide-open country of the Big Bend. These are roads where one can travel 20 to 30 minutes without seeing another vehicle. That might put some folks on edge, but I like it, especially after living and dealing daily with the big city. I picked up the pace a bit with the quiet roads and open spaces.
I pulled into Sanderson for fuel, and talked briefly with another BMW rider from Phoenix who was making his way to San Antonio for a visit with his daughter. I continued west on Hwy 90 (that’s actually the speed limit, I think…).
The country seemed to get bigger and bigger. Distances are deceiving out here. I rode into Marathon and waved to folks lounging at the Gage Hotel. I rang my New Belgium bicycle bell to a lassie riding in the opposite direction. She obviously did not expect that sound to emanate from a motorcycle. I followed a border patrol truck out of town.
Decompression sequence status: Pressure is very low…
I headed into Alpine and turned off of Hwy 90 towards Fort Davis. The landscape around Alpine is a joy to experience. The dry grass glows in the afternoon sun. The temperature was pleasant now. I wound my way through the granite hills and continued riding to Fort Davis.
Decompression sequence status: Pressure approaching zero…
The afternoon sun was painting the desert grass a warm orange as I rode past the Aermotor windmill. I could see the town of Fort Davis in the distance. The hours of riding took its toll on my weary body. The lodge would be a welcome site now.
Decompression sequence status: There is a total lack of pressure at this point…
The lodge is still nice since the last time Deb and I stayed here. The CCC did a wonderful job in the 1930’s building a sturdy and attractive lodge here in the Davis Mountains. I checked in and met Charlie upstairs in the original building very near the same room that Deb and I stayed in over 20 years ago. There are large exposed pine timbers in the room supporting the ceiling and roof. The walls are constructed of large adobe blocks.
Patios outside of the rooms are very nice for relaxing with friends and offer a nice view of the valley below. It was good to be back in the lodge. Charlie’s long-time friends, Bob and Pat were already visiting on the patio. We went down for a tasty dinner with the rest of the club.
I did not set an alarm to awake to. I wanted the low pressure zone to persist. Had a good breakfast and did not have a plan. Mission accomplished so far. Charlie went out exploring with Bob and Pat. I put on my hiking gear and started climbing the rocky hill outside of the lodge. It took 30 minutes to get to the top. The wind was brisk, but the temperature was just fine for a hike. I wandered around the hills for the next couple of hours.
I finally mounted Katrina in the afternoon and rode slowly through the park and up to the overlook. The view was nice. I saw a long line of motos approaching from the south. Very likely it was Leonard and the bulk of the club returning from their ride.
I met Leonard and many of the cub riders at the entrance of the park while I was heading into town for a snack.
I searched for a nice yucca bloom for Rachel’s birthday. I found one in the hills and had to fight my way through vicious thorns to get close for a photo. Once the bloom was captured in my Blackberry, I had to ride back into Fort Davis to get a cell signal to transmit the birthday Yucca bouquet post to her.
The afternoon was nice for more extreme low-pressure laziness. We sat on the patio and visited. Nice setting for doing very little.
The club gathered for a group photo before the gathering for a feast. We made our way back into the lodge for a tasty dinner. I slept well.
March 22, 2014
I had a quest for today. I wanted to ride the River Road into Big Bend and straight to Boquillas Crossing for a trip across the Rio Grande into Mexico. The River Road was both exhilarating and a little spooky at times.
I rode past the Chiso Mountains and arrived at Boquillas Crossing about 10:30. I packed up my battle suit of road armor and got into more comfortable shorts and shirts for walking. Inside the Port of Entry, the US official made sure my passport was not expired so my return to the States would not be a problem.
I walked the path down to the river where I heard a talented voice singing to me from across the water. I found later this was Victor Valdez, who serenades the visitors as they make their way down to the row boat for a ferry across the Rio Grande.
Victor introduced me to Chuy, who would be my guide through the village. I mounted my white donkey for the ride up the hill to Boquillas. The countryside looked dry and harsh, but the people on the riverfront were very friendly and happy. There was evidence of torrents of water crashing through the low arroyos, but for now, dust kicked up as we meandered the trail.
I saw power lines heading into the village and remembered years back when these were being constructed. Chuy walked along my donkey and kept him moving forward. We climbed the final short hill up to the immigration office, which consisted of a portable trailer with a generator running outside. I wondered a bit about the generator. The Mexican official looked over my passport and worked with the scanner several times to get it to take my info. He was a young man with sleek sunglasses atop his trim haircut. He spoke to me in English, and wished me a good visit.
Once I had my visa, Chuy walked with me and showed me the short length of the village. Every road in Boquillas del Carmen was dusty white dirt throughout. Dogs wandered about the village without any obvious owners. Young children ran out to me with cardboard platters of beaded bracelets. I purchased a copper-wire scorpion from a friendly family at the end of the village.
We walked back to Jose Falcon’s restaurant so I could enjoy some cervezas fria and tasty tacos. Lilia Falcon greeted me and told me her restaurant was the oldest in town and built by her father. I asked Lilia to get a soda for Chuy, who sat a short distance away from me while I took in the sounds and sights of the village.
One of the first things I noticed as we entered the village was music. As we passed by each brightly-painted small dwelling, I could hear various latino songs playing. Behind me on the patio was an older gent with a guitar. He tuned his guitar and started playing and singing. After his entertainment, a small white car slowly drove through the village with a speaker playing music outside of the car to the Boquillas residents.
The well-dressed Bernado Rodeo checked on me. I questioned when electricity was established in the village. Bernado looked a bit puzzled and explained to me that that it was this year. Now I was confused as I thought they had power for years. But he said that the governor had promised once again to turn on the power this year. Maybe the border crossing being open once again and the resulting income from Park visitors will help the village pay for the electricity.
For now, Bernado said they are using solar power to charge 48 6-volt batteries for the freezer and refrigerator in the restaurant. They are the only place in town that can keep meat and cheese from spoiling. Considering the few possessions the residents of Boquillas have, they seem happy and are very pleasant.
I enjoyed the Pacificos and spoke a bit more with Bernado. I asked him if he had any tequila that I could not get in the USA. He said he had some sotol. I did not recognize the term, but now know that it is a distilled spirit with deep roots with the Chihuahuan Indians 800 years back. He said it was made in Durango, so I knew it was not true tequila since all tequilas were made in Jalisco. I asked him for a shot. It was smooth and tasty. There were bits of something floating around in the bottle of Aguila Real. Gotta roll with it… He asked me if I wanted more, and I replied that if I did, I would not be riding for a while.
Chuy and I walked back to my donkey after stopping by the immigration trailer, and went back down the hill to the Rio Grande mud – (there’s a song about that…). A wild turkey crossed the path in front of us. Chuy walked alongside me keeping the lazy donkey moving forward. I had mixed feelings as we approached the river. I would like to return here again and bring Debbie to experience the village. I said my goodbyes to Victor and was rowed across the river back into the homeland.
I followed the trail up to the port of entry building and was greeted by USA immigration. After inspecting my passport, she instructed me to stand in front of a kiosk camera and I spoke with El Paso Customs. They asked me if I had anything to declare, and I held up my copper-wire scorpion. There was a brief pause, and they said thank you and bye. I walked out with my scorpion and back to my exciting German mistress, Katrina.
After donning the road warrior battle gear, I rode north through Big Bend towards Marathon. I wanted to post my photos from my Mexican excursion, so I kept my eye watching for a cell signal. I never saw cell coverage until 90 miles north of the border in Marathon. I pulled off to the side of the road and posted my river crossing, donkey ride and the stop for lunch at Falcon’s in Boquillas.
The temperature dropped a bit in the late afternoon as I neared Fort Stockton. The bulk of the club was to stay here overnight, but I wanted to get closer to home for a short ride on Sunday. The West Texas sunset in my mirror treated me to a beautiful light show. I rode into the evening to my favorite motel (Classic Inn) in Early, pondering the contrast of my life to those in Boquillas.