Sunday, May 31, 2009


Big Bend Fall of 2007

Uncle Fester and I decided it was time to see Big Bend in the Fall of the year so we talked Ice Man into joining us and headed out on Thursday October 25th for a four day round trip ride. This was the first time I had seen Ice Man riding solo. His better half had to work, but this didn't keep IM from going! One thing I like about he and his wife is they are always ready to ride...

We were making good time heading to Marathon via Del Rio. We made a short stop in Del Rio to gas up and get a drink. I was suiting up to resume our ride when I looked down to see a pool of Texas Tea, Black Gold, Bubbling Crude under my ride. Unlike the Beverly Hillbillies, I was not jumping for joy. I initially tried to explain it away by saying that the last guy left this behind, but as I watched the pool grow I realized that I was that guy. We all looked at each other in disbelief, knowing that this was not a good way to start a four day trip and wondering what to do next. As we were standing there scratching our heads, a local walked up to admire the bikes. I asked him if there was anyone in Del Rio that could perform first aid on a Harley, not really expecting him to be able to help. Surprisingly, he knew just where to go.

There is a true chop shop just as you come into Del Rio on Hwy 90 staffed by tattooed mechanics. They had the gasket sets and the mechanic was willing to work late to try and plug the leak (by now it was about 3PM). At about 7Pm they finished with the surgery and told us we could put the patient on the road. We put on our gear and prepared to head out when Ice Man let out an "I can't believe this"!!! Seems that he left his headlights on and his battery was dead as a stump. I thought Uncle Fester was going to jump off his bike and strangle IM. Of course I couldn't say a word as we had already spent about four hours sitting around the shop waiting on my bike repairs. You probably would think, no problem, how long can it take to jump start a bike? Well it took about an hour. Twenty minutes to get the seat of and jump start the bike. Another forty minutes to get the seat back on. I watched as three guys tried for forty minutes to get two bolts in place.

By now it was close to 9PM and we had another 175 miles to go before arriving in Marathon. It was hot riding through the day, so riding at night might be a plus... Well, there were a whole lot more negatives than this one plus. The problem with riding in West Texas at night is the night creatures come out in force. No, I'm not talking about the drunks. These are a lot worse. The deer, coyote, skunks, pigs, etc. all like to come out after the sun goes down, and you can't see them until you're on top of them. Hitting one of these a full speed is not something you want to do if you can possibly avoid it. Someone might ask why we didn't just spend the night in Del Rio and continue our journey the next day. The answer to that is easy... we are guys. We didn't want to pay for two hotel rooms and we are not afraid of anything (at least that we will admit to one another).

Once all three bikes were running we mounted up and headed on to Marathon at 45 mph. Even at the posted speed limit of 75 mph and riding during the daytime where you can look at the scenery, the run from Del Rio to Marathon can get tedious. When your doing it in the dark at 45 mph and the truckers are running up on you doing 80 mph and the herds of deer are staring at you from the side of the road, the run gets realllllyyyy long. Uncle Fester and Ice Man were glad at this stage of the trip that they were not riding "point". They hung back hoping that if I went down they would have time to stop without hitting whatever took me down. Figuring that the only defense I had against the wild life was my headlights and making noise, I decided to sound my air horn every fifteen seconds. Let's see... 175 miles at 45 mph, sounding the air horn every fifteen seconds... that comes to about 930 blasts of the horn. The other two later told me that they would have cut the wires to my horn if I would have pulled over. I guess my plan worked because we managed to avoid making road kill. That being said, I think Uncle Fester puckered up one time along the way. We were rounding a curve near Marathon and off to the side I saw a black cat with a white strip getting ready to cross the road. Not wanting to run over the little fellow, I honked loud and long to warn it to turn around. Well it worked. As I roared by I saw the little fellow turn around and raise its tail to thank me for not running it over. Uncle Fester has a different story to tell, but this is the way I saw it...

We arrived at the Marathon RV and Cabin park at about 1AM Friday. The owner had long sense gone to bed but left the keys to our rooms in an envelope by the door to the office. Hooray, we had made it and could now go to bed... Not so fast - where were the rooms? The map on the office door showed where one of the rooms was located but did not show the other room. We wandered around the RV grounds for about 45 minutes with one flashlight, trying to find the one missing room. To this day I don't know how we managed to avoid being shot for prowlers. IM finally worked up enough courage, or just didn't care anymore if he got shot, and walked up a flight of stairs to the one place that did not have a room number. He tried the key in the door and walked victoriously into his room.

The next morning was beautiful. It was rather cool, but the sky was clear. We were slow getting up and going since we were still recovering from the events of the day (night, morning) of the day before. We ate some great taquitos at the little cafe' in the park, and lounged around to give the sun time to warm things up. I think it was about 11 AM when we finally headed into Big Bend park.

When we planned this trip UF and I thought it would be fun to take a new route and ride the "river road" that runs along the US/Mexican border from Terlingua to Presidio. We were right. It was like riding a roller coaster on Harleys, only the ride lasted a lot longer. It was a good thing IM was riding solo this time. We arrived in Fort Davis just as the sun was setting, and lodged at a quaint old hotel called the Limpia Inn. I highly recommend this place if you are looking for relaxing accommodations.

If you've followed this story closely, you will notice that up to this point we never really had a chance to eat a good lunch or dinner. Well that all changed this night. We dined at the Hotel's restaurant which turned out to be an excellent establishment. I should say that UF and I dinned. IM was too tired to drag himself to the restaurant and promptly went to his room to crash. Maybe that's why he's so thin and UF and I are... The food and service were fantastic, and with some prodding UF was introduced to Buttermilk pie (now one of his favorite desserts).

Saturday we got up an rode to Llano, TX the home of Cooper's BBQ. The three of us had been drooling for three day in anticipation of eating at Coopers! This leg of the trip was uneventful, except for IM getting beat to death by his chaps and jacket fringe. See, IM doesn't have a windshield on his bike. We've been trying for years to talk him into upgrading to a long hauler instead of something "stylish". This may be the trip that pushes him over the edge... Cooper's lived up to it's reputation. After eating half a cow and a quarter of a pig, we waddled to our rooms and slept like babies.

Sunday is always the longest day because we know the that fun is coming to an end. To make matters worse, when I got up Sunday morning I notice a new pool of oil under my RK. Seems that the repair job was not up to par. We decided that the leak was slow enough that we could head out but keep an eye on the oil level. By the time we reached Gonzales, I noticed that the leak was no longer a drip but more like a dribble... Here it was, Sunday afternoon in Gonzales, Texas and your Harley is leaking. What are the odds that you can find anyone open who can help. Fortunately, an owner of an auto repair shop answered his phone and said that he had some gasket material. He was not open for business but since he was in the shop doing some work he would help us out. He gave us the gasket material and UF and I used his pocket knife to cut a new gasket for the transmission inspection cover. This slowed the leak enough that we could make it the rest of the way home.

Due to the field repairs we once again arrived home after dark, but at least we didn't have to fight the deer... just the motorists.

I tried twice to repair the leak, on my own, and finally took the bike to a great mechanic who repaired it. FYI, it took him two tries also, but he succeeded.

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