Three hundred forty kilometers this morning at temperatures of 37 degrees celsius and higher, it was a pleasant but hot ride.
Ricardo and I are back at my home on Baffin Bay. Now the fun starts, planning our next adventure. I am still interested in riding Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatan of Mexico.
Sunday morning in the Texas hills, cool and clear and the bikes are running perfectly. Ricardo and I are off to areas I have been riding for years. First, 25 miles to Fredericksburg, the quaint German city that draws tourists from all of Texas and beyond. Fredericksburg, with buildings being constructed mostly from pink granite which is mined locally. Fredericksburg, a city of great German food and beer.
Then the bikes lunged some 25 miles away to the Enchanted Rock Natural Area. Enchanted Rock, a solid mountain of round smooth granite rising over 450 feet from the ground floor and covering almost 600 acres. A beautiful natural sight. Then we were off to ride the Willow City Loop, a beautiful 28 miile ride through beautiful ranch and hunting hills.
After a two hour stop in Fredericksburg, Luckenbach beckoned and we were off to this Texas hangout made famous in song by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Luckenbach, famous for it's music and dance hall also offered Ricardo a chance to ride a huge Texas long horn bull. You have to check the photographs to see Ricardo, the Latin Bull Rider.
A quick stop at a winery in Sisterdale and we made our way to a Popo's, a great restaurant near Welfare, TX. A dinner of fried chicken, iced tea and deserts of Blue Bell ice cream and the largest piece of cheesecake i have ever seen. Now, with night upon us, Ricardo and I are safely in a hotel outside of San Antonio. Tomorrow? Baffin Bay, here we come!
Breakfast in Uvalde, TX and we were on the bikes riding up Hwy 55, past Camp Wood and on to Rocksprings. Rocksprings, a ranch town of about 1400 people in rocky and hilly Real County. A stop for gas and air in my rear tire and then were off to ride Hwy 335, south from Hwy 41 to Hwy 337 in Camp wood. This is one of the "Three Twisted Sisters", a winding two lane road that twists and turns up high and then dips low. A beautiful ride that feels just like a massive roller coaster. Past wild animals, a giraffe, bob cats, antelope and many deer. thirty miles of grandeur!
Then headed down Hwy 337 to Leakey. A stop at Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop for water and a purchase or two and we were off riding 336 north towards Hwy 41. Ricardo led the way over Twenty two miles of winding twists and turns. Past canyons, rivers and by cliffs of beauty. soon we were pulling into Garvens for a late lunch of BBQ-maybe the best sandwichs of this trip. Then it was time to head down towards Hunt,TX crossing the Guadalupe River several times. The Guadalupe, a beautiful, clear river that cuts it's way through these limestine canyons and hills of south Texas.
Tonight we are in a nice Inn in Kerrvgille, TX. Tomorrow we will head to Enchanted Rock near Llano, Tx and then ride to Fredericksburg, TX. Fredericksburg, a beautiful town showing it's German ancestry. Maybe a ham hock and kraut for lunch. Then we will be off to Luckenbach, where we will spend the afternoon with "Willie, Waylon and the boys".
Ricardo and I prepared the bikes yesterday afternoon and rode out of Riviera Beach this morning before 7:00 AM. Our destination? The Texas Hill Country! But first, a side trip to Dilley, Texas to see Moto Hank, my BMW mechanic who keeps my BMWs running. Almost three hours spent running down Highway 624, through the Eagle Ford Shale fields. What a spectacle, trucks running amuck, oil tanks everywhere, a frantic scene that resembles chaos.
Finally arriving in Dilley, we pulled up to Moto Hanks to find Hank absent and the shop closed. Why didn't I call for an appointment? That would be too logical. Ricardo and I filled up with gas and headed on to Utopia, Texas and the Lost Maple Cafe, home of the best pies in Texas. Coconut Meringue pie and iced tea for lunch! Then on up past Vanderpool to the Lome star Motorcycle Museum, home to 60 or so beautifully restored European vintage bikes.
Then we were off to Leakey, home to the Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop where we spent an hour soaking up the motorcycle atmosphere. Leakey, the gateway to the "Three Twisted Sisters", three roads (335, 336 and 336, about 30 miles each) that twist and turn through this very hilly and beautiful part of Texas. The Twisted Sisters are dream rides for all Texas motorcyclists..
As the day faded we made our way back to Uvalde, where we are staying tonight. As we rode into Uvalde a large sign indicated the temperature was 39 degrees celsius (102 F).. The entire day was near 100 degrees F, a hot day to ride 580 kilometers.
Tomorrow? The Three Twisted Sisters, of course. and surely a BBQ sandwich at Garvins!
Ricardo, Chuck and the two bikes are fine but a personal situation needs my presence elsewhere for a few days. We have decided to head to Baffin Bay and resume this ride in a few days.
The morning came early, nice and cool and slightly cloudy. A perfect day to ride TX highway 170, The River Road. universally known as the best motorcycle road in Texas, the river road runs 67 miles along the Rio Grande, from Terlingua to Presidio. Hilly, curvy, with frequent stops along the way, this beautiful ride has you looking to the left right into Mexico and on the right at big Bend Ranch State Park. Even Ricardo thinks this is a great ride.
Taking our time we spent over two hours traveling south to Presidio, the small, quaint town that shares the border with Ojinaga, Mexico. Crossing the border without any delay or paperwork, we headed south on Mx 16, the beautiful mountain road that runs from Ojinaga to Chihuahua. But no, we did not go all the way to Chihuahua! About 30 miles up into the beautiful Sierra Carmen Mountains, we arrived at our destination. The Peguis Canyon, the most spectacular river canyon in my experience.
A Mexican family was there marveling at the canyon and soon we were all talking back and forth. Some Spanish, a little English and much "winking and nodding". I love my time with these great Mexican People. By 2:00 PM, we were on the bikes headed down the mountain and into the small Mexican city of Ojinaga. An hour spent on the Plaza, a boot shine and we were back on the bikes crossing the border into the USA.
Up the River Road, as thrilling as the first time I rode it some ten years ago, 90 minutes later we at our camp site at Maverick Ranch. Right now Ricardo is in the pool. Later, a light dinner. Maybe a couple of cold cans of Beanee Weenees.
And tomorow, it has to be Big Bend National Park and Stilwell Ranch.
Up at 5:00 AM Wednesday morning, Ricardo and I were on the road by 6:00 AM. Our destination? Six hundred miles down the highway to Terlingua, Texas. Terlingua, the goast town that once was a massive silver mine. Terlingua, the gateway to Big Bend.
Pulling the "toy hauler", loaded with my BMW R1200GS and Ricardo's "girlie bike", we made the trip in just over 12 hours. The first five hours took us through the massive and busy Eagle Ford Shale oil boom towns of Freer, Encino, Carizzo Springs, Eagle Pass and through my favotite, Del Rio. Then it was off across 300 miles of desert, through Comstock, Sanderson, Marathon, Alpine and on down towards Big Bend. All baren but beautiful desert. Desert? It rained the whole way. And the temperatures, normally 105 to 110 in July, hovered in the seventies.
Arriving in Terlingua about 7:00 PM, we grabbed a motel for the night and waited until this morning to set up camp at Maverick Ranch RV Campground. Our setup is perfect although the rain continues. However, we took the bikes for a short tour this afternoon so they would know what was in store. Dinner tonight at Bob's BBQ consisted of a rack of succulent ribs and, of course, peach cobbler.
Tonight we will sleep in the Play-Mor and arise early for some exciting mountain riding. Down River Road, through Presidio and on into Mexico.. Our destination, the Peguis Canyon, south of Ojinago, Mexico. The next ten days will be filled with adventure as we ride some of the most beautiful areas of Texas.
Yes, Ricardo and I are headed west, down through Del Rio, Sanderson, Marathon, Alpine and finally into Big Bend. Rain is predicted all along the way. Rain? I thought Big Bend was a desert! Well, rain is predicted for the next week or so.
So Ricardo and I have loaded the Beemer and the "girlie bike" into my "toy hauler" ( A Playmor Trailer) and are going to pull the bikes to Terlingua, unload them and then do day or maybe three day rides into Mexico, up to McDonald's Observatory and who knows where else. And if the weather is right we might even locate a campground and sleep in the trailer. But first, 600 miles in the rain to Terlingua.
Thursday morning, the 4th of July, was beautiful. Sunny, cool--great for the three hour ride back to Riviera Beach. Ricardo, Gaby and I hit Hwy 77, riding briskly back to the Bay. At 12:30 on the afternoon of "The Fourth" we arrived at the entrance gate to Redfish Estates.
Back home, after 15 days and a 2982 mile ride. The bikes, a 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan Classic LT and a 2005 BMW R1200 GS ran flawlessly. Our ride covered parts of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas.
Now Ricardo and I have to service the bikes and get ready to depart the second leg of this trip. Soon we will head west, through parts of Mexico, Big Bend National Park and several scenic Texas State Parks.
At 8:20 AM July 3, we reentered Texas and made our way south on Hwy 59 to Victoria. Riding in the cool, brisk morning we were in beautiful northeast Texas country. Past small Texas towns like Marshall, Nacodoches, Livingston and Lufkin. by mid morning the heat was felt and clouds were gathering.
Soon we were on the outskirts of Houston, the giant Texas city that I always fear. Traffic, traffic, and a shower of light rain. For 45 minutes we sped through the center of Houston at 75 miles an hour with three lanes, maybe four lanes of traffic trying to either cower or hit us. By the time we stopped in Rosenberg, Gaby, Ricardo and Chuck were ready for rest, off the bikes.
Finally at 4:00 PM we reached El Campo, Texas, the home of El Campo Cycle Center. This is always a mandatory stop. Pamela and James own this wonderfully stocked Cycle Center. Absolutely great people, James and Pamela stopped what they were doing to spend time with Gaby and Ricardo. This Center has Hondas, Suzuki, Victory, Polaris and Yamahas. Simply the finest dealership in Texas-----well, Cycle Rider in San Antonio is equally good, so now I know two great shops.
Finally back on the road at 5:30 PM, we were only 56 miles from our motel in Victoris. Riding fast, we covered the first 40 miles without incident but then suddenly we rode right into a Texas thunderstorm. Thunder, lightning and a quick but fierce cold shower. We just kept riding and soon dried off and arrived at our motel. By noon tomorrow we will be back at my home on Baffin Bay.
We did not leave Memphis until 12:30 PM today. Ricardo decided to treat Gaby to a tour of Graceland (which he first took two years ago). Just as we were about to depart for Texas, I had a mishap with my glasses and had to visit an optician, who quickly saved the day.
Finally we were on the road by 12:30 PM and had a pleasant ride 270 miles down the road to Texarkana, AR. Back into a very nice La Quinta, Gaby and Ricardo are out in the pool cooling off.
We are still 600 miles from Baffin Bay. My goal for tomorrow is to make it about 60 miles south of Houston. Driving through Houston on the afternoon of July 3rd will be a challenge. With luck we should be in Riviera Beach by 1:00 PM on the Fourth of July.
Monday morning went much as planned except for cold, rainy weather. The rain first hit us in Louisville and was fierce at times. Gaby was cold and I had a terrible time with my glasses fogging up, In fact, it was a rather unsafe and throuighly miserable ride. and such a shame because we rode down the Western Kentucky Parkway, past Rough River Reservoir, Between the Lakes State Park, Barkley Lake and Kentucky Lake. Certainly some of the most beautiful country in Kentucky.
Finally, about 2:00 PM, we crossed into Tennessee and the rain subsided. At 5:15 PM we rolled up to the Memphis La Quinta Inn (the one near Elvis Presley Blvd). Of course Ricardo and Gaby had to do a quick visit to Graceland.
having little interest in Graceland, I called old friends, Lester and Jo Ann and soon they were at the inn picking all of us up to head down to Beal Street, the Home of the Blues. A beautiful walk down Beal Street, then dinner on a balcony overlooking Beal Street. And what did we have? BBQ Ribs, catfish, fried green tomatos with horseradish!
Soon it was to bed with a good book. life is great!
Ricardo's friend, Gaby, flew in to Louisville late Friday night and she is riding back with us to Riviera. Today she joined us in attending the Quaker State 400 NASCAR race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. Ricardo and Gaby loved it--it was there first speedway, oval track race. And of course you know that Matt Kenseth won the race, wiith Jamie McMurray coming in second. The day was hot but enjoyable.
Tomorrow we will depart Louisville early, heading back to Texas. With luck and safe riding we will make it about 400 miles southwest to Memphis, TN. Ricardo and I have old friends we want to visit and I suspect he wants to do a quick visit to Graceland.
Yes, Ricardo, Yvonne and I spent the afternoon at Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby. This is the last week of the spring racing season. We managed to watch five races, betting on two. We won nary a bet.
Ricardo's friend, Gaby, arrives late tonight and tomorrow Ricardo and I are off to the NASCAR races. Yvonne and Gaby are going to a car show in the early evening and then to the "After Dark Races" at the Downs.
Asleep in the Best Western in Bardstown at 10:30 PM. Suddenly I was awakened by loud sirens. Up quickly, looking out the door and I see fierce rain, winds blowing and people running toward another building. The sirens were a tornado warning. a tornado had been spotted nearby. Ricardo and I ran across the parking lot to the building with the "storm shelter" and joined everyone in the basement for about thirty minutes, then the "all clear" sounded and we returned to our rooms.
Thursday morning we traveled 20 miles or so to Loretto KY, the home of Maker's Mark, one of our finest Bourbons. The distillery grounds were beautiful. We took a nice tour through all of the distilleriy and the were invited to the "tasting room'. Don't ask! Bardstown is home to many of Kentucky's bourbons, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Knob Creek, to name a few.
Then we stopped by "The Old Kentucky Home and Stephen Foster state park. Finally we pointed our bikes toward Louisville and arrived at Yvonnes's house by 3:30 PM. A tour of Louisville, a light dinner on the Ohio River and we were in bed by 11:00 PM.
Ricardo and I will remain in Louisville Friday and Saturday, then we are off to Sparta, Kentucky, the home of Kentucky Speedway. Saturday night, we will be attending the "Quaker State 400", a major race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Ricardo and I took the back roads to Mammoth Cave National Park this morning. First we went to Smiths Grove, Ky and then Hwy 101 to Brownsville. from there we headed out Hwy 728 towards Nolin Lake State Park. finally we went down a beautiful, narrow and winding road to the Green River Ferry that took us across Green River and into the Park. Along the way we saw many beautiful wild turkey and some magnificent forests.
Finally in the park, Ricardo signed up for a two hour tour of one part of the cave and I spent time exploring the headquarters. By 2:00 PM we had enjoyed a great lunch in the park restaurant and decided to head to Hodgenville, KY, to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Historical Site. this was a beautiful and informative stop and we both enjoyed ourselves.
Tonight finds us in Bardstown, Ky checked into a Best Western. Tomorrow we plan to do the "Bourbon Tour" and visit a couple of distilleries. We have plenty of time. We don't really have to be in Louisville until Friday.
Monday morning Ricardo and I once again hit the Natchez Trace Parkway, traveling 220 miles north to Nashville. A slow and pleasant ride, a steady 55 mph, through beautiful forests and Alabama and Tennessee farm lands.
Arriving in Nashville mid afternoon, we checked into a hotel and set off the visit Music City. But first I had to show Ricardo why Nashville is known as the "Athens of the South". So, off to Centennial Park and a visit to the Parthenon! Yes, right here in Nashville is an exact copy of the Parthenon, more commonly seen in Greece.
And then it was off to downtown Nashville, the home of the Grand Ole Opry. We saw it all, Ryman's Auditorium, the Hard Rock Cafe, even Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Finally by 7:30 PM, we were exhausted and returned to the hotel. Ricardo to the pool and Chuck, relaxed with a book.
Tuesday morning found us at a great motorcycle shop inj Madison, searching for cooler helmets and looking at new Triumphs, KTMs, Kawasakis, Yamahas and Hondas. This shop had everything except BMWs. Finally we were back on the road headed to Bowling Green where Ricardo wanted to visit the Corvette Museum. All Corvettes are built here in Bowling Green, Ky and there is a very large Corvette Museum.
By mid day we were back on the bikes headed to the hotel. But first a stop at Best Buys. Last night Ricardo's trusty laptop began to fade......So, now Ricardo owns a new IPAD. Let's see if he can figure out how to use it.
Later tonight, we are having dinner with my sister, Deborah. After all I did go to most of high school here and both of my sisters grew up here in Bowling Green, the home of my parents, grandparents and most of my extended family. Tomorrow the bikes are going to take the back roads to Mammoth Cave National Park and then on to Hodgenville and Know Creek, KY, the birth place and early homes of President Abraham Lincoln.
Out of bed early, we still did not leave the hotel until mid morning. Leaving Natchez, MS, Ricardo and I pointed the bikes toward the Natchez Trace Parkway. This scenic and historical parkway leads you 444 miles throught three states and hundreds of years of American history. Today we rode almost 300 miles to Tupelo, MS.
Along the way we stopped several times for rest and refreshments. Then most interesting stop was in French Camp, MS at Leonard's grocery, where we met the manager, Minna and a delightful young man, Drew Guillette. Already bitten by the "travel bug" Drew visited Italy last summer and now hopes to visit Costa Rica some day. Minna, originally from Staten Island, NY, served us a great Bar B Que sandwich for a late lunch. Tonight I will post a photograph of Ricardo, Minna and Drew so you can see the nice folks we meet along the way.
Ahh, Tupelo, MS, the birthplace and early home of Elvis Presley. And of course Ricardo had to visit, have his photograph taken and even sit in the swing on the front porch. And Chuck ? I was the tour guide and photographer.
Tonight we have checked into a nice La Quinta and Ricardo is once again in the pool. Later tonight, a dinner of turnip greens and pinto beans. Monday, a 240 mile ride to Nashville, TN, the home of The Grand Ole Opry and a visit to Ryman Auditorum, the old brick church that became the first home of the Opry. And of course, a stop at my old "hangout", Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.
Last night we met several nice folks from Pierre Part, LA and they convinced us that our ride would be incomplete unless we visited Pierre Part, a delightful village 30 miles north of Morgan City. So? Early this morning we headed to Pierre Part.
Pierre Part is on the bayou, near many alligator swamps. In fact it is the home of Troy Landry, the star of Discovery Channel's "Swamp People". Unique and quaint, the visit was well worth the ride. Finally about noon, we pointed the bikes North on LA 69 and made the 130 mile trek to Natchez, MS. Natchez, al southern antebellum town full of beautiful Civil War era homes and streets lined with flowering trees. Check out our pictures to understand this unique beauty.
And Ricardo? He is having a great time viewing the beauty of Southern Mississippi and talking with everyone in his new creole dialect. Everyone thinks he is an alligator wrestler from Pierre Part, LA.
And tomorrow? Up by 6:00 AM, and riding by 7:00 AM. We have to beat the heat as we ride up the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Natchez Trace Parkway, running 444 miles from Natchez MS, through parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and finally ending just outside of Nashville, TN.
Leaving Galveston Island, we took the ferry to Port Bolivar. A very picturesque voyage, at no cost to Ricardo or me. This morning, we were off to the Louisiana Coast. A quick ride southeast, past several large refineries, we were soon at Hwy 82, running along a large waterway (canal, maybe?) filled with ocean going tankers, filled with oil or some refined product. A delightful and interesting morning.
Over the large bridge at Sabine Pass, Texas, we were speeding down Hwy 82 to Cameron, LA. But first one more ferry trip over the Cameron River and suddenly we were on the gulf coast in Cameron. Oil field activity is booming and everyone was helpful--it was a fine morning. Up the coast 140 miles, thru one quick rain, and we were at Avery Island, home of Tobasco.
at the end of the civil War, Edmund McIllhenny moved to Avery Island and over the next four years cultivated pepper plants that soon became the key ingredients in Tobasco Sauce. From this humble birth, Tobasco, still owned by the McIllhenny family, is sold worldwide. Sold in 110 countries, labeled in 22 languages Tobasco is one of Louisiana's best known products. And it is produced solely here in this historical plant on Avery Island where 710,000 bottles are produced each day.
Ricardo and I enjoyed a plant tour, sampled some fresh product and visited the company store. This is really an interesting place. Now we are checked into a new and very nice LaQuinta Inn and Ricardo is in the pool.
Tonight we had crawfish etoufee at a local restaurant filled with friendly and interesting Cajuns. Most were dining on boiled crawfish and of course a group invited Ricardo to join in. He is now a master at "eating tails and sucking the heads". And his creole accent is perfect. Everyone here thinks he is from Pierre Part.