December 7, 2005 - Wednesday
Fort Stockton, TX To Alpine, TX

Big Bend National Park - Big Bend, Texas.  Wake up in Fort Stockton and head south. Sun to my left with blue skies all around - nice riding. Empty roads with reasonable scenery - long views to stretch the eyes. The ride to the park took perhaps an hour or so with a fuel stop at Marathon - about half way. The gent at the station commented - a standard comment at each sale perhaps - "Come back soon". I thought - yea right - this'll be the last time for a long time.

To the south I continued. The park entrance processed - National Parks Pass at work - I continued through the park to hit two attractions - Chesos Basin area and the Castolon area in the southwest portion of the park. The park was warming which was nice. Some mountain views to take in.

Another rider, in a trip report of his, commented about being asked to slow it down in the park. I now understand. Park speed limit of 45 (max - other spots listed slower) along with no other vehicles and open space make 45 an odd limit. I wasn't "asked" to slow it down but I certainly was a candidate for that request.  Some of the roads are more interesting at greater than listed rates.

Castolon - and the canyon near it - were worth the time spent there. A walk across the small creek of Terlingua and I was moving towards the Rio Grand River and the Santa Elena Canyon. High, steep walls of tan and red rock towered high to the sky. It was one of those spots where I was too close for the camera to fit all of it in. I had one other spot like that at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado - it was too big for how close I was for the camera to fit the scenery.

When I left the bike at this stop I thought it would be a quick stop and as such I didn't shed any layers - I was getting hot walkiing in the layers - oh well.  One other item was the couple getting out of a red pickup in the spot next to me. I didn't give them much attention until later when I saw a couple tugging a small boat across the sand. They had a desire to head up river and head into the canyon a ways. I was high on a trail over the river as they went paddling up river. I snapped a picture or so of them and they took one of me. I told them I'd leave my e-mail on their windshield so we could swap pictures. One advantage of e-mail and digital cameras.

Back on the bike I stopped for pictures here and there and started back up to the main park road. During this jaunt I was tossing the back and forth - to camp or not to camp. The answer was easy as I felt the temps dropping - dropping hard and it was still mid afternoon. No way I wanted to head UP into the basin area where it would be colder at night. Out of the park I headed.

A food and fuel stop at the Study Butte Store turned into a picture spot. The store, inside, is loaded with needed items while outside it has more character. I made sure I took a few pictures. While there the two BMW riders passed by - we had passed once or twice inside the park. I figured I'd come up on them before too long. True enough - they were pulled over at a motel. I continued on with a destination of Alpine TX.

On my there I noted the wind - strong and gusty. A year or so ago, while tekking down I-90 in Montana on a trip with Ken a gust of wind took my tank bag and tossed across the Interstate. The built-in magnets alongwith some strong hard drive magnets weren't strong enough to hold it onto the bike. Well the same happened here - except that the tank bag wasn't on the bike - just the flat map pocket. It was held down with three hard drive magnets but they were weakened by also having to hold down the rain mits. Up a hill and pop it went. The map pocket went sailing across the far lane and my two mits went with it. I could lose the map pocket but those rain mits were needed. Only a short stop was needed to collect the items. Back underway I almost stopped to put the rain mits on - the temps were really dropping. Alpine is getting closer each minute.

A few miles from Alpine the road, which was running on flat, straight land hopped over a small hilly section. I wondered if I missed a speed limit sign as the corners now were certainly not 70 MPH things. Heavy truck duals skid marks before several of the corners gave me some indication as to how slow it was. Hmmm....  

Big Bend - Santa Elena Canyon
MPG, 9.5 MB, 1 min 12 sec

Three generations of telephone/power line poles.

These 'draw' signs were frequent - this was the most interesting name

Some line poles were in conjunction with the fence poles (and looked to still be in use)

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While ranch roads were frequent most were simple gates. This was one of the nicer ones.

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Unfortunately the colors today are washed with white and not vivid...

Heading up to drop down into the Chesos Basin

Now we're in the basin - with a fairly complete mountain ring around us

Chesos Basin
Left portion of the picture is the valley leading out. Right portion is perhaps better than 1/2 way around.
I didn't photo the remainder of the ring as it was into the sun
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Driving up the basin wall to head out I came to a shadow. Looking up this is what I saw.

Over the ridge and heading down...

As the elevation changed the vegitation did too. A narrow band for trees.

Now lower - and hotter - fewer trees and mainly lower shrub and grasses

Oh, to have the colors be more correct....

Closing in on that huge stone wall

Terlingua Creek
looking upstream - not much water going down this time of the year.

The Rio Grande River is flowing out of that canyon (Santa Elena), making a turn and heading down at the left of the photo - behind

The creek had a couple markers and then this trail had more markers - time for a walk.
The trail headed through the bushes to the mouth of the canyon - and a better view of the river.

Heading up and into the canyon.

Rio Grande river flowing out of the canyon, taking a right, combining with the Terlingua creek and heading south. The folks from Canada heading river.

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 Santa Elena Canyon and the folks from Canada
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HI !!

Right about here I took a picture of them and they took one of me.
They e-mailed me - photos were exchanged - cool stuff

And their photo of me - Thanks Denis!

Back down to the creek bed heading back to the bike.

A road runner - and yes - they do run across the road

From a different viewpoint - looking into the canyon
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Some info sign detail

I think this spire set was called Mule Ears

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Near the west exit / entrance to the park
Looking east towards the mountains
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The Study Butte Store and fuel station

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