Ahhh yes- Terlingua, TX. Making more great memories out in the desert along with a great group of fellow riders. Well, speaking of memories- does anybody really even remember just what the heck happened during all those dayz of haze spent in the desolate beauty of The Bend of West Texas?! Well, the best I can figure, being a few tall dogs deep after our most recent TGIF ride seems to be exactly the right circumstance for me to recollect. Soo…as I recall it…
As always, we meet up at Eddie’s. I bring plenty’o’tie wraps and other assorted accoutrements- heaven knows what kinda mess we’re gonna encounter whilst gettin’ our bevy of bikes all strapped down for the loooong haul and whatnot (what, my solid thru-axle fork doesn’t fit one of those lil’ regular ol’ bikerack thingymajiggies?). But hell, meeting in deep South Austin @ the love shack means we’re practically already there and about to pull into our customized Terlingua campsite, right?…yeah, RIGHT…Keep telling yourself that while you’re getting yourself an 8 hour highway tour of the vast Texas countryside’s varied geology. Now if you’ve never had the pleasure, then please indulge me and try to picture it in your minds eye while I give you the 411:
We depart from the farm rich soils of the Blackland Praires, through the Central Texas Uplift (if you’re wondering, yes, this would indeed be synonymous in our local vernacular to “The Hill Country”), the Edwards Plateau blending into the historic Llano Estacado (translation: “Palisaded Plains”). Historic you say?, as our Official OMW Historian Dr. Chuck’s ears perk. Well, I hope you’re ready for a quick tutorial on the Native American history of the area. Yes, this would be the very same Llano Estacado wherein the Conquistadors’ introduction of the modern equine into the American Plains allowed the indigenous tribes to later expand their territories- Much as the Apache were displaced by the expanding Comanche, who then made the Llano part of their Comancheria (a Comanche stronghold), only to be later transplanted by the U.S Army. But, that would not be the end of the Native American’s story in these lands, as later in the 19th Century the Llano was a refuge for the bands of Kiowa and Comanche alike who could not abide their captivity in present day Oklahoma reservations. (I mean, can anyone blame them- It is OKLAHOMA for God’s sake!!!). The Indians used the natural landscape to elude the U.S. Calvary, and could easily disappear into the slight draws of the seemingly featureless expanse, or into the labyrinths of canyons such as the Palo Duro.
Ahh, how I love the history and expanse of these lands- so please do excuse my indulgence into historical digression and allow me to get back to present day geographical digression…So, Palo Duro Canyons, you say? Yes, I’ve heard tell that they’ve got some prime mountain biking trail scenery out there for us to explore- but that will have to wait until another day, as we now continue down the Geographical Tour Highway, on our left you’ve got the Pecos Canyonlands while on the right, The Stockton Plateau. Just when you think this trip to the West won’t end til we hit The Pacific, we turn this train to the South, coming up just shy of Ryan “The El Paso Kid” Cody’s Eastbound path of travel through these lands- The Glass Mts, Toyah Basin, Rustler Hills, Apache Mts, and the Salt Basin. I think you’re beginning to get the idea here: Texas’ lands are wide-ranging and far-flung to say the least…
Long though this road trip may be, getting there is half the fun- esp when you can just sit back, chillax and enjoy the ride with a set of chauffeurs like El Jefe and ol’Leadfoot Lance pulling this train of pop-up campers to the promised land. Ahhh, yes. That brings me to ol’Leadfoot’s freshly refurbished Green Manalishi…what’s all that squalkin’ and chirpin’ you say? Well, that’s called character, son. That’s pure, old fashioned American steel speakin’ up and lettin’ you know that she’s all wound up and ready to roll, Yo! Not to mention the squalkin’ does kinda double as a Quasi-Audio Tachometer…but you wouldn’t know nuthin’bout that, now wouldya son!?
Where’s the BEEF?!
Now Eddie’s a highly industrious fellow- and we’re all more than happy to have him in charge of packing up this caravan, but I’ll never forget the look on Eddie’s face as he realized his earlier packing faux pas. There we are cruisin’ along in a semi-hypnotic state as the The Green Manalishi churns on down the highway, when Eddie’s eyes get as big as saucers and he bolts upright out of his slouch and yells, “Oh Shit!! I forgot to pack the meat.”
Eddie, say it aint so man! Did you OR did you NOT pack your meat in Lance’s cubbyhole for safe keeping?… Okay, no worries- we can always buy more meat- not to mention, all the mileage we’re gonna get outta teasing Eddie about not taking proper care of his meat… But now more importantly, think REAL hard here Eddie. The Million Dollar question on everybody’s mind is- Did you OR did you NOT pack those ever soo tasty, moist and delicious homegrown brownies?… “Shooo”, as you hear a collective sigh of relief as he answers in the affirmative. Now we don’t hafta string Eddie up, and even more importantly- we don’t hafta backtrack in order to regain our sweet, Beloved Brownies… Now, the next question on our tour is what kind of causalities will we encounter while enduring the exasperating entrapment’s of the local Sub shop’s finest Retardo Montalbans rendering asstacularly poor service at seemingly every conceivable opportunity…Ooops- Forgive me…Momma always said, if ya ain’t got nuthin’ nice to say… That ain’t right, Lord I apologize for that right
there and be with the starving pygmies down there in New Guinea there, Amen.
Pitchin’ a tent…
Under the cover of night, we pull into our annual OMW Customized camp site, only to discover that someone’s pulled a Goldilocks and has already set up shop in our lil’ slice’o’desert heaven haven. But Goldilocks has never traveled in such over-the-top rugged style. None of us have ever seen ANYTHING quite like this before. This vehicle before us looks as though it’s straight outta some kinda Sci-Fi 4×4 version of a Mad Max/Road Warrior flick- ON ‘ROIDS!! The dang thing’s got a full sized dirt bike strapped onto the back, like your average SUV would a spare tire for Pete’s sake. The eeriness of the moonlight, headlights, and flashlights sweeping erratically off this unfamiliar monstrosity, all mixed with our road weary minds and bleary eyes
make this thing seem just that much more otherworldly and unnerving. Well that, and the possibility that someone might just pop outta the top of this thing with an A-K pointed down at us spitting and screaming unknown commands in Arabic….
But I digress- let’s just ignore the elephant in the campsite for now (and it’s possible A-K) and go ahead and set up shop (pop’em-up’s) and get some shut eye, aye? Okay, so there’s only one tent being pitched (no comment), but Dr. Chuckie does make use of his amazingly functional and surprisingly comfortable cross between a Cot and a Cacoon (Cotcoon?). As versatile as it is, the one-man Cotcoon is NOT soundproof, as demonstrated by the good doctor’s mind-boggling snoring echoing throughout the hillside. Well, there’s never ANY doubt as to when Chuck’s sleeping soundly. Maybe we oughta re-name that Cotcoon the “Iron-Lung”. But, on the other hand, there’s also not a Coyote in its right mind that would come anywhere near whatever it is that makes THAT unnatural cacophony…So, at least we got that going for us…
There’s no better way to end a good days ride through the desert than to stop by the Ghost Town of Terlingua’s famous Starlight Theater (est. 1931). Pardon me, did you say $1 Margaritas?! Well, just how many of those tasty little things can you manage to fit on a serving tray for me to dish out to my peeps? 12? Well, how ‘bout two rounds of twelve…for now. But don’t you go wandering off now…
…Well, after our umpteenth marga-daiqui-screw-aloda-on the beach, its time to stumble on down to the other local landmark, the smoke damaged School Bus- or as I like to call it, The Dew Drop Inn. This thing continues to fail its emissions test more and more miserably one year after the next…but I guess a ghost town’s really not much in need of a fully functioning school bus now is it?
**Thank you Channo for that cunning recollection, all nostalgic n shit**