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Back in January I started planning a trip to the Texas Hill Country. I try and make at least one significant trip a year and the destination usually dictates on what and how I'm going to ride it.

This trip was to be two-up and over paved roads. To get from Sin City to the interesting riding, I was looking at a lot of freeway miles. Normally my BMW K1200LT would have been the ride but I got an text message from my wife one morning that went somewhat like this, "Honey, I just saw two couples on the 15 riding Goldwings. What do you think about a Goldwing?." Anyway, the rest is history, which brings me here.

We've done the trip and I'll post a few installments. Hope you find it interesting.

Before and After


The Plan


The Reality

Leaving Sin City

The first overnight on the trip was spent in Holbrook, Arizona. In it's short history this place that has gone through three reincarnations. First, the railroad arrived in 1881 and Holbrook replaced Horsehead Crossing as the 'hot spot' on the confluence of the Puerco and Little Colorado Rivers. Second, in 1926 an actually worthwhile bill was signed in Washington creating the American Highway System and Route 66. As Route 66 became the "Main Street of America," Holbrook became a potty stop for millions traveling West thereon. And, third, in 2006 the movie Cars from Disney/Pixar put Holbrook back on the map as it became a Mecca for every German tourist that ever wanted a rent a Harley in Chicago, dress up in pirate attire and ride route 66 to Kalifornia.


Cars poster in Joe & Aggies Cafe signed by John Lasseter

Two of the big POI's in the film were of coarse the wigwams and Joe & Aggies Cafe. If you have a good arm you can almost throw a rock from one to the other. More importantly if you want to sleep and eat in Holbrook, you really should experience both.

The Wigwams



Opened in 1950 and still owned by the same family.


Didn't make it to Kalifornia. Needed a new battery.


The battery shop next door was closed for the summer.





Joe & Aggies Cafe





If you are ever here, sign the guestbook


La comida es muy buena.

Oh, almost forgot! Your Federal tax dollars are also at work and full cellphone service is available just a few short miles from Holbrook at the Petrified Forest NP.

 

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Great write-up. I enjoyed that. The pictures are very nice, too!
 

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It's Important To Have Goals

Three of my objectives for the Texas Hill Country trip were to sojourn with a couple of dead people and also with a few ET's that are still on ice. These folk, or non-folk as you will, all being from the area loosely speaking around the territory that the Republic of Texas formally occupied. On my way South from Sin City I had planned to stop at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, Roswell, New Mexico and Langtry, Texas.

First, I wanted to visit the 1947 New Mexico extra-terrestrial crash site. Let me tell you it wasn't easy finding the coordinates for this place. The actual crash location has been obscured by crass commercialism for years. But thanks to some dedicated UFO proponents who still believe that "the truth is out there," it has been recently rediscovered that ET didn't crash at 114 North Main Street in Roswell. The true location is once again known and I will reveal it to you in this post.

Second, I planned to make a stop in Fort Sumner for the express purpose of pissing on Billy the Kid's grave. This is something that I have always wanted to do and for the following reason. Although venerated by Hollywood as a Western folk hero, “Billy” also known as William Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim and William H. Bonny was really nothing more than a worthless lowlife killer.

And third, I've always had a fondness for “Hanging Judges” and in my opinion the epitome of the type was His Honor, Judge Roy Bean. If the Judge was half the man that Paul Newman made him out to be in the 1972 movie, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, he is my one true hero. So, and although Langtry is located on the muy peligroso Texas-Mexico DMZ, I considered a stop there to honor the memory of the Judge to be well worth the risk.

No ET's on this trip



I regret to say that I didn't make it to the crash site. In retrospect this may have been a good thing. The site is located a few miles off the paved road and visiting an alien vehicle, on the alien vehicle that I was riding, could have been a disaster.



No ET's in New Mexico, but I did find this guy in Wyoming.....

Really, and the true story is that Arizona and New Mexico were on fire. The big plan was to pass through Corona, New Mexico on the way to Roswell and to visit the site, if possible, on my non-gelande strasse wing-thing. But, the smoke from the fires, the over 105 degree air temperature and the thought of being out and alone in the tinder box New Mexico Plains was a show stopper.

Fort Sumner



I made it to Fort Sumner and I'm glad that I did. Fort Sumner is located on the Pecos River and history abounds here. In my opinion, Billy is just a footnote.



The 926 mile Pecos River runs from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas. The Pecos played a large role in the exploration of Texas by the Spanish and in the years since the Pecos has allowed the development in the New Mexico, Texas, Pecos river basin area.





As to Billy....



He was such a badass that even after his death, they have kept him in jail. Oh yeah, I was just kidding about pissing on the grave. Even if I really wanted to, I was so dehydrated when I got to the site that it would have been impossible.



Here Come The Judge

Langtry sits on the Mexican border and it has an outstanding monument and museum dedicated to Judge Bean.



This is where the world ends as we know it. This is also where pavement and power end. Excluding a possible sniper on the other side of the river, it is absolutely safe to visit Langtry.



Due to Langtry's close proximity to Mexico, it has no zip code



The Judge Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos Visitor Center museum is open to the public at no charge. A big thanks to the Texas Department of Transportation. They have done an superb job maintaining the Judge's old digs.





One of Bean's more questionable rulings given in this very room was, "Gentlemen, I find the law very explicit on murdering your fellow man, but there's nothing here about killing a Chinaman. Case dismissed."



Although Texas has done an outstanding job maintaining the site, I have one small issue. I'm not sure that this is Bean's original picture of Lillie Langtry. It doesn’t have a bullet hole in it, like in the movie!
 

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...Nice write-up, thanks for sharing!

How did you make the cool maps???


 

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Discussion Starter #5
...Nice write-up, thanks for sharing!

How did you make the cool maps???


Thanks much. The the maps were made in Delorme Topo North America. To do these images I first convert an actual track, or a planned route to a "Draw" layer and then add the dotted lines. After the map is prepared in Topo, I export it and save it as a jpeg. The borders, text etc. are added in PhotoShop.
 

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Welcome!

...what a way to introduce yourself to the group...

Nicely done; looking forward to more installments!
 

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All I have to say on the matter

...what a way to introduce yourself to the group...

Nicely done; looking forward to more installments!
Thanks, When I got the Goldwing they kicked me off the BMW site. So you're stuck with me.....
 

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A new reason for me to visit this board! A Great Post, with pictorials and descriptions. Thanks for posting and Welcome Aboard!
 

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Perfect, Wonderful. I lived in Del Rio from Dec 81 - July 83, and LOVED south Texas, nice seeing some of the photos. But dang you, now I feel like I'm gonna have to ride back down there again.....

Glad you had a nice (and safe) trip!

Joe:doorag:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Perfect, Wonderful. I lived in Del Rio from Dec 81 - July 83, and LOVED south Texas, nice seeing some of the photos. But dang you, now I feel like I'm gonna have to ride back down there again.....

Glad you had a nice (and safe) trip!

Joe:doorag:
Do it again when it cools down. It was over 105 in June and we suffered a bit.
 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

No matter how I plan, my trips always change. At some point I detour, or for some reason I don't do what I expected to do. When I'm riding by myself this is no big thing. But if I'm riding two-up with my copilot it can be a problem. When I find myself in this situation and when my wife starts noticing that things are not going exactly as planned, as she always does, the inquisition starts. The first question is normally, “Honey, you said we would be there by 5:00. Do you think will make it?” And immediately after that, a second questions always follows, “Honey do you think that there will be any rooms left?” After that, the questions go on and on and on.

All of these questions are like knives to my heart. So as the tension starts to rise behind me, I'll attempt to the delay the inevitable pain and quell the dashed expectations a bit by giving my stock answer which is always “Yes.” In reality my answer should be, “Maybe, but I really don't care. Things will work out. Trust me.” But I just don't have the guts to say that.

After the first question and as I'm still riding along the panic starts to set in, I can feel it. It's like the bike is getting smaller and the miles are getting longer. At this point I still really don't care, but I'm beginning to sense that if I don't make it by 5:00, or if there aren't any rooms left, I am going to be in deep ****. Where I'm going with this is that this whole process can cause me to do things that I would not normally do.

The images that follow are a small sample of the results of the decisions that I made while under 'backseat pressure'. As is always the case, some of these turned out to be real winners and some were a pure bust. Here's my good, my bad and my ugly troika of ad hoc stops from the trip.

The Good






The Historic Rocksprings Hotel in Rocksprings, Texas

I discovered this establishment after I decided to detour from Uvalde, Texas to Rocksprings. I made the decision to detour in Del Rio and just after a waitress informed me that there was no place at all stay in Rocksprings. I couldn't believe that, so I hit the road and this is the very first place that we found in Rocksprings.

It was a tense ride from Del Rio to Rocksprings, but in retrospect what could possibly be wrong with a finding hotel that caters to bird watchers, bird hunters and "bikers"? It was priced like a Motel 6 and it had full kitchen privileges to boot.

The Bad


The Hog Pen in Leakey, Texas

I will not bore you with what brought me here. But, but if you are ever in Leakey, Texas avoid the "boo-din" at this joint like the plague. I've never had "boo-din" before and if the next one that I order is coal black and wrapped in foil, I'll never have it again.

And the The Ugly


The River Oak Inn in Bandera, Texas

I guess you could say "biker friendly" about this over a c-note a night motel, but the cowboy and East Indian decor was pretty scary. I'd bet that there are very few places in the entire Universe that give you pink sheets, Eastern Indian curtains, cowboy airbrushed wall art and a camouflaged acoustic ceiling. I guess that if I had to describe it to someone, I'd say it's kind of an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom meets Lonesome Dove type of place.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The Other Three Sisters

If you ask a rider from Houston what to ride in Texas, chances are that he'll introduce you to the Three Sisters. Before you get the wrong idea, the Three Sisters are three ranch roads that make up part of a Texas ride'n loop. Bummer that they are not actually three sisters, as I am sure some would hope. They, meaning the three ranch roads, are located in the rugged Texas Hill Country in the area roughly bordered by the communities of Rocksprings, Camp Woods, Leakey, and Vanderpool.

To fully understand the reason for the recommendation you have to first chew on the fact that Texas is essentially a flatlander's State. Now I don't mean to get anyone in a hissy fit by picking on the topography of Texas. Nor do I mean to imply that Texas is flat, like Florida is flat. But if the guy lives in Houston, which I think we can all agree is somewhat vertically challenged and if his normal biking experience has consisted of riding the local roads on his Harley Davidson Street Bob, chances are that the he's not going to say, “come to Houston and race stoplights.” If he is a true sports fan, he's going to suggest some other location that may at least offer a portion more in riding excitement, an area like the Three Sisters

As to riding excitement, these three roads have it in spades. They are not at all like the roads in the more pedestrian parts of Texas. Geographically they are located on, or you could kinda say 'in' the Edwards Plateau and even though the word plateau when used as a noun means an area that is elevated and flat, this particular area of the Edwards Plateau is definitely not two-dimensional. The reason for this is that a big chunk of limestone got uplifted where the Sister's are located. Over time the limestone was also extensively eroded by the forces of the water. Mainly by the Nueces and the Frio River's, but those big Texas toad chokers also did their part. The end result of all of this orogony is that the area is now a big dissected plateau. Translation, the area is big-time catty whompus. It also means that there are now umpteen gazillion bumps and gullies that lie between the high point of the Three Sisters loop at about 2,400 feet above sea level and at the low point of the loop at about 1,450 feet. That makes for some very good Texas ride'n.

Mother Nature left a region here that I wouldn't have wanted to ride a horse through in the days of the Republic of Texas. I'm sure that this was a very nasty place considering all of the rattlesnakes, hoof destroying calcitic rocks and sharp pointy plants. But on the other-hand and before the advent of two-wheeled transportation, this area with all of it's latent crinkleness was a diamond in the rough waiting for motorcyclists yet to come. So moving forward in time, all that was needed to cut and polish this gem of up-and-down savanna like country and to prepare it for my eventual passage in 2011 was to pave over a few cow trails, add-in some slippery cattle guards and to forget to engineer out a few potentially life ending water hazards. Voila!, the birth of a riding destination that is a whole lot more exciting to scoot across on your bike, then say any of the roads in Houston, or even over yonder there in Pecos County, Texas.

Granted this is an intriguing area and there be some very good ride'n here. But then again I reckon that for a flatlander, any road that has more than a one percent grade, curves greater than 15 degrees and a top-to-bottom elevation that is higher that the Bank of America Plaza in Dallas is rarer than hen's teeth in Texas. So the Three Sisters with all those benders, dips, bumps, humps, armadillos and Harley's is a whole nother thing entirely in the great Texas ride'n experience, and it is well worth recommending to someone from yankeeland. So if you are inclined to take a memorable ride, it's time to paint your butt white and run with the antelope.


The graphic on the back of a t-shirt that I bought in Leakey, Texas

If you do the Three Sisters, you really should get one of these shirts. They come in a few flavors and other than being a good road map in case you get lost, they're a badge of honor amongst the pirate crowd. Even out of the Hill Country these shirts are a big deal. I wore mine in Moab, Utah and I was greeted with awe and wonder by a displaced Texan there. I'm thinking that the only other t-shirt that could possibly get you more attention in the Hill Country is one that had I Voted For Obama In 2008 on it.


Buy your swag here


The Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop and Bent Rim Grill (wow that's a long one) in Leakey, Texas

Everyone stops at this bar and grill at some point on their odyssey through the Three Sisters. It has good beer, good food and a damn nice view out the backside of the place. Check out the collection of flotsam and jetsam from some of the less successful two-wheeled passages through the area.


The junction of Ranch Road 335 and Texas 41

You can start you adventure on the Three Sisters anywhere you want. We stated our ride at the upper left hand corner coming out of Rocksprings.


Going downhill

Look closely at the above pic of the actual road, because I didn't get a lot of them. These roads are all two-lane and there didn't appear to many pull-outs or even places to stop in the good picture spots. The chip seal looked to be about 5 or 6 inches higher than the road shoulder and the sharp bevel between the two wasn't particularly conducive to pulling over on a fully loaded wing-thing. I'm thinking that even if I did manage to get off the road to snap a pic, that it would have been a tire killer. Those rocks are sharp and those plants are still pointy.


And now, a brief stop in Oz

So we're riding along and I'm looking out for deer. As one almost took me out near Marathon, Texas a little earlier in the trip. Wrong animal to be on the lookout for here, because as I'm cruising down the road a herd of some kind of alien critters crossed my path. I threw on the binders and found myself in a zoo. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Or at least giraffes and kangaroos too. I kid you not the place was full of all kinds of exotic wildlife.




You too can bag one of these for just $35,000.00

One of the cottage industries in the area is exotic animal hunting. This is kind of cool if you just don't have time to get over to Africa, or if you have an aversion to local indigenous populations.


Ranch Road 337 At Camp Woods

All I can say is that the gas was less expensive than in Las Vegas. Moving on.......


Ranch Road 336 and more animal parks


Going uphill


The end of the Three Sisters, almost

This was almost the end of my Sisters experience. There remained a section of Ranch Road 337 that I wanted to ride the next day as part of my route to Bandera, Texas. We spent one night in Leakey and did it the next day. I'll follow-up with the details later.

 

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Wow! What a ride, and what a report. That has to be one of the best I've read. :bow:
I've lived in Texas most all of my life, and there's still more of it that I haven't seen than what I have. Thanks for sharing, and all the work that went into it. :thumbup:
 

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Wow, such a nice report! :yes1: However, you raise the bar pretty high for the rest of us and now I'll actually have to put some effort into my ride reports.
 

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Wow, such a nice report! :yes1: However, you raise the bar pretty high for the rest of us and now I'll actually have to put some effort into my ride reports.
Thanks for the kind review. No one on this Board needs to up their game. Just joining in the game is enough.
 
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