Ricardo and I enjoyed a good six hour ride yesterday from Galveston to Riviera Beach. We took the back roads along much of the coast. Through fishing and shrimping towns like Palacios, Port Lavaca and Port Connor, we enjoyed the sights. Finally arriving home at 3:30PM, our rides for this summer are now memories.
The next day or two will be spent cleaning the two bikes. And, on this trip, I made the decision to sell the 2005 BMW R1200GS. I bought this bike in 2011 while Ricardo and I were on another ride. Gary Waters, now the mayor of Pelham, AL sold it to me at a very fair price. It has been the best riding bike I have owned and it is in perfect condition. But having broken my hip last fall, I now have difficulty getting on and off this heavy and tall bike.....could age also have something to do with it?
Have no fear, I have not forsaken adventure riding. I just have to replace this bike with something smaller. Something like the BMW F700GS that suddenly appeared in my bike shop this morning. Complete with ABS brakes, BMW Vario panniers , a large windscreen, heated grips and being two inches shorter and 120 pounds lighter.......it may just keep me riding for a few years more.
Ricardo is staying with me for a couple of more weeks. My very close friend....I could not enjoy these adventures without his company and assistance. This will be my final posting for Summer, 2015.
I can still hear your sea winds blowing......she was twenty one when I left Galveston". Written by Jimmy Webb, first recorded by Don Ho, it was Glen Campbell who made this song a worldwide hit and the official anthem of Galveston, Texas. And it was this song that I was humming as we rode into Galveston this afternoon.
Leaving Houma at 8:30AM, Ricardo and I rode the southern coastal roads across much of Louisiana and into Texas. Oil drilling work was prominent all across southern Louisiana. This has to be the gateway to the off shore drilling taking place in the Gulf.
West of Cameron LA we had to take a short ferry (cost $1.) Then after entering Texas we had to take a much longer ferry ride from Port Bolivar, across Galveston Bay into Galveston. But this time the ride was free. Traffic was busy and the line to get on the ferry took almost 90 minutes. I got sunburned sitting in the sun so long.
Finally arriving in Galveston, we are settled in a nice beachfront hotel and have had a nice dinner. Ricardo is out exploring Galveston. As for me, a hot shower and I will settle in with a book and with the sounds of Glen Campbell whirling through my head.
"before I watch your sea birds flying in the sun
At Galveston, at Galveston"
And yes, the instrumental and background music was indeed the Wrecking Crew
I can still hear your sea winds blowing......she was twenty one when I left Galveston". Written
Ricardo and I decided to explore Houma. If there is anything interesting here, we failed to find it. Giving upon Houma, we rode the thirtymilesto Morgan City. Not much there either however we did meet a nice couple, riding (driving) a Slingshot. They suggested we go on to Patterson, LA and visit the Wedell-Williams Aviation&Cypress Sawmill Museum.
Finally, something interesting! This museum provides a view into the golden age of aviation and the roles that Harry Williams and Jimmy Wedell played in the development of speed aviation. The museum is filled with pristine speed aircraft from the 1920s and thirties.
The Cypress Sawmill Exhibit was educational, explaining the life and times of the cypress sawmill industry. A slow ride along a bayou brought us back to Houma and our Hotel. Dinner at Boudreauxs and Thibadeaus was unique and enjoyable. Ricardo had a Gator dish and I enjoyed a crawfish étouffée. Tomorrow we plan to point our bikes toward Texas. We will ride the small winding coastal roads the entire way. It may be slower but I am sure it will be a lot more fun.
The good news is that I did not get sunburned today. The bad news is that it rained all day. A slow steady rain. Cold, windy, sometimes foggy, wet and no, we were not having fun. Our plan had been to relocate to Houma, LA and to explore the rivers and wetlands of far southern Louisiana. But not in this weather.
Arriving at our hotel in Houma just before lunch Ricardo and I agreed that the bikes were parked for the day. I suddenly had an idea. Rent a car and take a ride! To where? Don't be silly! New Orleans and Vieux Carre (French Quarter) is just 77miles up the road. And the rental car cost less than thirty dollars. Ricardo was in agreement and soon we were in the warm dry car and off on a "side adventure".
We had a great time taking photographs and just sightseeing. Now at 9:00PM we are back in our hotel in Houma. Take a look at the photos we posted tonight. You will see we behaved ourselves. Tomorrow? If the weather clears, we will be back on our bikes exploring.
On the bikes by 8:30 AM, Ricardo and i had a nice (dry) ride up to Lake Martin where we joined six other travelers who were eager to "get out in the swamp". The skys were cloudy, rain was forecast but our guide, Mason, assured us that rain would not begin until after our Swamp Tour. Departing about 9:45 AM, we were on the water over two hours and Mason was right about the rain.
The aluminum boat was long and wide, capable of seating twenty passengers in comfort. Mason was an informed and witty guide. It was the best $40 that Ricardo ever spent. Alligators were around every turn, some small, many four to six feet in length and a few were about ten feet. Other animals were spotted, turtles of all sizes, many exotic birds, some as large as we see on Baffin Bay. But no! We never spotted a bear.
This swamp is amazing. The Cypress trees are huge, draped with Spanish Moss. It is a protected area so nature was seen at it's best.
By 1:00 PM, Ricardo and I were back in Breaux Bridge having a quick lunch. Ricardo is always game to try the most exotic of food, so this time he had a Gator Burger. Back in New Iberia, we hit rain and I am soaked as I type this. Later tonight we will find another Cajun restaurant so Ricardo can try another Cajun dish
Tomorrow we will ride south to Houma. Ricardo wants to go exploring on an airboat. why not? It will be a great day for a motorcycle ride. The weather forecast just says "90% chance of rain all day".
Riding eighty miles east on I-10,we quickly arrived at the majestic Atchafalaya Basin swamp, the largest wetlands marsh in the United States. Twenty two miles wide and over 150 miles long, this wetland covers 1,400,000 acres. Home to giant alligators, raccoons, barred owls, horned owls nutria and native bear and hundreds of species of other birds, it is a beautiful nature preserve.
Ricardo and I are exploring the small towns that thrive in this basin. first we were off to the Atchafalaya River Highway, leading into the small town of Butte La Rose, a quaint but beautiful town of 600 cajun and Creole folks. Next we headed to the city of Breaux Bridge, The Gateway to Crawfish Country.
A stop at the elegant restaurant, Chez Jacqueline, owned and presided over by Madame Jacqueline herself. A native of Paris, France, Jacqueline cooks every order fresh and wonderful. She and Ricardo quickly bonded while we sampled her Seven Layer Chocolate cake ("made by my own hands" she assured us. Breaux Bridge is home to many unique antique stores, one specializing in guitars and another in antique watches and clocks. I was at home.
Finally, taking Jacqueline's advice we were off to Martin Lake, a lake known for it's mangroves, alligators and colorful Cajun folks. And who did we meet? Bryan Champagne, of course. Bryan was born and raised on the banks of Bayou Teche, where he still lives and runs an outpost, The Wharf. Tomorrow we have to be back at the Wharf at 9:30 AM to go on a two hour boat tour with Bryan. Rain? yes we got wet several times today and heavy rain is predicted for tomorrow. But Ricardo is not made of sugar, he will not melt.
Ricardo and I packed the bikes last night and departed the Bay at 7:00 AM this morning. Our destination? The swamps of Louisiana. We want to see the parts that you don't see from the Interstate. Where is that? We really don't know but we will start our search in Beaux Bridge, LA.
We headed north on Hwys 77 and 59 right through Houston. And if you have ridden with me before, you know I hate to ride through Houston. The only way to do it, and survive, is to ride about 80MPH in the HOV lane and pray! Ricardo complains that I am trying to run off and leave him. Not so!
By 1:00 PM we were through the asphalt jungle and headed east on I-10. A quick stop for lunch and we were off headed to "coon ass" country. Clouds, thunder, maybe rain! Ride fast we don't want to get wet. I might melt. Our Immediate destination was the LaQuinta in Sulphur, LA. And we arrived before 4:00PM. Maybe a little wet. We hit rain the last two miles. Ricardo has already been in the pool and I have read the paper. Later tonight, a light dinner and tomorrow we will head for the Atchafalaya BasIn. The fun begins.
Our time at Cycle Rider was well spent. Spending time with Will and Mary Ramone is always great. And on top of that we got to talk with Kevin, Murray and Steve Perez. A well spent day. A new tire and oil change and we were back on the hot road. Two hundred miles down the road and we were back home on Baffin Bay.
We traveled 980 miles in Mexico and our Taos adventure was 2352 miles. Sun every day and not a drop of rain.
We are going to rest a few days and then head out to the swamps and bayous of Louisiana. I am ready for some etoufee, crawfish and some Cajun music. And remember, Ricardo speaks fluent Cajun.
Sunday Ricardo and I departed Taos mid morning. Headed south on Scenic Hwy 518 we were headed to Clovis, NM. There was someone there that we wanted to visit, David Deaton, someone with whom we had talked with by phont several times but never actually met.
Highway 518 running south to Las Vegas is a beautiful 75 mile run. Cool and clear, it is a beautiful mountain road running past several ski lodges, massive forests and swift flowing rivers.
Five hours "down the road" and we were in Clovis NM sitting in a local restaurant talking with David. after a short visit, we decided to ride another one hundred mles to Lubbock, TX for the night. Early Monday morning and we were off on the 450 mile ride to San Antonio. Hot, sunny and dusty, the ride went without a problem.
But first we had to make a detour. Why? to eat some great barbeque and ride at least two of the "Three twisted Sisters". a favorited motorcycle riding destination near Leakey, TX. Stopping at Garven's Grocery we ordered one of their famous brisket sandwiches. great BBQ, well worth the ride but guess what. Our host soon served us a full platter of freshly BBQ'd ribs. Ahhhh, it is great to be back in the Texas Hill Country.
Now it is Tuesday morning and Ricardo and I have to visir Cycle Rider in San Antonio. The Parts Manager, Steve "Dog" Perez has a new tire that has to be mounted on Ricardo's V-Srar. Tonight? We are not sure, If we get the tire mounted early we could head to Baffin Bay.
Spanish omelettes for breakfast, a cool brisk but clear morning and Ricardo and I were mounted up a riding off toward Questa and the Kit Carson National Forest. Up beautiful winding mountain roads, we would eventually reach an altitude of 3300 meters. Forests and beauty surrounded us. A few motorcycles were on the road headed south but only the two of us riding north.
A stop in Cuesta and we were off to the old frontier town of Red River. Having been discovered it has become a popular ski destination. A town full of time shares, condos and ski lodges, it looks like a fun destination. The was rocking, fully alive. On to Eagle Nest and a stop to look at the scenery and we were off to Angel Fire.
Angel Fire, one of the first sky resorts in New Mexico, remains very popular. This weekend the resort was hasting a major bike ride and marathon so the town was filled with athletes, both young and old. Most were housed in tents. There must have been 700 tents throughout Angel Fire.
Soon we were back in Taos. Ricardo is out enjoying a walk though Taos Centro and I am doing s one laundry.
A great "cooked to order" breakfast here at the hotel, then Ricardo and I were off to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. This is always the place I most appreciate visiting. An engineering and natural marvel, this bridge spans a huge and beautiful gorge some 565 feet deep. You can see the river winding it's way south for miles in this dramatic gorge, cutting it's way through the mountains,
The granite walled cliffs are home to numerous herds of Pronghorn Antelope, all of seem to have the ability to climb theses sheer cliffs. A mile or two north of the gorge you arrive at a small village of Earthship Biotecture homes. Amazing structures, with their own beauty, each is built totally out of recycled materials, mostly beer cans and wine bottles.
Tonight Ricardo is attending a Native American dance recital and I will relax with a book. Tomorrow we are going to ride the mountain roads surrounding Taos.
Cool, but not cold. Cloudy but not rainy. Our ride from Clovis took us through Fort Sumner (Billy the Kid), Santa Rosa, Las Vegas, NM, into the high mountain towns of La Cuevo and Angel Fire and then into the Enchanted City of Taos. Taos, home of many free spirits, Native Americans and my old friend, Randt Vigil. Taos, where young and old gather in the Plaza every Thursday to dance to the music of traveling musicians.
Taos, home of the historic and sacred Taos Pueblo. A city known for it's local artists. Artists, some of whom paint, some of whom restore Early American automobiles, and others who design and craft beautiful silver and turquoise jewelry.
Both Ricardo and I enjoy visiting this Land of Enchantment. Dinner tonight consisted of a great local Trujillo Burritto and a snack or two. Four the next three days we will be housed in the historic Kachina Lodge. It is a local landmark known for it's Native American Dancers each evening and it's freshly cooked breakfast omolets and hot cakes.
Hot, dusty, but beautiful, Ricardo and I are on the Road to Taos. From Kerrville to the northwest we road through historic West Texas towns like Mountain Home, Menard, Junction, Lubbock and Muleshoe. Each with it's own unique history. Past oil fields, cotton fields and even several aromous cattle feed lots. Life was hot but great.
And what did we do different? Well, we ran into Sam in Lubbock who was sitting on the hood of a small roadster and of course Ricardo had to stop to see what kind of car? Sam offered to let Ricardo drive it but Ricardo only satin it. I think I would have driven it it it was air conditioned.
Over four hundred fifty miles up the road, in blazing hot sun, we finally arrived in Clovis NM. Dinner at a Subway, some quick shopping at Walmart and we are now in our hotel for the night. Tomorrow we will leave early, stop in Las Vegas, NM for a late breakfast and then drive the beautiful mountain road to Taos. We should arrive on the Taos Plaza by mid afternoon. They are eagerly waiting on us!
Ricardo and I left the Bay at seven this morning enroute to Taos. Dense fog the first 50 miles slowed our pace but at least it was cool. Cool? Only in the early morning. By 11:00 AM it was sunny and hot. A quick visit to Cycle Rider, my home motorcycle shop in San Antonio, and we were soon back on the road headed to Alamo BMW to have a recall item checked.
By the time we headed west towards Kerrville the temperature was above 100 degrees ferehnheit. That is hot, riding on a motorcycle. Tonight we are housed in a nice La Quinta. Tomorrow will be a five hundred mile run to Clovis, NM. Taos, here we come.
We are back to my home on Baffin Bay. A personal matter needs my undivided attention. Fear not, our Summer 2015 adventure is far from over. Tuesday morning Ricardo and I will depart, riding west. Our ultimate destination is the mountainous areas near Taos NM. But along the way we plan to spend some time in Tucumcari and Las Vegas, NM.
I will be riding my BMW R1200GS and Ricardo will be on the Yamaha V-Star 950 Tourer. Both are ready to run.
Right now go to my "pictures" and look at the Madero Winery album. It will show you the most interesting part of our day. Such an interesting winery and so happy to show us everything. Ten years ago I met the Winemaker while visiting the Madero Winery. Today I happened to meet him again. Both of us 10 years older but just as excited with wine making.
Up early, Ricardo and I visited one of the other wineries in Parras. Then it was a quick ride around the area. Mid morning and we were on a guided tour of the Madero Winery. Our tour guide, Victor was great. We were joined by a nice family from Monterrey. Life is great.
Later, Ricardo and I took a motorized tour with about ten other people to learn the history of this city. It was very informative at a cost for both of us of only forty pesos.
Mid afternoon found Ricardo in the cold swimming pool and me relaxing in the hotel courtyard with a book. Dinner tonight? Angellettis, where else? Great Italian and Argentinean foods, locally produced wines, great service and modest prices. Our kind of place!
Tonight Ricardi is visiting a local Bat Cave where hundreds of bats fly out each night to feast on. ....I am not sure what. Maybe Ricardo can tell us later tonight.
By mid morning, Ricardo and I had traveled 110 miles west of Saltillo, across an extremely arid desert. Our destination? The beautiful grape oasis known as Parras de la Fuente, or in English, the grapevines of the fountains.
Parras, home of the Madero Winery, said to be the oldest winery in the Americans. Parras, home to several artesian lakes, crystal clear and icy cold. Parras, a city watched over by the beautiful Iglesias known as Santo Madero. You must go to the "pictures" to see this graceful church sitting high over Parras on the must fragile mountain. Parras, famous for the denim factories that employ much of the citizenry.
I discovered this wondrous city ten years ago and this is my third visit. Never an international tourist destination, it is appreciated by us that love the deserts of Mexico. And Ricardo? He always loves a new destination with good friends.
Tonight we are safely at home in the colonial Hostal Arlington Farol. This is a traditional colonial hotel with good rooms, new bathrooms and a fine restaurant and bar. Tomorrow? We will start with a tour of the Madero Winery, then visit a second winery. And maybe I can coax Ricardo into one of the icy lakes. I like to see him in cold shock.
Where? Monterrey, A day or so in Saltillo and then on to Parras de la Fuente. Parras De La Fuente, in the mountains and the heart of the wine Country. Parras de la Fuente, home to the Madero Winery, the oldest winery in the Americas. A beautiful area and little known gem!
Ricardo arrived in Corpus Christi Monday afternoon and we were off preparing for our adventure. Tuesday was spent on the Bay and in the shops. Wednesday morning and we were off, crossing the border by 11:00 AM. A frustrating hour at Immigracion and Aduana, a couple of hundred dollars spent and we were on our way.
Three hours later and we were on the autopista around Monterrey..and the temperature? Only 105 degrees ferehnheit, "May caliente". Up the high mountains, in and out of rain and by 4:00 PM we were back in Saltillo. Saltillo, the Capitol of Coahuilla and at one time the Capitol of Tejas. But then that was before Travis, Houston, John Wayne and the heroic battles at the Alamo, Goliad and San Jacinto.
A visit to a museum or two, a tour of the city and now we are safely in the beautiful Hotel Colonial San Miguel.Rain it is coming down steadily but it seems just right and so peaceful. Tomorrow we will be up early and in Parras by noon.
Hank is the best BMW GS mechanic in South Texas, Maybe all of Texas. Why am I here? Getting the two BMWs completely ready for the next adventure. Oil change, lube and maintain the final drives, adjusting the valves.....all necessary before Ricardo and I head to Mexico and "points west". Ricardo arrives Monday and by Wednesday we will be heading south. Ninety four miles to the Border and then south to Saltillo, the State Capitol of Coahuila. And then on west to Parras de la Fuente, vineyard country and the home of the oldest winery in the Americas. Another great adventure with my Tico friend.