Back in about April, Mel and I were planning a trip to Sturgis and were supposed to connect somewhere in Iowa. His bike broke down and I got laid off from my job, so that trip was off till a later date. My brother had an extra bike, so I asked him if I could loan the Iron Head to a bro. He said yes, so I made the offer to Mel and he accepted. Picking Mel up at DFW airport turned out to be an ordeal. It seems that all international flights now arrive at terminal D, even tho his ticket said B. It wasn't a total waste of time there though. At least I got to welcome some of our troops home and wish some troops well, as they were heading out. I thanked them all for my freedom.
Finally found him, so we loaded up in the WarWagon (my van) and headed for the house. After Mel got settled in, I showed him the bike. I had everything ready to go except the front brake. It was leaking fluid onto the disc. No problem (I thought), I had gotten a caliper seal kit a couple of days earlier. We pulled the caliper off to replace the seals. Turns out that the piston was pitted deeply in variouse places. We tried polishing it to no avail. Called Dave at EastBay cycle shop in Ennis. It turns out he didn't have one. Tried a few ideas that didn't pan out. The bike was not safe to ride, so we parked it till the proper parts could be found.
The next day was Silk-N-Steel MC's coming out party. We had origionally planned to ride to Wichita Falls, but wound up loading up in the WarWagon and heading out. Boy what a party. Plenty of good food, rocn-n-roll, and cold beer, but especially good people.
As you can see, the party was a blast. Abe (dude looks like Abraham Lincoln) really outdid himself on the ribs, Outstanding.
On the trip home we stopped in Stumpy's Blues Bar and caught some of the Jam nite. Lots of good talent floating around. Even got to hear the great J B Wynns.
The next day we hunted for a new caliper piston for the Iron Head. A couple of places said that they could order the part and it would take a couple of days, but Mike Poole and School Teacher of Poole's Custom Cycle had the part in stock.
They are one of the last of old school bike shops left that believe in stocking parts. We got the brake working and went for a ride.
I had to work on a contract job for a couple of days, so my bro Mel ventured out on his own a little bit. Then we were off to drop some Skunk Dots Biker Newspapers off to a new bike shope in Red Oak, TX, when My clutch cable broke at the eyelet by the clutch lever. The lead mechanic from Rolling bones hotshoted a new clutch cable out to us and loaned me a 3/8" allen wrench. About an hour later, we were back in buisiness. We ended up at Lancaster Municipal airport at the Commerative Airforce hangar. It was quite an experience. I even got the invite to turn wrenches on restoring an old Willy's Jeep.
The next weekend Sputnik brought Running Deer up from Austin to visit and celebrate her Birthday. We had a good time just kicking back and enjoying each others company.
We said goodbye to them the next morning and got ready for Silk-n-Steel's annual crab run. It was perfect weather.
The next day was Sunday. Mel made it down in time for the annual SRV memorial run. It was pretty good, but we were burnt out from partying the night before, so we cut out for home early. Besides, we needed to rest up for the adventure we were about to embark on the next day. Mel rode next to my little brother Philip. It was a beautiful day for riding.
The next day was a beautiful Oct Monday. We packed up and got ready to head out. Before mounting up, we prayed for a safe trip. Moments after that, we were blessed with the presence of a RedTail Hawk landing in a tree just feet away from us. Considering it a sign, we hit the road at peace.
1st stop was a rest area between Glen Rose & Stephenville We met a guy named Bill Turner on his way back home to Denton. He had come down the backroads from Austin. It was nice meeting ya Bill.
Rolling on down Hwy 67, we were just about into Brownwood when we found this cool little picnic area by a stream. Cool town, Brownwood. Understand there is a tree here that the founder of Asphalt Aviators MC crashed his Panhead into.
We skated around San Angelo with the sun in our eyes and a little bit of rain coming down on us. Somehow we missed our cutoff, but it turned out for the better. We were cutting south for Sonora. It seemed we were following John Wayne, because we spent the 1st night out in El Dorado.
The next morning we rolled on to Sonora. The sporty started running a little rough, so we pulled into a gas station to do a little tuning. I was just about finished adjusting the points when this guy comes wheeling up on a 100th anniversary Dyna.
The guy's name was
he works at the local
us on to the Sonora
too hip on the idea of
cave instead of riding
he said that there's
that's shaped like a
Brian. Turns out that
golf course. He turned
Caverns. We weren't
going underground in a
on to Alpine, but when
rock growin down there
butterfly, Mel looked at
me, and I knew that'd cinched it. So off to the Sonora Caverns we went. As you can see from the pics, it was well worth the stop. The guides running the gift shop were friendly too. Turns out that one guy used to live in Mansfield, TX.
We were checking out the place, and they have lots of camping and RV space there too. We found an old antique dentist chair, and we were reminded of the movie where John Wayne was getting his tooth pulled while milking the dentist for information. I made myself comfy for a few, and Mel snapped a picture. We were just about to mount up, when a Redtail Hawk landed in a tree just in front of the bikes and left us a beautiful feather. On the way out of the park, we made it a point to stop at a scenic overlook we had passed at the entrance. Man what a view it was. No good pics of
Back on the road, we stopped in Ozona and took a pic of the Davy Crockett Memorial in front of the Crockett Co. court house. Stayed there just long enough for that and made our way back to I-10 west. Rolling down the road, we took another detour down to Old Fort Lawrence. Turns out that the place ain't open on Tuedays & Wednesdays. Oh well. At least the ride down there to the place was worth it. Check out this scenery.
Made it back to I-10 and hammered down headed to Ft Stockton. The Sporty started running hot and it was cutting out. Found out that it was running low on oil due to a leak out of one of the lifter blocks. We topped off the oil, and before the engine cooled all the way down, we fired it back up to let the fresh oil keep the piston rings loose. It worked out fine, so we slowed the pace a little and made it on in to Ft Stockton. Found an Auto Parts store that had a case of Castrol Racing 70wt that had several years worth of dust built up on it. The guy said that he'd make me a deal on the whole case, but could see that we couldn't carry it. Don't know what kinda deal he was talking about, but we didn't get outta there without paying just under $15 for 3qts.
We looked around for Old Ft Stockton while we were there, but only found the old Soldiers Cemetary. It was sombering being around that much history.
There was roughly 2hrs daylight left when we left there, so we hit the road again and cut back down Hwy 67 once again and made it to Alpine just after dark. Found a nice motel and holed up for the night.
Wed morning was beautiful. Intending to get an early start, we found ther real reason the Sporty had been acting up the night before. Whomever installed the battery, didn't bother to modify the cover to allow for the ground lug to hang over. When the top cover was installed and tightened, this put great stress on the ground lug, and the ride added to it, made the lug break off. After a couple of tricks didn't work, we had to pull a rabit out of the hat. I scored a (believe it or not) hand drill, and a few other items at the local Ace hardware store. With a little ingenuity , and a little prayer, we were back on the road headed to Marfa and Ft Davis. Marfa was pretty, but as we were coming into Ft Davis, we seen more cops than you could shake a stick at in a short amount of distance. Only one of 'em was friendly enough to wave back. We didn't have any run-ins, so it was all good. Old Ft Davis was a trip. It's where the famed Buffalo Soldiers were stationed at, and was origionally built as p[art of a series of forts to protect merchant & supply wagon trains from San Antonio to El Paso.
We had a blast checking out all of the history, and as we were getting ready to mount up, we were blessed with yet another Hawk's presence. Check out the thumbnail in the above center of the tree. We felt good about the ride ahead, so it was off to Presidio next. Man, what scenery.
We hit Presidio in the heat of the afternoon and gassed up. We thought about crossing over to Ojinaga, Mexico, but figured that with Mel being from Canada we could probably get across but might have problems getting back across what with all that Patriot Act BS. Seems that some German citizens had the same problem out at the CA border recently. We followed the Rio Grande heading toward Terlingua. The mountains along the River are majestic. What looked like and hour or so ride on the map, turned out to be a few hours. That is one winding, up and down road. Some of it isn't paved. Our bikes are now part mountain goat. We must still know how to pack though, Nuthin' fell off. Saw a trailer park that reminded me of a PC game that Butterfly's got called 'Trailer Park Tycoon'. Had to get a couple of pics.
My bro Mel is a diabetic, and he shoulda snacked in Presidio, but we thought we'd be in Terlingua way before time for him to do that. It started coming close when we ran past the movie set for the "Lonsome Dove" series. The next town along the way was a ritzy uppity little town called Lajitas. We'd been warned about the place by a local we'd met in Presidio, but none the less, the hotel clerk directed us to a store around the corner. We got some orange juice and grapes there. Mel was immediately better, and educated me a little more about diabetics. Earlier I had offered to ride ahead and come back with something, but he said to never leave a diabetic alone when they go into a kind of stupor state, 'cause they tend to wander off in some unknown direction. God had his hand on us, and we made it through. He also said that Hard Candy would have worked in a pinch too. We made it to Terlingua after dark. I had heard about a bar there that's built inside a cave, but didn't think to ask about it. we were tired and hungry. We spent the night in a pretty expensive motel. Next morning we were planning to head to Big Bend Nat'l Park Headquarters, but woke up to early winter like storm warnings. We looked in the area we wanted to go and noticed that all of the heavy rainclouds were pretty much headed that direction. There was a definate chill in the air. We finally decided that we'd be better off pushing on up to Alpine. Ya shoulda seen them clouds. Film just don't do them justice.
Heading north on Hwy 118 we were dry for about the 1st 10 mi. or so. Scootin right along, I saw a vision that I had had 2 days earlier crossing the road right in front of me, except it was coming from the oposite side of the road. The only Badger I've ever seen in the wild. He had a scowl on his face that read, 'Somebody's fixin' to mess up my day'. He started to continue, but decided to turn around and head back to the safety of the ditch. It wasn't long after that that we could see a wall of rain headed our direction. It was 100 degrees when we left home. We didn't pack any chaps. The wind chill factor @ this point was 37deg F without the rain. After consulting with Mel on weather or not to pitch a tent right there, we dicided to push on. We got pretty drenched and out in the middle of nowhere was a little camper trailer that the U.S. Border patrol had set up as a checkpoint. Well, they could see that we weren't packing any Mojados (Mexican for wetbacks) and felt a little sorry for us drenched rats. They told us about a picnic area about 8mi up the road that had sheltered tables. We go there and decided that we would sitll be cold and be stuck there a long time, so we pushed on. Good thing we did. We made it to Alpine with a bad case of blue lipped hypothermia. Got the same room @ the same motel we had a couple of days earlier. The shower just wouldn't get hot enough. Mel felt better, but I felt like I was gonna get sick, so I climbed in Bed and put the blankets over my head. Mel went for a walk about in town a little bit later and came back with all kinds of cold meds. He fixed me right up. Thanx bro, I owe ya one. It rained all nite, but it was time to push on to home the next morning. Watched the weather report on TV and called my lady Butterfly to get her report from the computer. Figured out that we would have to ride through some rain, but it should get to where we would be in between storms. We made it to Ft Stockton soaked again. We found the local Walmart and bought some winter and rain gear, found a laundromat and threw the soaked clothes in the dryer. Felt good to get some warm dry clothes on, took care of some routine maintenance on the bikes while we were waiting on the clothes to get dry. We had a lot of miles cover because Mel had to be at the airport the next day, so we pushed hard riding pretty much gas tank to gas tank. It was nightfall by the time we reached Glenrose where we took our real 1st break since Ft Stockton. Home wasn't far away now.
Feeling somewhat refreshed we hit the road for that last 40 or so miles to home. After dealing with a few assholes between Glenrose, Cleberne, and Alvarado, it was a pretty good ride. It seems that it being Friday nite and all that there was a few dickheads that musta been late for a party somewhere, and we were slowing them down. We made it home somewhere around midnite I think and did some whooping and hollerin ourselves.
Saturday morning we had coffee and got Mel all packed up and ready to go to the airport. We aready knew what terminal to go to this time, so it wasn't too much of a hassle. Departing from a good brother like Mel is always sad, but there's always a good feeling that a future run is just around the corner.
Mel made it back home and got quite a welcome home. Miss him already.