Sunday, 17 October 2010

Austin to Dallas

Well here I am in a Holiday Inn in Dallas and the tour is now over  - the bikes are handed back and the mileage was 2805 - not bad for 14 days.  Today we just blasted up the Interstate (35) to Dallas about 200 miles - stopped at Waco but didnt meet any Branch Davidians, then came into Dealey Plaza to look at where JFK was shot - its very interesting looking at the trajectories from the 6th Floor window and also the infamous grassy knoll.
Tonight we have our goodbye dinner which will be strange but on the plus side Gary is coming to the UK in November and I have asked him to stay.......

Saturday, 16 October 2010

San Antonio to Austin

Yesterday was the penultimate day of the tour and its really noticeable  - particularly after we have spent so long in the wide open spaces of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas - to start of in a big city is very strange.  Nonetheless as with all days it had some great moments.  We walked to the Alamo, and I was amazed to see that the streets of San Antonio used to be made from wooden blocks which were just paved over - see the picture of where its all come up.  The Alamo is a shrine and is treated with total reverence and thats understandable a pivotal moment in Texas history.  its now the third largest city in Texas and the scenic riverwalk lined with bars that runs through it is surprisingly nice.  Also see the great shot of someone pushing a stuffed Lion down the street.

From San Antonio, we took the freeway out to Greune and then followed the river for about 30 miles or so scenic twisty mies to our lunch spot - Gary's all time favourite Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood.  This place is just an immense limited offer (meat, meat and more meat) BBQ in the middle of nowhere - it was packed and the food was very good - and its all you can eat.

From there a hot ride into Austin the music capital of Texas.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Marathon to San Antonio

The sun dosent rise in this part of Texas until around 8:00 am, so we set off at 8:30 as usual riding head on East into the rising sun  - and it was cold.  We have 360 miles to do today which is a fair old distance so Gary set a good pace of about 85mph and after a few hours we had achieved some distance and arrived at our first stop - Judge Roy Beans courtroom and saloon, by which time the temp was nearly 90 degrees F.

From there we then went off to San Antonio - where we have now arrived in a weird Holiday Inn which is hosting a convention for Daughters of The Nile - they are all old women (100's of them) in turquoise two piece tops and long dresses which some psychedelic trims - which according to Wikipedia is some wives club for Shriners and Masons.

Anyway we are all off out to explore San Antonio.

Gage Hotel, Marathon TX

Quick bit of praise for the gage Hotel - easily the nicest hotel of the tour so far with great rooms, bar restaurant, lobby and overall grounds - very nice and thoroughly recommended.

Break for the Border

Today was a day just for riding -the plan to ride 140 miles south to Big Bend National Park and then ride out and do what you want before going to Marathon for our evening stop in the Old gage Hotel.  Now WEst Texas is miles from anywhere and this park is a stunner of mountains desert and the Rio Grande which forms the border with Mexico.  I decided to head out for that as I wanted to go as far as I could get and it was well worth it the scenery is amazing.  On the way back to find the group I was stopped by a Border Patrol and not having my passport held for checks - fortunately Gary came along 20 mins later and saved the day again (top man).

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Historic Prude Ranch - Fort Davis

We arrived at Prude Ranch 2 days ago, and its on the edge of West Texas near Mexico - it was not as special as I was hoping, but sitting here now its been a good place to stop.  Basic Ranch accommodation  - but the pluses are amazing skies at night, and some great events.  The main one for me was the chance to use some of Gary's huge arsenal of weapons he carries in the back of the truck - so yesterday the farm manager lent a bus and I dove the group about 3 miles up a rough dirt track to this range in the hills and we spent 2 hours shooting everything from .22 pistols, .45 automatics, .303 winchesters and an amazing sniper rifle that shot these huge supersonic rounds - superb.  Other highlights have been a campfire cook out and some of the others went horse riding - give me a Harley any day.
At our house at home we have a huge iron chicken in the front garden, which we bought on holiday in France, and when I saw this modern sculpture of a chicken I thought it would be a great addition............until after going on about it - I was told it was a stirrup!

Carlsbad Caverns

On Monday night we stayed in a Best Western in Carlsbad - one of those typical motel type places and had a tailgate party of a few beers and some takeout Dominoes pizza's, listening to the radio playing classic rock blasting out of two Streetglide stereos.

The Carlsbad Caverns are really quite impressive, to get down to them is a 1.5 mile walk descending 800 ft through some amazing sites and huge spaces.  Every night the bats flock out and there is an amphitheatre to see them.  My favourite bit was the gift shop at the bottom - an amazing piece of incongruence.  After the caverns we blasted to Fort Davis and had a brief run in with the law when one of our group was stopped for speeding - doing 70mph in a National Park is according to Gary a Felony and could have had a prison sentence - the officer let them off!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Las Cruces to Carlsbad

Another top days riding at 4000 ft + altitudes and 90 degree heat.
The main stop was the bizarre White Sands National Park ........and Missile range (yes they set off atom bombs here) but amazing nonetheless.  Then off to Cloudcroft a ski resort at 9000 ft , and a 100 mile blast to Carlsbad...with an interesting stop at Artemis where we saw the armed police cars stop and detain a felon in  dramatic style - top entertainment.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Silver City to Las Cruces

Today was the most demanding days riding so far - about 250 miles in all.  We left Silver City to get a picnic lunch at Wal-Mart - which was a good plan!  From there is a 50 mile ride to the Gila Cliff Dwellings in the National Park - but a 2 hour ride as the roads are so twisty with 15 mph signs on most bends - it also climbs up to nearly 8000 ft - one of our group got altitude sickness.  At the park it was a further 1 mile trek up the cliffs to see the caves (with walls) which are up to 2000 years old - its a World Heritage Site - but not really up there with the Pyramids.  The way back down was tougher as some US tax dollars had been well spent on improving a new 35 mile twisty road with huge drops by the side and of course was covered in loose gravel - cue riding at a snails pace - but the scenery and weather were brilliant.
From there it was a 100 mile blast with the sun on our backs through the largest chilli production area in the USA, to our Best Western in Las Cruces.  We have just arrived, and as New Mexico is an "open carry" state  - Gary has armed himself with a mean looking gun - I said he was stupid and he said he would shoot me - guess I lost that one.

Tonight we are going to a historic bar restaurant somewhere where Gary says  - the food is OK but not as good as the historic connotations of the place (Billy the Kid broke out the day before he was due to be hanged) - we shall see........

.....quick update - add mental note - never eat mexican food again.