Thursday 6 November:
That’s what passes for good news around here at the moment!
Of course we were planning to be waking up in the middle of Big Bend National Park until yesterday’s terrible weather forced a change of plan. We had intended to spend most of the day riding in the park followed by a short 150 mile ride into Sanderson.
The bad weather looks like it’s set in for while though, so instead we decided to take two short day rides to take us into San Antonio as planned on Friday. Tonight we agreed to stop in Del Rio, which is about half way, a ride of just 200 miles.
That last sentence shows a marked change in attitude – at home I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of a 200 mile ride in such terrible weather, but here it seems like no big deal – what else are we going to do?
Our whole journey today is on Route 90. Because we don’t have far to go we even agreed to a bit of a lie in: kickstands up at 0800.
We set off into the rain and it was pretty horrible. I hadn’t covered my face well and the rain stung like hundreds of needles – I imagine this is how it would feel to have your face tattooed. Not for the first time I was missing the relative comfort of my full face helmet.
We passed through Marathon, just 30 miles away from Alpine and even smaller with a population of just 430. We had agreed to stop after about 40 miles for a break, but the rain eased up, so Andy pushed us straight through to Sanderson. There wouldn’t have been a lot to do here if we had stayed for the night: founded in 1882, it was a switching point for the South Pacific Railroad. As of 2010 it had a population of 837.
Here we caught up with the other Hadrian V-Twin guys who had left Alpine earlier than us. We stopped for fuel – the last chance or we won’t make it to Del Rio – and coffee. We also saw what must be the world’s biggest Snicker bar: a whole pound of chocolate – only in Texas!
It looked like things were brightening up, so we set off full of optimism. It didn’t last long though: the rain soon returned with a vengeance. We rode for about another 50 miles through mostly wet weather when it suddenly occurred to me: I didn’t care. I was loving it anyway! Here I was, riding a large American motorcycle through some incredible Texan scenery on some brilliant roads – who cares if it’s raining! It helped that it was less cold and windy than yesterday.
Route 90 heads south at this point heading back toward the Mexican border. After about 40 miles we stopped for a break and photos at a roadside picnic area which was, unsurprisingly, otherwise empty.
Inevitably, as we got closer to the border we came across another checkpoint, but they were only stopping traffic heading west so we passed through unhindered.
Shortly afterwards we crossed an impressive bridge across the Pecos River, so stopped again for photos.
Route 90 then took us past the north of Seminole Canyon State Park and through a small town called Canstock before passing over another, larger bridge over Amistad Reservoir and National Recreation Area. The reservoir is at the confluence of the Rio Grande, the Devils River, and the Pecos River, and was created when the Amistad Dam was completed in 1969. Amistad is Spanish for “friendship”.
Our destination was in sight, however, so we kept going the last few miles into Del Rio and yet another Holiday Inn Express, arriving at 1pm. This is our third and they are all pretty much the same, but at least they are good and comfortable.
We quickly dumped off our stuff, freshened up and headed for lunch. Luckily, unlike the previous two Holiday Inns, we had choices other than Pizza Hut. Just over the road was Rudy’s Bar-B-Q where we had a superb lunch of barbecued meat and even a decent beer: Shiner Black Lager.
Things took a turn for the worst as we then had to do some boring shopping stuff, but it was worthwhile as it resulted in a bargain new pair of jeans for me (Levis for $40!), then some lounging about the hotel before meeting the others for dinner at 7pm.
I hadn’t wasted my leisure time, but had instead researched some decent bars and restaurants to visit: good, authentic family run places just a short cab ride away. I needn’t have bothered: we ended up in Applebees based largely on its proximity. I can’t complain about the food: in fact no-one was particularly hungry after our lunch at Rudy’s and we ended up with just a mix of starters and deserts anyway, all of which was good. I can’t even complain about the beer: I had a perfectly acceptable Samuel Adams Oktoberfest and the women were happy with their margaritas. I could even forgive the fact that it is another big chain restaurant. What I really struggled with, though, was the fact that it was in the shopping mall! Oh well, it is an authentic American dining experience of sorts I suppose.
Miles today: 202
Total miles: 1508