Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 6--Marathon TX to Carlsbad NM

8/14/11  A good day today.  We left Marathon after finding one of two gas stations open.  Gary needed gas, and I was worried that, with it being Sunday morning, we might not be able to find a place open.  I'm not sure what we'd have done if none had been open, but it turned out that we found gas.  Not cheap, but $4.38 per gallon for premium.  But high priced gas is better than none.

The road to the park is 68 miles long.  It was pretty much straight, but with some changes in elevation and a few curves.  The scenery was pretty much western--lots of low, scrubby brush and mountains off in the distance.  It wasn't boring, but it wasn't spectacular either.

Inside Big Bend National Park, we stopped at the visitor's center and asked where we could view the river.  The ranger told us two places and warned us about one road that probably had overwash from the rain that fell yesterday and last night.

The roads in this part of the world are sorta weird.  There are many dry washes that cross the road.  When it's dry, there's no problem.  But the water is meant to cross the road (cheaper than building bridges, I guess).  Many of the larger overwashes have depth gauges to show how deep th water is so a driver can decide whether or not to cross the river running over the road.  We have seen hundreds of them, some very large, and some very small.  I guess it's the best way to deal with infrequent flash flooding.

We rode to a group camping area, where there was a boat ramp.  At the boat ramp, we found the Rio Grande river and were astounded at how small it was.  The river at that point was maybe 50 feet wide, and it looked pretty shallow.  I wanted to walk down into the water, but there was a slippery very soft mud for about 5 feet to get to the water.  So, I didn't get my feet wet in the Rio Grande!  I was pretty disappointed in what I saw.

Thinking about the illegal immigrant problem in the USA, having seen the river, it's no problem to cross the river.  In fact, at a viewing area, we watched a man walk from one side to the other.  The water was about thigh deep; he didn't even get his shirt wet!  Later, we saw two boys on a horse cross at the same place.

Not to digress from Big Bend, but we did see a lot of Border Patrol vehicles along the way.   I believe we're pouring a lot of money into protecting our borders, based on the number of vehicles and officers we saw.  And, we came through two "Inspection" stations along the way.  They are set up to find illegal immigrants on the main roads.  Each one has a dog that sniffs about (I'm not sure what he's sniffing for) the vehicle.  Our passing was easy since we were on bikes.  They asked if we were American citizens.  We replied that we were, and they let us pass.  Cars took longer.

A small bunch of mountains are in the center of the park, so we rode up to check out what was there.  At the top was a lodge and restaurant.  Since it was lunchtime, we went in for lunch.  My club sandwich was pretty good!

Down the mountain and back to the main park road and then headed west for Presidio on the River Road.  The River Road is supposedly the best road in Texas.  It winds along parallel to the Rio Grande, and follows the contours of the land.  It is roller-coaster, winding road that runs about 60 miles from the park to Presidio.  While I liked the road, IMO it's not the best road in Texas; the roads in the hill country were better.  But it was fun and I'm glad we did it.

Then north to Carlsbad NM.  The roads we rode on were something else.  Well maintained, straight, and wide, the two-lane roads had speed limits of 75 mph much of the way.  We rode from 75 to about 90 mph most of the way.  I'm sure we averaged over 80 mph, including towns along the way.  It was a fast blast.

We found a hotel just outside Carlsbad Caverns National Park, checked in, walked to dinner, and called it a night.  Before going to bed, I had to repair a boot where the heel had come unbonded from the sole.  Ductape can fix anything!

It was a good day; we covered about 450 miles.  BTW, I've now ridden almost 2,500 miles since leaving home last Monday.

Tomorrow, Carlsbad Caverns and then start west towards San Diego (another 1,000 miles away).

I'm not posting pics tonight; my Internet connection is very poor.  I hope to post pics and blog tomorrow night.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting description of the Rio Grande. And roads without bridges.