Thursday, September 01, 2011

Riding in Big Bend National Park, Texas; 1997 & 1998

 Back in 1997, 1998, and 1999 for Christmas and New Years, I toured the Big Bend region solo. In 1997 I went out of desperation and sadness, 1998 I went for jubilation, and 1999 I went for Y2K. Big Bend is one of my favorite spots in the world and these trips confirmed that. I have a special bond with the place. I haven't been there in post 9-11 America and I'm sure its changed some.

Today we were cleaning out the file cabinet, purging old papers that didn't need to be in there any more and I came across these photos. I took these on my 1998 trip, a completion of the 1997 trip. 

I took a similar pic in 1997 at the Black Gap road junction and I wanted to repeat to see how I changed in one year. In 1997 I was still mourning the death of my dad and failure of my business. I was fed up with everyone in my family, especially after a fiasco during the Thankgiving holiday, so when I got my Christmas break (I was teaching again) I drove the 6 hours to Silver City, still had the key to my brother's house, so I got in and got my camping gear stored there, made a sandwich, got a Coke, and left without seeing anyone.

It was cold; a arctic cold front had settled in the Southwest and I was still in my mucks when I left Silver City. I didn't take off my cold weather gear until I got to Las Cruces. Its a 12 hour drive from Silver City to Terlingua and I got there right when Desert Sports was closing. My friend Mike Long was surprised to see me and invited me for Christmas dinner (it was Dec. 24) with his parents. They were full-time RVers and we drove down to Lajitas and 7 people were crammed into a 5th wheel travel trailer. It was cozy but really good!

The next day, Christmas day, I headed to the park. I got to the visitor's center 5 minutes before closing (at 12:00 noon) and got my back country permits, loaded my bike with gear and took off. Each day was something different. Riding was cold. It was spitting snow a lot, and I did not have a tent to hunker down in. All I had was a bivy sac and my sleeping bag. Anyway I met all sorts of characters and people in the desert. It was really therapeutic and I feel I was healed of my funk while riding my bike.

On the last day, I rode up the Black Gap road to get back to the VC and my car. When riding up the Black Gap road, it kept climbing and getting into more and more remote country. I starting thinking of "The Heart of Darkness". This thought just kept coming to me and I kind of started freaking a bit. Finally I reached a pass made a turn and got off the Black Gap road and headed back to the highway where I could ride to the VC.

When I got back to Desert Sports, I told Mike of my trip. I told him about "The Heart of Darkness" and his jaw just dropped. He said something like, "Boy if there's anyone who needs to live down here, its you! You're tuned into this place. That is exactly was we call that place, "The Heart of Darkness". Trippy!

I finished up that 1997 trip across the border in Mexico where I camped and in the morning met a little girl named Marina and her little sister Serina. In 1998, I met them again, took them Christmas gifts in my panniers and was invited to stay with the family for a couple of days and nights. It was really neat. They heated their home with a tiny stove made from car rims. They were proud they had running water.


Silk Hope said...

Looking good Lewis! Nice post

kpomtb said...

February 2012. Return to Big bend.

Mimbres Man said...