On May 31, 2002, Janet (my wife) and I, my brother Gary and his wife Ginny, my Air Force buddy Larry C. and a friend of his (also named Larry) rode to Big Bend. We had originally planned the trip for the end of March but rescheduled because of the birth of Larry’s first grand baby in May. My friends Larry C. and Larry T. rode from Alabama and Georgia to Georgetown. It took two days riding in rain to get to Georgetown… Sometimes they were riding in heavy rain. Not a fun two days riding… Janet was new to riding and this was her first long ride. So… I was hoping the weather and West Texas would treat us well. I had planned the trip for over a year down to the last detail. This was to be a four-day ride but as you will see later we deviated from the plan on the 2nd and last day. My biggest concern was gas stations in and around Big Bend. Everything is few and far between in West Texas so it is good to plan ahead and know where there is gas and other facilities. There were four motorcycles on the trip. Janet and I rode a 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad, Larry also rode 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad, Gary and Ginny were riding a 2002 Kawasaki Voyager and Larry’s friend Larry was riding a 1986 Yamaha Venture pulling a trailer. The trailer was nice to have along, especially for carrying a cooler. We made many stops to rest from riding in the heat and it was good to have a cold drink… Thanks Larry T. for bring the trailer.
Below is my navigation system before GPS. I kept it on the gas tank for quick reference. It served us well…
Day 1 Georgetown to Alpine Route Hwy Miles
Georgetown to Burnet (29) 35
Burnet to Llano (29) 30
Llano to Mason (29) 34 GAS (103 miles) Mason to Menard (190) 38 Menard to Ft. McKavett (190-864) 22 Play tourist
Ft. McKavett to Sonora (864) 41 GAS (101 miles) Sonora to Ozona (I-10) 36 Lunch?
Ozona to Bakersfield (I-10) 72 GAS (108 miles) Bakersfield to Ft. Stockton (I-10) 36 Ft. Stockton to Marathon (385) 58
Marathon to Alpine (90) 31 GAS (125 miles) & motel
We left our house in Georgetown at the crack of dawn with much anticipation of a great ride. The temperature was cool until noon making for some nice riding. On the way we stopped a Fort McKavett and spent some time touring the fort. Fort McKavett is the first of two old forts we visited on this ride. Fort McKavett consists of 19 restored buildings located near Menard, Texas. Several of the buildings had been restored and refurbished with period furniture. Restored structures include the officers’ quarters, barracks, hospital, school-house, dead house and post headquarters. There are also ruins of several buildings, most notably the commanding officer’s quarters, which burned in 1941, and barracks. Fort McKavett was, as is the case of most forts in Texas, home to famous Buffalo Soldier regiments. If you like old forts, this is a good one. So if you are in the area, take some time and have a look. From Fort McKavett we took I-10 west to US 67. On US 67 we headed south to Alpine. In the afternoon temperatures began to rise. The temperature climbed steadily into the high 90’s. In Alpine, we checked into the Best Western Hotel. After 436 miles everyone was still smiling but tired because of the heat and distance.
That night we rode out to view the Marfa Lights. We were tired after a long day of riding but we were not going to miss seeing the Marfa Lights… These are mysterious lights that appear outside of the town Marfa. They had been reported since way back in the 1800’s and no one seems to know what they are. Native Americans knew about the lights long before the first recorded sighting in 1883.The Marfa Lights are viewable year round. You may view them any time after sunset at the Marfa Lights Viewing Area, nine miles east of Marfa on Highway 90. We were not disappointed. We saw them and I am not sure what to think of them. It was long day of riding in some Texas heat. We slept good that night after a full day of riding.
Tomorrow we ride to Big bend National Park.
Here are the links to the other days of this ride.
Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 2
Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 3
Our First Big Bend Motorcycle Ride – Day 4
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