January 24, 2009 GMT
To Big Bend

The following day was no better. 33 degrees, foggy and really quite depressing, but nonetheless, it was time to go, we needed to get on the road and put down some miles. We decided that there would be no point in riding the roads that everyone had raved about as we wouldn’t be able to appreciate it in the cold and with very low visibility.
We headed out into the cold, grey day, in the vain hope that the weather would warm up at some point, which of course it didn’t. After only 120 miles or so we pulled into the resort town of Leakey to find shelter and a room for the night.
Leakey, a summer holiday destination, appeared dismal and dull in the grey. Our first contact in the town was equally dreary. The woman who ran the two-wheels-only motel was a miserable as the weather when we asked if her rates were negotiable, as we were the only tourists in the town that day.
We finally settled into the lodge across the street, and set about our routine of downloading photos, writing the diaries and generally killing time.
Unfortunately, the morning was even drearier than the day before, and wet to boot, oh what joy!leaky road.jpg
Once again, we set out into the unknown, dressed to combat the cold and wet. We could barely move in our thermals, sweaters, jackets and waterproofs, so we sat, uncomfortably hot and stuffy, on the bike for some 3 hours until we arrived at Brackettville, and the Alamo village film set.
We blagged our way in for free and rode down the bumpy unpaved road down to the village,alamo1.jpg alamo2.jpgwhere we were met by John, the Sheriff/Barkeep with a welcoming smile. Business had been slow. The holidays hadn’t yet started; the weather was miserable, and we were the only visitors to stop by for a while. We walked into the Saloon together, and were given Hollywood guns, cowboy hats and other props to set about the serious business of being tourists and taking photos.saloon@alamo.jpg I swapped places with John, replacing him as the bartender and showed him a few of my bartending tricks, while he showed me some of his gun fighting tricks. We had a walk around the deserted set before heading off to get to Del Rio before the sunset.
Our Motel, Del Rio
Del Rio was all you would expect from a border town. Big, busy, dirty and devoid of all character. The only saving graces were an extremely cheap movie theatre and an even cheaper motel. We settled into the room, unloaded the bike, and headed off to the cinema. During the film, we managed to completely forget where we were. Both of us were kind of expecting to get out of the cinema and into Jackie’s BMW back in Tunbridge Wells. Funny, that.

The next day started off the same as the previous one, grey and gloomy. Once again we slipped, slided and slithered into our riding gear and made off West, again, this time towards Big Bend. Our grey day gradually improved, and after lunch the sun came out for real. It never ceases to amaze me how much a little sunshine can make such a huge difference to the dynamic of the trip. It lifts our spirits, and even if it’s colder, it feels warmer if the sun is shining.
We rode over one of the oldest bridges in north America with stunning views over the Pecos river, pecos and garth.jpgstopped off in Langtry, where the “hanging Judge” Roy Bean held court sessions in his saloon. He named his saloon after the love of his life, English actress Lilly Langtry;http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/aug/papr/du_roybean.html
As we rode into Alpine, the town on the North end of the Big Bend region, the sun was dropping behind the mountains, we made a quick pass of the town, checked out the motels before picking one that was not the cheapest, but also not the dingiest, and settled down for some well earned rest and recuperation.
We hit up our new internet friends, Paul and Voni, who lived in Big Bend and replied to our e-mail on Horizons Unlimited, a bike traveller’s website, and had helped us with finding a place to stay in Big Bend while we were there, and arranged to meet up with them the next day on our way into the park.

Posted by Dan Shell at January 24, 2009 11:02 PM GMT

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