The directions gave us some clue as to how sparsely populated and undeveloped Big Bend was. Paul told us to clock 52.5 miles south of the railroad at Alpine, and look for a house on the left, and sure enough after 52.5 miles, and after passing maybe three buildings, we came across the Adobe, standing alone. We pulled into the driveway, and Voni cam out dressed head to toe in red, which we later came to realise was her signature colour.
Paul and Voni were really “good people”. We sat with them in the kitchen after a quick tour of their great house, sipping iced tea, and watching the sun set behind the mountains at the end of their back garden, talking bikes, roads and journeys, before we left for our accommodation for the night, at the Cowhead Ranch, just a short ride down the road, owned by their friend, Cowboy Chris.
We had heard a fair amount about Chris and the ranch, and had been on his website, but nothing could prepare us for what we were about to encounter.
As we entered the ranch, we had a pack of small dogs and a goat came running over to us, barking and braying in welcome.
Chris arrived on the scene as we were getting off the bike, and showed us around the place, which we had all to ourselves, another bonus of travelling in the off-season. We had the choice of 4 separate-how should I put this-shacks, to take up residence, 2 were bunk houses, one was a small hut with 2 single beds, and one was just large enough for a double bed and a little dresser.
We picked the double bed,”Cow Palace” offloaded our gear, and took the bike out for a quick shifty of Terlingua, the nearest “town”.
Terlingua, was a fairly small place, comprising a bank, a filling station/grocery store/restaurant, a bar and Kosmic Kathy’s, a bright pink affair made up of an old school bus-in pink,, a pink van and a Betty Boop trailer, and a scattering of odd tables and chairs for diners.
After a delectable bowl of homemade Chilli, there was just enough time for a short ride down to the Terlingua Ghost town, home to a community of artists and a fab restaurant called The Starlight Once an open-air theatre, the Starlight was now a busy bar and restaurant, and the main focus of Terlingua Ghost town. Then it was back to the ranch to get ready for our first night out.
Once again we were greeted by a raggedy collection of animals when we pulled into the ranch, dogs, goats and chickens all came running out, dangerously close to the bike. We had a walk around our new temporary home; Jacquie got acquainted with the horses while I played with the collection of guns and Cowboy hats. Before long our new pals Paul and Voni came round to pick us up and take us to La Kiva, a funky bar in Terlingua where there was an art show launch party.
La Kiva was a cool place. A “Grotto” bar, in a cave with Adobe walls, carved wooden chairs and a huge selection of world beers.
We had a few drinks, wondered around the exhibition, before heading outside to watch the fire dancers, which was a great show, especially made interesting when one of the girl’s dresses caught fire!
This was also the first night we met Ara and Spirit.
Ara is a French Armenian ,ex uber-Chef, was now living in his RV off the road in Big Bend, and travelling around on his BMW and sidecar combo-which is where his pit-bull, Spirit sat. Ara had been riding around the States until he came across Big Bend, and decided to put down some roots for a while. Every now and then, when the mood takes him, he packs up his bike and he and his dog would head off out into the wilds, camping where they fancied. He had taken up photography and had some amazing pictures, as well as running his own website, blog; http://theoasisofmysoul.com and online shop with his photos, camping recipes and other cool stuff to help him fund his desert lifestyle.
The nest day we were woken by the cockerel and the smell of bacon. Chris was in the “Social Club “ preparing our cowboy breakfast of bacon, biscuits and eggs, in preparation for our day of horse riding and shooting.
We helped Chris saddle up the horses, donned our cowboy hats and headed off into the surrounding desert, for a wee walk around the land behind the ranch.
My horse, Domino, was intent on stopping at every opportunity to eat some grass, but somehow we managed to keep up with Chris and Jacquie, both far more accomplished on horseback than I.
A couple of hours later we were back at the ranch,getting dressed for the bike a quick ride to Lajitas, another ex ghost town that had been bought up by a Billionaire who had tried to turn the place into a luxury resort for the rich and famous. Unfortunately for him, the rich and famous seemed to have other plans, and the place never took off. It lost all its charm in the remodelling, and ended up looking more like “Frontierland, Disney” than an old cowboy town.
Now Lajitas was under new ownership and management and was edging its way back into the Big Bend community. On our visit, the place was still as devoid of people as it had been during its heyday of Ghost down-ness. The boardwalk was far too well kept for our liking, and after a brief walk around, we carried on along the road to Presidio, around the mountains, and took in some of the amazing scenery.
That night at the Ranch, Chris and his daughter, Sunny, set a huge campfire, and we sat around I, ate our dinner and swapped tales, stories and jokes.
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