|First Quarter 2015||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
Despite a lot of rain we have enjoyed plenty of nice riding weather in the first quarter of 2015. I have managed to log almost 6000 miles. If you are keeping track of your mileage be sure to check out our ONLINE MILEAGE LOG
4 Louisiana Club members did a ride to Big Bend, joined by honorary chapter member Jim Girton and I have a report below.
Last Saturday Tino organized a lunch ride via text message and three of us (including myself and Kevin Yeats) met in Sorrento and rode LA 22 to Ponchatoula for lunch at Hi Ho #2. Some decent smoked ribs. We split up after lunch and I took some back roads back to St. Francisville for a nice 250 mile round trip in perfect weatherWe are still without a State Director and no regular lunch rides are planned. However, we are sure to have an occasional ride put together by somebody when the weather looks good. If you are interested in receiving invites to these rides let me know via the contact form at the West Florida Republic Riders Club
The Louisiana Big Bend trip has become a more or less annual affair. We have a slightly different group each year, this one was my 3rd trip via motorcycle, 4th total. Fourth or fifth for Eric, first for Kevin and no telling how many for Tino!
Since the "usual suspects" live in various parts of south Lousiana we typically converge on the first day of the two day journey to Big Bend somewhere in central Texas. The original plan was to meet in downtown Austin, at my suggestion. I was planning to enjoy some good BBQ and live music. However, a late winter storm had predictions of freezing rain for the Austin area and we changed plans at the last minute to Seguin, TX, about 50 miles south. The storm also knocked a couple of out-of-state riders off the list from the Dallas, TX area and Illinois. However, Jim Girton (Kawasaki Concours 14) beat the storm by departing his home in Kansas two days early. The four Louisiana riders took the hint and left a day early as well, leaving Wednesday afternoon and stopping for the night in different spots along the way. I made a 106 mile hop to Scott, LA on my Concours 14 via back roads through Cajun Country. Kevin Yeats (Honda ST 1300) and Eric Blalock (BMW 1200RT) rode I-10 to Sulphur, LA and if I remember correctly Tino Crowell made it to Katy, TX.
That made for an easy day's ride to Seguin for all of us, 372 for me. But as I mounted my Concours 14 in the Sleep Inn parking lot the rain began to fall. It was only light to moderate and I rode out of it after about 60 miles. I don't like the Interstate but with massive Houston dead in my sights my best option was to ride straight through it on I-10. The traffic was not bad and I used the HOV lane. At any rate the ride was uneventful and I arrived about an hour after Tino, a day after Jim and a hour before Kevin and Eric. We had a nice meal at a nearby Italian place, GIUSEPPE's that looks like it was recently a Mexican place. Despite the strage decor the food was good and Italian. I ordered a Pizza, the smallest on the menu but still huge. .
Friday morning we rode out of Seguin and into San Antonio on I-10 and out the other side on US 90. I grew up on and like US 90. The Texas stretch of it is full of Old West history. We passed through towns with good old west sounding names like Hondo, Sabinal, Del Rio and Langtry. We bought fuel and had lunch at the Town House Restuarant in Uvalde. The atmosphere and service were nice and the food was good but slow. It was almost two hours later before we were back on the road.
We made a sightseeing stop at the Pecos River overlook near where the Pecos joins the Rio Grande.
We made it to Alpine with plenty of daylight left. At the Oaktree Inn, check-in was at Penny' s Diner, a cafe that looks like a railroad dining car. The desk clerk was out and the cook tried to check us in. Chaos. We eventually got checked in and the rooms were nice and comfortable. We unpacked and I made a run into town for liquor and found a well stocked Twin Peaks. We had dinner at Penny's. Fortunately for us the cook proved to be a much better cook than he was a desk clerk. I can't remember what I ate but that probably means it was ok.
Saturday was our main Big Bend riding day and we did a 311 mile loop south to the Rio Grande and back ending in Fort Davis. We rode TX 118 south out of Alpine to Study Butte where we stopped for gas. In south Texas the distances between gas stations are often a close match for some of our tank capacities so we rarely passed up an opportunity for fuel. We continued on 118 to Old Maverick Road. At this point Adventure Boy Tino turned west onto the gravel/dirt segment of Old Maverick which was a shorter route to our destination: Santa Elena Canyon. The rest of us went east on paved road to Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
Ross Maxwell is a road I had never been on before and it was for me the highlight of the trip. The road itself was curvey with elevation changes and nicely paved; great fun to ride and the scenic views were breathtaking. The drive ends at Santa Elena Canyon overlook at the Rio Grand River. We were able to walk down to the bank of the river and take pictires of the canyon walls. Afterwards we retraced our route on Ross Maxwell then turned east on Maverick to US 385. 385 took us north to Marathon, then US 90 back to Alpine then TX 118 North to Fort Davis and the Fort Davis Drug Store and Old Texas Inn, our home for the next two nights.
Fort Davis is described by the National Park Service as "one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars' frontier military post in the Southwest." The "Drug Store" is now a restuarant and Ice Cream Parlor with an art gallery and 6 rooms on the 2nd floor. From what I can tell the restuarant is the most popular spot in the tiny town with a steady business selling ice cream and fudge to tourists during the day as well and is a popular breakfast and dinner spot.
After checking in and unloading the bikes we walked down the street to the Mexican restaurant, CUEVA DE LEON (Lion's Cave) and had some authentic Mexican food for lunch. Heading back to the Inn we hung out on the front porch and chatted with the tourists many of whom were interested in our bikes and amazed at how far we had come. We also killed some time replacing burned out headlight bulbs on Jimmie and Eric's bikes. By then it was happy hour and Jimmie and I had a whisky and a local beer at the bar across the street before dinner at the Drug Store. We all had ribeye steaks.
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying the front porch and watching videos that Tony and Eric had made while riding.
Sunday we rode only a short 75 mile loop. Rain threatened so we ate a leisurely breakfast and bided our time waiting for a good radar picture. About 9 we headed out on TX 118 northeast to the McDonalds Obervatory, a great twisty mountain road. All except Kevin had been to the McDonalds Visitors center before so we continued on 118 to TX166. We turned south on TX 166 which looped us back east to Fort Davis.
We got back to Fort Davis rather early. Kevin rode back to the observatory and checked out the visitors center. I went for a walk to check out the town but there is not much to see except the old courthouse and the Limpia Hotel. Another good meal at the Drug Store and then an exit planning session. Big rain was moving in over night and various plans were hatched to get home dry. Most would work out fairly well but not all.
Monday morning heading home. If I remember correctly Kevin bugged out before daylight planning to get as far east on I-10 as he could. He would get as far as Sealy, TX, just west of Houston and dry. Tony, Jimmie, Eric and I headed out about 9:00 after breakfast taking TX 117 north to Balmorhea where Eric and I turned east on I-10 while Jimmie and Tino continued north. Jim would stay high and dry by stopping for the night in Amarillo instead of his originally planned Wichita Falls. He stayed at the Big Texan Motel and Steak Ranch, one of our long time favorite stopping pouints. Tino would head to his Mom's place outside of Dallas right into the rain. He would later say that this was one of his wettest trips in many years.
Eric and I continued on I-10 to US 190. The rain was ahead of us and we were in no hurry to catch up with it. We got gas and a snack in Menard and dilly-dallied in the parking lot. Eric went and found an auto parts place for a bottle of Rain-X which we sprayed on our face shields. The rain had been only sporadic and light but the roads were quite wet and spray from the autos and trucks was worse than the rain. We managed to make it to Georgetown and the Econo Lodge still dry but the bikes were filthy! The Econo Lodge was better than most ELs and the desk clerk alerted us to an authentic Mexican taco shop and bakery within walking distance. Dos Hermanos Taqueria Y Panaderķa. Truly a hole in the wall but excellent Mexican food.
Tuesday morning Eric and I were again dodging the rain. We headed northeast on US 190 and US 79 to Marquez then east on TX 7 to Crockett. There we fueled up and Eric turned southeast to Beaumont and I-10 while I continued east on TX 103 to Milam and crossed the Sabine River into Lousiana. I rode LA 6, 191 and 474 to Florien, LA then road down US 171 to New Llano for a BBQ lunch at Bubba Q's. From there I headed east through Kisatchie National Forest. It had been dry all morning but began to drizzle in Kisatchie increasing gradually as I progressed east. I rode through Bunkie, Cottonport and Simmesport to LA 1 then crossed the Mississippi River on the John James Audubon Bridge, the rain getting heavier mile by mile. For the last 10 miles to home the rain really poured and my rain gear finally couldn't keep up, getting me a little wet underneath. No complaints from me though, it could have been worse. Another great trip with some great riding buddies!Below are a few more photos and the track of our Big Bend trip
That's all for now.
Keep riding & smiling
Bob Chappuis, Editor