Monday, 30 September 2013

236 Uvaldi to San Antonio

Friday 27th September 2013
Miles today 160 Total   23,291
We woke this morning and the sky was overcast and it was seriously humid, not enjoyable for on the bike, however once we got going there was a breeze which kept the temperature down a bit.  It was pretty much the same scenery as yesterday, and Ray took us off into the hills to a motorcycle "resort" called Frio Canyon.  As we pulled in for lunch, we heard a lot of shouting and saw people waving, it was the Germans with the Texan, Mark, from yesterday.
Mark, Elke, Thomas and Sebastian
Frio Canyon

We spent a fair bit of time with them, and then we all went our separate ways.  The guys and gals are splitting up with Mark tomorrow as he has to get back for work, but they are hoping to meet up with us in San Antonio at some stage.
We rode a couple of passes that had been recommended to us and then we high tailed it to San Antonio.  We are booked into a Super 8 hotel in the North West of the city, and are here for the next 5 nights.  We had a quiet evening are are planning to go to Sea World tomorrow.

Saturday 28th September 2013
Miles Today 19 Total 23,320
Sea World doesn't open till noon, so we both got on with some chores.  Our clothes are clean and so is the bike.  We headed off to the park and got soaked before we even got on any rides.  The weather had threatened thunderstorms and showers, which we got, but it was so humid, you didn't really dry out.  The park is a lot smaller than the one in Orlando, with fewer rides.  The dolphins were really special.

Just beautiful but very difficult to catch on film, it's like they know and go, "sod you lot"
Then we sat through the corniest show with the sea lions, all done in a Halloween theme.  The sea lions were quite clever, but they were upstaged by the cutest little otter call Egor.

Slides rule okay!

 The whole park has a section for Halloween and that was due to open about 7pm, so we amused ourselves with the other rides and sea life exhibits until then.

We went on one ride called the Electric Eel. Now I love roller coasters, but even I wished they would stop so I could get off.  Ray still isn't speaking to me.  He started off all brave and cheering, and then he went very quiet, and it appears he has been in a state of shock ever since.  His only words to me have been, "you know I don't like heights"!

The blurry streak is the carriage that we were in, and does show how high we were and how fast, great but even I wanted to get off.!
We stayed for the scarey night time and I got flashing horns and a luminous glass trying to get in the spirit of things.

Couple more of these please, oh A+ if your interested.

Celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. You can see I still dye my hair!

Dracula even asked if he could check out my blood group.  Ray had recovered sufficiently to admire Lady Dracula!!!!

Who is more scarey, Lady Vampire or Gaga?
 We were thinking about leaving just before 9pm, when we walked past the Whale show.  Shamu was putting on a Halloween show, so we thought we'd have a quick look.  It was fantastic.  There were 6 killer whales in all and they were amazing.  We got completely soaked again, but it was well worth it.  It was a great end to the day.

The water flying before we got our 4th soaking for the day, and hid the camera.

Halloween comes to Shamu.

Sunday 29th September 2013
Miles today 18     Total 23,338
The thunder and lightening hit about midnight and carried on throughout the night.  It was gloriously sunny when we first looked out this morning, but soon changed to very clou and humid again.  We struggled to get our acts together, but finally decided to do a bit of sight seeing.  We rode into the center of San Antonio and headed straight for the iconic Alamo.

Entrance to the Shrine

Model of the battle

Beautiful old tree in the grounds.

We had a wander around and listened to some bloke who sounded like he should have been on the Simpsons giving us a history lesson on the Fort.  There was a Shrine in the complex and rather spookily for Ray, there were plaques with the names of the "Hero's of the Alamo", one of the names was Jesse B Bowman, which was Ray's mother's name.  There was no other information, but it does make you take a sharp intake of breath.  It was also quite surprising, the number of English, Scottish and Irish names that appeared of those. that got caught up in it all.
From there, we headed to The River Walk, it had been recommended to us and at first it seemed a bit like a walk along the canal back at home, but it soon livened up and became this absolute buzzing place, with restaurants and bars and souvenir shops.  There were Police boats, and cruise boats that went round in ever decreasing circles, but the whole place had a lovely atmosphere if you didn't get too sucked in, we did get sucked into the Irish pub, but I won't bore you with that now.

On patrol, "You really have to want this job, shortest beat ever!

It is done out beautifully.  He's not too bad either.

I'm on the bridge pointing to the sign Alamo Street, it's lovely, but everything has been named for the tourist. Is that cynical?
One of the lovely churches on our way out of town.

Having done very little for two days, we were shattered, so headed back to the sanctuary that is The Super 8.

Friday, 27 September 2013

235 Big Bend National Park, and Marathon to Uvaldi

Wednesday 25th September 2013
Miles today  269   Total  22,886

We left Alpine this morning, and I have to say it was a struggle to get going.  We have changed our route slightly, due to a recommendation and headed back to Marfa to go to the Big Bend Park, apparently the roads that way are more exciting for bikes.  Just not the first 80 miles.....

Another day at the office...

It added about another 70 miles onto our total.   The road basically went through miles and miles of nothing, however we did see this chap.

Have we been transported to Peru already ??
Elephant rock.

We came across a small town called Prosidio and found this little cantina in a side street.  It was one of the best meals we have had in a long time.  Proper skillet, mash, and vegetables.

From there we carried on towards the park and the scenery just went on and on. We were driving along the US side of the Rio Grande, the border between the USA and Mexico.

The Rio Grand. All to the left is Mexico.

The distant mountains are in Mexico.

An Ocotillo cactus.
We came across a small town that had been converted into a golf resort (the whole town) and whoever owned it spent a lot of money. It was an oasis in the desert. Needless to say we had to stop for a beer.

One of the hundreds of butterflies in the Golf resort.

Then it was on towards Big Bend National Park.

The park itself was pretty spectacular too. A great relief from ther desert.

We had thought about staying in the park, there is a motel, but decided to head on to a place called Marathon.  We only found the one hotel, but it was quite beautiful.  The room had a very Mexican flavour and there were beautiful grounds and the restaurant had an inner and an outside area.  We sat outside and it was very romantic, aaahh!
 (Ray: "Romantic" - that's not a word that gets used very often when I'm around).

Thursday 26th September 2013  
Miles Today 245  Total  23,131

We met up with some German bikers who had stayed at the hotel with us, they were going our way and we played cat and mouse for about 130 miles. There was nothing else to do or see. We passed 2 abandoned towns with no fuel or place for breakfast and when we did find one we all piled in. It was a great little place, basic and friendly with the cafe dog being called Johny Reb (a common southern slang name despite the fact that he was a Northern Boston Terrier - Go figure). It was then back in the saddle.......

There really is nothing out here. Imagine driving from London to Birmingham and not seeing an occupied house (aside from the few remaining in the 2 ghost towns).  Add to that the searing heat of 35C (95F) and dead straight roads. It was hard work. We thought the northern plains were boring, they were nothing compared to this.

The highlight of the day. The view from the only bridge with water under it.

After 170 miles we arrived at a large town called Del Rio and decided to find a bar to quench our thirst and have a rest. Do you think we could find one. Nope. Not a chance, we just carried on until the days trip meter read 245. 

In the last two days we have been stopped 3 times by border patrol officers and asked for our passports. Not that we have a problem with that at all, they were very polite and friendly, unlike the port officers we have had to contend with. They have a serious problem with Mexicans swimming/walking across the Rio Grande and entering the US illegally. There are border guards absolutely everywhere.
We finally rested up in Uvaldi, a quiet little town, tomorrow we hit San Antonio.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

234 El Paso to Alpine

Tuesday 24th September 2013 Miles Today 221   Total  22,617

We have a general dislike for cities and having driven through El Paso already we decided not to go back in. We set off for the 200 odd miles across Texas' empty desert. 

We were not surprised. The first 116 miles of interstate was as boring as it gets and we decided not to bore you with photos of flat desert. When we turned off the interstate onto a normal 2 lane road the scenery did not get any better. We did however spot this air balloon in the middle of nowhere. It was apparently a military air ship. Why we do not know but there it was anyway.

This was in the middle of nowhere ....  really really in the middle of absolutely nowhere

Moving on we drove through a small town called Marfa which appeared to be dying on it's feet but it could be because it was out of season. It was then on the last 25 miles to Alpine. The last 10 miles of which was much more interesting being more hilly and having at least some visible animal life with our first spotting of something other than  cows.

Our fist sign of life (aside from fellow drivers) for 200 miles.

We entered Alpine and it was a breath of fresh air with normal shops, bars and crucially motels. We drove through town past the more expensive looking ones and found a presentable one on the East side of town. After a brief rest we went out for a bite and a beer and ended up in a simple locals bar near the motel.

The Eskimo Bar. No Eskimo's and only 1 bar. Simple but nice.

Tomorrow we intend to go into Big Bend National Park. It is called Big Bend as it is on a big bend in the Rio Grande on the Mexican border.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

233 New Mexico and into Texas

 Monday 23rd September 2013
Miles Today 170   Total  22,396

We meant to put this picture in that Rozanne took of her beautiful black cat, who really does look like a panther.  He is so solidly built, and just a cutey.

Back to today....

It was kind of a funny old night.  In our quest to try and keep me within our budget, Ray chose the motel last night.  We were on the edge of town and as we had arrived in the dark, which is totally out of character for us, we checked the room and went straight out for something to eat.  We found a little Mexican restaurant which was okay, but full with several Texas cowboys going home from a rodeo.  They had obviously had a good weekend as the guys were quite raucous and the horse talk was flowing, along with their beers.   We returned to our room, and outside the door, waiting for an invitation in, were some massive black beetles, which didn't go down well, for me anyway, and then once inside the room, we could hardly hear our selves think because of the noise of the trains.  We were quite near a crossing, and these bloody things, sound this awfully loud horn, 4 times, as they approach it.  There are nail marks in the ceiling where it scared me out of bed.  Funny enough though we did get a good night's sleep, but this morning, those huge black beetles had found their way into the room, well two of them, but that was enough to get my imagination going as to where they were whilst I was asleep.  Yeah, can't wait till we get to the rain forests and all the other bugs that go with that, big brave traveler that I am!

We don't get these in the UK. A car with train wheels.

We set off with a kind of plan, and we stopped in Deming for brunch and petrol, and an older lady approached us with a young boy.  She stated that her grandson was really interested in the bike, but was too shy to speak himself.  They got the tour round and the speech that we have almost perfected about our journey.  Flo and Issac, as they introduced themselves.  It really is quite amazing what a talking point the bike is.  We get many waves and thumbs up from people who pass us on the road and it is lovely.  Sometimes you feel like a mini celebrity,they have made us very very welcome.

More open desert

This was just weird.

Approaching Las Cruces

The Rio Grande does not look to grand at the moment

We made our way to Las Cruces, which is our last stop in New Mexico. What a beautiful little place.  We went to Mesilla Plazza  which is one of the oldest places and also famous for being the death place of "Billy the Kid". There was a lovely church and other very tourist priced shops, but we found a little cantina, which sold the best Margarita in town, apparently it was award winning, and strong.

This building housed the courthouse that finally convicted and hung  'Billy the Kid'

The oldest brick building in the state. Its original owner was murdered in a robbery in 1866

Masilla square with the Basilica of San Albino

Ray strapped me onto the back of the bike (only joking), and we set off on the last stretch to El Paso, Texas here we come.

Having spent days on the interstate (Motorway) it was good to get back on to smaller roads.

The Rio Grande further South  - Wot no water !
I have loved this latter part of the journey.  Phoenix and Arizona was extremely hot, but beautiful with the desert landscape, huge cacti and it goes without saying, the people, but New Mexico has been getting greener as we go along, with a very Spanish feel, (for us Europeans, that does make sense), just very beautiful and feel good.  The temperatures have been far more peely wally Brit friendly too. (cooler).

We enter our last state.
We arrived in El Paso quite early for us and having booked into a Motel 6, we are getting on with blogging and trying to sort out the next instalment of the route and journey.

El Paso shares a border (via the dry Rio Grande) with Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. It is probably one of the most dangerous places in the world and the Americans want to keep the towns separate.