Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Scooter trash

We woke up to another perfect morning at Chisos Basin. We had dinner in the lodge again last night, and at barely 6:30, I had missed the last piece of prime rib by minutes. It's definitely an early crowd.

While we could easily have stayed at Big Bend another several days, we decided this morning to head over to Galveston for the scooter rally that starts this Thursday. We are veterans of many a motorcycle rally, having been to dozens (including one that spanned some 4,000 miles, with three locations across the country), but this will be our first scooter event. I guess we are true scooter trash now.

Galveston is nearly 700 miles from Big Bend, and, staying off the interstates as we do (well, except for a short stretch through San Antonio), that's three full days for us. So we left the campground at the noon checkout time. Notwithstanding the fact that we now know 45' buses run up and down Chisos Basin road regularly, we decided to stick with the pilot-car strategy, and Louise once again preceded me on the scooter, radioing back the traffic status around the hair pins. We had an uneventful trip back down the hill, and stopped at the Panther Junction visitor center to load Chip back aboard.

The desert scenery heading north through the park is stark but beautiful, as is the drive along US 90 through western Texas. We needed a break in the middle, and again stopped in Langtry at the Judge Roy Bean museum ("the law west of the Pecos") and west Texas visitors center before crossing the spectacular Pecos river gorge.

I had mentally calibrated myself to stop for tonight at Amistad National Recreation Area, where there are several primitive campgrounds. We had stayed at one of these three years ago, and enjoyed it very much. Since we were completely out of water (Big Bend really prefers that you not take on water at Chisos, as it is a scarce resource there), we first had to stop at the dump and fill station at Diablo East. That meant we were already well past the sites at Spur 406, and Governors Landing looked full as we passed it on the 90 causeway, making the sites at San Pedro four miles further east the best choice.

After negotiating the tricky turn onto 454, we proceeded the half mile to the gravel road for the San Pedro area, only to find it barred by a locked gate. Harumph -- I had just researched all of this on the park's web site, and there was no mention of a closure at San Pedro. Oh well. We'd either have to backtrack a dozen miles to Governor's Landing, or again that far to Spur 406, or perhaps veer off onto 277 and our old friend 277 North.

None of those choices was appealing, since we're really just passing through, and so we ended up just coming here, to the Del Rio Wal-Mart (map). It's comfortable and relatively quiet, if not dark, and they have spaces striped for RVs over by the lube center, since they have an RV lube bay at this store (we are in the heart of "winter Texan" country -- you can't drive half a mile in this town without passing an RV park, all of which are loaded up with seasonal rentals).

We had dinner at the Chili's that shares the parking lot, and caught up on our shopping in the store. Tomorrow we will again veer away from the Rio Grande, heading east through San Antonio.

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