Black Gap WMA… Texas

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

“Just read yesterdays post. You are one very wealthy man. Over a million looks on your blog and countless friends around the country and the world. I’d say that’s pretty great!” – Karen Jacobs

flowers a

I have to agree. Within this remote space, as the days go on and on, I do feel the wealth that penetrates me so deep into the core of my own soul, and as isolated we might be, it touches me in more ways than one. The affection, the sensitiveness, the caring, it all reaches out without a need for it’s physical entity to be here. It happens through the words exchanged and through an indescribable motion through and within the distances that separates us from anyone reading these words. I have written earlier that writing and Mother Nature are my only healers, and I have been so wrong. My Friends are also, within their visits, words and constant presence as far even as they might be. We are never alone and my eternal thanks will never be enough toward their gestures and well doings.

road a

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. – Edward Abbey

road b

If it had not been for Mike and Louise stopping by the other day, this ride we took would have never happened. Funny how things sometimes turn out as starving for new roads the thought of going to the Black Gap WMA opened up. Raw landscape was awaiting for us, 18 miles of dirt roads which I knew would be packed down from the recent rains, but what I had really forgotten was “that” feeling of “new everything”. There are definitely places I like to go back to, some we even have been a couple times, but there is nothing like a totally new space with seemingly no time constrain, even though I would find out later that day… there was.

ocotillo a

ocotillo b  

I decided to go through Terlingua to gas up and then on through Big Bend Park, eventually heading north from Panther Junction. Every week the Ocotillos are gaining strength and in most areas as the one we stopped ahead of the entrance, I think are at their peak. The ride through the Park is always pleasant, I keep it at the speed limit, there is always something magical about it, as an intervention cutting me off from the outside world. Spring Break is over and again we have the space back to ourselves. The complete route is about 200 miles, we did not leave till about noon and as I discover on further down the day, a bit of moon would have been very nice, even with 7 headlights!


black gap

There is always been an added feature while vagabonding for lack of better terms. Meeting new people on those shoulders, a bit wide in areas, always welcoming some chatting either because of another motorcycle parked, sometimes some kind of an odd vehicle, or the curiosity that Spirit is constantly followed by. Your dog… your dog… photos… and the story I have repeated too many numerous times can be heard over and over. I am so proud of my buddy that I don’t mind, it is often as I was telling the story for the first time. I can always relive the first moment our eyes met, our first walk, my kind Friend with only a spark of a Soul left at the time from his constant abuse throughout his first year before we met.


I had always heard about “Stillwell”, little RV Park slash Village, a few miles east off 385, somehow we had never been there, we had never taken the time to make that right turn. Old structures, a little store, maybe listen to some tips about the Black Gap WMA which was our destination. Of course we stopped. This is not Terlingua, not Alpine, not Marathon or even Big Bend Valley. Stillwell, population maybe a couple dozen on a good day stood on it’s own. No Mayor here but Nan, the owner of the store and Park could have been. And then again, who needs a Mayor. One motorcycle is parked, there is wi fi to unfortunately check on messages, and the conversations ignited to no end as it should be, as it always is!

Ben Franklin and Omer

My name is “Ben Franklin” he said while leisurely puffing on his cigar… of course I said, and my name is “Ara”! Was there any doubt? None with that profile. Omer, a bit further, and his wife are from… Nova Scotia. They had been here last year and are again back as they just feel too good within this community to pass up another chance of this nice weathered gifted space. I think half of the afternoon passed by, we solved all the problems humanity has been carrying for centuries, we exchanged routes taken and I suddenly realized that I had added two more Friends to this Journey. I was told that just riding through the WMA would not require a permit, but I was wrong. No problem… a phone appeared and within minutes I had a new permit for the year. These are the instances that totally amaze me. It might not sound like much to many, or extraordinary by no mean, it is to me. Those small details of Life, these little situations that arise and needing some solving to enable us to go a bit further. “People”… always others facilitating the process. We “need” each other as much as one might think that we do not. 

black gap sign  

We said your good byes and promised to be back by seven o’clock for… the music that would take place! Where else could this happen? We had a few hours, thinking ample time and yet today I know we will go back to have more leisurely moments. Taking photos is a bit for me as a day long Zen type meditation. Time is lost, nothing matters anymore, it is as developing this close relationship with my surrounding. It is heightening my senses to a level that cannot be accomplished in a short time or if ever feeling pressured by for any reason. It is penetrating the deep space of it all and finally hearing the chords played with their increasing tempo as I start feeling what I did not just a short time before. I was a bit there that day, realizing that even though 18 miles of dirt road is not a long way, the scenery itself and the many stops would put us past the music time waiting back for us in Stillwell. Yes, Spirit also likes music…

rio grande sign 

The Black Gap WMA is outstanding. It is a new jewel found, unpolished and uncrowded. We actually did not come across anyone while there. Over 100,00 acres to ourselves and a fun dirt road, bumpy and rocky, challenging enough to pay close attention. An old Adobe structure still  standing up was our first stop, an always welcome sight and shade for Spirit who always makes himself at home. I so often wish I was him, or at least have the total ability to live like he does.

old shack a

old shack e old shack c
old shack d old shack b

There will be much more on Black Gap in the next Blog… kind of like a… “part II”!!!

Twenty nine months of Photography is finally in order on SmugMug… In “Your Favorites”, in “States”, some labeled “first year” and second year”, now also “Texas the third year”. Feel free to browse, you can even use the slide show mode and have fun. Merchandise is also available through SmugMug. If you like to order prints, all sizes are available as I store the originals myself considering the huge bandwidth needed to upload them on the Galleries.

Internet connections, bandwidth, cameras, fuel… they are all part of this Blog allowing page after page to be published. Contributions to the site are welcomed always. Maybe your reading the Blog is worth $1 a month…  

Be well…

Ara & Spirit

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4 Responses to “Black Gap WMA… Texas”

  1. Zelda Says:

    Hi, Ara & Spirit, Wonderful post in pictures and story. I have no words to add that wouldn’t seem small by comparison. Just wanted you to know that I visited your site as I do most days. I felt invigorated as if I had just spent the day out exploring nature, taking in the fresh air and sunshine and visiting with the locals.

  2. Ginny Says:

    Hi Ara, just thinking about you and Spirit. I wanted to pop in and say hello. Whey you get a chance call me! I would love to talk to you more and have the time to do it. I’m available all weekend. 🙂


  3. Don Says:

    Ah, there’s the ocotillo pics! Glad to see your Black Gap trip was worthwhile.

    –Don aka Boojum1.

  4. peter g Says:

    Any places to camp off road over night?

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