To the Hill Country, Tx

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009


Link for SPOT daily tracking device

I think my packing has just reached a high level of insanity. I cannot even remember how I did it on two wheels, even on three wheels, always for at least a 5 months trip and lately for more months that I can count, and now, even considering the sidecar I am still running out of room, poor Spirit! I have no clue what has happened. The needs might have become more demanding, that’s what it is! I have a cot now because I am older and have graduated to sleeping above ground. I use to have a laptop but no external drives, there are two now, the camera was much smaller with only its own lens and who cared if it was dropped. Now, nice cushy foam has to surround this enormous gadget and its two lenses. Four changes of clothes including the ones I wear, winter and summer. I have switched to moccasins as a secondary pair of shoes, so that is a plus, it saves much space, but I have more wires and more chargers, so many that I have to label them. I have my phone manual because I started to text messaging (shame on me…) and I have no clue how to do it fast without wasting 2 hours on a sentence. Why am I even messaging when I could call? I forgot the reason honestly. What I would like is an I Phone so my laptop can stay in the case while I quickly check the e mails. I thought it was going to be a Journey in isolation and here I am thinking “e mails”. Something is very wrong! I have to rethink all this as I know I will.

road a

We are now in Del Rio. Same skies and that is all about in common there is with the land we left this morning. We did not make it to Leaky which was our first destination. The ride was nice, Old Faithful weighted heavy and did just fine, the northerly wind turned my left arm into mash trying to keep the hack on line. There is only a 33% chance of good wind I finally figured, while riding those 300 miles, that could be beneficial. That figure is a remain from my days of sailing. Anything else is going to slow us down, lower the fuel mileage, speed and make it a good fight for the duration. I look at it as an upper body exercise.

Dresden b

The cars are loud here, something is digging a hole somewhere not too far as we are staying at a Motel 6, for $26 a night because their WI FI is broken or maybe that is just their price for old people. But I have my own air card and a real multiple shower just was too attractive to pass up. Of course I will pay the price and most likely not able to sleep in this cubicle just so public and sterile. Maybe I should have just pulled my bivi bag near by a road for that good night sleep. I see a Walmart sign, a Ross sign, good food must be at Jack in the Box I guess when he pops up. I have been on “The Oasis” too long. I don’t like setting up a tent for just one night, but I think after this one, that notion suddenly has become more attractive than ever. I am not happy here. Spirit is not either. Ah! Only wish they would close the doors of that School of Life sometimes just so we can take a break from it. Tomorrow the sun will be up early and so will we… on the road.

burnt biscuit c

burnt biscuit b  
burnt biscuit a coffee roaster

So we are now in Leaky, and no, we did not have a good day yesterday, but today… very happy. The big consolation however was “The Burnt Biscuit Bakery” in Marathon, and even then, my heart skipped a beat as they had moved! Nice store now, will delight the sweet buds of anyone, and their pies are just too good. Too busy to start roasting his own coffee with the beautiful roaster and exhaust fan installed, same with yet having to use his espresso machine I told him that I will stop by sometime and we can fill the streets of Marathon with the great smells of fresh roasted coffee. Might even keep me busy a couple days a week.


This was the first picture I took when we left yesterday morning. It was in Alpine while refueling. I normally never ask anyone if I can take their picture but just had to this time. Actually I let Spirit do the talking as he usually gets people to agree with him. Now… THAT is a moustache!!! I even asked him, nice man, if he was maybe part of a show… but no… he likes his moustache. This is Texas… where everything is larger than Life, right?

road b

Leaving Del Rio northbound the scenery changed quickly as I finally understood the attraction of the Hill Country. Again, Texas! I have to honestly admit that many years ago, when working winters in Florida and traveling the rest of the months, Texas was in my mind a State to avoid! Shame on me, I am so sorry. My knowledge for this State was Highway 10, the thoughts were always to get in and get out! Regrets are water under the bridge as today I find myself discovering gems after gems.

road a

rocksprings a  

Our first real stop was Rocksprings. I generally will spend some time at the “Visitor Center” and how right I was that morning. A few locals short of embracing us offered coffee, much conversation and tips with maps as to where to go, what to see and experience. Generally nothing one will find printed on a visitor’s book, the precious words of mouth. They let me use their phone as my Alltel is dead in this area, when asked about WI FI the reply was “we are still about 30 years behind, if you can use dial up you are more than welcome to it”. The waves were frequent around the courthouse, of course it is Spirit that entices the curiosity always of the locals, that funny dog with his goggles on. No helmet this time, I think we lost it. Spirit misplaced it, maybe it blew off, will have to get a new one and of course new stickers.

rocksprings d

rocksprings b  
rocksprings c  

My problem on the road, as I always realize it, I don’t travel well, I only live well on the road. There is a huge difference. What others will cover in a day or two I do in a week or two and since we are now traveling I have been trying to balance out time spend in one place versus time moving on. The Hills offer so many back roads, paved ones, unpaved ones, that I have to force myself to stay a straight, skim it all, get a feel of the land, the little towns, the friendly people for a future “live in” the area visit. Everything catches my attention, every building, every start of a road right or left, the trees, it is so overwhelming every time we are onto a foreign land and so exciting at the same time considering the desires to learn about its history and geology. Nothing that can be done in just a few days.


deer feed truck  

It is deer country here and I think this is a corn deer feeder permanently mounted on the bed of a pick up truck to entice them toward a certain destination. Above it I saw my name between two poles… It is corny maybe (not punt intended…) but I enjoy noticing my surrounding.

campground a

campground b  

campground c

Leaky, a destination for motorcycle riders with 3 great roads leading to it. I learned very quickly, again stopping and talking to some locals at the welding shop (why not! they were on a break…) that the State Parks were closed to the public due to their annual “exotic” two weeks hunting season. So I had to now look for a private campground and was send to “Camp Live Oak” just a couple miles north of Town. Nice land, very nice owners, Butch and Joyce Weston, and Karma as usual was smiling at us. There is really no tent camping here, but because it is off season, because they are also motorcycle riders and Butch an avid photographer, they decided that I could camp near a cabin, loaned me an electric cord, allowed me the use of a bathroom and a full force high speed Internet WI FI for a very good price. So I sit here now in my tent with power and WI FI, my little catalytic heater! High tech camping?

knee pads tent a
tent b tent c

The “green condo” went up pretty quickly this time. Love the new stakes that do not bend and rubber knee pads which makes it such a more pleasant experience. The “cot” did not fight this as it had previously when put through a trial set up at “The Oasis”. I realized women being so lucky because they read directions. Why should I? It is only a cot. After some serious struggling that first time, trying to poke my eyes and ribs with its legs I did come back to the reality of “one must read directions”, as yes, there was an order to follow. Very comfortable, so comfortable that I did not want to get up this morning as the sun made its presence sending some warmth surrounding us.

river bed

river bed a  

After a quick ride to the local grocery store, a nice one by the way with great produce, it was a short hike to the local swimming hole Butch had given me directions for. Again, a space one will not see when staying on the main road. I was thinking maybe some day to make a tour of the country called “USA’s Swimming Holes”. As our own swimming hole by “The Oasis”, we had it to ourselves and camera in hand spend a couple hours admiring Mother Nature’s Art Work. I finally took a photo I think worthy being labeled a “WOW”. I had been waiting for this one a while, might be nice to blow it up some day, a memory from our first visit to the Hill Country some day when too old to live amongst it all and just rocking on that distant porch, wherever it will be, maybe sharing the last years with a kindred soul left only with words to express our past lives.

double stars 

A double Star in the Lone Star State…

Too busy with the photos taken, I end up not cooking, a quick sandwich, fed Spirit and suddenly I heard my name. It was Joyce. “Have you had dinner yet” she asked. Not really I replied. There is a man that makes some fried chicken in town only once a week and we brought you some. Needless to say as “that” sandwich of dried bread and grated cheese really had not done anything for me. I accepted, with many “Thanks” to her and again to my Karma that just does not quit looking after us. The best fried chicken I have had! You could taste it’s homemade feature, I will have to remember when in Leaky, Tuesday nights is fried chicken night!

tree trunk

tree trunk a  

The same tree above, the same tree with it’s two sides as the two sides of our Life has been. One is smooth, weathered, one cannot see the hollow darkness of  it’s other side, the hurt that must be there, gutted by the forces throughout the years. I like the smooth one better, it is what my Life is becoming with yet never forgetting that other side always present but tucked away. I have not said this in seven years, I have been thinking about it quite often lately, sometimes guilt surfaces when those words are present, sometimes I ask myself should I or should I not? “Life is Good”.

Two years 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 a print all sizes are available as I store the originals myself considering the huge bandwidth needed to upload on the Gallery.

Help us keep the site alive. Please contribute… The logistics of it have become costly. It is an open book, its pages for the taking with always the hope that you will support their presence.

Be well…

Ara & Spirit

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8 Responses to “To the Hill Country, Tx”

  1. Debbie Says:

    Ara, what a great post. I can really feel the upbeat feelings you are experiencing. Have a great 2 week trip. Love the cot idea. We have thought about that when we take the Goldwing out for a long trip. We have carried pads, but the cot would sure be nicer on these old bones. Looking forward to reading about this trip.

  2. Don Van Zandt Says:

    Ara; Great post, good to see/hear you feeling more up-beat. Did you buy your tent in the U.S.? I cannot find an outlet here in the states. Sure would like to get one myself. Would you mind telling me where you got yours? Meanwhile…keep on keeping on and [in my mind] I’ll be riding with you and Spirit.

  3. Louise Says:

    We, too, love Texas for camping. Did you know that you can spend the night in any of the picnic areas on the side of the road? You know, the ones with a table and usually a trash can? Perfectly legal unless there is a sign that forbids it. On the back roads, very quiet, too. If there are bushes you could have a little privacy for your tent. No bathrooms, though, so be discreet! We can spend months in Texas and never pay to camp.

    Loved the photos of the tent and cot! Sleeping on the ground is my least favorite part of motorcycle camping and one of the reasons we decided to move to an RV in 2001. We were going to do a 2-3 year bike tour of the USA, but I just couldn’t go without a bed for that long. I’m getting soft in my “middle age” I guess. And the knee pads are a great idea; I can see why the hack is getting full 🙂

    “Life is good,” indeed. Lance would want you to be happy, for your life to be good.

  4. Debbie Says:

    Ara, Actually if you could tell us what your equipment is and where you got them. These are like what heater, cot, tent, sleeping bag. Yours seem to work well. Thanks and keep us informed of your trip.

  5. texascindy Says:

    You are in what is my most favorite area of Texas. Any time I’m having an off day, I go to the Hill Country in my mind and it relaxes me so much. The Frio and Sabinal Rivers are the 2 prettiest rivers in Texas. Lost Maples is where I can always find peace of mind. I’m glad you’ve discovered what I consider to be the real heart of Texas: the Texas Hill Country. Life IS good! Safe travels! Give Spirit an ear scratching for me!

  6. James Myrick ( Texas ) Says:

    Enjoy the ride in the heart of this wonderful state

  7. JayElDee Says:

    Man, you sound so much better! See what getting out will do for you?

    Ride on, be safe.


  8. tim spires Says:

    Ara, glad you are doing well. Come and stay with us in Austin if you make it up this way! We would love to share our home with you and Spirit and get to know you two a little better!

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