The Greatest loop… Texas

Monday, April 6th, 2009

pavement ends

“The road stays still, it’s the travelers that moves….when they stare down into their futures, back into their pasts and almost, sort of, realize their role, kinda understand that until it’s traveled, this road is no more than ink on a map, notes on a score, words on a page, than need to be felt, whistled, read into life.” – Dan Walsh

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What really made me ponder after we rode what I call “the greatest loop”, and what enticed me to post the “quote” above, has been the total lack of any other vehicles, besides of course when going through Alpine, Marfa, Presidio and back through Terlingua. Nothing… no one, not a single soul, not a single sound made by the human. We did have fun, but it did not stop me from thinking. I had read this quote earlier. Here we were, in the midst of most likely covering a million acres or more, and plainly said “no one around”. I have been to big cities, I can transport myself mentally to the center of Los Angeles, San Francisco or for that matter just about anywhere. It is the feel, it is the spirituality that emanates from such spaces that I think would trouble me for lack of being present within since a long time ago.

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Maps are more popular then ever, there is not a car that I often see without a dash board mounted GPS, we have one. We even have a SPOT now, which I, by demand and respect, must turn off within a few miles if ever visiting Friends, but they are not obviously being used as we did yesterday. This road, this loop, it did not need a GPS. It needed Life as we ourselves gave it a go. The isolation reminded me of our own. We ride alone, photograph alone, live alone and here was most of the complete day into night’s darkness also within a desolate space. It also reminded me of the map of Life, the so many avenues we have not yet adventured ourselves on, either mentally or physically.

horns b

We read of News sometimes, we glance at other’s photos, we study other’s own routes, but how can we ever understand it all without ourselves experiencing it? Life has it’s own loop, it is our map, it is “the ultimate map”. It has notes written all over it’s own territory and inch by inch sometimes we surmount the miles, smooth or rocky I do not give myself an option to ever turning back. Every situation is surmountable once I believed it is possible to think so. I also realized that some day we can close that loop of Life as we rode that circle on the map. That circuit empty that day from anyone else maybe just not daring enough to experience it.

spirit again  

We had a late start, stopping first to say our good byes to Ardys and her ride now all fixed up. It actually was a good thing as wanting to take some photos of her and Spirit, I realized that my camera batteries were missing. She is an incredible dog lover, I always trust so much more the ones that are, and so does Spirit! So we turned around, back to The Oasis to quickly pick them up, under of course the stare of my Leader who was probably mumbling some unkind words toward me, no doubt. I have said it before, Spirit amazes me. We hit some rough terrain today on Pinto Canyon which I would not advise to ride uphill, I don’t have much time throughout those moments to really look at him, but I try, and when I do, I see is a real co-pilot standing up and looking around, up and down and sideways as if we were on a smooth road.

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The first stop was in Marfa, the Laundromat has “the” Ice cream store, and Chocolate covered Cherry mixed in with Strawberry Ice Cream was my flavor for the day. Afterwards, a quick slice of white Pizza covered with spinach and mushroom was my dessert at the Pizza Connection, as I like to often eat backwards. Some water and a treat for Spirit, we were good to go. That is the moment we dived into isolation crossing ranch after ranch as the pavement ended after 34 miles of black top, the start of sometimes challenging terrain. The rig felt stiff that day, but so was the ground made out of the rocks from the Earth itself with no cover in any fashion or form. A raw surface with no pretenses only giving us back it’s rough and tuff character. Sometimes having to ride sideways instead of downhill, with 3 wheels instead of two finding a more or less horizontal plane can be difficult.

Pinto Canyon b  

Pinto Canyon itself is the interesting part. It is cutting through the last Mountains south of this county before the Rio Grande with right across it’s banks “Mexico”. The proper way to explore this area would really be to spend a couple night at the Chinati Hot Springs which was only 6 miles away west from a fork in the road, and besides soaking in the medicinal waters, have the opportunity the be “there” specially for sunsets and sunrises. We might still accomplish that before we leave for Utah real soon. The road is a smorgasbord for photography, no doubt about it. From the winding roads, to the hills, peaks of mountains made out of strangely colored rocks, narrow creek crossings and for this time of the year, flowers blooming including the ocotillos spotting the surrounding space with it’s bright red lit flowers.

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pinto n  

There is not much choice riding the rough stuff, fortunate to have this fairly new rear wheel and tire that pulls us forward in situation previously difficult, now with much more ease. These are times I always wonder why “Old Faithful” is just not breaking up in half! It took such a long time for it’s own logistics to finally be strong and be a true all terrain vehicle. There are a couple destinations last year I had difficulties with it. Such as the road to Toroweap and Whitney Pocket. I have no doubt that we will return there again, they are spaces very close to my heart, and this time it ill be smooth sailing through those harsh roads, smoother anyhow.

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creek a  

Today we start putting “things’ together so we can head North… much to do, oil and tires to deal with, one more Dr appointment, a broken luggage rack, the one that carries the lap top, some major clean up… it never ends! This only means that we are doing well “living on the road”. There will be much more on Pinto Canyon Rd, including a very expensive “glider” we came across making me think if we really are in the middle of a recession as they say… also now one of my favorite Sunset photo!


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.

Maybe your reading the Blog is worth $1 a month…

Be well…

Ara & Spirit

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4 Responses to “The Greatest loop… Texas”

  1. A Lady's Life Says:

    lovely shots and lovely dog.

    Best companion I am sure.
    Lovely blog

  2. texascindy Says:

    Hubbie said he went down that road about 40 years ago and there wasn’t anyone on it then, either!! Looks like a great place to just “be”, at any rate. glad you had a good time.

  3. Doug Says:

    I have been reading this blog for a couple of months now, still got a ways to go to get current but I am happy to donate a little bit here and there as it certainly breaks up the monotony of a long, boring work day.
    Makes me think that getting a Yamaha Stratoliner a couple of years ago may have been the wrong decision as gravel and anything not well paved is pretty much out of the question. Hindsight right? 🙂

    I dream of what you are doing, Ara. Wonderful!


  4. John Says:

    You have discovered my favorite places! I have spent countless hours driving the roads and camping in the Big Bend area, the last two weeks in April will be spent in Black Gap. I have many of my own shots of those same Longhorns, and the mountains and Cottonwoods from Pinto Canyon. I am glad you were able to experience these beautiful places.


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