It’s Jim Bob’s fault.
My old friend James Moore has always loved the Big Bend area and after years of listening to him waxing poetic, I finally rode out to see for myself.
The first time it didn’t get me. The second time it was starting to set the hook and the third time, it felt like home.
There is something there. I don’t have the skills to accurately describe what it is, but it’s there. Maybe it’s the dramatic simplicity of the views that are everywhere you look. The huge, dramatic sky or the clouds or the plants or the cool nights or the whatever, it goes on forever.
But there is something that eludes you until it engulfs you.
Once it’s in your soul, it’s just there and will probably never leave.
I live in Austin. Nice town. Getting too big and since I’m out on the outskirts, I don’t get into town all that often these days. I’m another cliche guy who rode motorcycles all through his misspent youth, gave them up to be a responsible citizen and raise kids, then decided to take a tip back into the misspent youth idea. I’ve spent months at a time riding all over the country, camping in the woods and being lost.
I call it Going Nowhere. No real plan, no agenda. If a road looks good, ride it. If a camping spot has a nice view, put up the hammock. Going nowhere with no agenda has great benefits. One stranger I’d met on a trip said it’s the greatest luxury in the world. He may be right.
Riding around Big Bend is a great luxury. The roads are good and when there are curves, they’re wonderful. Everywhere you look is beyond description and even when it’s mid-day hot, it’s likeable with the right gear (us motorcycle types can wear heavy duty mesh jackets that flow a lot of fresh air).
We generally land in Marathon. Danny’s Marathon Motel is home base and bourbon by the fire at night is the perfect dessert. Ride down to the park, Santa Elena Canyon, take a run over to Alpine for a meal or a new tire or roll up to Marfa for a burrito. Ride the loop and see pretty much nobody else but stop at the drug store for a milkshake and onion rings.
Time moves slower. People are nicer. The sky is bluer and everything in the distance is so far away, but feels like home.
Once Big Bend gets in you, accept it, embrace it and come back for it whenever you can.