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Goodbye to the Big Bend

We’re leaving today. Emma is still sleeping, but Eleanor and I are prepping to go to our next stop, which is Del Rio, Texas.

We’re all a bit wiped out from the hiking. Yesterday I worked all morning at the local coffee shop (where I could get online) and after lunch we drove back into the park for a pair of hikes, 3.8 miles and 1.6 miles. The day before we did the same thing, taking Bert with us up to the Chisos Mountains for a hike until sunset. The weather has been spectacular (80 degrees and unlimited sunshine) and there hasn’t been much wind, which is essential in this dusty environment. We consume a LOT of water these days to combat the dryness, because if you get behind you’ll feel even more tired.

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Emma the leader gives instructions to her troops on a Chisos Basin hike

The lack of telephone service and questionable Internet has been troublesome for me, and we need to get going if we are to make our scheduled dinner at the Salt Lick in Austin next Wednesday. Between then and now we want to visit Del Rio and San Antonio, and there’s 500 miles to cover along the way.

Sometimes people think that our lives on the road are without the usual challenges of day-to-day life. In fact, we’ve just substituted new challenges for the ordinary ones. For example, consider the fiasco that ensued when a component on the bike rack snapped last Sunday, forcing us to carry one bike in the trailer until a new part could be shipped in.

We called for a spare part (from a payphone) and asked for it to be shipped overnight. But FedEx doesn’t deliver here. USPS offered “Express Mail” service to the Panther Junction post office but failed to meet the delivery promise of Wednesday. By then, we were in Study Butte, 30 miles away.

It was hard to track the part because the Internet service at the campground went down daily. The wifi signal was borrowed from a nearby liquor store, apparently by some agreement. First the problem was the phone company, then somebody tripped over the power cable on the wifi router. Each time it went down I ended up on my hands and knees in the dusty back room of the liquor store, trying to diagnose the problem for the owner, who wasn’t too happy at my presence.

Finally I gave up on the campground wifi and started driving to the one other place in town where people can get online: the coffee shop. There, things were more reliable (I’m there now). The bike rack part has arrived now, so we’ll get it one the way through the park on our way north to Marathon. Then we can re-assemble the rack (in the parking lot of the post office) and proceed to Del Rio.

UPDATE Feb 2006: Carol McNair, general manager of the Big Bend Motor Inn and RV Park, informs me the entire campground will have wi-fi Internet next year!

But I am not happy with this Yakima roof rack. The “universal” connection method they use for the Nissan Armada results in a very wobbly rack, which is why the part broke in the first place. It’s also very hard to get a bike on the roof of this tall vehicle without (a) scratching the car; (b) killing one’s self. We need a better solution for carrying bikes with the Airstream in tow. I’m researching that now, and will report on it later.

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Met this guy on a trail yesterday and he tried to sell us car insurance

4 Responses to “Goodbye to the Big Bend”

  1. Bill Kerfoot Says:


    While we were at the RV show in Pomona last year, we picked up a brochure for another Thor brand and they had a bike rack which fit between the trailer body and the propane bottles on the front. Don’t remember the brand or where the brochure is, but the only dealer close was in San Diego. I will try to find the brochure or maybe Airstream could help.

    Have fun, enjoy your blog.


  2. wheel interested Says:

    Carrying bikes has always been one of the most challenging issues with us. We have had carriers that bounce off the car at the rear, carriers on the pop up that loosened with travel, carriers awkward to get onto the roof. We finally found using a fork mount and removing the front wheel and stowing inside the vehicle the least amount of worry. We’ve stowed them in the trailer on occassion as well. Our present set-up is to carry folders and have little difficulty finding room for or moving them. Setup and folding is quick and easy.

  3. Jeff Hodgdon Says:

    Rich, Have you checked out Thule? They claim to have a new quick mount roof rack system called a “side arm” to allow fast secure mounting to either Thule or Yakima systems. Hope you find a resolution and let us know!

  4. Fritz Maiser Says:

    We carry our bikes inside, using a biketite. It holds the forks in a clamp, and the wheels go into a holder, which we then use to keep the drawer under the dinette from opening while travelling. Moving the bikes in and out is a pain, but we’ve got thousands invested in the two bikes. A rack on the rear of the trailer would bounce too much. The bikes would be available to anyone who caught us at a traffic light, and a bump in the rear would be expensive.
    Yakima makes tracks which you mount to the roof and install yakima towers. I’ve used them on a dodge caravan, and on the fiberglass cap we had on our F150. Needed a ladder to get the kayaks down, but that’s what it took. I don’t know if the ramada could use them, but a body shop could figure out a way to mount stuff on the roof.