west texas creative shoot & ride

Day 7: Literally blown out of Texas high winds white knuckle ride, and on to the famed pavement of……..

Day 6: Once a decade or so I think it’s good for the body & head to experience a real or perceived near death incident, keeps the blood flowing and the appreciation of life tends to get amped, it’s good for all of us in a strange way. It hasn’t happened to me in a while; in ’97 there was the volcano incident in Montserrat, ’02 had to do with Afghanistan & land mines, in between there were plane, helicopter & scuba diving issues that were notable but somehow didn’t tweak my fear as bad as the others. Today it happened again, as I got caught in the middle of a tornado. Or so I thought. I pulled up to a field to shoot a large brown cloud that looked ominous & full of threat and the next thing I know it was on top of me the sound deafening. The photojournalist in me kept shooting (see pics below) while the commercial photographer within lay balled up in the in the fetal position. Luckily I was still in my riding gear, even had the helmut on visor down, which may have saved me from a really bad day as I got knocked upside the noggin with a large object as I dove for cover behind a huge dirt pile. The helmet is dinged pretty bad, will have to send to Shoei for inspection. I later learned that it was “just” a really large dust storm and even HW 40 was shut down near Heresford, TX. Amazingly the camera & lens seems to have survived, the bike was a mess blown over almost upside down but runs strong as ever, the GPS is dead and tonight I’ve been finding dirt literally everywhere. Tomorrow, the Mother Road. -

Day 5: Wann’a get high? Hop on a bike grab a camera and visit west Texas, today had arguably one of the best rides ever. But first I started out riding to Terlingua and met some fine lads from a well known gang MC (motorcycle club), and I ended up having a breakfast burrito & hanging a bit w/ a couple of them.

From there I rode the twisty’s in Big Bend Natl Pk for a few hours, then took the 170 border road west, with the Rio Grande and Mexico on my left and headed to Pesidio, TX a place where quite a few people suggested that I not go. At one point I got off of the asphalt and rode the dirt down to waters edge walked across the slow moving steam and there I was in Mexico, how cool is that! Better yet ,the border road was a roller coaster of asphalt and why I haven’t seen this ride mentioned any where is beyond me it is a must ride.

Been getting quite a few inquiry’s, mostly in 2 areas, 1st my equipment on this trip~ EOS 5D Mark II & a 24-70 2.8, yup a body & a lens, not my usual kit but I love the lack of variables, and making due with what I have + a MacPro, 2 Lacie hard drives (which are separated on the bike), 4 0r 5 16 & 32 gig cards which I dump every night & a few other odds & ends, payload is limited. I have the same kit in my office boxed & ready to be FedEx’ed should anything happen to what I’m riding with= plan B.

And the other most popular question is about the bike~ ’09 BMW 1200 GSA w/ Jessie panniers, Micro top case, Wolf tank bag which is where the camera rides & allows for easy access, an AirHawk seat cushion, and an Autocom communications system allows me to listen to my iPod, GPS, use the iPhone, make espresso’s etc.

Day 4: Marfa. Chill day off the bike and hanging with my bud Michael, visited the Chinati Foundation and found some serious & cool inspiration with Donald Judd’s expo, all about thinking out’a the box, or in this case thinking about the box, space, change & light. Truly cool and a life lesson, inspiration found.

Wrapped the day viewing the Marfa lights, yes we saw & experienced them, wish I had answers, either they are from some sort of paranormal source, mirages or chamber of commerce interns running around the field with large lights having a grand ole time.

Day 3: Dirt devils dancing, tiny hurricanes whipping all around, west Texas it’s a dusty dry kind’a place and in dire need of rain, fire ban signs all over the place and every few miles all you smell is the stench of fresh oil as it’s being extracted from the sandy earth by single machines that dot the horizon and staggered among the mammoth white wind turbines that are spinning for Dollars. Stanton had the Stanton Drug which was a real life Norman Rockwell soda fountain style of a place, didn’t even know it served food but as I drove by and caught a whiff I had to stop to eat and so glad that I did. One of the greatest burgers that I’ve ever had, ranks with the Village in Mississippi & Earnestine’s & Hazel’s in Memphis that good, plus with the whole drug store in the restaurant thing, the bar stools, Coke floats, Dads with Daughters, every booth filled with people that knew & even seemed to like each other, smiles & thank you’s and where are you froms. Special. But then came the dead rattle snake in the road about an hour later. The picture may be disturbing, check it out below, and if it disturbs you don’t look. Next to her I found some drugs, needles and cooking accoutrements that somebody obviously tossed out the window from a heavy fit of paranoia. Later I pulled into Alpine right on schedule had there been one and then dinner with my friend Michael who rode that sleek new Volvo in from Austin and so good to see, hang & drink Shiners with an ole friend at the Buffalo Rose. Respect. PS that’s not Michael below with the Pit. -

Day 2: Cloudless blue sky, beaming sun, good ribbons of road to soar on, and all systems go. I brought enough food to live on for at least 3-4 days, so only need to stop for gas & photos, and don’t have to subject my gut to road food although it can be some of the best. Went through Katie, Greasy, Chickapoo, Eureka, Cuba, Slauterville today and have finally entered TX. Oklahoma was OK, get it. But glad to be in TX and heck I can deal with the heat especially with the 80 mile per hour speed limit which sure helps to air condition me. Miles & miles without a sole in sight, seemingly alone, and the hotel in Snyder, I’m pretty sure that I was the only guest, I had the whole inside pool to myself, just right outside my door, if I so desired. I did not, but it was a cool trippy tired sort of place that reminded me of The Shining, and the where’s Johhhhny vibe as the wind whistled all night long and all of those empty parking spaces, within an empty town and I was alone in this chlorine scented atrium. It was just too quiet. Weird how with just a little bit of other-guest-noise that I would feel more at ease even though they may of been of bad intent. I still prefer this to sterility of a chain hotel while I’m on my own with nobody else to please.

Update: Day one, riding in the rain, wet but rain gear, wind screen & speed is keeping most of the h20 flying over & above me, biggest concern are the peopes texting & chatting it up on the phones that surround me, oh and hydro plaining, can’t wait to get deeper into the backroads…..and blue skies. Plowing through the New Yorker & 60 Minute podcasts and catching up on phone calls, all on 2 wheels through a pounding storm. What happens in my helmut stays in my helmut.

Love the signs in Arkansas….

Packing the bike (BMW R1200 GSA), gearing up for my annual, solo creative ride & shoot across the country. Shooting personal work is the straw that stirs the drink. Creative inspiration, self reflection and the art of the ride. Every year a different theme & challenge. And no highways. This year, it’s all about Marfa, the high desert artist enclave of far West Texas. Shoot, ride, eat, live off the land, OK, well maybe not live off the land, but always an adventure never the less.

Thanks to the Interstate Highway Systems, it is now possible to travel coast to coast without seeing anything. -Charles Kuralt, CBS new reporter.

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