Big Bend and Beyond in Texas

To Dan and Diane Botts, the perfect outing typically includes some form of camping… and a motorcycle. So when the opportunity came this past winter to explore southern Texas, the northeastern Pennsylvania couple decided to shake off the ice and snow and roll down to a warmer climate for a few months.

Anchoring their truck camper at the Lost Alaskan RV park, in Alpine, Texas, the couple would take off every day on a new adventure – as seen from the back of their motorcycle.

Big Bend National Park lies against the Rio Grande River, and is named for the sweeping curve in the river – considered one of the last remaining wild corners of the United States.

At 800,000 acres, Big Bend National Park is sometimes viewed as three parks in one; it encompasses mountain, desert and river environments. Dan and Diane Botts enjoyed the contrasts – steamy hot springs, miles of sand and plucky cactus plants, lofty mountain pinnacles, shadowy canyons, and the rippling Rio Grande.

Like it? “We’re looking at going again this winter,” Diane said. “We want to go back to Texas and do the whole trip over again.”

Diane Botts: “We spent two weeks down at Big Bend this last winter, along with our truck, our camper, our motorcycle and our trailer. It was our first visit. My daughter lives in Jacksonville, Texas. We’ve visited her several times, but we’d never been down to southern Texas.

“We went anyway, and we loved it. Texas is so nice and warm, just perfect riding conditions for people like us. And for us, it’s always been about motorcycles.

“We left here, took our time, and decided to weave our way down south, staying a couple days with our daughter, visiting some friends in Del Rio and South Padre Island.

“We’d read about an RV campground called the Lost Alaskan. It was run by a couple who got so tired of the cold in Alaska that they moved to Alpine, Texas, and opened a campground.

“Well, it was just gorgeous and became our base to go into Big Bend. We camped there and would ride all day just looking at whatever interested us. The campground was 80 miles out from some of the attractions, but it was so beautiful.

“When we went into the bottom of Big Bend, there were great campgrounds there – you wouldn’t think there would be anything there, but we’d definitely consider staying there on a future trip.

“One of my daughter’s friends helped us, a game conservation officer who gave us all these tips. Everything he told us, we did – visit the missions, experience the Market Square in San Antonio, locate the home of Judge Roy Bean along the Pecos River, hunt Indian pictographs, and sit in the hot springs …

“Riding a motorcycle through country like this is just the ultimate. You can actually see the fruit on the cactus. We saw quite a few people with campers on the road. We also spent some time camping at Lake Amistad [an international reservoir on the U.S. / Mexican border].

“Of course, we kind of went into the whole thing blind.

“We’d never been in southern Texas, but we’d heard how warm and nice it was. On the coldest day, it could be 37 degrees in the mountains, but it lasted about two hours. On the other side of the mountains, it was, like, 80 degrees! And seeing it by motorcycle is the way to go – you’re right outside, just wonderful.

“We’re not retired yet. Dan’s 55 and I’m 53. But we’ve been lucky enough to have vacations that we could save up days and take in the winter.

“We’ve always had a motorcycle. After our kids were grown, we got the Goldwing. A couple years ago, we borrowed our in-law’s truck camper, went to Florida, and took the motorcycle. We borrowed the camper again for the Texas trip. Since then we’ve bought a nicer, newer one.

“When we go out, we bring the trailer with the motorcycle, leave it, go ride and come back. That’s what we love to do. It’s just an all-around great experience. We would even forgo eating out because we wanted to come home and cook in the camper, with a three-burner stove, our own dishes, and our own food. It’s just more fun.

“In the end, it was everything we’d hoped it would be – just beautiful, and the scenery was gorgeous. We saw things we would never see here in Pennsylvania – miles of cactus, desert lands and the mountains. Even the rest areas had teepees!”


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