4K The Hard Way in Marfa

Right, so, where was I.

So, there I am in Marfa, eating some Italian food (because, I mean, why wouldn’t there be an Italian joint in Marfa, population 2,000) and planning on a pretty early night, maybe a beer or two at Lost Horse, as was recommended by the lovely Lauren at El Cosmico (who incidentally was also from Austin).

Lauren of El Cosmico (and Austin)

Out of no where, headlights flash in front of the restaurant. A bunch of Harley’s I think, and pretty soon they are gone.  So I pay out, suit up, and head back to the glampsite.

There is quite a bit of commotion at El Cosmico, and as I pull into the gravel parking lot I can see why; eight Vespas are parked, festooned with all manners of banners and camping gear on their tiny frames. I’m parking when the guys come out of the office.

Festooned

“What are you guys, riding these things across America?” I ask.

“Hell yeah! That your bike?” the mid-twenties Vespa rider says.

“Yep.”

“Where you going, east?”

“No, I’m going to South America.”

“Holy shit, really? Where?”

“All of it man.”

“No way. Hey Sean! We gotta interview this guy! Come here man, sit down and let me ask you some questions.”

And that is how I’m introduced to 4K The Hard Way, eight friends riding Vespas from L.A. to Key West over the course of three weeks. There’s a few rules, as there always are; no highways, you can’t pay for lodging, and of course you must ride a Vespa.

Alex Westmore is the man asking questions, and his buddy Sean Hill mans the camera. They mostly just want to know why anyone would go on such a trip (for the same reason they are, we come to find out, obviously, because you can) and are making a documentary (maybe) about their journey. These lucky bastards are sponsored by Vespa, Alpinestars and have a chase truck, so I’m a bit envious.

Many scoots.
Many scoots.

Also riding, and apparently the ring leaders of these merry madmen are Armie Hammer and Tyler Ramsey, which meant nothing to me until we actually left Marfa the next day, when a local asks Armie, “You’re in the movies right?”, and he whispers “Yeah.” Seriously, I thought it was a bit pompous to nick name yourself after the branch of the military you served in when I first met the guy. What’s that they say about assumptions?

We just need some gas man, these things have a 17 mile range.
You just need some gas Armie, those things have a 17 mile range.

Anyway, they went to dinner, came back, we drank some beer, and partied until about 3AM, the only people camping out in 22° weather there in Marfa. It was as good as times can get!

Ashton filming Jeremy giving Lauren a ride; Jordan probably wondering if he's going to have repair another scooter.
Ashton filming Jeremy giving Lauren a ride; Jordan probably wondering if he’s going to have repair another scooter.

The next day, we wake up early (11AM) and decide to grab some breakfast.  The 4K guys somehow order 24 burritos for the eight of them, I’m good with my one; either way they were delicious, thanks Mama.

Marfa Burrito

He did his thing to his scooter, and Armie's as well.
Tyler Ramsey’s scooter ; Armie’s looked similar by that afternoon.

Alright, so it was finally time to go, but not before stopping at Wrong Marfa, a local art gallery/shop. Check out these amazing pieces:

Stands about 3 feet tall, and is an armoire.
Stands about 3 feet tall, and is an armoire.

Costs $100,000, and each chamber holds a bottle of liquor, and the cylinder spins. Oh, and it took 7 months to carve.
Costs $100,000, and each chamber holds a bottle of liquor, and the cylinder spins. Oh, and it took 7 months to carve. The barrel flops down so you can store your tumblers, and there is a hidden drawer for…well, use your imagination.

The artist is definitely a talented individual, I sure hope he sells some pieces, alas, I can not afford any of them. With the 4K The Hard Way’s political debts paid to the Marfa significants (yes, sponsorship has its costs), it was time to hit the road. Except some people had to get some gas.

Damn it, can we go already.
Damn it, can we go already.

I was headed to Big Bend, and the boys were headed to San Antonio. That is some 400 miles away, and what with us leaving at noon, I had no idea how they hell they were going to make it.  I rode out with them until Marathon and then headed south to Big Bend.

To the 4K Gentlemen; rock on, I hope you make it to Key West, and it was a pleasure riding with y’all!

Day 2: Marfa and the Texas Winds

I can say with some experience that riding along I-10 at 80mph with 40mph crosswinds among long haul truckers is something to be avoided if possible.

After a late start on Monday, in no part due to meeting my friend Jameson and Russell the previous evening it was time to get on up out of Austin. I had to repack and pare down my belongings (again) as the panniers weren’t closing up, so clearly I have too much crap.  Shedding of gear is an absolute must at this point, but I’m just not sure what to get rid of; do I ditch one of my jackets? Workout clothes? Do I need all those tools? I’ll struggle on for now, until it becomes unbearable. It’s getting damn close.

Out of Austin I took 290W, passing through Fredricksburg and Junction before hopping on I-10.  Fredricksburg was pretty for the short time I jolted through it, and of course I-10 was straight miserable.  It was a straight shot though, and I was pretty sure I could make my destination. Then the winds really picked up. Those “Strong Cross Wind” signs are no joke.

The DR gets insanely “buzzy” above 70MPH, and extremely touchy in a terrifying way; add some strong cross winds and, well, let’s just say it’s exciting.  At one point, immediately after leaving Junction I ran out of gas, the GPS indicating I was a mere 6.3 miles away from the nearest Phillips-Conoco fill-up station.  With a quick prayer and flick of the petcock to the reserve setting, I coasted into the station on fumes and then proceeded on towards Balmorhea.

Which was not to be.  The light was dying fast, the wind had picked up heavily but I was determined to make it, until I couldn’t. Sadly I have no pictures of these moments as I left my camera on by accident and drained the battery, and my grip was far too tight as I battled sudden crosswinds almost forcing me into the other lane to turn on the GoPro. Every few minutes I’d hold my hand up to horizon to estimate how much daylight I had left.  Sonora whizzed by and I had 45 minutes left, and I definitely wasn’t riding at night on my first night out.

Exhausted, I pulled into a small town called Ozona, and rented a decent (if not pricey) room at the Travelodge by a bearded woman (no shit) with the largest German shepherd I have ever seen, proceeded to eat the largest chicken fried steak I’ve ever seen at the Hitchin’ Post and passed out, 230 miles under my belt.

The next day I put on my pants, ate some free rehydrated eggs and headed towards Alpine TX.

My location
Get Directions

I-10 again, and mostly boring.  After about an hour I saw my first wind farm.  Oh shit.  Luckily, due to the time of day, the crosswinds were manageable, but I did have a few dicey moments.  Again, I ran out of gas, but this time on purpose; I wanted to see how far I could go on one tank.  The answer? 169 miles, give or take.  Far below the 350-400 I had initially estimated, though perhaps I was confused and meant kilometers? Who knows.  Add on about 10 more miles for the reserve and I have around a 180 mile range. Not bad I suppose, not great either.

Anyway. Pulled into Alpine, had a late lunch and checked the town out, before heading to Marfa, where I am staying the night at a little place called El Cosmico.  The staff is super nice, they have teepees, and you can camp out for $15 bucks a night, so what’s not too like? I’ll try and check out the Marfa  Lights tonight as well, and then tomorrow it’s off to Big Bend.

el_cosmico_panorama

Website Up!

Hola friends and family! Finally got the website up and running, apologies for the delay.  I still need to flesh out some pages with more details of my trip, and I definitely need a better theme, but I’ll get all these things done in due time. For now, there is MUCH more left to do before the departure date:

  • Install the windscreen
  • Potentially get a different tank bag, as the map pocket on my Wolfman Enduro is a bit small.
  • Pack all the things
  • Sort out the electronics charging situation
  • Learn how this new Garmin GPS works
  • Figure out how I’m going to set up my camera
  • Get a travel towel
  • Find some swim trunks

Overland adventures.