Long-Term KTM 1290 Super Adventure: Homeward Bound, Part 2

Taking Texas By Storm

Wheelie Wednesday on the KTM Super Adventure
We ended the day with a photo that hopefully makes it for Wheelie Wednesday.©Motorcyclist

Editor's note: Former Editor At Large Aaron Frank's long-term KTM Super Adventure is headed back to Motorcyclist headquarters in Irvine, CA, from Aaron's home in Milwaukee, WI. Piloting the bike for us is Joe McKimmey, art director of sister Bonnier brand Dirt Rider. He was crazy enough to contemplate a trip from Chicago to California in early March.

I was sitting at the Bluebonnet Cafe, in Marble Falls, Texas, and it was pouring down rain and thundering loudly outside. Looking at my map, I was trying to figure out where the KTM and I were headed that day. I enjoyed a leisurely two-hour breakfast, just sitting there sorting out my route, while the bike was getting drenched outside. Luckily when I finished breakfast and had a route planned, I stepped outside, and the clouds opened up, the sun was out, and it was gorgeous the rest of the day. It was really lucky timing.

I hit a few little places after Marble Falls: Fredericksburg, Luckenbach, Kerrville. I stopped in Luckenbach for a few hours. It’s a little German town, founded in the 1800s, famous for Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and many country stars, who play there often. Willie will just show up and play there, out of the blue, and Waylon sings a song about Luekenbach, TX. I just hung out there for a bit, listened to music, and enjoyed the sunshine. Then I checked out Fredericksburg, before heading on to Leakey, where I camped at Gardner State Park. I got to the campground, which is surrounded by mountains; an absolutely gorgeous setting. I noticed cabins as I rolled into the campground. It was 80 degrees out, and there were people playing in the river that ran through the campground. When I pulled in and saw the cabins, I thought they would be too expensive, so I didn’t even bother looking into getting one.

It was about 6:00 p.m. when I rolled in and found a campsite. I set up my tent, and threw all my gear and electronics into the tent, offloading stuff off the bike before heading back into Leakey to get some dinner. Back in town, I was in the restaurant for about an hour, when it started raining. Not remembering whether or not I’d zipped everything up back at the campground, I thought I’d better get back to my tent. At this point, since it was such a hot day, I’d taken my jacket off for the ride into town, so I was getting wet. I hauled ass back to the campsite to get to the tent. The rain was coming down hard, almost like hail. Thankfully, when I got back to the tent, it was still in tact. I scrambled inside to get out of the rain, but was worried about the tent leaking. I decided to Facetime my daughter, and we chatted for 20-30 minutes, when she started asking “Dad, aren’t you scared? It sounds so loud!” The thunder was echoing off the surrounding mountains, reverberating through the campground. “Naw, it’s fine. What would I be scared about?” We ended our conversation, and I sat there in the tent, watching the seams, anticipating a leak.

Start the story from Part 1 here:

Sure enough, the seams start leaking. I’d set up the tent on a bit of an angle, so the water was dripping down in one direction. I rearranged my stuff inside the tent to the driest spot, doing my best to avoid everything getting drenched. Suddenly, a huge gust of wind blew through the canyon, and completely collapsed the tent right on top of me. At this point it was dark out, I was drenched, and all my stuff was getting wet; what was I going to do? I’m on a motorcycle, where am I going to go? I had to look for shelter, so I ran across the street to check out one of those cabins. Luckily, someone had left one of the cabins unlocked, so I snuck in there for the night. The next morning, I knew for sure the rangers were going to stop by, and sure enough around 7:30 a.m., they came knocking at the door. Fearing a hefty charge for using the cabin, I tried talking my way out of it, explaining my tent was collapsed in a campsite just across the way, but they weren’t letting me off the hook. I still had to pay. I’m expecting to shell out about $100 or so, but it turns out, it was only $35. I could have just stayed there the whole night and saved myself the hassle of a wet tent and gear.

I packed up and left Leakey, and made a beeline to Brackettville after that. From there, I headed to Del Rio, and followed the road along the Mexico border. That part of the state gets really flat, so there wasn’t anything particularly exciting about it. I stopped for the night in Van Horn, Texas, wanting to avoid the bigger city of El Paso. The following day I wanted to head north up to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico before continuing westward. I was hoping to get to the missile range testing area, but I ended up going the wrong way on one of the side roads. Instead of heading up the east side of the mountain range, I accidentally took the road up the west side side of the range, tacking on an additional 50 miles of unplanned detour. Despite this discouraging setback, I was determined to get to White Sands. I’d been riding on flat boring roads for two days; I desperately needed something exciting to look at. It’s amazing when you come upon it. You’re riding for 30 miles, and the desert looks the same in all directions. Suddenly, you crest over this little hill, and the desert turns to white sand; it looks like snow. Since it’s a National Monument, you can’t ride in the sand, but it blows over the road, covering the pavement with this white gypsum sand. It was an amazing sight to see.

After visiting White Sands, I hopped back on I-10, and just blazed through the miles to Phoenix, where I stayed with a friend. I chilled there for a day, explored the city, then back on the road the next day. This was the home stretch, but nothing foreshadowed what was to come in the last couple hundred miles.