Another great trip through Texas! As I’m making my way west this year, I wanted to get the suspension upgraded on the T-700 and for me, that was only one place to go. Alex Marten of Konflict Motorsports has kept the suspension tuned on the 1200 Super Tenere for several years now so it wasn’t a question to drop off the the T-7 for an upgrade. His team re-sprung and re-valved the forks and rear shock for my weight and riding style, they also removed the 1/2” lowering link I had added when going to that taller tire in Montana last year. Thanks Alex!
While that was the main purpose to get to Texas, I decided to take my time and enjoy time with friends and family as I made my way across. After coming southwest from Arkansas, my first stop was my aunt and uncles in Dallas for some Good Friday crawfish 🦞 It was Max and Luke’s first time to boil them up and they did a fantastic job after several calls and texts back to cousins in South Louisiana for critical seasoning consultation.
Then it was south for a couple nights at the Star Ranch outside Austin to wait for my appointment to drop off the bike with Alex. It keeps getting better every time I stop in. Great people there!
The T-7 was going to be at Konflict for a full week, so I dropped it off and headed down to the sleepy little town of Bandera in the beautiful Texas hill country. Down there are the parents of a good friend back in Olympia Wa. Larry and Cybil Marsh had been living on the road in a Class A RV for over a decade when they stumbled across this cute little town with a golf course and inexpensive houses. They had been after me for a while to stop by, I hope my week there didn’t over stay my welcome. Larry is a retired US Navy diver and correctional officer while Sybil is also retired from the Washington state Department of Corrections HQ office. They are living a life they have always dreamed about. 🙌
Bandera isn’t too far outside of San Antonio and there was one place I had to check out so a day trip was in order off the bat. The Black Rifle Coffee Company is a veteran owned small batch roasted coffee company started by a few Special Forces Operators a couple years back. Checking out some of their pretty funny YouTube commercials quickly gives you an idea of who they are… I’ve been a fan for a few years now, really love their coffee.
While in Bandera, Rebecca Cunningham, a documentary film maker I follow on Social media, told me of a biker event that was happening close by and suggested I go check it out. The weather was going to be nice so I headed up to Fredericksburg to check out the “Fandango Vintage Motorcycle show” and flat track races. It was very cool to see all the custom bikes and meet a few great people there. Larry and Sybil even met up with me part of the day to see the show.
One of the bikes that stood out for Larry was this old beat up hard tail chopper, after a little digging, I found that it’s owner is quite the colorful character… meet “Danger Dan”
After saying my goodbyes to Larry and Sybil, I headed back up to Austin to get the bike from Alex. With a couple hours to kill, I found a nice little beach not far from Konflicts shop right on Lake Travis. It’s well known with the locals for being the only clothing optional beach in Texas so I had to go check it out! ☺️🤭😁 The beach was practically empty, I only saw a couple others. It’s quite a liberating experience that I’d highly suggest everyone to try at least once!
I’ll end this blog post here, as there needs to be a part 2 just for the Big Bend National Park and my ADV nomad buddy Jay Masterson down in Terlingua.
I hope to break down my plans in detail so this might be a bit of a read, I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past 6 years and to see the pieces falling into place is making me really happy! 😃
The land I’ve purchased is a 10.26 acre parcel, just about a perfect 660x660x660x660 square, 1/2 mile or so off a State highway on a dead end road(Stagecoach Rd, Oxley, Searcy County, Arkansas). A survey was done before closing, so that helped a lot. There is a power pole at the SW corner,city water and phone lines at Stagecoach Rd that’s about 1000 feet away from the property line. It’s gently sloping to the south/southeast and at 1500’ elevation. The bottom (south)property line is about 50’+/- lower then the high(north) end. It’s heavily covered in hardwoods and a few pine with thick underbrush of briers in most places. A few dozen or more large rocks (2’x3’x 4’)are scattered on the lower 1/3 of the property. I was able to walk a majority of the property, the ground was firm with no swampy areas. Seeing pictures taken from the summer to winter, there is a huge difference on the distance you can see across the property. I plan to keep a 100’-150’ border boundary around the entire property that will be left “wild” where the briars are left in place. The center 4-5 acres will keep all its living trees but the brush ,briers and saplings 6”or less will be cut down periodically. The only trees to be removed are the ones for the pads, travelers cabin, storage building and eventually the main cabin. I’d like to route the driveways around the healthy trees and large rocks but any dread or dying trees in the path can be removed.
The MASTER PLAN
Develop the lower 1/3 of the property as a travelers rest area ( working names are the Stage Stop or Bunkhouse)with 2 power/water accessible tent camping spots and a small cabin (18’x 25’ +/-)with kitchen, laundry, bathroom and a bed. The bathroom will have its own entrance for the tent campers but an interior door can be locked to restrict access to the rest of the cabin. The cabin will also have an outdoor shower on the east side porch. Exterior would be a rock face front ( gathered from the property) and 1/4 round live edge siding that is basically scrap from a wood mill. The cabin will be built under a 35′ x 35′ “pole barn” that will serve as the roof and patio area for the cabin. I’ve been playing around with a 10×20, 14×22 and 18×25 cabins with the exact same floor plans trying to see what was most efficient for what I wanted them filled with. On paper, the 18×25 might be the sweet spot. Once it gets put in the computer, that may change +/- an foot or so. The build will be simple, conventional stud walls, insulation and mini split HVAC. No drywall so open to “rustic”options like corrugated tin, cedar fence boards or ??? I’m open to on-demand or 50 gallon water heater too. It will have a “shed roof” that’s south facing with windows to let in the winter sun. Passive house principals can be added where possible and within a budget. A budget I have yet to figure out.
(below are examples I’ve found on the web or worked on in a CAD program)
A 300’ long driveway needs to be cut in thats 130’-150’ from the lower property line to a 50’x50’ pad for the travelers cabin. Working around healthy trees and large rocks will keep it looking natural. The two tent spots will be north and south of the driveway. The tent spots should be kept small, for motorcycle, van, SUV and jeep campers. No travel trailers or medium-large RV’s will be allowed.
A large enough septic system will need to be put in for both cabins? There isn’t much regulation or building code requirements in the area so a simple system is the most efficient.
Driveway uphill to storage containers/pole barn/shed and eventually the main cabin. Cut in a driveway to a 40’x60’ pad in the Northwest corner of the brush cleared area . Either a 20×40 pole barn or 2, 40’ containers with a shared roof large enough to park the van to also be used as storage and possibly small tractor parking. The pad will have power and water.
Pad and main cabin
100’ x 100’ pad for the main 20’x30’ cabin as close to this one as possIble and within budget.
Phase 3+ Gun range….
100yd rifle range with action pistol shooting bay. Either packed earth old tires, used railroad ties, all the tree root balls as a safe backstop. Not sure of placement on the property just yet…. but I’ll have one!
The reason for the 3 phases is I’d like to pay as I go where possible. I’m not worried if phase 3 isn’t finished in 6-8 or even 10 years from now. This is recreational property for the time being, I’d only be on the property 3-5 months a year as it is, but would like to build it in such a way that travelers can access it year around. It will not be “ open to the public”, security gates with locks and combinations given out to the travelers upon direct contact with only me, free of charge. If it can become a paid campground in the future, I’m open to that prospect. So I’d want it built like someone would be paying for it.
Well, that’s about it. It’s a work in progress and this post will be updated as I go ( currently Nov 21) and plans cchange so stay tuned!
Jan 2022 update:
Bunkhouse timeline: (as of now, because budget and many other factors will adjust or push this back) —————————— March-May 2022 -Driveway and pad finished -Yamaha “briefcase” generator for use until power is run -Spray for tick control -Water tank/heater for simple shower -Rent port a potty -Fire pit location set up -Plant Green giant arbavita x 10-12 along driveway -Take out 1 big oak, get to local miller to slab (4”&3”x8’) and start drying. -Forester inspection of property to get a forestry plan -Start forestry plan -Mulch brush undergrowth per the foresters recommendations -Cut/ haul cedar trees for bunkhouse roof supports -Deer buffet planted to reseed area between bunkhouse pad and brush pile/backstop -Start cutting & removing a couple dead/dying trees for firewood per forestry plan -Spray for tick control
Set base and pad for new 20’ shipping container -Motorcycle dirt route to/from TAT(Map and GPS tracks)
——————— May 2022 -Washington for summer -Buy new or used 6’x12’ or 14’ single axle cargo trailer and load contents of old shipping container in Chehalis (Super Tenere , spin bike, power tools and other stuff) ——————————— September 2022 back to Arkansas on freeway with trailer -Get new 20’ shipping container delivered and set up -Spray for tick control -Work forestry plan -Mark driveway and pad for future main cabin -Take out a few more dead & dying trees for firewood per forestry plan -Plant more trees per forestry plan -Spray for tick control -Work with builder on roof/pole barn plan and septic system ——————————— February -June 2023 -Spray for tick control -Roof/pole barn built, dig septic system -Power& Water lines trenched -Fixed outdoor shower -Host for primitive campers -Work with builder for concrete slab and Bunkhouse plans -Spray for tick control —————————— Short summer in Washington July-August, take cargo trailer
————————————- September return to Arkansas with any remaining stuff from old shipping container in the cargo trailer
————————————- February-May 2024 (or fall of 2024 ) Build Bunkhouse 🤞🤞🤞
Well, I’ve gone and done it! After 3 &1/2 laps around the US, I found a spot that checks off all the boxes for the “ideal” piece of land that’s been bouncing around in my head for the last 5 years.
1. Great riding (on and off road) near by
2. Warmer more of the year then cold
3. Inexpensive land on a south facing hillside that’s fairly secluded. (don’t see any neighbors, little to no light pollution)
4. Enough land for a potential main cabin and a few camping spots that can serve as a travelers (motorcycle/vanlife or overlanding) rest area. More on that in a bit….
I had also thought of Idaho, Kentucky, West Virginia and Northern New Mexico but nothing hit the sweet spot like North Arkansas. I met up with realtor Glen Swafford of Diamond G Realty in Mountain View to put some feelers out on any 8-15 acre parcels for sale. It took a couple weeks of back and forth but we finally came to an agreement on this 10 acre patch on Stagecoach Rd, outside the small area known as Oxley just off state highway 66. And the price was just right too! Thanks Glen!
Earlier this month I booked a stay at my friend Sandra’s Air B&B cabin in Mountain View to use as a base camp while I explored the area. I had also flown up with my Aunt and Uncle Kris and Jon Martin in their private plane a couple times to join them as they looked for property.
While at Sandra’s cabin, I had put out in a few different Tenere groups on social media that I was looking for someone to join me. DJ Suter from Memphis on his Super Tenere was able to join me for 3 great days of riding. He had been out this way a few times so he knew the general area which was great and we explored many new areas for him too!
All while this was happening, Ken Doss, a Super Tenere rider from North Little Rock and the Adventure Riders of Arkansas reached out to invite me to a “Camp and Ride” he was planning in the Ozark NF later in the month. I met up with him and what turned out to be more than a dozen riders from all over the state and even a few from Missouri. We set out on a very scenic loop through the forest with several water crossings. Lunch was at the little Catalpa Cafe, WOW! those were huge burgers ! We then returned to the forest roads for another way back to camp stopping for a really cool pic under a waterfall. An epic day for sure, can’t wait to ride again with the Adventure Riders of Arkansas. A huge thanks to Ken for the invite! 🙏
Now back to the property…. For the last 5 years as I’ve traveled, finding hosts to “couch surf” or now “driveway surf” with has been a huge blessing. I want to return that hospitality afforded me with the purchase of this land. The lower 1/3 of the property will be a travelers rest area with camping spaces, water, power hook ups and a small cabin with a bathroom, shower, laundry and kitchen. It will cater to the Adventure Motorcycle, Moto Vanlife and overlanding communities, sorry but there won’t be enough space for travel trailers or Toy hauling motor homes. It also won’t be open to the public but remaining private property, restricting access somehow because I won’t be around all year to maintain it. Keeping it simple and minimal but unique. I also don’t plan to charge admission (but I will take donations to help keep the lights on) The rough timeline is to get a driveway with camping spots, utilities and a pad for the small cabin in before the end of the year. As for a cabin, it will be like these but updated a bit😉 That’s a year or more out though.
When doing the research for the property, I realized that the Trans American Trail passes by just 35 miles south as it crosses over US 65 in Bee Branch, Arkansas. Sam and his community will hear of the property when it’s up and running. I’m looking forward to doing a few sections of the “TAT” myself! 😁
This has all really been a blessing to find such a great place that will work for the plans I’ve had in my head for so long. I’m very thankful for the community that has supported me over the years. Now I hope to give back where I can. A huge thanks to everyone that follows me on my journey!🙏🙌🙏🙌
And one last thing as an FYI, beware of the green slime on the low water bridges that you will traverse if you are in the Arkansas backcountry. 🤭🙄🤣😂