What a blessing a long weekend can be. After what has been a stressful, busy few months, to say I was ready to unplug and detach would be a gross understatement. So the long Memorial Weekend was a welcome sight. And what better place to escape to than a place with spotty cell reception and a (much) slower pace. Jumping at the extra time off, Bear and I decided to pack up the car and head southwest in search of those Marfa Mystery Lights and all that comes with that part of the world.
We stayed in Alpine and I really enjoyed that little town. We kept seeing the same couples and families around town and at restaurants. Our hotel, the Maverick Inn, was a wonderfully restored old roadhouse that was just perfect for the weekend.
Marfa is perhaps best known for the unexplained lights that appear on the horizon after dark just outside of town. What you may not know is that there is a healthy art community there as well, thanks to the vision of the late Donald Judd who founded the Chinati Foundation there. It seems as though every other space in the tiny town is an art gallery or shop.
Upon getting into town we kept on driving straight out toward Valentine, Texas to see Prada Marfa, a permanent art installation in the middle of nowhere. It was definitely one of the cooler things we saw. Bear and I got to take the Chinati Foundation’s Selections Tour on Sunday and I think we both left with a better appreciation for minimalistic, sculptural art intended to be a permanent piece of the setting it is in. The museum is situated on an old army base and it was as much a history lesson as it was an art tour.
We enjoyed afternoon drinks and conversation at the the Hotel Paisano and the eclectic Planet Marfa before heading to Padres for dinner and to listen to a fun little band there and then heading out to try to catch a glimpse of the Marfa Lights. Alas, the lights alluded us but it was fun nonetheless and we had a good time psyching ourselves out and convincing ourselves we spotted something moving on the horizon.
While visiting Marfa was the main draw for our drive out west, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m not sure I entirely “got it.” Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time getting away and wandering through town. But it wasn’t the life changing, lightbulb, I-gotta-live-here experience some have described Marfa to be. In fact, I think I enjoyed our other stops through the surrounding areas even more.
Saturday evening we drove up through the Davis Mountains which provided some gorgeous views as we headed to the McDonald Observatory for that evening’s Star Party. Wouldn’t you know it, though, as we are making our assent, the skies start to darken and lightening begins to light up the horizon. As such, they weren’t able to take out the big telescopes we’d hoped to get to gaze through but we did enjoy a totally nerdy lecture on satellites before heading back down to Alpine. (nerd alert!)
Sunday after touring the Chinati Foundation, we headed down south and embarked on a drive from the border town of Presidio through the Big Bend Ranch State Park along the Rio Grand Texas/Mexico border. It was a really nice scenic drive along the river and I’m so glad we did it. I’d never been that close to the border (or Mexico!) and it seemed crazy that just across the river lies a whole different country.
We came out of the park on the other side at Lajitas and I couldn’t wait to get to Terlingua. Terlingua is a totally crazy tiny little town that is best know for its ghostown and annual Chili Cookoff. This was definitely one of my favorite stops of the weekend.
You can do a self guided walking tour of the Ghostown, which is creepy and awesome, but even better than that–you can grab a beer (or two) from the shop in the old Holiday Hotel and sit on the porch to chat with the locals and other travelers passing through. We met this adorable couple from Holland (in Terlingua!) who were on holiday driving through all of the little towns that make our country great. If you ever pass through, you definitely have to stop and have a drink–you never know who you might meet!
While it might not sound like much, I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to really get away from the rush of the city to a truly remote are and just go exploring with the best travel partner a girl could ask for. I hope we can take another trip back there soon. …when is that Chili Cookoff again?