A few days after Christmas, Chadd and I embarked on what would be an epic roadtrip around west Texas.
We sort of started in San Antonio — I say sort of because I pretty much worked most of that time, but that’s me. We chilled on the Riverwalk, had great margs, and went to an AMAZING jazz and blues club that my dad recommended (who knows his shit). The place is called Tucker’s Kozy Korner.
From SA, we headed to Austin for New Year’s. We got a really cute AirBnB in the east downtown area and had a fantastic group of people over. We played Cards Against Humanity, listened to jams, and then stepped outside for a firework show that was random and completely surrounded us. It was a beautiful night.
New Year’s Day marked the start of the real roadtrip. Our plan was to spend the night in Odessa or Midland (since neither of us have ever been… not really a surprise there) on the way to Terlingua, a ghost town located right outside Big Bend National Park.
It’s possible Odessa could have been a nicer place than the impression I got, but it was hard to tell given the crazy ice storm that hit and turned a 4-hour drive into a 10-hour drive. The only things that stick with me from Odessa: lots of industrial-looking places, a weird diner that I won’t share the name of here because I’m scared someone will eventually murder me for it, and the fact that the hotel we stayed at — a Marriott — played the 700 Club in the lobby the entire morning during breakfast. It felt great to leave.
The drive to Terlingua wasn’t a huge improvement from the drive to Odessa in terms of weather, though we were definitely more excited to be headed there. Throughout the trek, we were hit by multiple and various combinations of rain, snow, sleet etc., and by the time we got to Alpine, everywhere around us seemed to be flooding.
We arrived at our Terlingua lodging, La Posada Milagro (highly recommended), in the afternoon. It was pouring rain. When we pulled up, the owner of the guesthouses pulled up across from us in her car, rolled down her window and said in one breath, “We don’t have heat, we don’t have any power, I just accidentally put someone else in your room, and I can’t find my dog.” Then and now, this moment is hilarious.
She did end up finding her dog, and the room situation got worked out shortly thereafter; however, we never did get heat or power. Somehow, this made everything better. And, Terlingua is just a really cool place. The ghost town portion is an old mining town that was deserted after the mine shut down in the 30s. There are still artifacts of the town everywhere, and many people, including our hostess, built onto the facades of building structures left from the ghost town.
And then there was the view from our little guesthouse ghost town patio…
But, of course, we had come there for Big Bend. The park was a 15-minute drive from our guesthouse in Terlingua, and a beautiful one.
Note: I could put 50000 more photos of Big Bend. Let’s move on. Next up: Marfa. I could write an entirely other post about Marfa. Though, honestly, each of these places deserves their own post.
The post I would write about Marfa wouldn’t be about how cool it is, as one might expect. Marfa is kind of a sham. Granted, we didn’t go at the best time of the year — everything was closed down and not many people were there, but really that’s just another validation of my theory. If Marfa’s so cool, why isn’t it cool all year ’round?
What really struck me was the contrast between the fabricated hipster vibe and the local, natural vibe of the town. Their was a desire to preserve the hipster artist experience for specific people, a.k.a tourists. The fact that places shut down because fewer tourists were around suggested to me that the people who really live there aren’t welcome to enjoy the experiences provided by this influx of “artists”.
Could it be because 70% of the town’s population is Latino? Could it be because 21% of the town’s population lives below the poverty line? Could it because in the background of these modernistic artsy establishments, you’ll see crumbling infrastructure and housing projects?
Considering that, it was difficult to look at the Prada store art installation as anything but condescending — by the way, even though the installation is called “Prada Marfa”, it’s actually located in a small town called Valentine, Texas. In the context of all of this, it makes sense why Valentine gets no credit.
Meanwhile, I had my period and went into an organic grocery store to buy tampons, but they didn’t sell tampons because tampons aren’t good for the environment. So I had to buy pads. Get over yourself.
But, we made the best of it…
We stayed at El Cosmico, which was an experience. We slept in a teepee one night, and the next night we slept in a trailor — the same trailor Beyonce stayed in when she visited Marfa. I wonder how she felt about all of it?
We left Marfa early in the morning, and drove along the border until we got to the highway out back to San Antonio. I’ll just add that we listened to Martin Short’s book, “I Must Say”, throughout this entire trip, and it was the perfect story to hear while exploring outside and inside.
To the Texas desert: you have my heart and soul.