Thursday, January 31, 2019

Disappointed in Marfa (With One Lovely Exception)

January 1-7, 2019
Marfa - Van Horn, Texas

We really enjoyed the little southern Texas towns we visited at the end of 2018, so figured starting off doing the same thing in the new year was a good plan.

Marfa, Texas, is one of those quirky spots you read about in other blogs. One of those places that you have a certain picture of in your mind. Where you know there's not much there, but several unique eateries and those "might-be-alien" lights that a dozen people have seen in five years.

We head out New Year's morning from Terlingua under sunny, blue skies. At the border stop (the Texas border patrol officers are all so friendly, and even have a sense of humor!) we're warned that there is limited visibility and ice on the road ahead.

Our first "frozen fog" makes for a nerve-wracking drive.

The whole world is white and glittery.
Although the sun comes out a few miles past Alpine, the temps never get over 42 degrees.

Tumble In RV Park is a quiet stop with a self-check-in system and well maintained dirt and gravel grounds. Like all of Marfa, it's very dark here.

We don't hook up the water, but also forget to turn off the water pump which freezes overnight. And never thaws out the whole time we're here - it's really cold!

With the exception of a wonderful visit with friends Laurel and Eric (Raven and Chickadee) for a tasty lunch and a stroll along the cute little main street, our Marfa visit doesn't get much better.

The warmth of good friends on a very cold January day.
The beautiful historic Hotel Paisano

Cozy holiday setting.

It will be awhile before we get the chance again, so we're really glad we got to see these two here!
No water means bottles to drink and flush so I'm glad Marfa is known as a foodie-spot and we can just enjoy trying all the options. (We do manage to hook up to water long enough to get showers).

Nope, they're either only open on weekends, or closed for the first week in January, or closed after 2 disappointing!!

We do have a nice drive into the Davis Mountains on Thursday. Although the broom store I wanted to see in Fort Davis is no longer there, and the national park is closed due to the shut down. No open eateries here either. Sigh......

Under the "don't judge a book by its cover" heading is Marfa Burrito where we stand in line for homemade breakfast burritos that perk us up a bit!
A small herd of antelope along the road all look like they need warmer coats.

The Hobby-Eberly Telescope on the grounds of the McDonald Observatory.

HETDEX makes a 3D map of the universe when it was approximately 3 billion years old!

Towering cathedrals in the Davis Mountains.

Outcroppings among the Junipers.
It looks warmer than 45 degrees!

A beautiful blend of gold and orange.

At the grocery store I observe this young man at work. It's bitter cold and windy, he's painting the stripes by hand. And he's singing. Singing! A testimony to the power of a good attitude.
We choose not to brave 30 degree nights to watch for the infamous Marfa Lights. Maybe if there's a next time. Friday we're happy to continue west to warmer environs. Marfa was definitely a disappointment after so many great Texas stops.

Another icon I've read about in Marfa is the Prada store - but even that isn't in Marfa. It's 35 miles away along the road in Valentine, Texas.

A popular photo-op along Hwy 90 - complete with bags and shoes (probably not Prada).
We stop for the weekend in Van Horn, Texas, to watch the NFL playoffs. The water pump is working again, and we're able to stay hooked up to water overnight. It's the little things........

Large ships lined up along an ancient riverbed.

The site of the last battle between the Texas Rangers and Apache Tribe, the 175,000 acre ranch is now owned by Amazon-owner Jeff Bezos. His plans include building a 10,000 year clock in the Diablo Mountains.
While watching the games we learn that our Tombstone friends are heading to Oregon to take care of family, so I change our plans for the next ten days.

Monday we leave Texas after five weeks. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

G is For Grandeur - Big Bend Final

December 30-31, 2018
Terlingua, Texas

The last Sunday of the year is also the last game of the season for my Pittsburgh Steelers - but Bill's Cowboys are heading to the playoffs so it isn't all sad faces. The afternoon also brings us a couple hours of cold rain.

Monday is bright and sunny, but not warm. A perfect day to explore the rest of the national park. It's a fun day of fossils, daggers and stunning peaks.

We start the day at the same place we have every morning since we arrived - the single gas station in the area! There's always a line, but it moves quickly. You really need to fill-up before heading in any direction.

Down the road from our place is this amazing longhorn.

How does he hold his head up???

The self-sustaining building houses numerous casts of fossils and dinosaur bones found nearby.

He looks so happy!

Oh no!!

One of the largest triceratops (cast completed with pieces found in a riverbed inside the park) ever discovered.
After visiting the fossil exhibit, we take the Dagger Flat Road into the hills. Turns out the "dagger" reference is for all the yuccas and sotols covering the area. 

Lots and lots of daggers.

The thinner, serrated edges of the sotol in front of the wider, smoother yucca.

Pretty views.
The grandeur of the Chisos Mountains is visible from most of the park, today we drive into their unique beauty. We also find more people than we've seen anywhere else. And even a little snow on the sides of the road.

We've driven through an ocotillo forest, a yucca forest, and now pines and hard woods!

We find a quiet spot with no other people, and just quietly enjoy this incredible view.

On the way home we take a final road to Grapevine Hills. Several cars have parked in a cleared area, but we continue to the end where the rugged tent sites are all closed. 

Are you coming?

Chisos Mountains
It's already 4:00 so we decide to head straight for Terlingua where the Starlight Theater opens at 5:00 to start seating for New Years Eve dinner. We arrive at 4:30, and hang out on the famous front porch until we can put in our name. So glad we did! When they call us to our table a few minutes later, the wait time for dinner is already 1-2 hours!!

Built in the 1930's, the theater spent many roofless years after it was closed in the 1950's. The beautifully restored interior still shows signs of those "rough" times.

The porch is great for people watching before dinner.

Note the "not quite restored ceiling" over the bar.

A local specialty - the Sotol Margaritas (several of them) are fantastic!

DB Rouse entertains us from the large stage.

Scrumptious pork medallions.

Clay Henry the beer drinking goat who "served" as mayor for a few years. We sat with him when we moved from our table to the floor seating to enjoy the music.

One of Clay's deputies.

With clever kazoo-tunes like "Love is a Mexican Wrestling Match and I'm Gonna Win", and "Valentines Day at the Pawn Shop" how could we not have a wonderful New Years Eve!!
Happy 2019!
It's a great way to wrap up another wonderful year on the road!

We're so glad that Laurel (Raven and Chickadee) shared their fun times in this area, and that we decided to check it out!! I highly recommend Terlingua as the perfect place to enjoy the Big Bend area.

As 2019 begins, we'll head northwest to our coldest stop yet.