28 July 2010
i just ventured on my first trip to west Texas. it was short but sweet (and by sweet i mean incredible), but Marisa and i packed so much beauty in to those 5 1/2 days. i had the car packed and ready to go- picked Marisa up at the airport, coming from L.A., and we hit the road. we got dinner in fredericksburg and drove 8 hours through the night. arriving at big bend in the valley of the chisos- we had no idea how gorgeous and enchanting the mountains and desert were going to be, since we were blinded by the night time darkness on the way in. but as we set up our tent the sun was coming up and the beauty surrounding us was unveiled.
day 1: Monday
we only slept a few hours because of our excitement to explore the park. we jumped right into a 6 mile hike called 'the window. we were very prepared and not worried about looking like total nerds with our giant fanny packs. there were no more than a handful of ppl on the trail that day anyways, which made it that much more amazing. being in a national park, a huge tourist spot that was deserted, was pretty magical. we were dragging by the end of the hike- worn down by the heat and our lack of sleep from the night before. once we got back to our campsite we made one of our first of many shockingly good meals. (our menu consisted of: corn beef hash and over easy eggs. beef stew. peach and pecan cinnamon gf df pancakes. quinoa pasta with basil tomato sauce, red onion, green pepper, asparagus, and beef. grilled hamburgers with red onion, tomato, avocado and a gf pancake bun. egg scramble with black beans and corn tortilla chips.) we relaxed the rest of the night and read the book we chose for this trip: the mastery of love, a practical guide to the art of relationship, by the same author that wrote the 4 agreements.
day 2: Tuesday
we were woken up by javelinas!, one of the 3 animals i expected to see on this trip. (1.javelina, 1.roadrunner, 1.armadillo) we made breakfast, packed up and went to explore other parts of big bend. the park is about an hour drive from one side to the other, and about an hour from top to bottom. there was plenty of land to see, and even more that we would not get to see- so we had to pick and choose. we decided to go offroading on a few primitive roads. 1. to see ernst tinaja. 2. to see the hot springs on the rio grande (it's crazy how close we were to Mexico and how small the rio grande river is, how easy it would be to swim across.) 3. boquillas canyon. we saw it from an overlook and decided to go see it from within. some of the most towering cliffs i have ever seen. i surely felt like dust in the wind. as we walked up we were greeted by Mexicans on horseback singing to us and offering to sell us handmade trinkets to raise money for their children's schools. the river bed was bone dry, cracking underneath each step as if it was crying out for the neighboring water. one of the good things about traveling by car is that we had everything with and available to us. so when we were hungry we just took out the camp stove and ate right then and there. we decided the canyon was a good spot to eat before we headed to terlingua.
(can you spot marisa? so tiny in that canyon!)
the ghost town is a very interesting tiny town. we came across some characters on this trip and one of them we met by almost accidentally stealing this man's parking spot at the starlight theater, when we went for dollar tacos. he has been living and traveling in his RV for 18 years. "do you know how it feels to wake up and be free?" we stayed at a camping hostel called las ruinas for 6 dollars per person to pitch our own tent. while the sun was still out we went ahead and set it up and drove around the town to take pictures. there were quite a few to be had here. this might have been one of my favorite hostels. we were the only ones camping out that night- so we had the kitchen to ourselves, the shower to ourselves, the school bus couches to ourselves. so after dollar tacos and happy hour drinks- again we spent the night reading and went to bed early. there is nothing like waking up in a mesh tent and watching the sun rise.
day 3: wednesday
mornings in the desert are pretty toasty and the tent becomes quite unbearable soon after the sun comes up. it was a good thing though because it forced us to get up early. one of my favorite parts of each day was waking up next to my sleepy girl that needed her coffee. we would take our time in the mornings, making breakfast and relaxing for the few hours that i would normally be asleep for back in austin. it was nice. the breeze. the conversations. being together and being carefree. i liked it. it was easy. after rinsing off and brushing away our morning breath- we were, again, very excited to get to our next stop. we got pretty quick at breaking down the tent and evidence of our stay. there is something about looking back and driving away from a memory made.
it was about a 2 hour drive to marfa and one of my favorite things about roadtrips is to come across random roadside attractions. for example- jackassic park, and stores like the alpine trading post where i got my new dream catcher- things that make small towns unique.
we only had a few things planned out but one of those things was to stay at el cosmico in marfa. (designed by the same people that did the san jose hotel here in austin). you could choose to stay in a teepee (tempting), yurt, or a vintage trailer, but it was pretty pricey so we pitched my trusty tent. my cousin had just taken a trip through big bend and marfa a few months prior, and there were quite a few things that he recommended to do, in marfa especially. marfa is an art mecca of sorts. past home and genius to donald judd, a minimalist artist that came to marfa back in the 70s to start what is now a pretty big movement of artists, galleries, and what draws many ppl there today. though very progressive, marfa was still very laid back. most of the galleries and stores were closed except by appointment but one that we didnt need to schedule in was prada marfa, an art installation out near valentine that was a must see. one thing other than the art that intrigues travelers to stop through are the infamous marfa lights, the unexplainable "alien lights". there is even a viewing park off the side of the road built especially for the possibility that they might make an appearance. and they did. i must say i wasn't blown away, but something to check off my list.
day 4: thursday
when i pitched the tent the day before i thought it would be a good idea to find a spot behind a tree so that it would give us shade in the morning from the sun in the east. turns out that spot payed off in other ways. a huge rainstorm came through and it happened to be one of the only pieces of land that didnt completely flood. i somehow managed to find high ground without even trying. we didnt really expect it to rain like that in the middle of the desert. we had spent the entire day going on guided tours of the chinati foundation and judd's 'the block' tour, so we were unable to get back to move the tent ahead of time. good thing my tent only has two poles and was easy enough to just pick up and walk over to a new spot. the rain ended up being a great thing though bc it really brought everyone staying there together. there were around 10 of us all camped within 20 feet of each other, like a little community. we met ppl from all over the states that were all on roadtrips like we were. its really cool for me to stop and think about how so many stories were collided at that moment for just one night. for dinner. ppl i would probably never see again, but that i had a great time with and was meant to meet for that short amount of time. the reason being i might never know, but those moments are very important to me.
day 5: friday
our last day. we woke up and made peach and pecan pancakes for breakfast. the peaches provided by two of the girls we had met the night before. we had a lot to pack into this day and needed a good hearty meal to get us on our feet. the land was dry and the flys were rampant so we got out of there quick. i was a little sad to leave. i think i could live in that town long term. maybe for an extended personal retreat. we hit a few more galleries on our way out of town and headed north to balmorea for the day, layed by the natural spring and read for awhile until we went back through fort davis state park to watch the sunset and make dinner at the top of the mountain. all of this was leading up to the star party at the mcdonald observatory- the main thing that held us from making our way back to austin. the guy had a pointer light that reached the heavens. we learned all about the constilations. where they are and how they rotate through the sky. how to find the north star. how to spot the space station. and we even got to look at saturn through the biggest telescope ive ever seen. i felt like a kid again on a really awesome field trip. i wanted to stay and look through all of the telescopes but it was late and we needed to hit the road in order for me to get back to austin in time for work the next day.
so to sum it all up- life is good. the world is beautiful. each day should be an adventure. no matter where you are or what you are doing. make the best of it. its less than often that you get to wander outside of your city so find those spots within. i make a point to try and do something new every day. try a new food. a new restaurant. drive down a road youve never gone down. excitement is all around us- just open your eyes to it and jump in