Driver, where you taking us?
I promised in my last post I would write more about taking a trip to West Texas. West Texas encompasses a lot of terrain, so I’ll mainly talk about Marfa. Whether it be a weekend trip (not for the faint-hearted aka people who hate long drives) or on the way to see Big Bend- in which case you will definitely need more than one weekend- Marfa is a must. If being close to the Mexico border isn’t incentive enough, you will also feel like you’re going back in time- a truly unforgettable experience.
Stop in Alpine, TX on the way to Marfa- it’s a small town that won’t disappoint. Alpine is home to Cedar Coffee Supply, a cute shop with fun beanies and crepes. The crepes looked appetizing and because we had eaten breakfast at Magoo’s (very yummy- the pancakes and biscuits are to die for) beforehand, we just sat there eyeballing the crepes the two ladies next to us ordered.
After Cedar Coffee Supply, we roamed around and found a quaint building called “Patti Hildreth”- perfect for picture taking and you don’t even need to be a professional photographer!
Alpine also hosts the famous “desk” along with the “bicycle tree” (see previous blog post), which are worth seeing. My friend and I had a time of it trying to get to the top of the hill to see both of them. There are a lot of hiking paths- if you start wrong, then you guessed it, you’ll end wrong. Look, this is ALL you need to know: turn into Entrance 4 at Sul Ross State University, drive to the very back parking lot, park at the dorms located mountainside, and start hiking straight up the hill. There will be a few forks along the way, but stay right and you should have no problem finding it. If you Google search the directions, there are some misleading comments- they either over complicate the directions or give no directions at all.
A note of caution: don’t let GPS try to lead you to “the desk” either. It will take you to a private property where there are shoes and empty water bottles hanging from fence posts (a little eerie, but probably well meaning) and it takes a while to find a turnaround.
Now for Prada, Marfa. It literally is a Prada store…in the middle of nowhere! How enigmatic and mystifying, right? Wrong. As it comes into sight, there are at least 10 cars with 20 different families (okay math was never my best subject) all trying to take a picture of Prada Marfa, with Prada Marfa, with each other, with themselves, with their cameras, without their cameras, you get my point. So, that was one of our quicker stops. Fun useless fact while I’m on a roll: Prada Marfa is in Valentine, TX not Marfa, TX.
But don’t let that information dissuade you. There is still plenty of cool stuff to do and see like:
- Chinati Foundation- an art museum featuring mostly concrete blocks
- McDonald’s Observatory (located in the Davis Mountains- 30 miles or so from Marfa)- you can see neat constellations through telescopes
- A railroad track because everyone needs an artsy picture walking on one of those right?
- Stellina- a hip dinner spot with great tiramisu
- Bar Saint George- a bar with a killer happy hour- we got there about 4:00 PM and each got IPA’s for a total of $6
- Do Your Thing Coffee- a coffee shop hosting avocado toast smothered in honey and butter and a few more ingredients- delicious
If you like suffering in the cold, I recommend reserving a safari tent at El Cosmico. There is a heated blanket, but it’s somewhat of a paradox. The settings go rather high, which sounds great, but you can actually get really hot and wake up in the middle of the night sweating profusely like I did. And while turning it down, I accidentally took the whole blanket, leaving my friend to freeze to death. So, that’s why I have mixed feelings about the blanket. But maybe just don’t be me- take others into consideration and everyone is likely to leave El Cosmico happy.
There are also other sleeping options- tepees and trailers. I don’t think the tepees can be reserved in the winter months. There are only a few trailers and those tend to book up rather quickly.
Remember to see the Marfa Lights- since that’s really what Marfa is known for. As we were leaving, we saw “Marfa Lights Viewing” and the 1 mile marker. That’s when the look happened. If you don’t know what the look is, let me explain. It’s when you and someone else realize- either through divine intervention or in our case, a sign- that you didn’t actually do or see the one thing you mainly drove (7 hours in our case) all the way to do or see. That’s the look. It’s usually followed by mouthing “oh sh**” to each other. Who goes to Marfa and forgets about the Marfa Lights? Well whatever, life goes on.
I’ll go into more depth on some of these places in later blog posts, but this should at least get things started. Hope you enjoyed! Please comment below as I would love to hear from my readers!
*I’m not a hipster and I felt perfectly at home in Marfa.
Prada Marfa, sitting on desk, Patti Hildreth photo cred: Andrea
“The west is the best
The west is the best
Get here and we’ll do the rest
The blue bus is calling us
The blue bus is calling us
Driver, where you taking us?”