A West Texas Summer Getaway / by Anna Terry

To celebrate Shane’s birthday/4th of July, we ventured out west with two friends and their loving pup. What better way to celebrate the birth of our nation and our fellow Restless & Roving contributor than sweating our asses off in the Texas desert?  Ahhh Marfa, it felt good to be back! As you may recall, Shane and I spent our anniversary in Marfa last November. When we were there last, it was quite chilly and most things were closed. This time around, Marfa didn’t look so much like a ghost town. The place was poppin! With four days to explore; we were able to explore a lot more of what Marfa and the surrounding area has to offer.

Stay

Unfortunately, our beloved El Cosmico was all booked out. No yurt glamping this time around.  This may have been a blessing in disguise since even though it is “glamping” the temps did reach 100 degrees.  I don’t know how comfortable we would have been without A/C. Instead we booked an airbnb that was walking/biking distance to Marfa’s downtown. Cute and cozy, this little airbnb definitely had the “Marfa vibe”.

 

Eat

I think we may have a second-most favorite wing spot* in the recently opened Vietnamese restaurant, Marpho, where you can order up some tasty dishes that are fairly inexpensive. The real treat is during their happy hour when all they serve is beer, wings, and fries. The wings of choice was some sort of vietnamese sauced concoction. So finger licking good! (*Our most favorite wing’s joint would be on the Jersey Shore, but that is for another post.)

It’s not really the 4th of July unless you have BBQ at some point in the day. For us, Marfa Meat Company hit the spot. Perfectly smoked, moist brisket heaped onto a silver-serving tray with all the fixin’s (onions, pickles, bread) and a hefty helping of potato salad. Now we are not BBQ experts by any means, but definitely treat your taste buds to this smoky goodness. Marfa Meat Co. doesn’t disappoint.

One of our favorite places to stop and grab a cuppa, Do Your Thing. It's a great place to start your day for some art, coffee, and a snack. 

Marfa is small, but what it lacks in size it makes up in character. Planet Marfa is one of those character-filled Marfa establishments . An open aired beer garden with a tepee, old school bus, and other nooks and crannies that need to be explored. Grab a cold one after a long day in the desert and play a round of the ring game or ping pong. It's a laid back scene that definitely brings a unique and diverse crowd. 

Still one of our favorite places to visit in Marfa is El Cosmico. The glamping site was all booked up but that didn't stop us from stopping by their gift shop to look at all of their cool trendy products. (I want to buy everything there) We grabbed a couple of cold beers to stop and enjoy "Marfa time" in their multi-colored hammocks. 

During our day trips in and around Marfa, we always like to try and stop in Ft. Davis at the Ft. Davis' Drug Store. Talk about small town Texas, it's a cute little soda shop that (like the rest of the town) seems to be paused in time. There are a plethora of options to choose from; ice cream, fudge, hamburgers, salads, fries, shakes, and root beer floats. It just so happened too that Ft. Davis was having a 4th of July festival with different food and goods vendors out around the town square. Shane was thiiiiisss close to winning me a very rare porcelain piggy bank at a dart throwing stall. Unfortunately, no dice. Piggy bank dreams smashed. 

Activities

Even though it was hotter than the Hades out, we SPF'ed up and braved the heat.

Marfa is known as an artsy scene. The Chinati Foundation is definitely worth checking out especially the Donald Judd exhibition of 15 works in concrete. Free to the public, the massive concrete structures can be perused at your own leisure so you can contemplate the artists motives for placement, etc. Other exhibitions are open to the public (and more importantly inside the buildings) but we have yet to go check them out. There is a fee and the gallery tours have strange hours.

To beat the heat, we took a day trip to Balmorhea State Park where the "world's largest spring fed swimming pool" cooled us down. We thought, "Hey! I bet no one else will think to go to this state park to cool down, I mean it's a holiday weekend and all but no one really lives out here." Boy were we wrong. I'm sure during a regular weekend Balmorhea State park is calm and relaxing. It was a freaking nut house when we were there. Soooo many people from around the area, and there were even some that had driven 2+ hours to spend the day there. And did they come prepared! People were geared out with their own grills, pop up tents, and even mattresses brought from home. Despite it being quite crowded, we had a lovely time laying out and swimming with the fish in the 72 degree, crystal clear pool. If you didn't bring your own portable kitchen with you, no worries, there is a snack stand on site. I re-discovered my long lost love of corn dogs (it must have been 12 years since I had one) and our friend picked up a really top notch barabcoa taco. 

Anytime anyone goes out to Marfa, they must make the pilgrimage out to the Prada store front in Valentine, TX. Out in the middle of nowhere, it is a permanent art installation created by the artists Elmgreen and Dragset. The place attracts hundreds of visitors to take a peek in it's dusty glass windows and to dodge traffic in order to snap a selfie. 

(Note to reader: If you do go to see the Prada store, the ideal time is for sunset for pics. Unfortunately, that is also when the suicidal bunnies come out. Driving to and from the art installation can be terrifying as you swerve around trying to avoid all the bunnies playing chicken with your vehicle.)

Last time we were in Marfa, we didn't make it out to the famous Star Party that the McDonald Observatory holds. This time around, we were able to snag a ticket ($12/person) and attend. This exclusive "party" is actually pretty hard to get into, but lucky for us, we were able to attend...along with 200 other people. (Just kidding, it's not that exclusive but tickets do sell out on busy weekend) The ride to the observatory was slightly perilous with the suicidal bunnies and winding roads. But, once we got there and the sun started to set, the danger was worth the view. The stars were so bright and crystal clear. One of the scientists gave us a 30 min lecture on the constellations using a laser pointer. It was pretty cool, although a little overwhelming trying to grasp the concept that we're looking back in time. The light the star gives off is actually thousands of years old by the time it reaches us...whaaatt???? Not going to get into it. Side note: I also tried "astronaut ice cream" for the first time, a freeze dried ice cream sandwich. Imagine a really, really dry cracker that tastes like a hint of an ice cream sandwich. Poor astronauts, their food sucks.