Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Texas Road Trip to Marfa: The Drive From San Antonio to Marfa (Eat, Do)

Sometimes, in an effort to get to the destination, the journey is lost.  On the drive to Marfa, we were semi-conscious of the wonders along the road, but our time in Marfa made us a little more vigilant on the drive back.

Here's the little bit we documented on our journey:

Our trip started out with a bang!  $50!  Bam!

Even just a bus against the skyline seems beautiful when your mind is set on seeing beauty.

Rain in the distance

Our first taste of that mountain life

We have no idea why this ladder was cemented over the barbed wire fence.  I totally stood on top, but couldn't see what was up.  I bet there was a hidden camera and now there is a video on youtube making fun of me for that.

On the way to Big Bend, this cow was chilling on the side of the road because a portion of a fence had been knocked down.  Sergio pulled over and got in the middle of the road to snap this photo.  The cow was not happy.

Road tip selfie

Yelp to the rescue!

We were starving, so we turned on our hot spot, found a signal, and turned to our magic yelp-ball for some answers.  "Wagon Wheel," she said.  We listened and proceeded to eat some of the best bbq we have had in Texas.  We will definitely be stopping here every time we come into town.


Everything stays warm in crock pots

The owner and her husband stay up until 2am each morning preparing food for her waiting public.  People come in and out of the restaurant every few minutes.  You can tell this is her passion.  She makes damn good food and seems so at peace with her life.

Simple, delicious menu

Sergio's plate.  Delicious.  I will order this next time.

My chicken sandwich.  I loooved it, but I would have preferred all white chicken.  To be fair, I didn't specify the kind of chicken I wanted.

The little play yard for the kiddies

Lovely little outdoor seating

The owners take pride in their restaurant.  It is clean with sweet details and care.

Texas.  We love our flag.  We are the lone star state and we are proud of it.

This trip showed us a type of Texas we had never seen.  It was amazing.

We can't wait to explore more of our lovely state and we can't wait to come back to West Texas, ya'll!

If you missed any of the stories, you can find them at the following links:


Tour your own state.  You'll be surprised at the beauty you will find just hours from your door step.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Texas Road Trip to Marfa: Fort Davis, TX (Eat, Do)

Just 20 minutes from Marfa lies a little town called Fort Davis.  It is home to the McDonald Observatory, which, sitting at an elevation of over 6,700 feet, is the highest point in Texas (according to our Department of Transportation).  It's also home to, drum roll, Fort Davis as well as some other cool places.

EAT

Lupita's Place

We decided to wait to eat until we got into Fort Davis.  Yelp revealed a couple of decent choices, so we settled on Lupita's Place.  We were kind of leary from breakfast at Cochineal the morning before, so we picked the listing with the most reviews and stars.  We weren't steered wrong.

Sergio and I both ordered the special, but it proved to be too hot for him.  I mean, the green chili sauce was OUTTA THIS WORLD, but it was really warm for me so I knew it had to be uncomfortable for him.  There were only two enchiladas on the plate and the rice tasted a little burnt, so I knew I wasn't going to eat it.  I went ahead and took the enchilada and half he had left and ordered him a burrito, which he loved.

I would go back here, but I don't think Sergio would want to.

Stone Village Market

Next time, we will probably try the deli in Stone Village Market.  At the very least, we will stock up on a mini wine and cheese picnic and take it up to the observatory, which I talk about in the next section.

Deli at Stone Village

This little spot is like nirvana in the middle of the small town.  It's the equivalent of a mini Whole Foods with local flair.  We loved it and wished we would have stumbled upon it our first night in the area.

The photos don't really do it justice.

I loved the little wine sitting on top of this cooler.  They were single serving cups!

White wine selections

Cheese selection and basic gorcery goods.

This is a definite stop for us next time we are in the area.

DO

Fort Davis, a historical landmark.

A basic overview of the property.  The coolest thing here were the horses on national property.


The sign points to an old dirt road that leads to San Antonio.  Just 400 miles to go.

Sergio spied this little guy crossing the road in Fort Davis, so we stopped, took a photo, and I moved him outta the way so he wouldn't get smashed..

Frank N. Bash Center at the McDonald Observatory

I am aware that there is a show called Franklin Bash, but I've never seen it.  Sergio told me about it.  We watched an informative video and took a tour of the property.  Next time, we will go on a Saturday night so we can partake in a "star party" and get a great glimpse of the night sky.

Because of the observatory, the towns around Fort Davis are part of a dark skies initiative.  This area is home to some of the darkest skies in the country.  The towns have agreed to refrain from having lights strewn about at night in an effort to give the observatory the best view of the galaxy.  How cool is that?

Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the observatory

This is basically a giant 30 foot aperture telescope that nullifies exterior light in order to observe the galaxy at large.  It's even been used to measure an extraordinarily large black hole, the size of about 17 billion suns.  We didn't get to see it in action, so that would be a road trip fail.

Harvard Hotel and Old Texas Inn

The entire town is filled with cute store fronts and little shops filled with overpriced tourist junk.  No bueno!  Cute to photograph, though!

We weren't able to snag ice cream here because they were closed, but we will try next visit!

Fort Davis is on our list of places to go next time mainly because of the star party at the McDonald Observatory and Stone Village Market.  Those are definite "don't miss" items for a trip out west.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Texas Road Trip to Marfa: Rio Grande River & Views of Mexico (Do)

The Rio Grande River runs through Big Bend National Park and the stretch of land between the towns of Lajitas and Presidio.  We decided to make the drive because we wanted to see the Rio Grande River and we wanted to look around Presidio, which is the oldest town in Texas.  By the time we reached Presidio, it was too late to walk around so we will leave that for next time.  It was still worth the drive.  The views of the river and the experiences along the way were beautiful.

DO

Texas.  We are all pretty proud to be here.

Another place we didn't stop was Big Bend State Park.  We may explore it next time since we have our state park passes, which means it's free to get in.

Majestic.

Big Bend State Park, which lies outside of Big Bend National and is a lot less developed, hosts a site off the side of the road where a few major films and one major video, My Maria by Brooks & Dunn, were recorded.  This seemed like a real ghost town!  Vacant buildings were placed alongside the Rio Grande River.  The park was closed when we arrived, so we just snuck behind the fence and looked around.  Truth be told, I think there was a "coyote" vehicle parked outside the gate.  The van windows were darkened and covered.  Living in south Texas, that usually means one thing- coyotaje, (click the link to learn more).

The sign at the entry way of the makeshift village.

One of the buildings nestled among the mountains near the river.

"Ruins"

A residence alongside the Rio Grande River.  Mexico lies along the opposite shore.

America.  Check out this rest stop alongside the highway!

Stop here for a picnic and enjoy view of the river.

Mexican horses look just like American ones!

The drive between Marfa, our home base, and Big Bend National Park was almost three hours long.  Our drive home alongside the Rio Grande River was an alternate route home and we are so glad we made that choice!  It made the three hour tour completely enjoyable!

Next stop:  Fort Davis, Texas.  See you in a day or two!

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Texas Road Trip to Marfa: Terlingua & Fajitas in Lajitas (Eat, Do)

Once we finally got through Big Bend National Park, it was time to make a decision.  Would we continue down 118 and head back to Marfa or would we venture toward the little town of Presidio and ride along the Rio Grande?

EAT

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The boardwalk at Lajitas Resort & Spa

We stopped off in Lajitas because Sergio and his mother remembered that he used to ask to eat "fajitas in Lajitas" when they travelled to Big Bend when he was a small boy.  Also, we were hungry and we came across Lajitas via perfect timing.  It was a match made in heaven.  The resort was remodeled a few years ago and management is proactive.  I mean, they recruited a guy who was working in Europe for Royal Caribbean to run the resort!  The boardwalk hosts little shops, a bakery, a bar, and restaurant.  Thank goodness!  This place is so remote that staff live on site!!!

Our view at Candelilla Cafe
click here to learn about it

We stopped off and were super lucky that the resort is pet-friendly.  We were able to take the pups down and have them sit beside us during dinner.  The above photo was our view the whole time we were eating.  Lucky us!  The food was EXCELLENT, though it was a little pricey.  It is resort food in a remote town, so what did we really expect?  The staff were beyond amazing!  The manager saw the pups and played with them a little bit.  Our waitress chatted with us and brought the pups brisket left over from lunch free of charge!  It was an amazing dining experience and I cannot wait to go back.

Speaking of her chatting with us, she is the one who convinced us that the drive along the Rio Grande toward Presidio was beautiful, so we decided to take that route home.  Glad we listened to her!  I'll write about the beautiful drive in the next post.

DO

Next stop, Terlingua.


We stopped here because (1) it's billed as a ghost town and (2) Sergio remembered a ghost town of vacant adobe houses from his childhood.  As soon as we drove up to the town, he said that this couldn't be the place.  One call to his mother and we learned this WAS the place, but it has become very commercialized over the last few years.  Terlingua is considered the "Birth Place to All Chili Cook Offs World Wide," and was billed the chili capitol of the world by the Chili Appreciation Society.  This town hosts a giant chili cook off the first Saturday of every November.

Bummer!

A little history lesson:  the discovery of cinnabar, from which metal mercury is extracted, in the mid-1880s brought miners to the area, creating a city of over 1,000 people.  By 1900, there were four mining companies operating in Terlingua.  The town was segregated with Mexicans living on one side and Anglos living on the west side.  In 1930, the Perry School was erected.  On Oct 1, 1942, the Chisos Mining Company filed for bankruptcy and the town began to dry up.  It may not seem like a ghost town now, but it's a far cry from the booming city it once was.  In the 60s and 70s, it began to experience a tourism boom and by 1994, 25 people lived there and 13 businesses were open.  According to the 2000 census, 267 people lived there and 44 businesses were open.

Art installation in Terlingua

I don't think this bike will get very far.

The Starlight Theatre used to be an actual opera house when this town was a booming mining town in the early 1900s.

We didn't get to see any of the impromptu live music that frequently happens here.  Word has it that it gets bumpin' at night and that some interesting guitar sessions take place.

An abandoned building off the road side.

The cemetery.  Sergio thought it was "fabricated," but it's listed in the National Register.

The cemetery did look a little staged, due to props placed here and there, but there's no denying that it's a real cemetery.  The graves are marked with simple crosses and indicators that a body is buried there.  No extravagant angels, no pomp and circumstance.  The fanciest these graves got was being above ground with little niches.  Miners passed away from fatal mining accidents and others suffered from salivation, where the inhaled fumes from the smelting process stimulated the secretion of saliva causing the teeth to loosen and fall out.

While the "props" might look staged they are true to the folk art and makeshift graves that are indicative of the town's past.  Every Dia De Los Muertos, the cemetery fills with tributes and altars.

An above ground burial complete with niche and candle.
Schmidt family burial plot

In the Terlingua cemetery, the ground is so hard that nobody really gets buried six feet under.  Above ground crypts are often the only choice.

Another above ground burial protected by a small fence.

I thought I'd leave you with one last haunting artful image of the Terlingua cemetery:

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Artful opportunities are everywhere.  Find them.

See you at the Rio Grande River!