My work takes me to some truly incredible places, and for that, I feel quite lucky. Most of the time, I’m returning to a speck in the world where I’ve been many times before, filling in little holes in my local knowledge with each visit; enjoying new nibbles that make a place feel more and more familiar all the time. Taking little bits with me, and leaving little bits of myself as I go. This year, I’ve been to so many fantastic cities, all the while filling in those little holes with great new local discoveries…but I hadn’t been anywhere completely new to me. So, when things finally quieted down for the season and the opportunity arose to pack the car and road trip through the southwest to Marfa, Texas, I couldn’t have been more excited to explore the desert, and all the little towns pocked about it – a place to leave something, and take a little something special home as well.
I don’t remember the last time I road tripped for the sake of ‘tripping; seeing the scenery, soaking up the smells and sights that you miss when you’re bumping through an airport, navigating logistics. We started our drive in Boulder and bumped “the back way” to Santa Fe, stopping to picnic and soak up charming little sights along the way. We picnicked at the oldest church in Colorado, and paused to take pictures when the scenery of the desert stopped us in our tracks. The further we got from Boulder, the more my chaotic summer and never-ending to do lists disappeared into the rearview mirror, and the closer peace, quiet and the simple tranquility of “not much,” settled within me. Before I knew it, I was enjoying an ice cold Topo Chico at every gas station and restaurant, soaking up the bright and friendly hellos that greet you upon entering…just about anywhere. When you think of a desert, you think of a land devoid of color or life but that was not at all what we found as we made our way to – and through – little Marfa. While there isn’t much out there, the fact that there is a lot of nothing was everything to me. The desert itself is one million shades of gold, blue and green, not to mention at sunset when the sky lights up in a rainbow of reds, oranges, purples, and magenta-pinks, speckled with flecks of silver. There’s something very luxurious about not needing much, and yet having everything you need. And really, everything we needed was in Marfa.
I’m certain I’m not the first person to feel drawn to Marfa; in fact, I know I’m not given that it was the draw of this place that brough minimalist artists here, awakening a design renaissance in the middle of West Texas in the first place. And, I’m sure I’m not the first person to feel the pull from El Cosmico, but when I learned that they had a camp cooking class with Chef Lou Lambert, I was sold. Meeting him, learning some new open fire tricks, and spending some time doing/doing nothing in Marfa sounded like a dream…and it was.
That said, we didn’t “need” to do much besides just soak up the place and enjoy the golden ticket it gave me to unwind. We loosely followed this suggested itinerary but strayed for a meal, a shopping trip, a dip in a hot spring whenever the spirit moved us. We did a few bike rides out of town, and if you do choose to bring a bike I suggest that you stick to the roads that inspire you (and please ride safely!)
I didn’t scribble many intricacies of the place in notebooks like I usually do, but I did keep a little list of favorite moments worth logging here for both me and you, because I have every intention of going back to this gem of a place.
Watching the Marfa Lights reveal themselves with our own little cooler of Tejas.
Kicking back and watching the prairie doves circle our adobe (seriously!)
Sitting around the campfire, sipping on whiskey + singing after a perfect dinner under a starry West Texas sky.
Seeing this Best-Pool-In-West Texas.
Feeling the way the city dweller in me, eases right into the vast expanse of desert.
Soaking up the soothing sounds of rain falling on the cedar beams, the smell of early winter leaves while lounging in a private onsen.
Making roadside tacos beneath the banner of the Rocky Mountains.
That Southwest striped kimono and that electric blue.
Vintage Japanese boro, pinyon, and pine. And a place to hang (or pick up) your hat.
Reminder: it’s so good to be naked outside.
Waking up to the most lovely savory bowls of congee + poached eggs.
Hot bike rides and ice cold coconut popsicles from The Get Go.
A pocket full of Texas honey caramels.
Kicking it with the local puppies (and their local people) at Lost Horse Saloon.
The best damn pecans in these here parts.
Gold, magenta, green, blue and copper.
Bourbon cocktails + slow roasted brisket at Cochineal.
Yes, taking a peek at Prada Marfa.
Below are some favorite images though I could share one million more and, when I get back, I will. If you are plotting your own Marfa escape, a few bits of advice. Don’t plan much, eat often, drink more. Take a peek at the schedules for restaurants and shops in town – places close when the spirit moves them to (and moves their proprietors to have an impromptu happy hour!) Soak up as many sunsets and bathe outside as often as possible (maybe both at the same time if you can,) and bring me back a case of Topo Chico, will ya?