Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Mexico, Part 1: West Texas

Sorry y'all, I totally lost momentum with the whole Vegan MoFo thing. We had a lot of family visits in September and blogging fell by the wayside.  

I thought I would kick off October with a recap of our New Mexico vacation.

Day One, we left Austin in the morning, planning to spend the first night in Marfa, a small town in west Texas. A drive that should;ve taken seven hours ended up taking ten-plus, because Jackson and Olivia were not in a traveling mood. There was a lot of backseat fighting, and requests to stop and use the restroom at every gas station we passed. 

Admittedly, it wasn't a very exciting drive, in terms of scenery. West Texas has almost a primordial feel. Rocks and weeds...snakes and tarantulas (yes, we saw them!)...and the sun scorches everything to a faded yellow. It felt as though we could have traveled this same road a thousand years ago, and everything would look much the same. We passed by tiny roadside towns that had simply been abandoned...who knows why? And we passed by other could-barely-even-be-called-a-towns that still exhibited faint signs of life, and wondered to ourselves, "Who stayed here after everything else left? How do they get groceries? Where do they work?" (Here is a whole list of these ghost towns, in case that type of thing interests you, as it does me.)

We made frequent pit stops to stretch our legs. As we walked around a state park in Balmorhea, we were happy to see the landscape changing, becoming less flat, less barren. Mountains welcomed us in the distance. That was our destination. Up, up and away from the oppressive August heat, into the air that was thinner and cooler.

Then we drove through Wild Rose Pass, and suddenly, we were surrounded by nature at its loveliest.

There really were wild roses, growing along the side of the road. Truth in advertising.

At last we came to Marfa, known as an oasis of artsy, hipster weirdness. There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men were filmed around here. We checked into the historic Hotel Paisano, where James Dean and Liz Taylor lived while filming Giant back in the 50's.

Super awesome hotel room art. 

We walked around town and Tony got a burrito at a gas station, because it was the only thing open at 9 p.m.  The minimalist artist Donald Judd moved to Marfa in the 70's and helped turn it into the arts center that it is today. More than one building in town has the Judd name on it.

Other buildings just look cool.

After the sun set, we drove out to see the Marfa lights. Because, aliens! Sadly, the aliens were not interested in communicating with us that night. But here is a video if you want to see them. The lights, that is. Not the aliens. We'll save that for Roswell.

After a good night's sleep, and a necessary stop at the Dollar General for some new toys and a SpongeBob DVD, we all had much better dispositions as we set out on the next leg of our journey. As we headed out of town, we stopped at the Prada Marfa store.

It's not really a store, it's an art installation of a fake Prada store, set along the highway in the middle of nowhere (well, between Marfa and El Paso.) Inside, there are shelves full of real Prada items like shoes and purses. There are also dead bugs. Many, many dead bugs. Prada Marfa may or may not be torn down in the near future. I hope it stays.

We made it to El Paso at lunchtime and found ourselves at L&J Cafe, or "The Old Place by the Graveyard," a description that is both morbid and geographically accurate.

Guacamole soft tacos, an adequate if not remarkable lunch.

Tomorrow, we actually reach New Mexico...

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