what to pack
The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Mar-fa! You know the song right?
I took a quick road trip to the strange paradise of West Texas recently and it was just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes you just need some space, breathing room if you will- and Marfa and the surrounding landscape offer nothing but. While there are a thousand things to explore in the Trans Pecos (from the majestic Big Bend National Park and the eccentric ghost-town of Terlingua, to star parties at McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis) these three days were a strict “make no plans” kind of vacay.
I loaded up a borrowed Jeep with a bicycle and some firecrackers bought roadside on a Texas highway and headed out to meet an old friend for a couple days of catching up, breathing fresh air, and simply hanging out.
Basically, there’s not much to do (which is lovely when you live in New York or any other busy metropolis). In Marfa, you can go hiking about an hour out of town, you can have a beer at a local honkey tonk like the Lost Horse Saloon, you can play pool at said local honkey tonk, and you can eat at one of a few local spots (try Future/ Food Shark, the Pizza Foundation, Cochineal, or Maiya’s). By day, there is a killer book store, Marfa Book Company, a couple of perfectly curated shops (Tienda M, Freda, Cast and Crew, and the El Cosmico Provision Company) and some art galleries to peruse. Ballroom Marfa and The Wrong Store are good places to start.
There is also The Chinati Foundation, Donald Judd’s mecca for the minimal, which put Marfa on the map of contemporary art consciousness. Judd founded the art scene in Marfa in the 70’s when he bought up half the town to house and create his large architectural sculptures. He brought the works of his contemporaries, heavy hitters like Dan Flavin and John Chamberlain, to the party and voila`, something special was born in American culture.
My favorite thing however, is chatting with locals and being ever surprised by their ingenuity, taste-level, and the moxie it takes to live so far from all the conveniences of a big city. They have found an oasis of creativity and community and everyone seems to be working on something personal, whether it be an art project or launching a small business.
After riding bikes, or walking around town, my friends and I convened for a cold beer around the fire on the patio of Marfa’s airstream and teepee resort, El Cosmico, and laughed about crossing paths with the same people three of four times throughout the day, because yes, Marfa is truly a small town.
When we looked up we could see a twinkling band of stars in the cold, clear desert sky. It was quiet. It was quality time with loved ones!
The next day on my way out of town, I decided to take the long way home, just to savor the nothingness and openness of my short stay. Slowly, the open landscape bled back into the small towns of Texas and finally to a well lit skyline.
On a side note, check out these beautiful candid images from the set of “Giant” which was filmed in Marfa in 1956. I love the style. Liz, James, and Rock look so glamorous yet utilitarian and natural in the landscape.