Originally published 11 February, 2014
Laurie at the wheel
We arose this morning in our Walmart lot in Fort Stockton. Since we had only dropped anchor long enough to sleep, it didn't take much to get us rolling. And let me tell you...when you leave town out here....you REALLY leave town. It just...ends. It becomes a sea of rambling scrub and rocks that seems to stretch forever.
We headed out on a two lane blacktop headed towards our destination...Marfa, Texas. There was very little traffic on the two lane road....which had shoulders as wide as another lane. We are a very large vehicle.....8-6 wide and about 53 feet long overall. It's also sometimes a handful to drive when dealing with crosswinds and traffic. But we had neither of these. I thought this would be a great time to give Laurie a driving lesson!
I do love my diners. Brunch in Alpine, TX
I stood over her shoulder so I could watch the mirrors and give advice. She drove about 25 miles, and did a fine job. I think it's important that she at least has some familiarization time so she understands....and in an emergency could stand in for me. I think she's competent and would do fine.
We stopped in Alpine, TX and had brunch at a diner. It was awash in folks in cowboy hats and boots. Yes, we're definitely in Texas. Laurie commented several times in our travels how nice everyone was. They held doors open for her at truck stops, were mannerly, and just all around nice people. It's a pleasant state to travel in. Everyone we've met has been very cordial....which makes any trip more pleasant.
Ice on everything from freezing fog. We proceed with caution.
We headed out from Alpine towards Marfa, where we had planned to stay. As we crossed a mountain range with a bunch of mesas, cactus, and plants that look very much like Texas. As we climbed higher....ice really started to build up. Trees had a lot of ice on the limbs, the few electrical wires, just lots of ice. We didn't push it and arrived in Marfa fine.
Yes....there really are tumble weeds
We're staying at the "Tumble In" campground. It is a dozen or so campsites with hookups in a flat scrub field with a proper bath house. Then again, that's no different than anything else around here. They have a kitchen, laundry, and such in a metal shed for tent campers or anyone else that needs to use them. We have full hook ups and wifi. So we're pleased with the place!
A most unusual campground office
When we checked in, the unattended office is in an old trailer from the 60's. You fill out the form and put it and your rent in a metal box. It's self service...but a lot of the campgrounds here are. It is very much a desert campground. It's remote here, so this is like the Hilton. We set up, checked the place out, did a repair on the motorhome (minor), and headed into town.
Our rig at the Tumble In Campground, Marfa, TX
The common area. This is often used by tent campers. It has a refrigerator, stove, a wood stove for cold evenings, picnic table, and a washer and dryer for laundry.
Marfa has a population under 2000. There were a few movies shot here, one of which was the epic from the 50's, "Giant", starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson. Also shot around here was one of my favorite movies, from 1985, "Fandango", starring Judd Nelson, Sam Robards, and a new comer at that time named Kevin Costner. Tomorrow we're gonna check out one of the locations for the Fandango movie in our travels.
County Courthouse, Marfa, TX
As for today, we wandered downtown, and had lunch at a very good restaurant. Some guy opened a bunch of restaurants here and they're all called "Food Shark"...or some variant of that. Outside of each one they have old cars parked with "Food Shark" on the side. I had a great panini and Laurie had pinto beans and rice with fresh pico, avocados, and sour cream. After lunch, we wandered downtown seeing the courthouse, jail (a REAL west texas JAIL) and the one store that was open.
Hotel Paisano, Marfa, TX
We headed back towards the truck and went in the hotel downtown which had a large gift shop. This was an old Spanish style hotel that had been fully restored to it's original glory......and GLORIOUS it was! What a gorgeous place! It is called Hotel Paisano and was headquarters for the cast when Giant was filmed here. James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Liz Taylor all stayed at this hotel for an extended time. It was a true picture of what staying in a classy hotel was like back in the 50's.
Hotel lobby, Hotel Paisano, Marfa, TX
The Giant movie cast memorial, Marfa, TX
Bill in downtown Marfa, TX!
After picking up a souvenir or two in the gift shop we headed to the town coffee shop for a latte. It was staffed by the standard tattooed hippie looking kid that was imported from Austin. The service was good, tattooed coffee dude was quite chatty, and the coffee was good! We did find out that a lot doesn't go on in town until the latter part of the week and the weekend. The first part of the week is slow and a lot of stuff isn't open.
Marfa yard art
We drove around a bit, and found where the Chinati Foundation is located. Laurie plans on going there in a few days. This is a big, world renowned artsy fartsy thing. The town was dying and a bunch of artists from around the world moved here...basically saving the town from obscurity. They brought with them nice restaurants, and tourism dollars. It's west Texas cattle ranches meets hoity toity famous artists...and they make it work. It is a hybrid.....it's unusual.....but a solution to a remote small town fading into dust. If it works....it works.
We headed back to our campground and prepared for our trip out into the boonies tomorrow. Adventure we shall.........so look for our post tomorrow!
Quote of the day- Ham and eggs are an hour's work for a chicken, but a lifetime commitment for the pig.- Menu, Penny's Diner, Alpine, TX.
Song of the day- Colder Weather- Zac Brown ('cause we're stuck in colder weather!)
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
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