Texas tourism, travel, lodging, restaurants, dining, shopping and history TOURIN' TEXAS A FREE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER                                                          PAGE 2

Van Horn to Marfa

texas tourism, travel, lodging, restaurants, dining, shopping and history
YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE. Out in the middle of nowhere this strange object is visible for miles. Whatever this is, it belongs to the U.S. Air Force.  I can't imagine a more remote duty station.

Gruene Texas tourism, travel, lodging, restaurants, dining, shopping and historyoon we were entering the community of Valentine.   Don't let the name fool you. This place is far from hearts and flowers. The first thing I noticed was a pile of junk which I figgured could be hiding a treasure -- maybe an old wagon train still in mint condition. But Ms. Intrepid wasn't convinced so we continued on past the dusty, ramshackle town still haunted by the two boys back in San Carlos playing in the street with a deflated basketball.
       Further on we spotted a thing on the horizon. Up close it was still a thing -- some kind of airship anchored in a god forsaken Air Force outpost. Maybe this is what folks in Marfa are all excited about when this thing cruises around at night scaring all the tourists.

texas tourism, travel, lodging, restaurants, dining, shopping and history
THE THUNDERBIRD CAFE IN MARFA. If you want breakfast arrive before 11 a.m. and bring cash. They don't take two-party checks or credit cards.  This is a local hangout where the good old boys gather in the morning for coffee and conversation. The food is good standard Texas fare. Eggs, omelets and pancakes in the morning; burgers and chicken fried steak after eleven.

As we drove into Marfa, our primary destination, the road thru town wasn't very inspiring.  However, our main concern was real food. And looking down the road thru town I was pretty underwhelmed by what I  saw.  We stopped for breakfast at Patsy's Thunderbird Cafe for breakfast.  I wasn't halfway through my first cup of coffee when I  shared my concern with Ms. Intrepid that there probably wasn't much to write about in this place. Well, she ain't called Ms. Intrepid for nothin.
     Then breakfast was served. Eggs tasted like eggs, sausage like sausage, and so forth. Imagine that.  And with a real meal under my belt my disposition improved and we went exploring. Let me tell you, if you don't get off the highway you're missing the real Marfa. 
texas tourism, travel, lodging, restaurants, dining, shopping and history    At an elevation of 4,688 feet above sea level, Marfa is Texas' highest incorporated city which, as legend has it, was named after a character in Dostoyevsky's novel, "Brothers Karamazov".  Established in 1881 Marfa was a water stop for the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, but today the city's claim to fame is three-fold.
     • If you're a Texan and haven't heard of the Marfa Lights you've probably been six feet under for over a century 'cause it was back in 1883 when a rancher Robert Ellison first reported their existence. Since then an explanation of these "ghost lights" have stumped everyone from scientists to kooks.  But it sure hasn't hurt tourism.  In case you're interested, the Marfa Lights Festival is held every year on Labor Day where celebrations and discussions are the order of the day along with a street dance and live entertainment. (915-729-4942). To observe the lights you have to drive east of town some six miles after sunset.
     • Historically Marfa's next claim to fame occurred when the movie classic "Giant" was filmed there featuring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Dennis Hopper and the truly legendary James Dean.
 texas tourism, travel, lodging, restaurants, dining, shopping and history 
   • In 1979 the internationally acclaimed Minimal sculptor Donald Judd relocated in Marfa after buying (with some help from the Dia Art Foundation) an abandoned army base complete with 32 buildings sitting on 340 acres. His motivation was pretty straightforward: "Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again. Somewhere a portion of contemporary art has to exist as an example of what the art and its context were meant to be."
     Unfortunately, we discovered that the foundation's galleries are open by appointment only and we didn't have one.  The photo of installation of Judd's sculpture pictured above is from their brochure.
texas tourism, travel, lodging, restaurants, dining, shopping and history     If you're not familiar with contemporary art the works at Judd's Chanati Foundation may not make much sense; at the other extreme is the work of  the King of the "Cutaway", David Kimble. He lives and works in the old Palace Theater. If you love cars and mind-blowing detailed paintings Kimble is your guy.
Since Judd moved to Marfa the place has become a refuge for artists seeking both isolation and camaraderie. The point was brought home when Ms. Intrepid and I stopped in the Marfa Book Company Coffee and Wine Bar. If you're looking for art books this is a world class establishment. And, according to Ms. Intrepid their "Red Eye", a double expresso and fresh brewed coffee which was drawn for the Ms. as the first cup from a fresh pot, was right up there with Jolt Cola.  "Yes!" she exclaimed as I turned to the waitress commenting, "I'll never shut her up now."

texas tourism, travel, lodging, restaurants, dining, shopping and history     Continuing our tour we discovered this community is home to some really beautiful structures and I was grateful that Ms. Intrepid didn't let me whimp out while we were back at the Thunderbird Restaurant.  If you plan a visit you should at least carve out a couple of days, take your camera, and if you enjoy modern art, contact the Chinati Foundation for an appointment.
     Heading east on Highway  90 we stopped to read the Historical Markers which provide some really interesting reading material.  From two of these markers we learned that Presidio County was formed from Bexar County back on January 3, 1850 and Presidio proper, 69 miles due south, is the oldest town in America.   Located at the confluence of the Concho and Rio Grande Rivers this settlement started up over 10,000 years ago and it is the site of the first recorded wagon train crossing into Texas on December 10, 1582 headed by Antoio de Espejo. The town was so named for the early fortress garrisoned by solders for the protection of the Big Bend Missions.   How's that for some interesting trivia?


 favicon.gif (904 bytes)

coopersbbq.jpg (28060 bytes)

FlatCreekProperty.gif (25089 bytes)

LandMastersAd.jpg (48933 bytes)

Texas Hill Country Wine: Torrie de Pietra Vineyards and Winery near Fredericksburg Texas

The Arcon Inn
215 N.Austin St., 915-729-4826
Hotel Paisano http://www.hotelpaisano.com/
Thunderbird Motel
Hwy 90, 915-729-4391

Borunda's Bar & Grill
113 S Russell Street   915.729.8163
Tex-Mex, Mexican, American

Carmen's Cafe

317 E San Antonio St.  915.729.3429
Tex-Mex, Mexican, American

Dairy Queen

704 W San Antonio St. 915.729.4471
Fast Food, Burgers, American

Mando's Drive In

W. Hwy 90

Mike's Place
111 S Highland Ave. 915.729.8146
American, Cafe / Coffee Shop

Patsy's Thunderbird

511 W. San Antonio
Hwy 90, 915.729.3404

La Carreta
1317 Philadelphia West, 915.729.3212

Borunda's Bar And Grill 113 S Russell
Joe's Place
302 E San Antonio, 915.229.3753

Chamber of Commerce
200 S. Abbott
P.O. Box 635
Marfa, TX  79843
915-729-4942 or 800-650-9696
No Web Site