Road Trip to Marfa & Big Bend National Park

Oct 8, 2017

Visiting Marfa, Texas has been on my to-do list for as long as I've known it existed.
The not so short eight hour drive from Dallas to middle of nowhere Texas may seem a bit intimidating, but when you add two of your best gal pals to the mix, it's a piece of cake.
We mapped our route and managed to squeeze Marfa and Big Ben National Park (with a few stops in between) into a weekend trip. We left Dallas on a Thursday night and made the five hour drive to Midland for the night, with a pit stop for some BBQ fuel at Cooper's. Friday morning we loaded up and made the three hour drive to Marfa, with a stop at Monahan Sand Hills State Park just outside of Midland. 
We were very surprised to see a "desert" pop up in the middle of nowhere, and we were also shocked to find out that they offered toboggan rentals for sand "surfing" the hills.  The entry fee was $4 and I forgot the cost of the rentals, but it doesn't really matter because you kind of have to do it. We waxed up our discs (wax available for purchase) and made the trek through the sand dunes, which was not as easy as it looks. I was eight weeks pregnant at the time and got a little winded with the steep slope. The ride down was a blast, as was my inevitably awkward wipeout/flip at the bottom of the dune. We snapped many pics, dusted off the sand and made our way to the big city of Marfa to spend the next two nights.
The drive was easy (we only got pulled over once!) and the scenery made it not so terrible.
Another shock: seeing mountains. For a second there, we forgot we were in Texas.
We booked this Airbnb for our time in Marfa, and it may be one of my favorite finds yet.
It was walking distance to pretty much everything in town, anddddddd literally right next door to Do Your Thing coffee. We went three times. Incredible coffee options and cinnamon toast better than your mom's circa 1999.
We arrived mid afternoon on Friday, and to our surprise, everywhere on our to-eat list was closed.
We ended up at Pizza Foundation, which hit the spot (but it sure wasn't Boyz2Men taco truck or Marfa Burrito and we were a teensy bit sad). Also, Food Shark (made famous by Beyonce's instagram) was another Marfa staple that was closed during our time in town.
Two main things you need to know before planning a trip to Marfa:
Adequate A/C is hard to come by, and the hours of operation of nearly every business in town are bonkers. We suggest checking out to keep up with what is open and when they are open, and we also recommend to not visit Marfa between July-September. We were there in mid June and the temps were in the 90s (in the 100s at Big Bend).
We spent our first afternoon roaming around town (it took about an hour to make a lap around the downtown area) and then made the drive to Prada Marfa (surprisingly 45 minutes away). Because if you didn't go to Prada Marfa, then did you realllyyyyy go to Marfa?
 It was cool. 
Artsy. Dirty. Weird.
We returned to town, made it to Planet Marfa for happy hour and made friends with a local who recommended that we spend Saturday in Big Bend. He told us that we needed to drive south to Presidio and take the western, more scenic, entrance into the National Park. This allowed us to drive through the ghost town of Terlingua and Lajitas, the city that has a beer drinking goat for a mayor.
It doesn't get more Texas than that.
While in Big Bend, we didn't have time (nor the energy, hydration, or strength to endure the 108 degree weather) to do any hikes, but we were able to drive through the entire park to the Santa Elena Canyon where we spent an hour or so swimming in the Rio Grande. The drive through the park in itself was worth the three hour drive from Marfa. The mountains and the landscape were unlike anything we had ever come across in Texas. The park was impressive, to say the least.
Speaking of unlike anything we had ever come across in Texas, we saw the Marfa Lights later that night. When we got back to town, we gathered up some snacks and beverages from The Get Go and made our way to the Marfa Lights viewing center on the edge of town. The mysterious lights were vague and distant and not what we expected at all, but I do have to say I'm a believer. The most popular theory is that they are headlights from drivers in a nearby town, but I don't buy it. The floating distant objects would change colors from yellow to purple to red and would morph into each other and then separate back apart into multiple lights. I was 100% sober (eight weeks pregnant, remember?) and I can confidently say it was a bit trippy. We enjoyed the lights with a few local critters like jackrabbits and road runners. Oh, and I also ended up getting ants in my pants.
We didn't have much time to check out the art scene in town, but if we had more time we would have visited the Chinati Foundation and the Judd Foundation. We did, in fact, catch the Target "art installation" on the drive back from Big Bend in the big city of Valentine, Texas. It was neat from a distance, but up close we felt like we were intruding on a homeless shelter, because there was a water bottle, some snacks, a hairdryer and a vaccuum inside the Target. I guess that added to the realism?
Our favorite meal of the trip was at Stellina. The service was top notch and the desserts were so amazing we ordered one of each. Other memorable meals were had at Hotel St. George, Squeeze, & Buns 'N Roses (a super cute flower ship/gift shop/bakery, but learn from our mistakes and try to get there early enough for the donuts!)
Marfa was a town to remember. 
Quirky and eccentric, but there was so much beauty to be found in the most unexpected places.
If you live in Texas, you have no excuse. It's a rite of passage. You must.
... after all, you aren't a real Texan, until you've Marfa'd.
Picture overload, commence. The perks of having a photographer as your best friend. Some of these photos (just the good ones) are courtesy of Southern Shutter Photography and the rest are from mine and Mary's real fancy iphones. 

Art in the most unexpected places.

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