Relying on the kindness of strangers this past week has been lovely. A drink in a ghost town with Emily’s uncle and aunt, Josie’s mother gave me a place to lay my head in Albuquerque and took me out for dinner! Such generosity. A team of mechanics in College Station that actually knew german engineering and fixed up Baby Blue for the 2000+ miles left. I’m usually the host, so it’s interesting being on the other side.
OK, can we just talk about Marfa for a minute….their website says “tough to get to, tougher to explain, but once you get here, you get it”. Well, I spent two days trying to get it and failed. It was like a pristine ghost town where there were few people, cars or life. As a tourist, finding a lunch spot or a coffee took major effort. See the sign for the coffee shop. Subtle…so subtle it took me over 24 hours to find it and I was desperate for a coffee! Buildings that looked like they were boarded up in fact had great lunches inside if you knew about them. The first night I was directed to go to the only light in town and then the third house on the left for dinner. Otherwise, I would not have known that it was a very high end eating establishment. At the bar, I sat next to a silicon valley ivy leaguer twenty something who had just gotten back from a small town in texas where they handed him an assault rifle and he literally blew up a wild boar. They evidently are overwhelmed with wild boar in texas and instead of eating them, they just blow them up. He was scarred by the experience as you might understand. In this small town, the dentist was also the barber…he would just run across the street and cut hair…go back and forth.
I kept trying to figure out Marfa for two days…went to Prada Marfa, an art installation. So, Marfa is a combination of locals that still like to get in bar fights and very wealthy artists and writers in residence. It’s so hip that Ralph Lauren embedded someone into the town to try and figure it out. There are no chains except Exxon. The signage on the buildings might say “Future Shark” and you would know that was a café or Wrong is an expensive gift store…The words on the buildings all look very minimalist and similar fonts. I ran back into my ivy league friend in Fort Davis a couple of days later and we spent some time discussing the weirdness and gossip of Marfa. He was so excited to get on their list serve and he wants to become Mayor of Marfa. That night we picked up another traveler from London and headed to the McDonald Observatory. We drove up a mountain to what looks like a James Bond movie with huge telescopes and gather in an outdoor amphitheater and see one of the best constellation tours + Jupiter and 4 moons and because of the darkness of the area, there were a bazillion stars between all the stars we see at home…a great night that made us all feel very small on this earth after checking out the milky way and discussing galaxies. Great comic relief with Jeff & Duncan.
Next came Big Bend. It’s one of the biggest national parks, darkest and least visited. As I drove in, I had to slam on brakes as a huge, fat, very speedy ram ran across the road. He was so fast I couldn’t capture his photo, but found a drawing. There were also roadrunners everywhere running across the roads. I hiked into the Santa Elena Canyon and that was the place that I felt like I had accomplished my sabbatical. It was spiritual and beautiful. I found myself there. Thank goodness.
On to the Telingua Ghost town which is rumoured to host fugitives and other colorful folks. I spent some time in graveyards in the desert. They just pulled me in. The one in Telingua was very D.I.Y and beautiful. Back in Marfa, there were two parts to the graveyard…one was full of flowers, sparkles, flags and all the names were of Hispanic origin. I saw another fenced off section that had no color, no flowers, no nothing. It even had barbed wire around it. As I got closer, I noticed those names were different…Knight and Mitchells. Wow, segregation even in death. I loved the colorful side.
I’ve really loved the long drives. Giles Blunden described driving and thinking to me recently. He said we only need a small percentage of our brain to drive and we have all that other percentage to really think things through. Plus I can sing loudly without freaking out my family! Ha! Driving across America you feel like you are really seeing how things work from the oil derricks to the windmills to all the trains carrying all the coal and containers. I’ve also seen so many towns that have been boarded up. More than towns that are inhabited. Oddly, they all seem to have working post offices in them still.
They say it takes about 2 weeks to let things go from your day to day life and I didn’t believe it, but I’d say that is exactly right. Being alone allows you to find your own frequency, not constantly running at other frequencies. It’s been an amazing and epic journey.
Well, Lyle flies into Albuquerque in a couple of hours and we have some catching up to do….