3/25/17 – 3/26/17 [adding dates because this is getting out of order, at best]
So. Marfa, TX, huh? But… why?
Sometimes the Mo gets something in her head and then you find yourself racing headlong towards Mexico with little to no explanation. After leaving HaleyBear and the Hopper in Las Cruces, NM, we saddled up and rode toward the horizon. 250 miles, two turns and one hill later, we found ourselves driving down a road mysteriously under construction pointed toward a distant white… something… floating in the air. A parachute! A plane! Neither! It was a blimp, which we thought was some sort of Marfa art, but it’s discovery was interrupted by a peculiar roadside attraction – a Prada store in the middle of the desert.
The Prada store in the middle of the desert actually is an art installation, and its intention – in my estimation – is to confuse passerby’s with a strip-less mall storefront with backdrop to nothing. Mo read the plaque, maybe she will elaborate.
Eventually we found a research station with a blimp on a rope. I don’t really know what they’re researching, but that’s when the rabbits began. And the tumble weeds.
We pulled into Marfa, and immediately pulled out of Marfa – our chosen campground – El Cosmico – was about a half mile out of town. We pitched the tent and began our exploration of the quirky downtown.
Marfa hotels were like $500 a night – I don’t know why. The campsite was $30, so figure that one out on your own.
After we explored downtown, we were going to get a drink at the Paisano Hotel bar, but fortunately there wasn’t an inviting spot.
That led us to find Planet Marfa. What a fantastic bar! All outside, a shack with booze, a bus!, a balcony, ping pong! What else do you need? We forgot to go inside the teepee…
We were watching Oregon knock out Kansas when we realized everything in Marfa closes at 9:30PM, so we rushed over to Stellina for a delicious wild boar sausage pasta, which we did not photograph because we’re bad millennials.
[photo we didn’t take]
So Marfa is pretty cool. There’s a naturally occurring attraction north of town that we decided to check out. They are known as the Marfa (Ghost) Lights. In town you can buy t-shirts and stickers saying you saw them, so its kitschy nonsense, or so we approached this “phenomenon” believing. But it was dark, and we were there, so we drove out to the Marfa Light Viewing Point. The Marfa Ligth Viewing Center is a pretty serious structure out in the middle of the middle of nowhere, so they clearly don’t take this lightly (pun intended).
We followed the meandering walkway to the back of the building – the path is lit by red lights, and there are a few benches and bathrooms, so you can spend your whole night (bathroom breaks notwithstanding [if that’s even the right use of that term – after googling it, I’m still not sure]) in wondrous awe if the show takes you away.
Well, I don’t know about the Marfa Lights, but the stars are friggin’ awesome out there. There is a road, and there was some traffic, but light pollution wasn’t too bad. The Milky Way was visible in the night sky, but you had to stay on top of keeping your night vision intact due to the locals not giving a crap about the tourists and their cheeky shenanigans. Having long accepted the lights as illegal Mexicans in crossing, these Texans displayed no mind for our idle buffoonery.
Earlier in the evening, I had seen a shooting star – I thought. But a lot of times with shooting stars, you kind of speculate that you’re hallucinating – I mean – there’s no way to confirm it unless somebody else saw it too. And they’re probably lying to you in hopes to get in on some of that sweet, sweet wish action.
But the disjointed, peripheral realization of the curtain getting scratched – that’s kind of like the Marfa Lights. Well, we were sitting there speculating if a white shed that was being illuminated by every passing light was one of these fancy natural phenomenon, when above us to the right, a huge meteor shot across the sky and fractured into 3-4 shooting stars in spectacular, sky-illuminating brilliance. We and the other 10 or so people were very impressed. One even did a little golf clap. I was reminded of the dinosaurs – queue your 6th grade science teacher and understanding that rocks hitting the earth is bad for the inhabitants.
Even with those apocalyptic anxieties spinning, that little fireworks display made the whole trip down to Marfa worth it. Then it got weird.
So we witnessed as many as 10 more shooting stars, and I will point it out just because it was strange – maybe my understanding of meteor showers is bad – but the big one that exploded shot against the grain of the others. For example, the majority of the smaller ones were going north to south, the big one went the other way – I thought it was strange and interesting – but that’s actually the weird part.
Throughout the night, after we discovered the shed was clearly not a Marfa Light, we had eyes trained on this blinking red light in the distance which was some sort of radio tower, or some other manner of airplane warning system, blinking it’s little blinky existence. And when you stare at something so monotonous, you sometimes start to speculate if your own life is merely a more or less dramatic flash in the cosmic blinking dark… but, I digress.
On the horizon, we could see headlights in the distance – the distance was far. And in Mexico. And in a non-populated area – but then we could see 3, no 4… are these still headlights?
And the crowd went… curiously speculative?
Maybe these are the Marfa Lights and not just some Mexicans on the far ridge, jumping around with flashlights, messing with the American tourists? One light turned into 3, then 4, curiously in line. Then flashed, and they were, if the same, at least 50 miles to the right of where they had been… The lights were far to the – we’ll call it west – not that it matters. One moment after they had been here, they were there. Suess-ically, I’d expect more context, if not more vocabulary, but we sat there pondering the possible explanations.
Then the lights started floating and dipping and sidling left and right. Some became red and some went from red to white. They danced on the horizon fading in and fading out.
One large one was behind the distant ridge and flared the sky like the coming sun as it ascended, its brightness sent starbursts flaring out in my vision.
Some cowboy in the 1880’s first described the lights. He speculated they could be Apache campfires in the distance. Since then, there has been a lot of speculation about the origin of the lights. I don’t have a theory to add to the stack, all I can say is, it was bizarre and interesting.
On the way home, not exaggerating, there were at least 100 bunnies on the right side of the road. We were 8 miles outside of town, so that makes for – carry the two – one every 400 feet. I didn’t mention it before, but on our way out there were that many too, on the other side.
So maybe I do have a theory – maybe, just maybe – it’s the rabbits. Colluding, in their fluffy ways against our small brains.
But Marfa, TX – should you go there? Don’t run out and book a flight, but if you happen to be in the middle-of-nowhere west Texas, look at a map, you might be near a quirky little town called Marfa, and worst case scenario, they’ve got a great bar.
on to Austin, TX