The great thing about visiting Texas at the end of September is that you get to experience one more burst of summer before being plunged into the bipolar weather event that makes up fall in the Northeast. While this year wasn’t exactly the frigid tundra that we’d feared, escaping the impending cold to enjoy 90 degree temperatures for a week wasn’t bad at all.
The impetus of the trip was to justify a cross-country flight to celebrate a wedding in Cali, so we called up our friends S & K and started scheming where to visit. Flights in and out of DFW were dirt cheap, and S & K proposed a road trip that would span a massive swath of Texas. We’d begin in Dallas and drive straight to Alpine, then on to Marfa. From there we’d head to Big Bend for two nights in an earth ship in the desert outside of Terlingua before heading for Austin for a night. From Austin, we’d head back up to Dallas and fly out for the wedding.
Piece of cake!
The drive out to Alpine was a gentle introduction to the Texas landscape. Did you know that Texas is home to an awesome international water lily garden in San Angelo?? The San Angelo International Water Lily Collection?? Even if it wasn’t the initial “texas” experience we’d expected, it was a beautiful peaceful spot to stretch our legs on the drive out to Big Bend.
We pushed west from San Angelo towards Alpine. The flaming orange sunset in front of us coupled with the undeniable smell of oil filling the air assured us that we weren’t in New England anymore.
The next morning we drove on to the town of Marfa and the Chinati Foundation. We headed out to the fields beside the foundation to walk amongst Donald Judd’s 15 Untitled Works in Concrete. From a distance they looked like, well, 15 pieces of concrete, but once we started walking through them and noticing the patterns created by the with light and shadows we understood the allure.
Knowing that our next accommodations would be a off-grid-earth-bag-home with catchment water, solar power, and a composting toilet, we stocked up on the necessities (beer, rice, chips, and oreos) after a delicious lunch at The Capri and headed farther into the desert for the Big Bend portion of our trip.
The drive through Big Bend was, as promised, beautiful, and it provided lots of chances to pull over for photos.
We also took advantage of opportunities to jump out and stretch our legs after many hours of driving.
Our earthship sandbag home turned out to be surprisingly comfortable (and well-equipped – the wifi signal was stronger than what we sometimes get at home). It also had some amazing views, and we totally lucked out by being there on the night of the harvest moon eclipse.
The sunsets and sunrises weren’t bad either…
We got to wade across a tributary of the Rio Grande to get to the start of our cliffside hike:
And see scenes that looked like every Road Runner cartoon ever:
And we discovered that Texas is uniquely beautiful.
Our luck continued back in Austin and Dallas where we got to catch up with some friends and visit the Texas State Fair. All in all Texas pleasantly surprised us at every turn. We’ll be back.