After our visit to Carlsbad Caverns, it was time to set our sights on Austin. After a week on the road, I was ready to be back home. That didn’t stop me from instigating a detour on the way, though: Marfa, TX.
Marfa is a town in the Middle of Nowhere (sometimes known as West Texas). It’s become renowned for attracting minimalist art, including the now-defunct Marfa Prada store. In my opinion, it’s one of those places that’s not really worth a trip by itself since it’s so far from anything else, but I figured it would worth a gander while we were in the neighborhood. Brian was a good sport and agreed to take the scenic route to Austin.
The drive was extremely windy, basically all the way from Flagstaff a few days earlier through to Austin. West Texas was no exception, with a lot of dust and tumbleweed. When we arrived in Marfa, we were greeted by a cute old town. There were lots of cyclists around, laden with packs strapped to their bikes and clearly equipped for the long haul. We saw very few on the road, though, so perhaps they were waiting for the wind to die down.
Marfa wasn’t what I expected. Due to the emphasis on its art and what I had heard of it, I was expecting more installation art that we could walk or drive past through town. We didn’t see much as we pulled up, so we stopped in the Visitor Center for recommendations. The woman there was very friendly and helpful, but she largely pointed us to some old buildings for their architecture rather than their quirkiness. To be fair, there are several art galleries in town, but we weren’t looked to spend too much time so we didn’t stop in to see any.
Instead, we took the Tourist Office’s advice and headed to the courthouse to get a view of the town “from about a mile up”. Turns out the dome of the courthouse is only 3 stories high, but it does tower over the rest of Marfa. It’s a pretty, well-preserved building with lots of old accents that is still in use for town business.
From the dome, we had a view of Main Street and the pink Central Fire Station. The town was clearly an old western town with the charm and history to go along.
When we’d had our fill of the view, we stopped for gas and got back on the road. There really is a lot of nothing in West Texas, as proven by the 80 mph speed limit.
Every once in a while, though, you get a bit of a surprise. This blimp came out of nowhere, for example. The sign described it as a U.S. Air Force facility. I suppose this is a good spot for keeping out-of-the-way projects, but I sure don’t envy the people stationed out here to work on them.
From there it was a lot more empty highway until Austin. It’s hard to imagine making this trip on a bike. Highly recommended if you’re in search of lots of time to think.