Part Three: Marfa
Updated: Sep 29, 2021
Everything you want a roadside town to be.
I am the kind of person who loves to watch the scenery change while I'm driving long distances. The drive from Austin to Marfa was remarkable for the changing geography. I picked a midpoint, admittedly arbitrarily, as Sonora, Texas.
Sonora was cute: As far as local fare goes, there were like seven restaurants and they were all either BBQ or Tex-Mex. Quite literally. I saw nothing else on Google, TripAdvisor, or Yelp. For national chains, there was also a Dairy Queen and a Subway.
The town was so small that you could probably hold your breath for much longer than the amount of time it'd take you to drive through it.
It was midday and I was hungry. The only restaurant that was open, whether that was because of COVID or small-town hours, was a small place called La Mexicana. It was a cute little place; very small-town, but the staff was lovely and the food was perfectly fine. I had the stuffed poblano pepper and was pleasantly surprised.
I took the food to-go and ate in my car, by the way.
Before long there was nothing ahead of me but West Texas mountains and an increasingly drier soil on both sides of the highway, growing from brown to red as the hours dragged on.
Once I arrived in Marfa, my lodging was nothing short of awesome.
I pulled in just before it was time for dinner. The accommodation I chose, The Lincoln, was everything I hoped it would be. Y'all, this place was great. It's an immaculately clean commune-type setup. Between the rooms are small courtyards - the one by my room had a stylish above-ground pool, while another I saw on the grounds came complete with a fire pit. It's a gay-owned business and both of the owners were on-site when I arrived.
I asked about dinner and the infamous Marfa Mystery Lights.
They were sweet guys, accompanied by two ladies who were also locals, soaking in the pool. All around, it was a cute interaction that put me right at home.
I took the hosts' advice on dinner and headed out to Al Campo a few blocks over, to-go again, of course, though this time I ate in my room and not on the console of my car.
The room itself was one of my favorite accommodations I've stayed in yet. Crisp blue quilt over white sheets, carefully tucked. The smell of fresh wood from the recent renovation, and a bathroom that screams at you that you're in a luxury unit, but still firmly in a West Texas artist town.
At sundown, I headed back east out of Marfa to the Marfa Mystery Lights Viewing Center. According to locals, it's the best place to view this weird phenomena.
It started slow before building into something much bigger as the sun set.
Here's the thing: I did some research on this weird happening, and while science has tried to debunk it, I don't know if I follow the science.
Scientists from a couple universities have attributed the Mystery Lights to headlights from passing cars on a nearby interstate.
This perplexes me because there are reports of the lights as far back as the 1880s, when cattlemen first noticed them and thought they were Apache campfires.
And the 1880s is just when white people first saw them. The Apache who first inhabited the land have been talking about them for much longer. How could they be headlights from a nearby highway when they've been on the books for much longer than the highway has even been there - let alone automobiles themselves.
The lights as they appear are just as intriguing. From the viewing center, you begin to see them just after sunset. This night, the sun began to set at about 8:30, and fully slipped under the horizon at about 10PM.
Between 8:30 and 10, I saw a few lights. After 10, there were many more. According to some reviewers on TripAdvisor, you may even want to watch closer to midnight or 1AM to see an even bigger light show.
They appear as small white lights, orbs, coming off a mountain in the distance. Some are other colors: I witnessed green and red as well as white, myself. They float from the mountain into the sky, or off to the west, or into each other to form bigger lights, or they'll split to form smaller ones. Some bounce. Some are bright, others dim.
Paranormal or not, it is quite a show.
The Lincoln was quiet when I returned back to downtown Marfa. I slipped into my room and snuggled under the covers, prepping for a big day to come.
- NOTICE -
COVID-19 TRAVEL PRECAUTIONS I IMPLEMENTED
Though this blog is written with a carefree, fun, and exploratory nature, please know that I took every precaution behind the scenes.
I tested negative for COVID-19 prior to taking this trip.
I avoided other people at all times.
If person-to-person contact was unavoidable (such as my accommodations in Part Six of this series), I was wearing a mask. That being said, person-to-person contact was a very rare occurrence.
I only booked accommodations where I could have the whole place to myself with no spaces shared with other people (except for Part Six).
I only booked accommodations where I could check myself in. Again: No person-to-person contact (except for Part Six).
I took sanitizing wipes with me and gave every accommodation a good wipe-down.
Though I talk about food and coffee here, I also brought a lot of non-perishable food with me which I ate in the car while driving. Any and all food that I did purchase was done so over the phone and picked up to-go.
Photos posted to this blog and my Instagram featuring me without a mask were only possible outdoors, distanced from other people - and the mask only came off for the photo.
If you are choosing to travel during this time, please be aware of all of the precautionary work that you must put into your trip to ensure that you do not contract the virus and do not spread it to other people.
If you cannot guarantee that, do not travel.