Follow Me to El Cosmico

Marfa, Texas is a tiny map dot in the middle of west Texas, but it happens to be an artsy gem of a town. I heard about Marfa deep on the internet one night when I came across El Cosmico: part “hotel”, part campground. Instead of traditional lodging, El Cosmico offers teepees, yurts, tents, vintage trailers and camping space. As soon as I saw this place online, I knew it was our kind of spot to hang for the night. We rolled into Marfa in early afternoon and checked in at El Cosmico. We snagged a spot under a tree and set up the tent for the night.

beautiful lobby

beautiful lobby offering up local crafts 

art from the trans pecos festival, held annually at el cosmico

art from the trans pecos festival, held annually at el cosmico

reading room

reading room

teepee villageteepee village

patio with vintage tables and chairs

patio with vintage tables and chairs

Perhaps the best part about El Cosmico – Marmalade, the camp kitty! He was up for lots of belly rubs and cuddles. I joked with Clint that I would have paid a little extra to have him snuggle with me in the tent that night 😉 We also loved the open air bathrooms and showers – it was so refreshing! There was even a claw-foot tub, but I didn’t take advantage of it – don’t think I didn’t think about it, though!

sweet marmalade

sweet marmalade

new friends

new friends

love it.

love it.

vintage trailers for rent for the night

vintage trailers for rent for the night

prettiest bathroom i ever did see

prettiest bathroom i ever did see

our shady site

our shady site

On the way to Marfa, we noticed a sign for the “Marfa Lights Viewing Area.” After a little investigation, we discovered that the Marfa Lights are quite the phenomenon. Appearing just after sunset on the southwestern horizon, the lights have been unexplained for decades. This sounded just weird enough, so we made our way back to the viewing area at dusk. I was skeptical, but sure enough, the twinkling orbs began to show up on the horizon! There were a few dozen other observers, but everyone was quiet and awe-struck as we watched the lights flicker. I’d like to think they are the result of an alien invasion, but no one is really sure!

a glimpse at the marfa lights

a glimpse at the marfa lights

texas sunsettexas sunset

Advertisements

Big Bend

I thought we were “deep in the heart of Texas” until we got to Big Bend National Park – a place that is as far south as you can go in the American west. The park borders Mexico for over 100 miles on the Rio Grande.

IMG_3941 (1)

IMG_3944

IMG_3977

 

This park is one of the larger National Parks, but receives far fewer visitors than other parks (it ranks 147th!) due to its remote location. There are no airports or even interstate highways nearby. Most of the visitors who venture to BBNP do so during the late fall and early spring, when the weather is most pleasant. Summer temperatures can be brutal, so several of the visitors centers and campground are closed during the summer.

We stayed in the Chisos Basin, which is right in the middle of the park at about 5000 feet elevation. The campground was a bargain at only $14 per night. The elevation allowed for cool temperatures (mid 80s during the day and 60s at night), but some CRAZY winds and pop-up storms. Our tent really took a beating, as it tends to catch the wind pretty easily. The wind and threat of wildlife kept me up at night – either we would blow away or be eaten by a bear!

We camped next to a retired teacher and her husband and son, who stayed up playing guitar into the night. Camping (and travel, really) can be about the relationships you form along the way. Albeit brief, Christy and her crew made for a memorable meeting and some interesting conversation. The struggles of teaching are universal!

site #16 in the chisos basin

site #16 in the chisos basin

fear induced insomnia for me...

fear induced insomnia for me…

casa grande 7,326 feet

casa grande 7,326 feet

the window - the rio grande lies beyond and far below the chisos basin

the window – the rio grande lies beyond and far below the chisos basin

We spent an evening exploring the backroads of the park. There seemed to be tons of gravel roads that led into the far reaches of the park. I was hoping to spot a javelina or two, but all we spotted was lots of roadrunners, jackrabbits, and an impressively huge spider.

the open and empty road

the open and empty road

IMG_3984

desert landscape

desert landscape

backroads of the park

backroads of the park

windmill on a backroad

windmill on a backroad

prickly wildlife!

prickly wildlife!

After we left Big Bend, we headed due north to the hip, weird town of Marfa – more on that later!

Deep in the Heart of Texas!

I feel the need to preface this post with a few quick claps , but I can save it for another day. After a fun-filled day in Austin, we headed to San Antonio to see the famed Alamo and walk the River Walk. Touristy, yes – but still fun.

IMG_3892

the alamo


IMG_3896

gardens outside of the alamo


IMG_3900

clint checking out the architecture

We splurged on lunch at Boudro’s on the River Walk – well worth it! We ate Mexican food for four meals in a row while in this area… when in Rome?

IMG_3909

fresh guac made tableside


IMG_3906 (1)

prickly pear margarita and texas tea

After leaving San Antonio, we headed southwest along the Mexico border en route to Big Bend National Park. Although we knew we were taking the scenic route, we were surprised at what the two lane had to offer along the way. We stopped at the Amistad Reservoir for a quick photo op and kept on trucking toward Big Bend.

amistad reservoir

amistad reservoir


amistad reservoir

amistad reservoir

We stopped for lunch at a visitor’s center dedicated to Judge Roy Bean, a justice of the peace and self-proclaimed “Law West of the Pecos.” Bean ran a saloon and often held court right there. A man after my own heart…

cactus garden

cactus garden


the jersey lilly saloon

the jersey lilly saloon


cactus garden

cactus garden


may need this sign for my classroom ;)

may need this sign for my classroom 😉


love it! you go, texas.

love it! you go, texas.

Next up – bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, and javelinas?! Big Bend National Park!

 



Weird and Wonderful Austin

Austin has been on my bucket list for years, so I was stoked to be able to visit the Texas capital city on this trip! We are staying between Austin and San Antonio for a couple of days, so our time is split between the two cities (and a service shop where we are sitting right now getting my wheels aligned). 

We started the day in Beaumont- about 4 hours away- and drove into the city in time for a late lunch at Magnolia Cafe South in the hip SoCo neighborhood. They had an extensive menu with breakfast, Tex Mex, and lots of sandwiches. They also claimed to be open 24 hours a day, 8 days a week. Love it! After lunch, we made our way down South Congress, popping into the unique shops along the way. Our favorite was the Big Top Candy Shop, where we indulged in some shaved ice (of course)!  

     

After exploring SoCo, we headed over to the iconic Barton Springs Pool. This place has been on my radar since I saw it online years ago, so I was so excited to be able to finally take a dip! Barton Springs is a man-made, 3 acre, spring fed swimming pool located right in the heart of Austin. It was built in the 1920s. The water is a chilly 68 degrees year around- and it is colder than you think! Once we got in, the cold water was so refreshing and calming on a hot summer day.  

         

We thought Austin was another Southern city to love!