Oh, Marfa. Apparently you’re only open Thursday through Sunday. We got in to the Tumble In RV Park and went looking in town for a late lunch. Our choices were Dairy Queen and Stripes. Ain’t happening. We did some research and found Jett’s Grill at the Hotel Paisano opened at 5 so we hit the grocery store for snacks and beer and chilled on the community covered porch at the Tumble In till dinner time.
Turns out that Marfa is where the movie Giant starring James Dean and Liz Taylor was filmed, and the Hotel Paisano was the headquarters for filming. It’s a beautiful hotel, built in 1930 in anticipation of a local oil boom that never materialized. It was considered to be the finest hotel between San Antonio and El Paso.
The architecture of the old buildings that have been repurposed into art galleries and other things had me at hello.
Our next door neighbors at the RV park were two twenty-somethings from Amsterdam who were continuing on to Houston, New Orleans and Miami. They were likewise disappointed at the mid-week Marfa non-scene. They did get to tour the Judd Foundation building/gallery before they left, even though it wasn’t officially open. They just got in somehow.
The next day we drove up to Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory. Giant telescopes? They got ‘em! The drive up was on winding, steep roads. We passed a couple of cyclists going up and we were all like, mad props guys! After we had been at the observatory for a little while, here come the two cyclists. Of course we had to stop and chat with them. One of them is an author, Alan Tennant, who has written lots of books, one in particular about the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas. So that was neato. PS: He is 72 years old and pedaled up those roads.
There was a bit of a debate about whether or not to make the drive down to Big Bend National Park. Their campgrounds were all booked up when I had tried to make reservations several weeks ago, so we knew it would have to be a day trip. We decided to do it, because there was nada happening in Marfa on a Wednesday. And boy are we glad we did. Missy got to swim in the Rio Grande. We got to see some amazingly beautiful and majestic scenery that pictures cannot fully encapsulate. Dogs are sadly not allowed on trails there, but we burned most of the day just driving from one cool spot to the other, so we wouldn’t have had much time to hike on just a one-day trip. From the river valley to desert to the Chisos mountains, it was all very different and very special. And very….massive. If we ever did camp there, we would either get a primitive site or a Chisos Basin campground site. Photos just don’t do it justice. Go there. You MUST GO THERE. And stop in Terlingua Ghost Town.
Let’s talk about Alpine, Texas. Alpine is about 27 miles east of Marfa and has restaurants that are open every day! Novel idea! After returning from Big Bend we were exhausted and starving and lo and behold, La Trattoria with sidewalk seating. Sold. We met a couple from New Orleans who had relocated to Alpine after Hurricane Katrina. They love it there. Such a small world. It was cool to hear a New Orleans accent again. He says he is always invited to every party in town because they know he can cook.
From the menu, we chose bruschetta with Marfa tomatoes, ravioli in creamy sundried tomato sauce, a pizza with everything and a glass of wine. Carb/alcohol coma ensued. Pam was supposed to do the laundry as this was our last night in Marfa, but Pam was too sweeeepy. So Wayne manned up and finished all the laundry. In your face, Pam.
Tumble In RV Park rates five stars. Great bath houses, a community outdoor seating area with covered patio and fire pit, and a community kitchen/laundry/hang out area.