when you drive west from Houston it takes a few hours before the landscape really changes—you pretty much have to get past the sprawl that lasts all the way to San Antonio along highway 10 before the sky begins to open up and rolling hills start to build. then: it’s land you can see for miles, bleached out by the sun, punctuated by short, bristled bushes and patches of tall red and purple grasses.
the further west you go, the wider the land stretches and the higher the mountains get. it’s a weird contradiction, to drive through tight canyon valleys and then suddenly be in the middle of wide, endless, open plains. you feel as though you’re at the bottom of the ocean or on the moon.
West Texas is picture perfect ranch land, parched dry from the oil boom. it’s where they filmed No Country For Old Men, Giant, and There Will Be Blood. Giant’s director chose the area because of “the way local cloud formations translated to screen” and it’s true: the clouds! the clouds.
we arrived in Marfa on tuesday, which felt like a sunday, because everything was closed except for Padre’s. they were hosting a bit of a movie night, and so we watched Tank Girl with the locals while eating bowls of cactus chili. you’re not in small town Texas when you’re in Marfa—it’s an artists’ town, filled with galleries and art foundations and crafts and organic foods and musicians and lights. we drove out in the pitch-dark to see the lights, passing a few border patrol cars along the way (another West Texas staple) and saw… something… before we were haunted by visions of errant coyotes and drifters and rushed back to our home at the Thunderbird.
the next day we went to the rock shop, ate coconut yogurt from the Get Go, wandered the main square, convinced the Ballroom to let us look at a yet-opened exhibit, made friends at the wool and yarn shop, and then headed out to see Prada Marfa.
james pointed out yesterday that there’s a poster for Prada Marfa in Gossip Girl and it’s likely that if you’ve heard anything about Marfa, TX, it’s because of Prada Marfa. which is: a permanent art installation about 30 miles west of Marfa (just past the very desolate town of Valentine) modeled to look like an actual Prada store, containing actual Prada product from their fall 2005 collection.
“the first one they did was vandalized and all the Prada stuff was stolen,” a Marfa local told us. “so now there’s only single shoes, not pairs, and all the bags have the bottoms cut out. everyone knows it’s not worth stealing.”
and then? then we reluctantly started travelling back east: through the ranches, along the Wild Rose Pass, back into the canyons, and finally on the highway, en route to Austin.
(i’m sorry, i’m not really recording mine and terra’s road trip in chronological order. the football game was day five, and West Texas was day two and three of our journey. i’ll get to day one (San Antonio!) and days four and five (Austin!) next.)