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West Texas – August 2019
In recent years, most of our vacations have been focused on other countries. This year, as we had already gone to South America for the second year in a row in the spring, we stayed domestic for a summer trip. But, we still got off the beaten path, and visited a part of the country that is perhaps one of the best kept vacation secrets in the United States.
Far West Texas is dominated by desert and vast expanses of nothingness, at times broken up only by tumbleweeds and oil rigs. Yet, within the state's southwestern corner are mountain ranges, incredible scenery, diverse wildlife, and unique towns filled with friendly people, comfortable places to stay, and great restaurants. Those who have never been may not understand the appeal – more than one of our friends questioned our sanity when they heard where we were headed. But, for those who do make the journey (and a journey it is; unless you have the resources for a private jet, no airport with commercial service is particularly close or convenient), the rewards are great. I’ve never known anyone who visited the Big Bend Region who did not fall in love with it to some degree. The region is a part of the country that feels both familiar and exotic, as its isolation has allowed it to develop its own culture. People are attracted by the isolation and natural beauty, to work the land ranching, but also to create – communities of artists, writers, photographers, chefs, and musicians all thrive here. There are also many academic types, between Sul Ross State University, the smallest public university in Texas, and the McDonald Observatory, one of the leading astronomic research facilities in the country, and part of the University of Texas System. And, there are those who have also found their way to places like Terlingua to just escape the rest of the world and not have to be around other people. Yet, even those types gladly welcome the visitors who make the effort to stop by and listen to their nightly jam sessions on the front porch of the town’s lone retail establishment. Texas Friendly is alive and well out here, and the locals are happy to help you relax, disconnect from all forms of media, and enjoy the millions of stars in the night sky while you sip on an ice cold prickly pear margarita, ranch water, or Shiner Bock.
So, come with us on our journey through Terlingua, Big Bend National Park, Alpine, the Davis Mountains, and Marfa. Below are links to hotels, restaurants, and activities we recommend, as well as the photo galleries.
Terlingua/Big Bend National Park: Nuevo Terlingua (our specific casita was Casa Nuevo)
Marathon: Gage Hotel
Marfa: Hotel Saint George
El Paso (3-4 hours) or Midland (2-3 hours)
The Amtrak Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle also stops in Alpine three times a week in each direction (westbound/eastbound), with same train service to Los Angeles, Tucson, Maricopa/Phoenix, El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans, Dallas, St. Louis, and Chicago