Marfa Texas: Part One
The first emotions I fondled with as I discovered Marfa Texas was frustration, annoyance and even a slight twinge of anger. I thought my Garmin GPS knew more than my gut feelings knew. I was trying to find the Tumble In RV Park and was listening for the crackling, monotone, electronic voice to say, “Your destination is on the right.” However, what it did was take me almost 20 miles past my destination, where I finally gave in and turned around in the driveway of some highly guarded, fenced and restricted area. A place that could have been manipulated the satellite feed and luring in “volunteers” for some twisted, confidential military type probe testing. I made this mistake knowing better.
I have always listened to my gut talking to me. When your gut instincts speak,
this is your soul talking and whom can you better trust than your soul. After the
realization of being wrong overtook me and the fear of testing became greater, I
become, “more smarter,” and returned back to Marfa to find the Tumble In right
where I drove past it the first time though.
What a find it was. This small RV park on the East side of Marfa has a
uniqueness all of its own. It operates and is governed by the Honor System. There
is no one working in the office, as booking is done online. You can only text or email
them, as they take no phone calls. If you arrive without booking there is a box to
drop your money in and it is filled with remarkable vagabonds that seem to share
the same ideas about the road.
The only negative aspects of the whole experience were the Goat Head Thorns
I kept tracking in on the bottom of my flip plops, hitchhikers that would be
stepped on later with a bare foot. But, as all things that can cause a bit of pain,
or discomfort, I got it sorted out. For the most part anyway, as I think they might be gone now, or was it a test! - dba
Marfa Texas: Part Two - The Five Star Dive Bar
A unique asset I seem to have acquired is the uncanny ability to find any Dive Bar, in just about every town I position myself in. I’m not really sure why this occurs, maybe it is some type of debauched sixth sense, but if one exists, there is a high probability that I’ll find it, as I did with the a Five Star Dive Bar in Marfa Texas, The Lost Horse.
I had driven by this establishment a few times. From the outward appearance I assumed it was no longer in business until I noticed the broken neon beer light slightly blinking. Swiftly I turned in remembering that we should never assume.
As I walked across the small parking lot where a rusting utility van set, splattered with hundreds of bullet holes I noticed that the ground was also splattered with thousands upon thousands of beer tops. The ground was completely covered with blue and red Budweiser bottle tops. I would later find out that the bar considered it recycling, and besides, beer tops were cheaper than gravel.
Like all decent and proper Dive Bars, once through the doors you need to stop for a bit and let your eyes adjust to the darkness, which I did before walking to the back where the bar displayed all its vices. I calmly felt at ease, more so not being able to see a blender behind the bar. Ordering a daiquiri here would result in the flashing of handguns that I’m sure the majority of the patrons were packing.
Ty, the owner looked at me through one eye, as the other was covered with a black patch. I ordered my usual, which does not include a blue or red top. He never asked where I was from, or any other question for that matter and I never felt any type of judgment. He simple continued with his unique and never ending stories, but now included me into his audience.
The Lost Horse has a unique style of its own with all the decoration you would find in a West Texas bar while displaying the heritage and the values of the good ol’ U.S. of A. Though now some of it did show heavy signs of wear. Like the bar stools, some were missing the padding while the others might be missing an arm and the piano, which sit in the light of the back door, had seen the last of its ivories being tickled.
During the high seasons they have live music, but now they just projected country music videos on an almost clean white sheet. It was nice to see and hear Freddy Finder again; I have to admit I had kind of forgotten about him. They did like the music loud and when Freddy belted out, “wasted days and wasted nights “ it almost knocked the dust of… well everything.
With all this being seen, experienced and enjoyed I have to add that I found no other place in Marfa that was as friendly to a vagabond traveler then the Lost Horse. For the short-lived time I was there I felt like a local and when I left, they made me feel like they wanted me to return, which I will. - dbA
Marfa Texas: Part Three
There are three things that will be included in every conversation concerning the town of Marfa, Texas, the Mystery Lights, the Marfa Prada, both of which I did not see and the fact that Marfa is several hours from any major city. Marfa Prada, a pop culture landmark made of adobe bricks, plaster, paint, glass and carpet, designed to resemble a Prada store, which is in fact not in Marfa, but rather in Valentine, 35 miles away. Even the Mystery Lights, which were the origin of Marfa’s fame, are better seen nine miles away. But these lights are
seen, not by me, but other people and described as;
mysterious orbs of light suddenly appearing above desert
foliage. These balls of light may remain stationary as they
pulse on and off with intensity varying from dim to almost
What I did see in Marfa was a cool little West Texas town that I still really do not comprehend. It’s a travel and shopping destination where Learjet’s regularly land transporting art buyers and celebrities looking for the latest piece of contemporary art. Marfa is a town of less than 2000 people and the home of 21 art galleries, which again I did not see as they were all closed, open only on the weekends. The only art I enjoyed was what I could see peering through dusty glass windows.
What I did find were hipsters, ego, artiest, cowboys, filmmakers, construction workers, old timers, more restaurants, and beer gardens closed until the weekend and the Hotel Paisano, where I refrained from buying a $38 dollar Marfa T-shirt. The El Cosmico RV Park that furnished the RV’s and the Food Shark, open for lunch and fenced by vintage cars. There was also the DQ, which might never have closed. I will also add from Marfa Texas: Part Two, I was very glad to have found the Lost Horse.
Marfa Texas is a town where I am haunted to visit again. I feel like I left without finishing the reason why I was there. - dbA
When you walked over the ridge back there and saw these
falls for the first time, your eyes widened with their
magnificence. Your mind visually received the beauty and
you accepted it. But, this is not the time to believe that a
visual stimulation is all you are getting.
As I walked down the steps and breathed in deeply, I
smelled the musky earth and the pungent cypress trees,
allowing my sense of smell to be stimulated. As I walk out
closer to the rivers edge I breath in all of where I am,
right here, right now. For a moment I will close my eye and
listen to the water bubble as it rolls over these massive
stones. As I start feeling the amazement of being part of
such a tranquil moment, in the distance I hear a raptor
screech. Now my sense of hearing has been stimulated and
I am here. I open my eyes and see the hawk playing in the
updraft on the ridge.
My bare feet touch the limestone warmed by the Texas
sun and I feel the energy climb up my legs. Stimulated my
sense of touch I feel the smooth warm stone, I walk through the course granular gravel on the edge and find a harsh contrast to the smooth stone. Then I feel the coolness of the water as my stroll wonders there. Being barefoot is much more then just removing your shoes, it is stepping into mindfulness and being there with all your senses being there with you.
I wished them the best of the day and hoped they enjoyed their walk. As we departed company I heard her say, “lets try that. Lets take are shoes off.”
As they moved down river I moved up river in search of the right spot to sit and empty my mind, the other as I was with water, was to find a spot hidden from the eyes of onlookers so I could dive in and bring alive even more of my senses. I found both and with the latter, enjoyed a brief frolicking moment of madness.
Pedernales Falls State Park is located 10 miles east of Johnson City, 30 miles west of Austin. Before 1970, the area that is now Pedernales Falls State Park was known as the Circle Bar Ranch a working cow ranch. The state of Texas purchased the land for the park in 1970, and the park opened in 1971.
Pedernales Falls is truly a hidden gem and a visit to the hill country of Texas should not happen without including them. You will not find more tranquil place to relax, be mindful and recharge the person that you are. - dbA
After walking down the steep steps leading to the river bottom and Pedernales Falls, I stopped at the edge of the limestone, worn smooth by millions of gallons of flowing water. I kicked off my sandals and as I stepped on to the stone I felt the blast of energy from being there. With a few more steps, from behind me I heard, “you’re walking barefoot?” I turned to see a young girl and her boyfriend looking at my bare feet. “Does it hurt,” she added.
“Not at all,” I said. “In fact it makes being here seeing this magical place even enchanted.” I smiled at them and I have to add, they looked a bit bewildered, so I shared with them my thoughts.
It all started because a sandwich is not a sandwich without the crunch of crisp lettuce. But, as always, there was the gluttonous gantlet of compulsive buying at the checkout and I ended my dart-and-dash with a plastic box of yesterdays, freshly baked cookies.
Here is where the story begins.
As I waited to pay for my dietary needs I watched a frazzled young mother ahead of me, she had an enfant strapped to her chest and five more, from not very old to even younger, buzzing around her legs, hanging from the shopping cart and all in various stages of need. I felt this was probable her norm. I did not notice who was behind me. She finished at the checkout and slowly moved trying desperately to manage her brood.
Now enter me. I am what I am, built for comfort with a splash of expression. I was wearing flip-flops, Thai fisherman pants that to the unknowing are to short, but to the knowing are the most comfortable pants made, a sleeveless shirt I found in a Nicaraguan surf shop and my straw Panama hat with a small Grateful Dead pin on the hat band. To accentuate this look of freedom, my full sleeve tattoo was exposed as well as all my other shinny bits and pieces.
I paid for my groceries and as I stepped towards this young family, for really no particular reason, I reached into my recycle bag and pulled out the cookies. Asking the mother if I may, she awkwardly watched me finish opening them and said, “yes.” As I offered each child a cookie, each one politely said, “thank you.” I bid the mother a good day and as I was walking towards the automatic doors, I turned as I heard, “well I’ll be!
The person behind me, that I had not noticed waiting in line, was an older ultraconservative looking gentleman in freshly pressed and creased clothing, a perfectly tied, tie and an immaculately clean and tidy look about him. I’m sure he had noticed me waited in line, in the wake of the slightest scent of patchouli. But, any thoughts he might have been building I believe were diminished with the witnessing of a small, random act of kindness. To paraphrase an old saying, what is inside an old book, is not always what is seen on the cover and perhaps a minuscule step towards the eradication of assumption. - dbA
The first time they drove by I merely glanced out the window. The second time they drove by, very slowly, I looked to see who this could be. The third time I took note of all the details that I could, white Chevy with loud pipes, hunting rifle hanging in the back window, dozens of empty beer cans in the truck bed, discolored paint on the hood and a faded bumper sticker that might have resembled a confederate flag. The forth time they drove by stopped and started taking pictures, my alert mode peaked.
Now it was his turn to wonder and be shocked. I wore nothing but my Thai pants as I walked barefoot towards him, the fluorescent parking lot lights reflecting off my accentuated stomach and the area that has now surpassed an extended hairline.
“What can I do for you”? I asked
We have heard about you,” he answered. “We heard you were hauling around homeless people. We just got of work at Little Caesars. They just throw this leftover pizza away, so we thought we would bring it to you.
I told him I was the only homeless person here and tried to explain what I did, as he kept staring in disbelief and trying to look over my shoulder as if he didn’t believe me
“You want to look inside,” I asked, thinking this would be the only way he would believe I didn’t have a bus full of homeless people chained to phantom seats. He followed me into the bus, never loosening the grip to his pizza he carried.
We talked more as he looked at me in bewilderment and not thinking about relinquishing the pizza. I wanted to acknowledge his kindness and told him I would take one pizza. I pointed to an old van that was a couple rows over and told him there were a few people there and I was sure they would like the pizza.
As he was leaving the bus he stopped and turned towards me, “Now you be carful here,” he said
I told him I was always careful
“No,” he rebutted. “I mean you need to be really careful. I carry a 45 with me wherever I go and not afraid to use it. It’s not safe anymore. There are Creepy Clowns everywhere.
I assured him I would be fine, looking over my shoulder to see if the Jack bottle was in reach, thanked him for the pizza and watched him go back to his truck. He tossed the remaining pizza into the back with the empty beer cans and I watched his taillights disappear into the West. The Chool Bus ignited and my taillights ventured into the East. I knew there was another RV spot just down the road. - dbA
I was in Vernon Texas, boondocking in a parking lot that I refer to as a Wal-Mart RV Resort. I was beginning to feel these inquisitive young men I saw inside the loud truck might want to run, “my kind of people,” out of Texas. As I sit at the table reading from the light of the sitting sun and enjoying the company of Mr. Daniels, I have to admit my thoughts kept retuning to the redneck truck that I felt was stalking me. The need for sleep started to fade the fear of ambush and as I had not seen, or heard the truck in some time, I went to the back of the bus, found the bed and the lights quickly went out
It was about 11:30 p.m. when it happened. My heart stopped as the pounding on the door started. Hard pounding that rocked the bus, sloshing the half empty bottle of Jack sitting on the counter. Never in all my boondocking nights had anyone interrupted my dreams in such a brutal way. A mechanical course of self-protection from my military days came alive. Becoming a defense mechanism rushed into my logic as I scanned for anything in arms reach to defend myself. All I could see were pillows, a cell phone, my camera and yes the half empty bottle of Jack Daniels sitting on the cabinet. Slowing I slid out of bed, careful to not make any sound or movement. It was just two steps to the bottle, but I would expose myself to anyone looking in the front window. I mean really expose myself as sleeping in cloths seems to be to binding for me.
As I got to the bottle I leaned a bit further, knowing I would further expose myself, but wanting to see my attackers and assess the situation. Standing in front of the Chool Bus, was the first attacker, there were more in the truck parked further away. He stood, backlit from the parking lot lights, his feet braced, shoulder width apart, in his hands stacked up to just below his nose were boxes of Little Caesars Pizza.