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West Texas Road Trip: One Night in Marfa

One night in Marfa wasn’t enough. Marfa is everything you’ve heard – weird, quirky, artsy, rugged, remote, and wonderful. It’s a unique blend of sprawling ranches and ultra nuevo art galleries. It’s a town of 1,800 folks in a desert landscape where everything is weathered and that just adds to the charm. It’s where life truly slows down. It’s got the “sit on the porch and stay awhile” vibe in a town filled with eclectic folks. What about those mysterious Marfa Lights you may have heard about? Of course I went to try to see the enigmatic phenomenon.

On my road trip from El Paso to Marfa, I passed by Prada Marfa. The unusual art installation is worthy of a stop, even if you’ve been there before like I had.

I got in late afternoon and checked into 105 Lincoln, which I found on AirBnB and Booking.com. I instantly fell in love as I drove up to my suite’s bright yellow door and turquoise bistro set on the patio. Once the stables for the Presidio County Courthouse, 105 Lincoln is now what I think is the coolest places to stay in Marfa. Of course I had to see if the payphone outside of 105 Lincoln works…and it does!

After settling in, I took off to walk to the visitor’s center with a few stops along the way. First stop was just a few steps from my suite. It was the yellow Marfa payphone at 105 Lincoln. I picked up the phone to hear Taylor Swift singing “Shake it Off.” My next stop was on the tracks, literally on the railroad tracks running right through town. I got the visitors center a few minutes before closing. There was an extremely knowledgeable lady who took the time to answer all of my questions. It was cloudy and I wanted to know if I should try to see the Marfa Lights in the evening or get up before sunrise. “I’ve seen them during a lightning storm,” she told me then went on to tell me at the observation platform, “Look straight ahead, look to the left, and look to right, but don’t turn to the right. Those are cars on the highway.” She gave me hope I might see the lights. “Go get a great dinner then drive out there. On your way back stop at Last Horse Saloon.” With that I walked back to Stellina, the restaurant she recommended for dinner and grabbed a seat at the bar. The restaurant quickly filled as I sipped my wine. The menu changes frequently and my veggie heavy meal was outstanding.

After dinner I wandered back to 105 Lincoln just as the sun was setting.

I bundled up and drove about nine miles east of town to see the famed “Marfa Lights.” I settled in at the lookout spot and let my eyes adjust to the darkness as I gazed toward Goat Mountain. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it’s one of the unexplained legends of Marfa and I was in to hopefully seem them for myself. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what I saw. There were lights in the distance that weren’t car lights, street lights, equipment lights or any other logical light that I could come up with. I definitely saw something and still intrigued by my mysterious sighting of white, red, orange and even green lights that would appear and disappear. Paranormal phenomenon? Maybe. UFO or aliens? Could be. I think they’re the result of some rare atmospheric phenomenon unique to West Texas. But, that’s probably just the meteorologist in me. Whatever they are, it’s a fun evening outing to try to spot them. After about 30 or 40 minutes of looking for the “ghost lights”, I drove back to town and settled in for the night. Here are a few of the pictures I took of the “Marfa Lights.”

Here’s a quick video. What do you think?

The next morning, I took a walk to find coffee and ended up at Do Your Thing. You have to love a place that has a sign that says “Coffee, toast, magic.” I ordered their honey spiced latte and the “Nothing, Honey Toast” with organic almond butter, honey and salt on their housemade sourdough bread. I settled in to do a little work for a couple of hours and watched as a stread stream of locals and visitors wandered into the coffee shop behind the lumberyard.

That was a delicious send off for my drive down Highway 90 and along River Road to Terlingua. After a few days in the desert, I did swing back through Marfa for a burrito as I had to try Marfa Burrito, one of Anthony Bourdain’s stops when he filmed his show Parts Unknown in West Texas. Marfa Burrito is a small, unassuming place authentic Mexican restaurant with amazing (and huge!) burritos. I ordered one for lunch and a couple to go so I could enjoy a taste of West Texas back home. If you’re wondering, the burritos traveled quite well on flight back to Denver!

This was author Jennifer Broome‘s second time in Marfa. She looks forward to staying one night, or a few nights, in Marfa again soon. Check out one of her other blogs on West Texas including Girls Weekend In Terlingua.