Going to the desert, Part 1: Marfa, Texas

13 Jan

elcosmico8Since I had to work during the holidays, I ended up with some comp days that I had to utilize by taking time off during the month of January. As I was trying to fit the days into my schedule, I realized that if I put three in a row, it’d allow me to not only take care of boring doctor stuff (#adultlife) but might also allow for Zack and me to take a road trip out to the McDonald Observatory, where they have Star Parties that I hear about all the time on NPR during their Star Date segments each evening. I’d been wanting to go as a “date day*,” and asked if Zack was game. He was, and he took a little time off from work so we could leave early on Thursday** and enjoy a first night in Marfa, Texas, a town that has been given a new kind of life by hosting tons of amazing film and music festivals, and having a generally receptive attitude toward art. Our first night ended up being one of the best part of the entire trip.

*I owed Caitlin a day-night date of anything of her choosing after she won a triathlon bet. Since it extended to two days and nights, she chipped in and we made a go of it.

**I worked until 11 and we hoped to get on the road by 11:30, but it ended up being 12:30. Caitlin attempted to make up for lost time and got her first ever speeding ticket, but that couldn’t hold us back from a great weekend.


On night one, we decided to be adventurous by renting out a teepee at El Cosmico, a cool accommodations-supplier wherein if you rent a room, you either get a tent, a teepee, or a trailer – your pick. We went teepee because when else would we ever spend the night in a teepee?! We packed accordingly*, donning layers upon layers of night clothes. We also decided to utilize the remaining bottle of champagne we never ended up enjoying on New Year’s Eve – mixed with some cranberry juice**, it managed to warm our bellies on a cool night in the desert.

*If anything, we overpacked, never needing the sleeping bags or half dozen blankets we brought, but better to have too many warm articles than not enough. False! We used every blanket we brought. I was glad to have them.

**After a debate on whether mimosas were a morning drink exclusively or not, we agreed on the cranberry cocktail, which was quite tasty.

teepee1To ensure a completely warm night, I wore my Max costume that I made when I dressed up as the Wild Thing* for Halloween a number of years ago. Whenever Zack took photos of me, I always managed to be almost-blinking, hence the “come hither” look. Totally accidental, I can assure you.

*It was the first time Caitlin’s brought the costume out since Coachella camping and one random day at work. It’s pretty darn adorable.


That’s more like it. Goofily looking up past layers upon layers of blankets, that Zack managed to steal (accidentally*) while we slept. The floor of the teepee is raised – a cement circle slab, if you will – and covered to keep feet warm. Zack and I stayed up talking for a good part of the night, which was really lovely; it was like having a sleepover or something. Even though Zack and I have lived together for quite a while now, the different digs for the night were like a reset button, where we got to be giddy and bond** all over again.

*Somehow every time we woke up in the middle of the night, I had 80% of the covers and Caitlin had 80% of the bed. And my pillow was on the ground.

**It really was nice to have a getaway that felt like when we first started dating and would stay up late with silly/sweet “pillow talk.” 


The next morning, after getting ourselves ready for the day, we checked out and then took some photos around the grounds. Zack is posing by the office above, which was super cool and had loads of coffee and friendly staff to help direct you wherever you might want to go in Marfa. I’d totally stay here again. I wish we’d had more time there on a night when the hot tub was open.


Our teepee from the outside, and a very impressive jump by Zack. Bringing back the Europe trip go-to jumping pic.


Teepee posing. Caitlin wasn’t quite up for a jump, but still a nice leg raise.


You can see the teepee (and me) in Zack’s glasses. Hi Caitlin and teepee!

elcosmico1A big leap at the El Cosmico car. A far better leap than the teepee one.

elcosmico2Groovy peace signs in the desert. Hippie.

elcosmico4Zack, chilling in a hammock. There are tons of these strung up all around the El Cosmico grounds. I wish we had way more hammock time. 


When we finally got on our way, we first stopped by the Marfa Book Co. store, and browsed a lot of awesome books about Texas, architecture, and everything else you could imagine – my favorites were really gorgeously styled versions of children’s books. We also met the resident dog of the store, Angel, who apparently is normally very shy, but is overcoming that – she walked right up to Zack and me, and we got to pet her scraggly head. She reminded me of Sir Didymus from the Labyrinth, except she was all white. Then, we headed to the Marfa Ballroom, one of their touchstone art galleries, and donated some money to check out some cool (and not-so-cool) stuff. I think these cool 3D faces were my favorite. The bookstore was cool. I enjoyed flipping through a book on Texas BBQ and one on Austin musicians and Angel was pretty cute, albeit very scraggly. Gotta love Caitlin’s fish face here.


Zack and I did our best to imitate the art. Not bad! I may have gone too far on the messy hair re-enactment. 


Thinking, ponderously. (My second-favorite piece.) That’s just about what my thought bubbles would look like.


My third-favorite works were these lit-up resin works, made to look like futuristic cities. There was a room full of them, and their glow was really enchanting. Really enjoyed these as well.


You can’t really tell, but I tried to make this face back at the structure. She nailed it, you guys. 


Zack’s on a boat! We enjoyed most of the art in the Ballroom quite a lot, however one piece absolutely ruined us. It was this horrible 50-minute art movie called “Painter” by Paul McCarthy, and we lasted all of 10 minutes, MAYBE (although according to the girl at the front desk, that was quite a bit longer than most people). It is a grotesque piece and all I can really say about it is, “If the women could see me now, my boy, if the women could see me noooow! POP GOES THE WEASEL!!” (Nightmares. for. life.) That video is just the worst. I honestly don’t care what he was attempting. I’d link you to it, but why torture you? 

teepee3Even though we only spent about 15 hours in Marfa, we really enjoyed every moment we had there. We enjoyed very strange but unique experiences, and we even had a stereotypical moment where, in the middle of “downtown” Marfa, a lone tumbleweed rolled slowly across the road in front of us. We were so tickled by this that I immediately pulled over so Zack could capture some of that magic on his phone. Little did we know that the rest of our trip contained even more magic (and tumbleweeds). I wasn’t sure I’d really connect with Marfa, but it truly is a charming little place and most importantly I connected with Caitlin there. We’d definitely like to go sooner than later, but ideally in the Spring or Summer next time. 

Come back Wednesday for the rest of our trip including dodging tumbleweeds, a hike and a star party.


2 Responses to “Going to the desert, Part 1: Marfa, Texas”

  1. tapeparade January 13, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    OK wow what a cool place! It looks like you guys had an awesome time and I so love the pictures of you imitating the art hahaha. Also so sweet about bonding in a tent – you guys are the cutest. XX

    • Caitlin January 13, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

      Aww thanks so much!! Wait until you see our photos from the hike on day 2 – it was seriously magical:)

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