For those of you who have already read it (or just don't want to go back in time...I getcha), let me give you a quick recap...First, you should know that Haime is a bit of an "astronomy nut" (yes, he is other kinds of nuts too but that's for another blog...). Second, Marfa is famous for it's "mystery lights." I first saw the lights about 20 years ago and was fascinated by them. Haime has never seen them; and third, Haime is also fascinated with the thought of "extraterrestrials" (yep, another sample of his "nuttiness"...) so, combine "mystery lights" and "extraterrestrials" and POW! perfect birthday present. Sadly, after driving about six and a half hours into the middle of west Texas, we found ourselves in the middle of fog, mist, clouds and occasional rain...and NO MYSTERY LIGHTS. We combined the "mystery lights" with a visit to the McDonald Observatory for one of their "star parties." Unfortunately, the rainy, cloudy weather followed us and we were unable to see anything through the telescopes...BUST!
Well, we decided to try again. This time we arranged to meet our friends, Jim and Kathy, to do another search for the lights and the stars. (Haime was actually hoping to have a "close encounter with the mothership"...wooOOOOooo). Kathy and I were much more methodical about our date planning for this trip. We looked for a springtime "new moon phase" and decided on the last week of April. So, we made reservations for lodging and bought our "star party" tickets and we were set.
Haime and I drove to Marfa...this is no small feat! For those of you not familiar with the drive to and through west Texas, let me try to describe it...its........LONG!!! There are gazillions of opportunities to look at the wonders of nature; the towns (most of which you don't have to slow down to go through), are about 100 miles apart; the speed limit is 75 mph for most of the drive, since there are no towns, and few other cars/people with whom you may crash. However, it is a LONG drive, oops, I just said that, didn't I? Anyway, we made it. In Marfa, Haime and I love to stay at the Paisano hotel. It was built in June of 1929, (terrible timing if you think about what happened four months later...look it up). The architecture and the decor are stunning. Their restaurant and bar are definite bonuses!
Kathy and Jim were coming from a business trip in New Mexico and arrived in Fort Davis a couple of days before us. They drive a MONSTER RV and tow a "scooter" (I use quotations here because their "scooter" is actually a "rice rocket" that is capable of exceeding the speed of sound!). ANYWAY, after we checked into our hotel, we drove to the Indian Lodge State Park, outside Fort Davis, to bring them back to Marfa for dinner, drinks and "mystery light" hunting. "In Real Life", they live about 25 miles for us but we don't see them nearly as often as we'd like. We all joked about having to travel over 350 miles from home to spend time with each other...sad. So after dinner, we went out to the "Mystery Light Viewing Park" (when I was there 20 years ago, you just pulled off the side to the road and stood in a field...). Lo and Behold, we all saw the lights. They were much more distant than my previous experience but there were more people so maybe they were scared off by the crowd...who knows? Anyway, Haime saw the lights, so scratch another thing from the list.
The next day, Haime and Jim decided to play golf, Tin Cup style! If you've not seen the movie Tin Cup with Kevin Costner, you must do so to really understand this reference. We had driven by the course the night before and spotted an antelope on one of the fair-ways...they guys had a great time!
While they were on the links, Kathy and I decided to explore Marfa. If you read the "travel" tourism sites etc, you might read things like "Marfa, the new Austin," or "Marfa, a mecca for the arts," or some other equally alluring advertisement. Well, after walking through the ENTIRE town, let me assure you this...I've been to Austin, I have worked and played in Austin, I know Austin, and Marfa is NO Austin. Now, to be fair, we were there on a Monday, of course, I thought Monday was pretty universally known as the first day of the "work week." Of course, I didn't take into account that Marfa is the home of the "mystery lights" so maybe the laws of this known universe don't apply to Marfa. Most of the shops/galleries/studios we tried to visit gave their hours as Wednesday through Saturday, noon to five. At least my bank account was happy with these odd hours.
So, since buying and admiring art wasn't in the cards for us, we decided to take a short drive out of town to see the "Marfa Maid" dairy and goat cheese company. We followed the directions given by a couple of locals and were assured that the proprietors were really nice people. Well, we turned onto the "dirt road" off of "Antelope Hills" and started looking for goats and hoping for a sign...we got several signs...not any of them warm and welcoming, in our opinion. The first one, we were on a DIRT road. Now, I'm really not a snob, nor am I a germaphobe, however, I kept thinking about the whirlwind of dirt we were driving through and looking at the "houses" we were passing and wondering about what "all natural ingredients" were really in the "all natural" goat cheese. The next sign was the "tumbleweed Easter Bunny" pictured here. I'll grant you that it is unique, some might say clever, BUT, given its juxtaposition with the surroundings, we took it as a sign that clearly read: "keep your eyes and ears open!" The final sign, whose meaning we heard loud and clear was the property where we found the goats. It resembled more of a commune than anything else. There seemed to be a "main house" with several "auxiliary houses" surrounding it; there were overgrown "vegetable" beds, goats, a couple of cows, an alpaca (or was it a llama?) that seemed to be purposefully teasing the horses across the road, and no sign of a "cheese-making" facility. OH, they had a bunny too. Theirs, however was a large stuffed bunny that they had tied around the neck and hung loosely to a fence post---CREEPY! We decided that we really didn't need to see what "natural ingredients" they put into their cheese and decided to go find a liquor store/bar instead...good call, I think!
After our liquor run, we went out to the course to collect the guys and sipped an adult beverage while they finished. We drove back to the state park and Haime and I checked into the lodge. Later that night, after a yummy dinner at a "Bar and Bistro" in Fort Davis, we had a successful star party, even though it was FREEZING!
The most fun part of the trip was getting to reconnect and visit with our friends. It's funny too how much faster time seems to go when you are with people you love and the trip back home also seemed to go so much faster, partly because Haime and I talked about our time spent with them. Thanks Kathy and Jim, and of course, it must be shouted: BTHO Arkansas! WHOOP!!! (Did I mention that they are big fans of the piggies?)