Day 18: March 22, Van Horn to Marfa

We failed to account for the fact that we had just crossed into the Central time zone and when our alarm went off in the morning in Van Horn it was pitch black outside. We’re talking no hint of sun. So we snoozed for a bit before finally deciding we would pack up camp and get a cup of coffee before we hit the road. It turned out that our dreamboat KOA campground had a full service cafe just steps from our tent site. We hadn’t intended on getting a full breakfast but since it was still dark out and we couldn’t go anywhere, we figured why not. We ended up getting an absolute monster of a breakfast: giant pancakes, eggs, bacon, and lots of coffee. The husband-wife team who ran the cafe were super sweet and very excited about our trip. With breakfast crushed and the sun above the horizon, we hit the road for Marfa. There are no services at all between Van Horn and Marfa so we packed a ton of water and some snacks. The snacks turned out to be totally unnecessary since our huge breakfast powered us all the way there.

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There is one town between Van Horn and Marfa called Valentine. All its businesses are now shuttered though.

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An art installation called Prada Marfa is about 35 miles away.



The ride was mostly pleasant except for the unbelievably poorly paved roads for the last 3o or so miles. I never thought much about pavement quality until this trip — now it’s all I think about. We had heard that Marfa was an anomaly in west Texas: a cool, artsy little town, full of great restaurants and galleries. Having stopped only once, briefly, on the 75 mile ride there, we were both ready to get out of the saddle once we got to town. The first thing we saw when we rolled in was a sign that said “Planet Marfa Beer Garden, OPEN!” Simultaneously, Sophie and I jammed on our brakes and headed for the entrance. We found an awesome courtyard with a bar in the middle full of cool art of all kinds. We ordered some local beers, a plate of nachos, and set up shop, happy as a couple clams. After that we wandered the town a bit, finding a bunch of cool spots including a pizza place/contemporary art gallery. We had some of the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life and then wandered into the back to check out the art. Super weird and awesome.

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A local art gallery

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Advice column in the local rag

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Eventually we went and found our campsite for the night. It was a spot called El Cosmico where you can rent furnished RVs/Airstreams, tepees or tents or bring your own. I am reasonably certain that 80% of the people in this place were from Brooklyn, specifically Williamsburg. It was that kind of joint. I totally loved it. We set up camp, showered, and headed out to check out the nightlife in Marfa.

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Our campsite at El Cosmico

We hit a couple bars, saw a local cowboy band play, then headed to Restaurant Cochineal where I had made reservations for dinner. When I called the day before, the only reservations they had available for 2 people was at 9pm. I couldn’t believe it but I took it as a sign that it was going to be a good meal. Turned out I was right, it was awesome. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. Ever. After dinner we decided to head back to camp rather than explore late night Marfa since we had 110 miles planned for the next day. If only we had known…

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A local bar. Hipsters abound.