For years I’ve wanted to visit Marfa — even before we moved to Texas. As a grad student in Art History, I studied Donald Judd and Carl Andre, and was pretty fascinated with the large sculpture installations around Chicago, so being able to see similar works in a totally different environment was on my list. Knowing we probably wouldn’t be back to Texas anytime soon, this was my chance!
Marfa is about 60 miles west of Marathon, and again, it’s a beautiful drive. There isn’t anywhere in Marathon to get propane, so we filled up in Alphine (halfway between Marathon and Marfa) at West Texas Gas. It’s right on the main road, so don’t forget to fill up.
We stayed at the Tumble In, a few miles past the Marfa Lights viewing building, just look for the neon sign on the side of the road right before town. We were the only visitors most of the time — just us and another Airstream that seemed to be stored there. The park is new but bare bones — most of the 11 sites having water, sewer and electric, and a mix of pull-through ($29) and back-in spots ($25). They have a self check-in trailer to drop your payment and the owner’s phone number is listed inside if you need anything, but basically you’re on your own here to watch the sunrise and set.
Our first day here was spent relaxing and checking out the town — and what we quickly realized is most everything is closed on Mondays. It’s almost like the town is seasonal! Very few restaurants were open, and the bars and shops were closed as well.
Luckily, the laundromat was open! The Tumbleweed Laundry is the only modern laundry you’ll find for about 100 miles in either direction. It’s a coin operated place with plenty of machines and is connected to a coffee stop, Frama. For less than $10, you can do two very large loads and a coffee. It was neither the best laundromat or coffee, but I was happy to have both.
The Pizza Foundation was also open, and although we weren’t really in the mood for pizza, this was a homerun. It’s in an old gas station, has a few tables and an outside area with picnic tables. You can get a pie, a half-pie or a slice of thin, NY style pizza with a great choice of toppings. There’s a cooler of beer and a few types of wine, but you can bring your own for a $5 corkage fee. Even on a sleepy Monday night, we had to wait about 30 minutes for our pizza — they seem to have a massive delivery business.
The other highlight of our day was finding The Get Go grocery store. I can NOT emphasize how amazing this place is given the small population of Marfa combined with the fact that you’re in the middle of nowhere. I wish I lived here just so I could go to this store! Maybe Im a little overenthusiastic because I’ve had to deal with crappy stores for a while, but The Get Go is the best of Whole Foods/Central Market/a good wine store/Farmer’s Market all in a tiny building with an incredibly friendly staff. They have mostly organic and natural goods in all categories (Seventh Generation paper goods, Amy’s mac and cheese and Organic milk), plus local farm meats and vegetables. Need Scharrfen Berger chocolate? They have 4 kinds. How about fresh baked bread? Is a baguette ok? What about kale chips? Done!
Coming up: Marfa Day #2, The Chinati Foundation.