Marfa - Day 3 and Roadtripping

Somewhere in west Texas

Somewhere in west Texas

I left Marfa about 1:00pm. It’s a 6 ½ hour drive across west Texas back to Austin, and not a Starbucks to be seen. I was not looking forward to the drive. The landscapes were beautiful, if desolate, I drove 100mph in some spots, and I hit an exploding swarm of bees. But that’s not enough.

I hadn’t recovered from the drive to Marfa and I was driving back. I was exhausted and this was not fun. Sometimes the journey can overwhelm the destination.

During the drive I had time to think about my priorities for this sabbatical. Is it to travel? Write? Is this year only a temporary escape from cube life? Or can I use it to launch a work life outside the cube?

I remember telling a friend about my sabbatical, and saying explicitly, “I want to travel, but I don’t want to go from location to location, trying to see as many places as I can. I’d be exhausted.” True.

Initially, I'd thought about living in different places for 3-4 months each. It was more Eat, Pray, Love than the Bliss Tour. Writing in Paris would be awesome, right? And writing on the beach? Maybe I could write in Australia, or one of those mountainous states in the US?

Notice something about these? I’m writing. I always saw myself writing no matter where I was. After countless mornings of getting up at 5:30am to write before work, and getting that first draft ready a few weeks ago, I want writing to be my top priority. I want to finish this novel by the end of the month. Then start another one. And throw in some short stories too.

So, I’m changing again. It’s my prerogative. This is all trial and error. I’m pushing my traveling back to at least the fall, except for my family reunion. I want, need to get more writing under my belt before I hit the trail. Those locations will be there even if I go back to cube life. But this time I have to write won’t last forever.

Marfa - Day 1

I’m here in Marfa, TX. To get here you drive to the middle of nowhere then hang a left. Also, it’s hot. Then cold, and then hot again.

Yesterday, I got up at 5:30am, intending to take off at 7:00am. I didn’t leave until almost 8:00am, which put me in the middle of Austin rush hour traffic. I decided not to stress so I told myself “It’s the journey not the destination.”

I usually hate this saying because when you’ve payed for a plane ticket to and lodging in a specific place, it kind of is about the destination. But I made an exception and I kept that attitude for the first three hours of the journey. Then I was over it.

When I saw the windmill giants on top of what-I’m-going-to-call mountains, I thought about stopping and taking photos. Then I passed them going 90, listening to Fool Moon to keep me awake. I’d have a twinge of regret as I passed a photogenic rest stop or “picnic area” (Define “picnic”?), then the twinge was gone as I sped toward my destination.

The bar at Hotel Paisano - Maybe james dean drank here

The bar at Hotel Paisano - Maybe james dean drank here

Marfa is famous for being the location for the movie Giant back in the 50s (I had dinner at the Hotel Paisano, which served as the headquarters for cast and crew during the filming). More recently, No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood were filmed in Marfa. I have seen none of these movies.

Marfa is also known as an artists’ colony with lots of small galleries and art installations (although apparently I’m not supposed to call the “i-word”). Today I’m headed to Prada Marfa, a not-installation on the outskirts of town.

Marfa is also well-known – at least among travel writers – because of the place I’m staying. El Cosmico, with its trailers, teepees, hip trailers, and solitary yurt, is a hipster destination in its own right.

Safari Tent 1 - Where I stayed my first night

Safari Tent 1 - Where I stayed my first night

Last night, I stayed in a safari tent – a comfortable bed and a couple of chairs. (I missed reserving a teepee by hours, because I’m not very decisive.) Tonight I move to one of the trailers. I’m really not one for camping and shared facilities, and in the trailer I will have my own toilet. I am happy.