Carrie-Anne and I both grew up in North Texas, lived for nine years in the Hill Country of Central Texas, and spent ten years in the Panhandle. We’ve done just about everything there is to do in Texas. We’ve lived in the big cities and the tiny towns. We’ve spent time doing some of the coolest things in the neatest places from Dalhart to Brownsville and Texarkana to Midland, from the Gulf Coast to the Piney Woods to Palo Duro Canyon. Somehow, though, we have managed to live our lives as proud Texans and have never visited the Big Bend. Until now.

Like most things we do, this happened at the last second. Carrie-Anne booked the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa Monday morning while I was in my church staff meeting, telling my co-workers it looked like we were staying in town for the Break. By Monday night, we were eating a wonderful Mexican food dinner at Angel’s and heading out to the shoulder of Highway 90 on the east side of town in search of the fabled Marfa Mystery Lights.

We didn’t see them.















We spent all day Tuesday in quirky Marfa, taking in the art scene at most of the galleries scattered all over town, and even some of the strange outdoor art installations you can find here and there. We climbed the old rickety wooden stairs to the very top of the historic Presidio County courthouse and took lots of pictures of old hotels and the water tower. Then we hoofed it over to Alpine for the Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross University. From there it was to Fort Davis where we hiked all over the restorations and ruins of that pre-Civil War era army base in the shadows of the Davis Mountains. We ended our first full day by taking in the Karaoke at Planet Marfa, a wonderfully weird bar and grill a few blocks from our hotel. We were thoroughly entertained by one guy named Dustin who thought he was Garth Brooks and a filming crew from London who were in Marfa doing a documentary about something and kept singing British Punk and the Beatles.












On Wednesday, we got up early and drove to Big Bend. Wow. When you’ve only got one day at the largest national park in the U.S., we did it right. The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive wound up and down and around the most beautiful vistas highlighting the grandeur of the Big Bend, from the park entrance all the way to the mouth of the massive Santa Elena Canyon. You get an idea of the scale of the canyon by noticing Carrie-Anne on the trail in the lower right hand part of this picture. And, yes, I had to climb over the safety rail at one point to take a picture on the edge of a ledge about 70-feet above the river.








We hiked way up and then way down the rim of the canyon, engaging fellow Texas Rangers fans who were sporting World Series gear and exchanging pleasantries with some students and alumni from Fort Worth Paschall High School, where Carrie-Anne graduated a few years ago. Then we drove over to the Big Bend State Park for a three-hour canoeing trip down the Rio Grande through Dark Canyon. Due to the 20-year drought and the rapidly decreasing river levels, I think we did as much pushing and pulling as rowing. But it was a beautiful and mostly relaxing trip through some of the most breathtakingly glorious scenes I’ve ever encountered in our Lone Star State.















Most people don’t realize that the world-famous, world’s smallest Prada store, Prada Marfa, is not really in Marfa. It’s a half-hour drive away on the western outskirts of a little town called Valentine. So that’s what we did first thing Thursday morning–an hour-long round-trip drive to take some pictures in front of a disorienting art installation, an exclusive luxury brand store in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere. So weird. And kinda cool. We took pictures with a couple from Vancouver who have been traveling the U.S. in their camper since October. They take pictures of their adventures and their kids post them under Boomers Gone Wild. The high heeled shoes and purses in the store are genuine articles from Prada’s 2005 line, the year the Prada Marfa store went up. There is also a can of glass cleaner on the back windowsill that somebody should have been using.






We saw a couple more museums in Marfa Thursday, including the Ballroom Marfa which is featuring an exhibit by Guadalupe Maravilla, who came to the U.S. border in the 1980s in the first wave of unaccompanied and undocumented children to show up in Texas as a result of the Salvadoran Civil War. His bus, complete with grasshopper legs, giant gongs, stock pots, statues, and cooking utensils, tells the story of his hard life. Fascinating. And really strange.






A little more sightseeing and shopping in Alpine on the way home–three books for me, one silver ring for C-A–and our Marfa/Big Bend Spring Break is in the books. Yes, we do plan to return to the area soon, maybe even next Spring Break. We want to spend another day or two in Big Bend and we are determined to see those blasted Marfa Lights. Our canoe guide told us those lights appear 16% of the time. He claims he’s been there more than 90-times and he’s personally seen them twice. He told us about those two times. He described in detail what he saw. We want to see it, too. So, here’s the heads-up for our family and our co-workers. I’m giving you a year’s notice instead of a two-minute warning. We’re going back to Big Bend for Spring Break 2025.