Marfa, TX [The Other Oasis in the Desert]

Last weekend, I went on a trip to Marfa, Texas with a friend from work, Josh.Marfa, TX. Approved Water System

Where is Marfa? Well, it’s nowhere, really. By nowhere, I mean out in the dry brush land of western Texas. By nowhere, I mean it is a place that shouldn’t exist, yet does, somehow. Kind of like Neverland. Why shouldn’t it exist? Well, it shouldn’t exist for all of the same reasons that Austin shouldn’t exist, combined with the fact that it’s in western Texas, and the population is a slim 2000 people. One would think from the roadsigns and the newspapers that the only thing the city has to offer the world is its apparently amazing and highly praised water system. I guess if you live in a desert, that becomes notable.
This raises the question – why did we go? Simple. It was far away. It was an adventure. It was Marfa’s “city”-wide open-house. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • A temporary doubling of the city’s population size
  • Free entrance to Marfa’s contemporary art museum.
    • Which is actually an old military base that was bought by some dude & converted into an art museum.
    • It has lots of boxes

Box Row

    • and neon lights.


  • Speakers talking about art & design
  • Free dinner and breakfast funded by the Chinati foundation. Hosted on the street.
  • Hundreds of people wearing shirts that look like they say “Chianti”
  • An inexplicable urge to drink a glass of Chianti
  • A free Dandy Warhol concert.
  • Coffee shop/bookstore/LP store called The Brown Recluse.
  • Lots of deadly plants and insects
  • A Hungarian dictionary, bought at The Book Shed.

Overall, it was a pretty fun and amazingly random trip. We met up with Josh’s friends from Phoenix very late on Friday night, or better, Sunday morning at a rather sketchy convenient store. At this point, we were told that the land we were going to camp on was not so much a person’s yard, but rather a junk yard. We were instructed to look for cardboard so that we weren’t sleeping directly on glass shards. Josh and I quickly decided that pitching a tent in glass shards in a desert junkyard at 2:00am wasn’t going to happen, and opted for the comfort of my car.

Junkyard Campground

Mickey and Mark, however, opted for the Junkyard. This is the junkyard.

The next day was spent wandering Marfa, looking at boxes and neon lights, and albums containing drawings of naked men chasing a goose and clusters of dogs. The one with the dogs was titled “Hungarian Dog Wrestler”. We decided it would be fun to look up how to say “Dog Wrestler” in our newly purchased Hungarian Dictionary.

Wrestler was not in the dictionary. Neither was Fighter. However, right before the F’s, they did have the translation for “Enema Bag”. We decided that this, of course, is one of the most important phrases in the Hungarian language, and is probably one of the first things you will need to know upon entering the country. We quickly memorized it and Mickey even began spreading the knowledge to groups of strangers who were also checking out boxes and neon lights.

The night was spent at the open-house dinner. It was pretty good. Lights strung between the old-west-facade buildings, a Mariachi band, the works. I even bumped into a woman who went to RIT. I did, after all, wear my RIT shirt that day for precisely the purpose of advertising to other alumni or students. We ended up talking to her friend the next morning at breakfast for nearly a half hour.

Riding back was interesting if not just for the amazing landscapes. We also got to stop in a small town called Ozona for a picnic. The most surreal part of the trip kind of reminded me of fall back home. Bright orange leafs were blowing across the road and fluttering in abundance as car’s would rush down the 75mph two-lane highway. However, there were no trees anywhere in sight to produce these leaves, and they were often flying on their own. They were, in fact, butterflies. Lots & lots of butterflies, flying around the highway. My grill, by the end of the ride back, was covered in poor butterflies.

Austin may be my Oasis in the Desert. Marfa, however, is my second oasis – 7 hours away.

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One response to “Marfa, TX [The Other Oasis in the Desert]”

  1. Zoe Tennesen Avatar
    Zoe Tennesen

    This article made me laugh audibly. I’ve been dying to go to Marfa after hearing about it from some friends. Your post convinced me that this must be moved up to place # 67 on my bucket last (right after “ride in a marsupial’s pouch – weee!” but definitely still before “invent a Ben and Jerry’s flavor and have it accepted into the hall of fame [they totally rejected my peanut butter and bacon, but I have another trick up my sleeve – jelly!]) Anyhoot, thanks for the info and the oh-so-entertaining descriptions! I can’t wait for my journey there.

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