abk Travel: Hot Dogs and Horses

If you ever come to my house at The End of the Earth, Mississippi, you will know when you have arrived. Your GPS will look like you are driving through water. If you keep going straight, you will drive into a swamp. Unless you hit a tree first, of course. If you turn right, you have about four seconds until you…

Given the location, it’s likely been a long voyage for you to get there. So just look left and exhale. Freedom and creativity rule the roost. You’ll feel it as soon as you step out of the car. You have arrived.

Getting to Far West Texas is roughly the same. At an absolute minimum, it’s a three hour drive from anywhere. For my buddy and abk supporter, Kris, and me, two days. TWO DAYS. But anything but khakis ®️ turned four last Saturday, so an epic abk adventure was in order.

Starting from my house at roughly sea level, we eventually reached almost 8,000 feet on an off-road trail in Big Bend National Park. In Marfa, we experienced the largest hail storm I have ever seen, and twelve hours later it was 104 degrees just a couple hours south. It’s a scruffy, vast terrain, and if you find yourself there, it is not by accident. At our campground, I could have hit a pitching wedge into Mexico, and I thought about it, but then I thought better of it.

Numerous folks have asked me, Why Far West Texas? They might as well be asking, Why coastal Mississippi? Why this specific location? Why to any of the crazy places I have visited? The lazy answer is, why not. The more thoughtful answer is creativity, variety, and freedom.

Marfa, Texas is this tiny town, nay intersection, in the middle of freaking nowhere. Roughly 2,000 people live there. It is close to nothing. But somehow, there is this unbelievable international art presence and creative vibe all over town.

I mean, I get it. I’m sure Mississippi is not at the top of any creativity lists, but when I step outside my front door, that feeling I feel begs to differ. I’ve felt it in Cody, Wyoming; Hurricane, Utah; Ocean Springs, Mississippi; and now Marfa, Texas (among others).

Roughly two hours south, Big Bend National Park looms large along the Mexico border. It’s not necessarily a creative place, but it reeks of freedom and variety. Nobody says you can’t do this, you can’t do that, mainly because for hours on end you may not see another human being. Roadrunners? Yes. Mountains? Yes. Desert? Yes. Humans? Maybe not.

The biggest drama that we encountered along the trip was the wildly unpredictable weather. Otherwise, no soap operas. No complications. Just nature. On the way home, my buddy, Kris, and I discussed the coolest moments that happened (or didn’t happen). I was hoping to get a cool tattoo in Marfa involving a skull, a cowboy hat, and golf clubs, but they couldn’t fit me in. We got rained out trying to play golf in Austin with my buddy Marcus on the way home.

But of the things that did happen, our Top 5 Moments were unanimous. In reverse order:

1. The food and drink at local Marfa joint Al Campo. The lemon chicken over sweet potato mash was banging.

2. Sunset in the desert.

3. Talking with the locals at the golf course during the hailstorm. They were a little unsure of us Voodoo foreigners at first, but they ended up buying us each a beer.

4. Grilling out hot dogs at the camp site while wild horses grazed close by.

5. Stargazing and planet gazing under the vast, dark, unpolluted West Texas skies, and then having a coyote come visit just before heading to bed.

Nothing fancy. Just life.

So why West Texas? Why this? Why that? Surely, after 4 years and 202 articles, it has become crystal clear.

Have a great week.-Benj

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