Saturday, February 26, 2011
6.2/26/2011 – The Mystery of Marfa and Cowboy Poetry
In the week or so since I last posted, I’ve overnighted at the best state park, so far – Picacho Peak State Park, about 40 miles west of Tucson. Also had a great hike there that, unfortunately, left Lucy Lou with cut paw pads from the sharp rocks (she is recovering). I spent one very pleasant night driveway surfing in Tucson with someone I’ve not seen since high school (the “miracle” of Facebook). I blasted through the eastern portion of southern Arizona and spent two days and one night blowing through a corner of New Mexico. Last night, I stayed in Van Horn, Texas.
I found the interstate (I-10) outside of Joshua Tree and didn’t leave it until today. In all, the interstate allowed me to put about 600 miles behind me and also lulled me into a state of convenience and ease that was hard to leave. I’m glad I put a goodly amount of miles behind me – I felt like I was behind schedule. Yet, I’m happy to be quit of the interstate for now and thank my friend Mark for reminding me that the interstate is not my destination on this journey.
This morning, I cut myself free and meandered down Highway 90, through ranching country, destination Alpine, TX. I passed the McDonald Observatory and gave thanks for Star Date. Along the way on this trip, I've passed numerous cattle farms with the animals stuffed into cramped and smelly quarters. On one, I estimated 3,000 or more cows! It made me seriously reconsider eating beef. Today, I passed mile after mile of ranchland (and I knew they were ranches because they all had their signs and brands displayed). Here, the cattle were spread out, naturally grazing. And the land went on for as far as the eye could see.
I’m deep in the heart of West Texas. Deep in cattle country (passed a pickup with the license plate, “beef.”) It’s the place of pick-up trucks with dogs riding shotgun or in the back, cowboy hats and boots and that deep Texan drawl. It’s also the place for the annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering which just happens to be going on this weekend in Alpine, TX. I’ve arrived at the tail end of activities but a few cowboy poets are staying in this RV park. Meeting them is on my agenda for tomorrow.
On the way to Alpine, I passed through Marfa—an odd little outpost that appears to be an arts community. The classic Texas film, “Giant,” was filmed here (if you’ve not seen Giant, I highly suggest it – Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean) as well as the Coen brothers’ film, “No Country For Old Men” (which puts it even higher on my must-see list). Marfa is also known for the mysterious Marfa Lights (read about them here).
Marfa will be on my map from here to perpetuity because I was serenaded all along the drive from Van Horn to Alpine by the best public radio programming I’ve ever experienced. Bar none. Hands down. KRTS 93.5 FM. According to their website, I listened to the following programs (which may only occur on Saturday and, yes, you can stream them):
10-11am Folk Music
11-12pm World Music
12-1pm The Spark, with Tift Merritt
1-3pm Afternoon Music
It was the best combination of music I've heard in a long time and it wasn’t just the songs themselves, but someone put effort into transitions – they were beautiful. I only knew three of the songs I heard – I presume the station is tied into the Austin music scene. I also see on their website that they were recently awarded the public radio contract for the Midland/Odessa area. As a former resident of Midland (yes, it’s true, a lifetime ago), I can say with some certainty that this station will be a breath of fresh, cool air in that dry and dusty place.
More soon about conversations with folks, staying down the road from where Congresswoman Gabrille Gifford and others were shot (literally, down the road), southern Arizona wanting to secede--becoming Baja Arizona—Senate Bill 1070 and further like-activity is the straw breaking the camel’s back, parking lot surfing in Walmart parking lots, high school football in Texas and more! Also, look for a photo slideshow to appear soon.
And, finally, for my friends in Olympia and everywhere else it seems. I’m sorry to hear of your wintery weather. Russ (house-sitter) sent me a picture of my house in snow. Truly, it was the weather that kept me from turning back on that dark day in Fresno, CA. It was 77 degrees today here and the dogs and I, being true Northwesterners, thought it far too hot and uncomfortable (and the pool isn’t even open!). They laughed at me when I asked about the pool...