We meet again, mes amis! Life has been moving at warp speed as we attempt to resettle in Texas, closing out our Houston home and moving (oh so gradually) into our Austin lake house. I took a time- out from the fun and games of relocating and drove to Colorado and back with a friend. We both are married to men who, though princes of guys, happen to focus more on the destination of a road trip than on the journey. We were justifiably giddy at the prospect of taking our time, exploring back roads and small towns, and looking for cafes along the way. And that is just what we did. If it said “antiques” or “homemade” or “scenic,” we jumped on it, with little concern for how far down the road we had gotten that day. We listened to two audio books (When Breath Becomes Air and Forty Rooms), pausing frequently for discussions in our Book Club Of Two. We listened to several podcast episodes from All The Books and The New York Times Book Review. We discussed our last meal and fantasized about what and when our next meal might be. It was slow. It was full of surprises. It was heavenly. I want to do it again.
If you have ever driven across Texas, you know that it can be a glimpse into eternity. You can’t rush these things. You just keep driving, and at some point the landscape changes, offering a taste of bigger things to come.
Neither of us had ever heard of Fort Lancaster, but who were we to pass up a good fort?
We learned that the fort was established in 1855 to protect military supplies, commercial shipments, and immigrants (what- no wall?) moving along the San Antonio-El Paso Road. The ruins of 29 buildings still stand on this plot of desolate but beautiful land. A chilly wind was blowing as we walked among the ruins, and we imagined how cold those soldiers must have been in the winters, and how hot in the summers. This is not a landscape for sissies.
Our next stop was Marathon, a tiny west Texas town best-known for its proximity to Big Bend National Park and for its historic Gage Hotel.
Built in 1927, the Gage was a luxury hotel designed to accommodate the throngs of oil men who were expected to descend upon the town when the oil boom hit. Unfortunately, the oil boom never happened in Marathon, and the hotel eventually fell into neglect until rescued in 1978 and restored to its current state of loveliness.
Marathon is also home to The Famous Burro Bar.
And this cool sign.
That’s as far west as your wagon goes today, but stay tuned for more adventures (and more cactus) as we continue our trip into the wide open spaces of West Texas and beyond.