West Texas Roadtrippin'

We recently had the itch to drive out West, and in just one week, we were able to throw together an itinerary, book some rooms, and take an extra day off of work to make the whole plan happen. We couldn't have been happier with our unexpected adventure!
All the legends are true- West Texas is larger than life and what you dream of when you think of the old Texas you see in movies. Colorful people and wide open spaces make for a really one-of-a-kind destination. 
The drive from Austin wasn't all that bad on a Friday afternoon, and we enjoyed a memorable drive through a wild thunderstorm. The lightning turned the sky an electric violet color and rustled up all of the game; we came across a 6 point buck on the roadside just before driving into Alpine for the night. When we arrived at the Historic Holland Hotel, we unpacked in our room and then ventured back down to find a seat in the restaurant. It was a cozy, rainy night and the people watching was the perfect  kind of low-key activity to close out a long work week. The staff was friendly and gave us tips for our Big Bend visit as we exchanged stories of Austin living. 
 Our stay was brief but enjoyable, and after an early and delicious breakfast at the hotel we started our drive into Big Bend National Park. We only passed a few cars on the desolate drive and we were enthralled with the view as the mountains got closer. 

After paying the entrance fee and checking out the goods at the ranger station, we took our first hike on the Lost Mine Trail. The weather was perfect for hiking with highs in the low seventies and an overcast sky that kept us cool. I can't imagine a better time of year to visit.

Wildflowers were in full bloom- prickly pear, ocotillo, blue bonnet, huisache, sage and more, all adding an even more beautiful draw to the park and a much more colorful draw to the road trip there and back. Mark your calendars right now- you have to visit next spring! 

Much quieter than the Lost Mine Trail was the hike out to Balanced Rock. We only saw two other families in the afternoon. We brought simple picnic meals with us, which I highly recommend doing for the entire car trip. 

Next time, we look forward to visiting Terlingua and the hot springs, but with only a day trip, we weren't able to reach the far reaches of the park near the Mexican border. 

We headed back into Marathon, running into a few roadrunners on the way, stopping to take a few photos of the bluebonnets, and then we checked into The Gage Hotel. The little town is really only the hotel, a few quaint shops and galleries, and a handful of quiet homes. We enjoyed walking everywhere we wanted to go, and were anxious to get settled into our spacious room in the Captain Shephard House. 
We cooled off in the pool, which is an awesome treat after a day of hiking, and explored the grounds and gardens. 

Matt posed (goofy as usual) with the infamous White Buffalo before we chowed down on Texas sized portions at dinner. We took another evening walk before settling down in the backyard of the carriage house with a cup of coffee to star gaze. Marathon is rated one of the best places to see stars because of the low-level of light pollution. 
It's also just about one of the most peaceful places we have ever stayed. 

After a restful night, a tasty breakfast of biscuit, burritos and coffee at Marathon Coffee, and a visit to a few galleries, we packed our bags and hit the dusty trail to our next stop. But, not before meeting a handful of hardy but friendly West Texans that make the little desert oasis as unique as it is. I'm already anxious for our next trip to Big Bend and the lovely Gage Hotel. 

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