West Texas Wanderings

By Patti Parish-Kaminski, Publisher

Posting up at The Hotel Paisano – West Texas haven for the stars – at least in the 1950s.

A couple of summers ago, Lisa Ann and I ran away from home.  Granted, we didn’t realize at the time that was our intention, but as circumstances allowed, that’s precisely what happened.

Lisa Ann had to go to San Antonio on business, so naturally I tagged along, which constituted a stay at Hotel Emma.  Our two-night stay extended to the point I was both sending and receiving correspondence as I promptly changed our mailing addresses.  But that’s another story entirely.

While living a life on the run, we were shopping in a book store.  Lisa Ann knows I cannot pass up a book store, and she is gracious with the obligation.  From separate areas of the establishment, we met up, and we both had books in our hands about the same subject:  Marfa, Texas.

“Marfa is a must-see,” I declared.  “Clearly Jesus wants us to go there.”

Our lives got back to the busy, mundane routine, and our West Texas wanderings got put on hold.  That is until I saw a tv show about, you guessed it, Marfa.

“We’re going,” I told her. “Pick a date.”

With date and reservations in tow, we hitched up with our accoutrements and did what pioneers have done for years:  headed West.  Once we got past Junction on I-10, things got sketchy – no life to speak of.  No water, no houses, no live animals, not even any tumbleweeds.  Road kill, unfortunately, appeared to be plentiful.  For a minute, I thought I was in New Mexico.

Not to be deterred, we forged ahead for nearly seven hours completely content.  We tend to be able to entertain ourselves.  Not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse.

We hit Alpine and took in it’s highlight:  Sul Ross University.  Founded in 1917, it’s a lovely campus in the middle of, literally, nowhere.

Exploring West Texas wildlife: Lisa Ann and I at Marathon’s Gage Hotel in The White Buffalo Bar.

“Next stop, Marfa and The Hotel Paisano,” I declared.  Despite the name meaning “peasant,” we chose our accommodations based on the fact that the stars of “Giant” stayed there while shooting the epic film.  If it was good enough for Rock, Elizabeth and James, it was good enough for us.  And of course, I asked for an upgrade upon arrival, which landed us in The Rock Hudson Suite, complete with wet bar, study, closets galore, a kitchen and a 1000’ rooftop terrace.  Living like Rock didn’t suck.

The sole downside to The Paisano was their lack of an elevator.  Now there is a sign that says, “Coming Soon,” but after spending some time in far West Texas, I have doubts that much is “coming soon.”  We were forced to climb on the daily two sets of stairs – wide and long – to reach our suite, all while lugging our things we us.  Apparently, bellmen are scarce in West Texas.  And in case you’re wondering, we do not travel light.  On my second climb, dizzy, disoriented and out of breath, I swore Jesus was coming for me.

We explored both Marfa and Marathon – and all points in between.  Our takeaways from our little excursion are as follows:

  1. Featuring cool nights and mild, sunny days, the West Texas weather is gorgeous albeit extremely dry and dusty.
  2. The median price of a t-shirt in West Texas is $90. And that’s a short sleeve one.
  3. There’s no shopping. In other words, Prada is NOT really a store out there.
  4. The Rock Hudson Suite at The Hotel Paisano “rocks!”
  5. It’s a proven fact that we can entertain each other for six hours straight.
  6. We don’t need to go back.

And then there’s Lisa Ann’s primary takeaway: “You didn’t get on my nerves!”  Imagine that.  Guess I’ll have to try harder.  See y’all next week – on the porch!

Patti Parish-Kaminski

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