Today my kids are 9 and 11, since I wasn’t in the habit of blogging when 8 and 10 commenced, I wrote my thoughts down in a good old fashion journal.
At 8 years old you so aware, so curious, so thoughtful about the world around you. You are fast, you are strong, you love Harry Potter books and your cat, Goodman. You’ve made a best friend, your first beyond your sister and this family. You received your First Communion and asked so many great questions through out the whole process it made me consider religious education in a new light. You enjoy more space from your sister this year, you are putting more importance in your own voice instead of always deferring to her. I still get one of your amazing morning hugs every morning, you still like to be tucked in at night, you are still not very good at brushing your teeth – this might be a personality thing? You have some of the neatest hand writing I’ve ever seen on an 8 year old – boy or girl. I love you more.
At 11 years old some changes are definitely afoot. You are sleepy again, almost like a toddler, your emotions can overwhelm you and bring you way down or raise you way up – this scares you a bit and we are learning to ride these waves together. Your love of dance continues and you had your first year preforming with the competitive dance team, you LOVE performing. Ballet has replaced hip-hop as your preferred style of dance. You are clever, funny, sincere, innocent, beautiful and vulnerable. You let things in, you try things out, you remain one of the most fearless people I’ve ever encountered. I love you more too.
The past two weekends my family and I headed out West, some would say WAY out West. About 495 miles from Dallas lies the magical town of Alpine, Texas. Home to Sul Ross University, (which made a cameo in Richard Linklater’s amazing “Boyhood“), 30 miles from mountainous Fort Davis, 30 miles, in the other direction, is Marfa, my beloved Marfa, in another direction for less than 30 miles is Marathon, home of the Gage Hotel but more worth noting, 12 Gage Restaurant. Want more? Alpine is 70 miles from Big Bend National Park, 60 miles to Balmorhea, scuba diving in the desert anyone?? Basically it’s a hub bub of all kinds of goodness, here’s the 800 arrows take on it all.
Where we stayed:
Weekend 1: Air BnB – Casita Velveeta (listing no longer available on Air BnB), in case this place does reappear for rent I wouldn’t recommend it, even at $85.00/night, it felt like we over paid. Our friends stayed here using VRBO and it was lovely! If you don’t want to rent, I would recommend the Guest Lofts from the Holland Hotel, these can get very pricey but start at $125, and for a very simple stay I’d check out Antelope Lodge (starting at $85/night, it’s where I’d like to stay next go around).
Weekend 2: We stayed at the Alpine Rock House, which is a nice part of Alpine (a little farther from the train horns), you can easily walk to Plaine for your coffee or Blue Bell needs. it’s a beautiful house, great for a family but also wonderful if you were traveling with friends, lots of room to spread out. Last word on renting versus a hotel, the kitchen is great to have because while the restaurants left a lot to be desired the natural grocery store is amazing!
Where we ate:
Judy’s Bread and Breakfast is about the only breakfast game into unless you count McDonald’s, which I don’t. It’s not good (yes I even tried the cinnamon roll, I still won’t call it good), but the place and people are great and it’s one of those things that makes Alpine a nice place to live.
Guzzi Up – If you must go here don’t have pizza, I repeat do not have pizza, salads are pretty good. Also unless you love the latest tween rock videos (personally I’m a fan) you may wanted to be seated away from the TV’s, they are huge.
La Trattoria or La Trot (if you’re trying to be a local) – meh.
Reata – Really expensive meh.
Plaine – Sister to Frama in Marfa, this laundry mat, coffee, ice cream bar is awesome-ness.
Little Mexico Cafe – You are better off going hungry. Couldn’t find an online presence for Little Mexico Cafe, but it’s on Murphy Street. Do yourself a favor, keep on walking to Los Jalapenos which was closing as we pulled up but looks very promising!
Blue Water Natural Foods – Not a restaurant, but if you rent a house you can stock up here with most of what you could find at Whole Foods or other natural grocery. Great quality produce, impressive selection overall, it’ll be my FIRST stop to stock up next time we are in Alpine!
12 Gage Restaurant and White Buffalo Bar – You can order from the bar menu while dining at the restaurant. Venison sliders, butternut and apple bisque, the lovely puff pastry below. Wash it all down with Ranch Water (tequila, Topo Chico, lime juice and ice) and enjoy the party!
We didn’t try anything new this time, revisited old favorites, all were good! Food Shark – fatuous salad with hummus and falafel, Frama for chai latte, Maiya’s for a Paloma and ragu (yes it’s $22 for pasta, yes I still think it’s worth it). Sad we couldn’t swing by Museum of Electronic Wonders and late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour but instead we were watching the cool kids at the Trans-Pecos music festival at El Cosmico.
What we did:
Day trips: Lajitas – I’d skip this in the future and would not recommend, basically just a fancy resort in the middle of the desert, food was terrible.
Terlingua – Fun to see this little town, less than an hour outside of Alpine and the drive is spectacular especially if you get a cloudy day bringing a storm like we were lucky enough to witness!
Balmorhea – A Texas State Park with a spring all decked out for swimming, snorkeling and even scuba diving. Depth goes down to about 25 ft, 3 ft being the most shallow. Water was a comfy temp once in but cold enough to put your game face on before jumping. High dive provided fun and loads of entertainment for all the viewers. We headed out before eating but I hear there’s fantastic Mexican food right outside the park (also allows for camping and cabin stay). Insider tip: To get the fish stirred up arm yourself with some cheese crackers and spray cheese – gross yes, but the fish went nuts! To tempt the soft shell turtle “weenies” or hot dogs (are these the same?) work best but watch your fingers while swimming, your little piggies look a lot like weenies too!
Marfa – While Marfa is known for art, food, cool kids, our cool kids love it for the train tracks. While it might not be the kid friendliest place, my kids think Marfa is a treasure trove of “stuff by the train tracks”. We flatten coins, they rock hound, get dusty and dirty, really what’s not to love.
we stopped in at the Trans-Pecos Music Festival happening at El Cosmico and couldn’t take our eyes off of the side show game involving hammers flying into the air, banging an opponents nail into the stump (in the middle of the circle) and lots of hipster watching. Ah, Marfa!
Alpine – We attended an outdoor dinner presented by Times Ten Cellars at their vineyard overlooking Cathedral Mountain. This isn’t a regular happening but we’ll certainly try to make it to these randomly schedules dinners as often as we can.
The west Texas skies were kind enough to provide us with a side show throughout the evening, the sunset, that gave way to the breathtaking scene below all while 5 courses came and went, wine glasses were filled and drained, and prices of Alpine real estate were discussed at every table.
Really you can’t go wrong with a visit to this part of the world. So many things to see and do even if you just sit and watch the sky. Grab your crew, pack up the car and have a nice journey, stretching and napping are encouraged.
One last mention of thanks to my handsome husband, for two amazing weekends and always going above and beyond (including looking after my sun hat long after the sun disappeared). Love rocks.