chookooloonks wild west road trip: some favourite shots

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Whenever I speak to someone who isn't familiar with Texas at all, and I tell them that I live in Houston, they invariably assume that my home is desert-like, full of tumbleweeds, cacti, cowboys and wide-open spaces.  I always find this amusing:  while I admit that there is a slim chance of running into a bona fide cowboy in this city, there isn't a cactus or a tumbleweed to be found anywhere, unless it's part of someone's carefully-designed western-style event theme.  Houston is lush and green, and humid to the point of being swamp-like:  furthermore, with more than 5 million inhabitants, as America's 4th largest city there are very few spaces that could be described as "wide-open."  

In short, Houston is nothing like you see in the old Western movies.

What I hadn't realized, however, is that because of my failure to ever visit anyplace west of Austin in the past, I had forgotten that Texas is a big, freaking state, and in my sheltered, big-city life, I had become somewhat myopic.  This weekend's trip opened my eyes:  the drive out to west Texas took Marcus and I over 8 hours (most of that at the 80mph speed limit), during which the landscape completely transformed; by the time we arrived at our rustic hotel, we half-expected John Wayne to come swaggering out of the swinging doors of a Main Street saloon.

The rest of our weekend was spent in complete amazement:  we visited canyons and historic sites with plaques describing the lives of early settlers and the Apaches, we visited an art town that had everything from original Andy Warhol paintings to installations out in the middle of the desert, and we gaped in wonderment at Big Bend National Park.  I took tons of photographs, which I'll be sharing with you over the next week or two; to start, here are some of my favourites I took over the whole weekend.

We drove hundreds of miles of roads just like this one -- usually just as deserted, allowing for photos to be taken right on the yellow line without fear of being run over.

We drove hundreds of miles of roads just like this one -- usually just as deserted, allowing for photos to be taken right on the yellow line without fear of being run over.

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I was thrilled she stood still and posed for me long enough to take her picture.

I was thrilled she stood still and posed for me long enough to take her picture.

Prada, Marfa.  Driving up on this thing, just sitting out in the middle of the desert, with nothing else for miles, was definitely one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

Prada, Marfa.  Driving up on this thing, just sitting out in the middle of the desert, with nothing else for miles, was definitely one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

An outdoor table at Cochineal Restaurant, in Marfa.  We had dinner there at the suggestion of my friend Laura, and we're so glad we did: a fantastic meal.  Reservations recommended.

An outdoor table at Cochineal Restaurant, in Marfa.  We had dinner there at the suggestion of my friend Laura, and we're so glad we did: a fantastic meal.  Reservations recommended.

Early morning drive into Big Bend National Park. Just beautiful.

Early morning drive into Big Bend National Park. Just beautiful.

Marcus, at the beginning of our hike into Santa Elena Canyon, on the United States/Mexico border.  The river below is the Rio Grande.

Marcus, at the beginning of our hike into Santa Elena Canyon, on the United States/Mexico border.  The river below is the Rio Grande.

Another view from the inside of the Santa Elena Canyon.  The cliff wall on the left is the United States, the one on the right is Mexico.

Another view from the inside of the Santa Elena Canyon.  The cliff wall on the left is the United States, the one on the right is Mexico.

Passing a wind farm on the drive home.

Passing a wind farm on the drive home.

Honestly, these images are just the beginning:  I have many more photos and lots of stories (funny cowboys! Marfa lights! a canyon song!) that I'm looking forward to sharing with you. But for now, suffice to say that we had a phenomenal time, and my appreciation for the state we call our adopted home has truly exploded.

More very soon, friends.

 

Today is absolutely the very last day to register for the Chookooloonks Path Finder.  We've got people from all over the world signed up for this session, and I can't wait to dig in on Monday!  If you'd like to join us, please sign up -- we'd love to have you!