Off Roading- San Angelo, Texas

Speeding Through West Texas

Texas has one of the fastest interstate systems in the US with a speed limit of 80 mph. It must be for practical reasons; it would take forever to drive across Texas at 60 mph. Surprisingly, it wasn't the most boring state to drive through in my opinion. We made plans to stay at my uncle's ranch, but that fell through. So instead we went to San Angelo.

We were able to set up a couch surfer in this little suburban town. This was an older woman; she had a pioneer-esque air about her. The house itself was full of dog and cat dandruff, which gave us terrible allergies, but we didn’t stay in the house much. Little did I know, my cousin, Conner, actually lived in San Angelo, so we met up with him shortly after dropping off our things.

san angelo texasWe met up with Conner while the sun was still out (probably around 4pm). We met his girlfriend and their newborn baby. It had been over 4 years since I got to hang out with him so it was a good time. The reunion didn’t last long. With the sun still out, Conner, Bennett, and I hopped into Conner’s Jeep. It was time for some off roading!

With the sun starting to set and the wind hollering against our ears, we took a turn onto a dirt road bordered by endless grasslands. Winding through the ups and downs of this beaten up path, we eventually came to an open area bisected by a roaring stream. There were a few other jeeps here, and some people were fishing. Apparently it was like a small community gathering. A recent storm had passed through the state of Texas, causing a lot of flooding in some areas (we drove through the worst of it in Houston).

san angelo texas

 

off roading jeep texas

We drove over the stream and further down it to a flatter area. It was quiet, the sun was setting and the lighting was perfect for taking some pictures. Skeletons of washed up garfish were scattered across the exposed rocky basin and we saw some herons flying around. It was a very picturesque scene with the river and the tall grass--and a very different image of Texas than I thought we would see. As the sun set, we drove back into town in the Jeep. We then went out and splurged to go see X-men: Apocalypse.

 Abandoned Towns and Prada Marfa

We left San Angelo early the next morning to head out to El Paso. But first we were going to make a detour to check out a famous art installation. Heading west on Interstate 10, we took high way 67 south to 90 west. When you hear stories about rural Texas or the deserts of Texas, this drive will show you what that means. There was nothing along the way. Signs for "gas in 80 miles" and constant warnings to "turn off air conditioning" when driving up inclines were sprinkled along the way. By noon it had reached over 100 degrees.

After hours of detour, we had made it to the city of Marfa (for some reason Prada Marfa is actually about 40 miles outside of Marfa itself). Back in the 60's/70's Marfa was known as an art heaven similar to what Asheville was like to North Carolina. But since then it dilapidated into a city falling apart with only a few "brave" hipsters left to take care of the random little record stores and thrift shops.

Goodbye Texas

In the last 40 miles between Marfa and the art installation were a handful of tiny towns that were mostly abandoned at that point with a few horses in the back yards of the 4 (it looked like) families that had stayed in the whole town. We stopped in this particularly empty town to check it out. The city limits sign said it had a population of 253. In reality I'm pretty sure it was close to 78 at most. Literally houses were left empty with doors open, old rusted out cars in driveways, we didn't see a single person except for the drivers coming through on the highway. We parked at a gas station to take a few pictures and to get a feel for what a modern dying/abandoned town. I got out of the car and a huge rattle snake darted off into the gas station service garage. It happened so fast I couldn't get a picture of it.

The town sort of creeped us out so we decided to move on.

After a few more miles we saw a little building on the side of the road, a Prada storefront. no parking lot, no other stores, no sign. Just the small building. this is Prada Marfa. This single room, Prada store front is an installation piece installed in 2005. The building was never meant to go repairs and is supposed to dilapidate into the landscape. The sky was beautiful with a few fluffy clouds in the background which turned out to be great for pictures. Although somewhat underwhelming, it was still worth the detour to see the small town life of west Texas.

After an uneventful night spent in El Paso, that was a wrap for Texas. We’ve officially made it to the south west!