Roy Bean Visitor Center: A Beautiful Hidden Garden in the Colorful Blooming Chihuahua Desert

When we left Marathon, Texas on September 27, 2020, we expected to be in Del Rio, Texas in 3 hours. Instead, after 1 hour of driving, we stopped the car, first in the middle of the Chihuahua Desert, and another hour later, at Judge Roy Bean’s original “Opera House/Town Hall”, Law West of the Pecos.

Our original plan for the day was to drive 3 hours non-stop so we could have time to do some sightseeing in Del Rio. Amistad National Recreation Area, Val Verde Winery, and Whitehead Memorial Museum looked good in pictures. Also, as a border town, I assumed the commercial areas in Del Rio would be interesting to explore.

Chihuahua Desert

The highway from Marathon to Del Rio is incredibly clean and scenic. So clean and white, I tried to put my sunglasses on and realized that I had them on already. At the end of September, the Chihuahua Desert did not look anything close to a desert. Instead, you could see an ocean of pink flowers, covering layers of mountains, near and far. The colors were so vibrant and impressive, and the thought of all these flowers being native and wild made us in awe.

We had to pull over the car to have a closer look at the natural beauty, which could be once of our lifetime of being in the Chihuahua Desert in September, during the blooming season of the pink flowers. Even today, I still don’t know the name of these plants. But I am glad I seized and enjoyed the moment on September 27.

Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru Crosstrek on the road to Del Rio

We resumed our journey, still thinking of visiting some sites in Del Rio.

Judge Roy Bean Museum

When we were about 1 hour from Del Rio, my husband saw a road sign “Judge Roy Bean Museum” and decided to pay a visit. I went along with him, thinking to myself that it should be a good place for a bathroom break 🙂

The visitor center is absolutely a hidden jewel on Highway 90, in between Del Rio and the Big Bend National Park. When it was first opened in the 60s, there used to be 400,000 visitors per year and the center reached its peak with Paul Newman’s movie portraying the legendary judge/bartender. And then a new highway changed everything. Nowadays, there are only about 40,000 visitors to stop by each year. With the current Covid 19 pandemic, there are even fewer people visiting. But all the facilities were kept clean and the ground was kept nice. The employees there were very friendly and helpful. It is worth to pay a visit there.

Path to the "Opera House"
Path to the “Opera House”

The opera house

What I found intriguing the way that Judge Roy Bean had a peculiar way to dispense hard liquor and harsh justice in Langtry, Texas around 1880. He fantasized and idolized an English actress until the day he died. He named his residence “Opera House” in honor of this actress, who he never got to meet in person while he was alive. And he even named the town after this actress, who eventually paid a visit to Langtry, after his death. Jersey Lilly Langtry, the English actress, Roy Bean’s idol, was quoted to say: I am happy as happiness goes, for a woman who has so many memories and who lives the lonely life of an actress.

I wonder what she really thought after visiting a town bearing her last name.

By the time we finally got to Del Rio, it was dinner time. We ordered some Thai food and called it a day, a day full of spontaneous decisions and wonderful encounters. Sometimes, no plan or “off the plan” could turn out to be the best plan.

Until next time, please take care!

Fabulous Marfa Regresses to a Trivial Forgotten Desert Town

Rise and Fall of Marfa’s Mythic Status

The first time I heard the name Marfa was four years ago. A young colleague did an article for our internal monthly newsletter and mentioned a weekend in Marfa Texas, the new hyped art hub in West Texas. Back then I did not realize how far Marfa is from Houston and how small Marfa is in terms of population (about 2000) and physical size. The city itself consists of just a few city blocks.

Marfa, Texas: Pretty Quiet Saturday
Marfa, Texas: Pretty Quiet Saturday

Instagram snapshots have helped Marfa to quickly rise to this mythic status. You see all kinds of peoples’ posing in front of the art installation of Prada Store, the smallest Target in the world, and the movie site of Giant…I knew in theory that all these art displays are a few miles away from each other, but once I was in Marfa, I was dumbfounded finding out how far away all these hot spots were in different directions from Marfa’s city center. I guess it was the very concept of “snuggling art in a vast expanse of the desert”. Art is part of the landscape. The broad nature is the canvas of the compositions.

Giant Movie Site, Marfa Texas
Giant Movie Site, Marfa Texas
Prada, Marfa Texas
Prada, Marfa Texas

Instagram snapshots have also amplified the food trucks in Marfa, which captured my husband’s imagination. After our visit to Alpine and Fort Davis, we arrived in Marfa around 3:00 pm on Saturday, September 26, 2020. I was beyond hungry, so much so I was not hungry anymore.

Immediately upon arrival in the city center on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we did see some pretty girls posing for their Instagram photos. It was so obvious! But our mind was on finding the food trucks. We went everywhere, literally, but did not find any! We saw two or three restaurants but my mechanical husband insisted on looking for food trucks. Eventually, he gave up. A pizza place looked good and he wanted to order pizza now. I was frustrated during this whole process already in now 95-degree weather, so I told him that I only wanted an ice cream bar.

Skip the pizza!

“Good idea! That is what I want too! Skip the pizza!” My husband was agreeable finally, after an all day’s arm wrestling about having lunch in Marfa from a food truck.

Marfa, before the pandemic, could have been once a booming artsy hub with creative works of art under starry desert night skies mixed with the primitive landscape…however, this September, after 6 months of the ongoing pandemic, we found it deserted, far and with no food trucks anywhere around, but there were still Instagram girls and their snapshots.

I will write about our trip from Marathon, Texas to Del Rio, Texas and our visit to the original saloon of Judge Roy Bean in my next article.

Until next time, please take care!

Starship Crosstrek Achieves Warp Speed at SpaceX Boca Chica, Texas

Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru Crosstrek

Sand Dunes and Subie 2 in South Padre Islands
Sand Dunes and Subie

In June, despite the ongoing pandemic, the wandering spirit or the adventurous traveling bones got the better of me. I decided to take my Subaru Crosstrek for a road trip. I set off to the beautiful South Padre Island. It is just a 6-hour drive from Houston.

The ocean environment and sand dunes of the island are absolutely amazing.
Not only my Crosstrek drives nicely on the beach, but it also looks cool and photogenic.

Sand Dunes and Subaru Crosstrek at the South Padre Islands
Sand Dunes and Subie Close up

The South Padre beach and sand dunes are mesmerizing each time I visit.

However, my real focus changed and I decided to visit SpaceX Boca Chica, Elon Musk’s new base for the Starship near the US-Mexico border.

SpaceX Boca Chica, Texas

Although the trip was brief, I was marveled by the various projects that are expanding the progress of space travel, exploration, and technology. We continued on to the beach and decided to drive down the coast in our Subaru. There was an interesting text message on my phone. It said, “Welcome to Mexico”. Seeing the Rio Grande River in front of us, we decided we should stop driving south and turned the car around and headed back toward Boca Chica.

This June trip got me back to the American phenomenon called road trip. I will write more about my Subaru adventures.

Boca Chica
Boca Chica

Until next time and please take care!