Yesterday I took a trip from El Paso to Marfa, Texas, a small town truly in the middle of nowhere. It took three hours to drive there, and once I left the Interstate after the first hour I saw nothing but desert and mountains until reaching Marfa. I had never heard of the town before I happened to see a small write up about it in a recent magazine. In my never ending goal of seeing places just for the sake of going, I decided to check it out.
The film "Giant" was filmed in Marfa in the 1950's, though the town doesn't do a lot to promote it. The main hotel pays tribute to the cast and crew since they holed up there while filming, but that's it. I got the impression that while Marfa acknowledges it's "Giant" influence, it would much rather live in the present. There's a heavy modern art influence in the town, most apparent in its architecture. Riding into town Marfa looks like a typical small, economically bleak farming town, but once you hit the main drag, it explodes into a bright, modern example of what a little paint can do. Many of the buildings have been refurbished. The county courthouse in the middle of town is especially impressive, a structure five stories tall built with a heavy Spanish influence.
The strangest thing about Marfa is that is looks like it is trying so hard to urbanize itself while so far away from anything else. It's definitely the most remote place I have visited in this country. Right smack in the middle of town is a bookstore that doubles as a coffee and wine bar, completely with wireless interent access. The book selection is a little small, and it looks like a lot of the locals have yet to grasp the concept of a wine bar, but I enjoyed the hour or so I spent in the store.
Marfa is a place to go back to in a decade or so, when it has had more time to figure out what it wants to be. I have a feeling that one day I will look back on my day there and realize that I saw it before it became the newest place to be.