Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wedding Recap: Our Mini-Moon!

After our wedding we took a week off to just de-stress and catch up on sleep.  We decided to do this in West Texas.  On the Monday after the wedding we took my parents to their very first rodeo, which was a lot of fun but I didn't get any pictures of it.  The next day they hit the road to head back to Florida and we hit the road to head West toward Marfa, which is about an 8 hour drive.
We got to our rental house pretty late and were exhausted from the drive, so we crashed shortly after a celebratory glass of wine and beer.  That night we both happened to wake up around 4 am and were so excited to be somewhere without light pollution, so we bundled up in blankets and ran out to the front of the house to take a gander at the star filled sky.  So nerdy of us, but it was so memorable!

 The next morning we slept in (felt SOOOO good) and then drove the 15 minutes down to Marfa to check out some art galleries.  We went to Ballroom Marfa and The Chinati Foundation in the morning.  Ballroom Marfa is a fairly standard art gallery with some interesting sculptures in the outdoor atrium.  The Chinati Foundation was founded by Donald Judd, the artist that basically revived Marfa as an art destination.  We saw two of the exhibits there, the outdoor concrete block exhibit (above) and the indoor metal box exhibit - no pictures were allowed inside, but the picture just below is from the window of the airplane hangar that housed the exhibit and the next picture is from the Chinati website.  The boxes weren't exceptional on their own, it was the groupings that gave them interest.  All of the concrete boxes were arranged in clusters in a huge field and each cluster was unique.  There were two airplane hangars filled with the metal boxes and while the dimensions and materials of all of the boxes were identical, the configuration and interior divisions of all of them was different.  No two boxes were the same.

After climbing around a field and a couple of airplane hangars we were hungry, but Marfa is a super small town and doesn't have a lot of widely available restaurants to eat at, and those they do have operate only during certain hours.  So we hit up what turned out to be our favorite food venue, the local gourmet grocery store called The Get Go where we stocked up on beer, cider, salami, cheese and crackers for a late lunch back at the rental.  My favorite was the local goat cheese that we managed to snag on our 2nd trip back into the store.

That night was probably our favorite of the trip.  We drove further into the mountains and went to a Star Party at McDonald Observatory!    Obviously not a lot of pictures from this as it was too dark out, but we both really enjoyed our time here.  In addition to the three large permanent telescopes at the visitor center there were a number of other locals and observatory employees that set up their own personal telescopes around the perimeter.  We started out with a constellation overview in their amphitheater and then made the round of the telescopes, getting to see Jupiter and 4 of its moons, the Pleiades star cluster, Orion's belt, close ups of the moon, and a few others that I can't remember now.  It was only a 2 hour event and we easily could have stayed longer.  They practically had to kick us out!  We'd love to go back here and get a tour of the big telescopes that the facility runs another time!
The next morning we slept in again (so nice), had a quick breakfast at the house, and then went on a nice, leisurely mountain drive toward our morning destination.  S was totally digging all of the twisty turning roads.  I did ok too because the scenery was just gorgeous.

Our morning destination was the famous (for those in the know...) Prada Marfa!  It is an art installation of a Prada store on the side of a highway out in the middle of absolute nowhere and I had been dying to go!  There were already a number of other people there, so we waited our turn and snapped a few pictures.  There's not much else to do there as the store itself is just an art installation and not an actual place to shop.  The interior is filled with a few Prada purses and shoes from about 10 years ago (fun fact, they only used left shoes to deter people from breaking in/theft) as well as 10 years of dust and dead bugs.  So not so glamorous.  But the outside made for some amazing photos!

After S's morning mountain drive and my Prada Marfa excitement we were hungry and went to the locally famous Food Shark food truck for some lunch.  The wait for the food was a bit ridiculous, but the falafel was delicious.  After lunch we proceeded to walk around to some of the smaller galleries, checked out the landmark Hotel Paisano (built in the 30's and where the cast of Giant stayed in 1955 during filming, i.e. Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean), got some afternoon ice cream, and eventually wound up at a gallery where we purchased our first artwork as a married couple!  This last gallery was probably my favorite - it had some amazing sculptures and while not cheap most of the art was more affordable than any of the other galleries we went to.

That evening we had a pre-dinner drink at Lost Horse Saloon, a total dive bar that all of the locals frequent followed by a nice dinner out at Cochineal, which was quite tasty.  We ended our second day with a trip to go see the famed Marfa Lights!  Alas, we did not see the true Marfa lights, just headlights of cars winding through the mountains.  I kept complaining that that is all they were every time other people at the viewing site Oohed and Ahhed.  And S kept elbowing me in the ribs and admonishing me not to ruin the magic for everyone else.  The downside to being a logical engineer I guess.  We did get to see a gorgeous sunset, though. And snuggling together under a blanket under the amazing night sky chock full of stars was pretty wonderful too.

We headed back to the rental after the night chill started to get to us and packed up all of our stuff.  The next morning we hit the road toward New Braunfels in Texas hill country where S's parents now have a house.  On the way, we stopped off in Sonora, TX so that I could cross one Texas site off of my bucket list: The Caverns of Sonora which were just amazing.

The caverns were discovered in the 1920's, but weren't opened to the public until 1960.  The inside is a maze of paths, bridges, crystal formations, pools of water, and huge calcite stalactites and stalagmites, all formed on 100-million-year-old limestone.  The formation of the cave itself probably occurred between 1.5 to 5 million years ago, which is just crazy!  After we left the caves we arrived at S's parent's house where his mom met us.  We were pretty exhausted at that point from driving and hiking through caves, so we crashed early.  The next day was all about S.
I rented a sporty little red Mazda RX-8 off of Turo.com (like airbnb for cars) and we spend the day driving the famous Twisted Sister route through hill country.  For most of it, the scenery kept me happy, but there was one particular stretch on a cliff-side road that had me white-knuckling the seat and informing S that I was terrified.  He, of course, just laughed and accelerated.  Ass.  But we made it out alive and he was totally digging it.

That night we went out for dinner with S's mom and the next day we headed back to Houston.  We picked up Pandora after we'd unloaded the car at the house and she was SO excited to see us.  Dog enthusiasm is the best!  Overall the trip was wonderful, and amazingly enough it was actually relaxing too.  We felt mostly recovered after the crazy weeks leading up to the wedding.  Of course it was short lived after we returned to work.  It's ok, we're currently planning our big honeymoon now and hopefully we'll get to reclaim some of that relaxation when we go to Italy this fall!

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