Marfa appeared, vanished and reappeared like a mirage. You could drive through it in a minute and ride a horse through it in two, both being appropriate for a west Texas contradiction. Scan the scrub brush horizon and you can almost see Bick Benedict’s endless herd or Daniel Plainview’s pumpjacks.
Lost Horse Saloon is the oldest bar in town, available to dusty cowboys of the past or thirsty travelers of the present. You can shoot pool and smoke indoors or sit in the shade of the Horsemen’s Bar and keep an eye on the fire pit and rusty chairs.
Turn the corner at City Hall and you’re brought back to modern-day at Hotel St. George with the refined lobby and minimalist bar serving properly clean, happy hour margaritas. And a wonderful air conditioner.
Up the road to Presidio County Courthouse, Palace Theater and the Marfa water tower and the mirage of yesteryear reappears. In the days before designer shades when cowboy hats were essential in the lingering sunset of the low horizon.
The illusion of the past fades as you step from the deserted street into a bustling, contemporary restaurant with a sleek bar and rustic Italian-inspired dishes. Stellina offered choice wines, people watching, and some mouthwatering fish cakes and spinach tamales. All appropriately recommended and served by a ponytailed bartender in full-on hunting gear of Wranglers and camo t-shirt. No rifle in sight though.
The stars shine bright, the Marfa lights loom, and the coyotes frolic and yip deep in the heart of Texas nights. And the temperature drops enough to close the skylight vent in your RV.
But the sun will rise and breakfast is served in the home of the nicest little lady in the west. At the southern end of town is Marfa Burritos, where one order is plenty and the coffee is free and judging from the pictures a favorite stop for Mr. McConaghey.
Nothing left to do but slip out of the town like a spirit on the wind, head for the horizon and the Guadalupe mountains, turn and realize that the mirage has disappeared and ponder how long it will take to return.