What I Learned on My Journey Through West Texas and New Mexico

Vacation are always an excellent way to discover more about yourself, the people that you love, and the people of America. In fact, sometimes you learn a little too much when you’re crammed into a compact car with your mother and driving through mile after mile of barren New Mexico landscape- like what your tolerance threshold is for taking a crap and whether or not you can listen to your mother gush on and on about Jason Mraz for hours.
Here are a few lessons I learned on this wonderful trip with my mother through West Texas and most of New Mexico.
Lessons I Learned: West Texas and New Mexico Trip with Mother
1.) That My Father Used to Wear Make-Up– I’m not even sure how this came up.

Ext. Car- Day

Mother and Daughter are driving on an endless stretch of New Mexico freeway with nothing but desert and big sky in the background.
“Oh God, we’ve been driving through this desolate desert for hours and hours, through run-down town after another! I have to take a pee and there is nowhere to pee! We’re low on gas! When will this hell ever end!?”
“Your father used to wear make-up. Did you know that?”

Daughter stares blankly out onto the horizon.

2.) That There Are No People Like Texans– For about four months after I moved to Austin from Los Angeles, I often found myself holding onto walls in order to prevent myself from falling down to my knees, curling up into a little ball, and crying hysterically when a Texan engaged in conversation with me/displayed generosity. I thought this emotional reaction spurned from the lack of genuine human interaction I encountered in Los Angeles, which is partially true, but I truly believe that Texans are some of the greatest people on Earth. Leaving the state last week for New Mexico reminded me of this. New Mexico, you are fabulous and beautiful land, but if I had to compare overall friendliness you would lose to Texas hands down. I was surprised at the some of the snootiness we encountered in Santa Fe, the aggressive drivers in Albuquerque, and a general lack of wanting to engage with outsiders in other areas.

3.) Marfa is a Magical Place– Maybe it’s because of affinity pool of sprawling green land, blue, peach, and lavender skies, and perfectly molded mountains. Or maybe it’s the fact that you can stand in the middle of nowhere and hear absolutely nothing. Maybe it’s because you feel like you’ve stepped back into time, like in a James Dean movie. Or maybe it’s because you’re in a West Texas town full of New Yorkers, Austinites, and Angelenos and you’re exactly what the locals hate. Either way, the perfect mix of small town from a bygone era and the arts and culture of the big city makes for Marfa one of my favorite destinations ever.

I will have a post all about her this week.

4.) That New Mexico Offers Roads With No Salvation– There is nothing like the sweat and fear that comes with having to go pee and knowing that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. I know for you men, it’s easy, but for us women, it’s kind of obvious if we squat on the side of the road with only barren desert landscape as far as the eye can see. There is really no “hiding to pee” when it comes to New Mexico. Throwing a blanket over yourself and walking up to someone’s ranch fence about twenty feet from the interstate doesn’t make you invisible.

5.) The Coolest Town Name Exists in New Mexico– Have you heard of a cooler town name than Truth or Consequences? I had been fascinated with this town for months now and glad I finally got to see it. Originally called Hot Springs, due to the natural springs that run through the town, T or C was renamed after winning a contest for the radio program, “Truth or Consequences”. It’s a funky little town full of hip retirees and their terriers. Also the killing spot of this scary dude.

6.) That Georgia O’Keefe Was a Badass- Not just because she was an extremely talented artist, but because she totally left behind her New York life to live out in the badlands of New Mexico by herself. Mom and I went to the Georgia O’Keefe museum in Santa Fe, and I have to tell you, it’s totally worth checking out. O’Keefe had such class and character. I love this pic by Yousuf Karsh below.

7.) That the Streetlights in Roswell Look Like This- And that if I were still obsessed with Fox Mulder, I would have tried climbing the streetlamp and humping it.

8.) That It’s Hard Not to See Giant Phalluses in Nature- They’re everywhere. See example below from Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico.

9.) That Sometimes You Get Stuck in Your Bubble– When you live in a big city, it’s easy to forget that extreme poverty exists in many areas of America. That once thriving towns are reduced to abandoned main streets and dilapidated houses. That we need to focus on helping each other more.

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  • Reply Miss Morgan October 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Ah, New Mexico- home sweet home. I live about an hour south of Truth or Consequences (T or C as it's called by the locals haha). Don't worry, it pretty much never gets any less strange that a town is called Truth or Consequences, no matter how many times you drive past that sign!

  • Reply Christine Macdonald October 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    What an amazing post and trip! Thanks for sharing the pics are great.


  • Reply Z.J.Ascensio October 4, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I've done the New Mexico trip when I was living in Tucson, and I have to agree with pretty much all this, especially the snooty people in Santa Fe. Okay, it's a little artsy, but it's not New York or Paris. Be nicer!

    But yes, New Mexico is unlike any other place… especially as far as rest stops on the highway are concerned.

    Did you get any decent radio reception? The last time I was there, you could only get a very few stations around some places.

  • Reply theTsaritsa October 4, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Was your dad a glam rocker? It's possible 🙂

  • Reply todd October 4, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Were you traveling with Texas plates? The fine people of NM and CO are known for not taking kindly to Texans.

  • Reply Sophie Neutron October 4, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    I laughed so hard at #7. I think I might have woken my neighbours.
    So, did you end up being enchantisized?

  • Reply Trina October 4, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    I'm glad I'm a native Texan. We do have big hearts (as everything's bigger in Texas!). I can't wait to read about Marfa, as I never knew it existed. Awesome post!

  • Reply Hipstercrite October 4, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    @Morgan- Do you live near Las Cruces?
    It's really pretty down in those parts.

    @Christine- Thanks! It's a great road trip to take pictures on. I wish I had a kick ass camera.

    @Z.J.- Ha! You are so right! No radio really, except for a stretch between Albuquerque and T or C. They played lots of good 70's music. I heard a lot of Bee Gee's in New Mexico.

    @Tsaritsa- I WISH! He was a musician thought…but more like Billy Joel who looks like Ted Danson.

    @Todd- Actually my plates are California. Maybe that's worse?

    @Sophie- Hahahahahaha! I adore you. NM did really enchantisize me, but West Texas sure did. Actually, both are wonderful scenically. I'm sure much like where you live?

  • Reply Hipstercrite October 4, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    @Trina- You're lucky to be a native Texan. Inside or outside of Texas, native Texans are wonderful people! What city do you live in? You should go see Marfa!!!

  • Reply Megalithic Rick October 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I first came across Marfa when I was in college. My Art teacher said there was a little West Texas town that was swallowed up by New Yorkers dressed in black during The Chinati open house in October. That was back in '99, and the place has def changed, for better or for worse, when I went back last year…my Marfa 10yr reunion. In my opinion, Marfa is still a gem but it's getting the feel of Fredricksburg or something, touristy. Go now before it changes anymore, or actually…avoid Marfa like the plague so it stays the same!

  • Reply Just Plain Tired October 4, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Well, I'd imagine the thought of your father wearing makeup had to take your mind off peeing. 😉

  • Reply Hannah Miet October 4, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I can't stop sighing.

  • Reply Jo October 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Ah, I felt every second of your uncomfortable silence…but, the silver lining? At least you'll have a great story to pass on!

    As someone who doesn't live in the US, I love having the chance to participate vicariously in road trips! And I don't have to chip in for fuel. Thanks!

  • Reply L.O. Ratliff October 4, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Marfa is fantastic. Next time you are there, I hope you will have dinner at Cochineal and eat the best chocolate soufflé of your life. Pizza at Pizza Foundation is pretty great too.

    It is even better in October when the Chinati Foundation holds their annual festival.

  • Reply Sara October 4, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    When did you come because the end of September/early October is the worst in ABQ/SF as it is State Fair and Balloon Fiesta. The worse of the worse come out to make traffic awful.

  • Reply Jessica October 4, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I loved following your travels on Twitter. These pictures are wonderful. I've never been to New Mexico, but now I have a list of places to see when I finally get there. Thank you!

  • Reply One Blonde Girl October 5, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Marfa. Aw, Marfa. Drove through there once on my way to visit my sis in Alpine. Did you see the "Prada" store? (At least I think it was Prada.)

  • Reply Paige October 5, 2010 at 1:20 am

    i would invest in a "Go Girl" for those have to pee moments while driving…

  • Reply amy October 5, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Glad you had an educational (and hopefully wonderful at times) roadtrip.

    P.S. Marfa is mine and my mister's favorite city in Texas (other than Austin). The landscape. The art. The culture. The food. What's not to like?

  • Reply Hilldy October 5, 2010 at 4:34 am

    I'm going on a cross country roadtrip with a friend this summer. Sooo going to swing through Texas!

  • Reply laurenne October 5, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Are we talking just eye liner or blush and foundation too?

    And I can't really seem to say Marfa without laughing. It sounds like someone with a speech problem. Like Marfa Stewfart.
    I don't know.

  • Reply Mohd Fairuz October 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I really enjoy reading a blog. Already a fan. Keep it coming!

  • Reply Hipstercrite October 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    @Rick- Ha! I didn't realize Marfa has been New Yorkified for so long. I think we were lucky because nothing was going on last weekend, so the town felt pretty dead.

    @Tired- Your comment made me laugh out loud in the middle of the pharmacy.

    @Hannah- Have you ever been to the Southwest?

    @Jo- Where do you live?

    @L.O.- Chocolate souffle?! He ate at Jett's Grill at El Paisano Hotel and Squeeze for breakfast. Next time I'm there I'll go to Pizza Foundation!

    @Sara- We were in town a few days before the balloon fest, so you're probably right. I didn't even think about that!

    @Jessica- Thanks Jessica! It's such an interesting state. The sort of area where it's done best through driving- as painful as it may be at times. We didn't get to Taos, and I hear that is beautiful!

    @Blondie- Yes! We did! Too cool! I was so stoked. Your sister lives in Alpine? We ate lunch there at a place called Trattoria? I think? Very good.

    @Paige- OH MY GOD! Never heard of it. Just Googled it. Hysterical!

    @Amy- It's so cool. I hope to go back more often. Too bad it's a 7+ hour drive from Austin. 🙁

    @Hilldy- What stops do you have planned in Texas? It's such an amazing state. A very big state too…

    @Laurenne- HAHAHA! My Mom said the same thing too. It reminded her of the bb player Anfernee Hardaway. I didn't get into specifics with my Mom about Dad's make-up use. I'm sure it was some foundation and under-eye concealer. I hope.

    @Mohd- Yay! Thanks for stopping by!!!

  • Reply Emily October 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Seriously those street lamps are the coolest things EVER. Also my dad used to dress in drag every new years, my grandad however is a full on cross-dresser. That's not even a lie.

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