When one of your daughters, her husband and their 8 children move almost 2000 miles away, and you miss them like crazy, there’s a good possibility you’re going to visit. Our west Texas travel began with a flight to Dallas and then another to the Midland/Odessa airport.
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In this post:
- The George W Bush Childhood Home
- Meteor Crater At Odessa
- West Texas travel Murals of Alpine
- Sul Ross State University
- Museum of the Big Bend
- Kokernot Field
- Stars in the night time Alpine sky
- Classic movie, Giant, billboard
- Marfa Prada
- Paisano Hotel and gift shops, Marfa Texa
West Texas Travel
If you are planning a road trip and have the opportunity to visit this part of Texas, I am sharing our adventure and highlights to use as a guide to fun and interesting sites you won’t want to miss. Get some sunscreen, a good pair of hiking boots and let’s go!
Our kids have made the almost 30-hour drive a couple of times already, filling their 11-passenger van and a mini van each time. As a family of 10, that’s what it takes. Lots of road, lots of gas, lots of stops and lots of patients.
Her dad and I took the quicker route and went by air. Jamie met us at the airport with one of our grandsons and we began the trek from the Midland airport to their home in Alpine, Texas. It is a drive of almost 3 hours.
George W Bush childhood home
Before leaving Midland, we made our first stop at 1412 W. Ohio Avenue. Located here is the George W. Bush Childhood Home. It is an historic house that was home to former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush from 1951 to 1955.
The home was built in 1940 and was purchased by the Bush family in 1951 for $9,000 (equivalent to $90,000 in 2020). They lived in the 1,400-square-foot home until late 1955. It was also the earliest childhood home of Governor Jeb Bush. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Meteor Crater At Odessa
A twenty mile drive from Midland brought us to the town of Odessa. There we visited the Odessa Meteor Crater, the third largest meteor crater in the United States.
During our visit, the cloudless sky was a gorgeous shade of blue and the sun was hot. The semi-arid landscape, very different from our northeast views, is a rugged terrain. We did not see any snakes or, surprising to me, any other creatures during our time there.
Third largest meteor crater in the United States
The Odessa Meteor Crater is the third largest meteor crater in the United States. It is located ten miles southwest of Odessa. The depression, which was formed ages ago when thousands of iron meteorites known as octahedrites fell on the site.
Over the many years, the crater has filled nearly to its rim with West Texas dust and silt. Now it’s a barely discernible depression in scrubby rangeland. It was originally about 100 feet deep but because of subsequent infilling by soil and debris, the crater is currently 15 feet deep at its lowest point.
The largest crater covers ten acres. Two smaller and now-filled craters flank it. The rim of the largest crater rises from five to seven feet above the general level of the surrounding plain. The largest crater is filled by wash and wind-blown material to within nine to fourteen feet of the rim. The roughly circular depression is 500 to 650 feet wide from rim to rim.
The site is a little underwhelming but does provides enough relief to be visible over the surrounding plains. And, there is a small information area and a nature trail set up on-site for a self-guided tour.
Sunset drive to Alpine, Texas
After a bite to eat we hit the road toward our final destination. The long, straight roads with nothing more than scrub brush on either side created a lovely view of the misty mountains in the distance.
We went for miles, encountering only an occasional vehicle coming from the opposite direction. It was a peaceful and beautiful drive to Alpine. One especially appreciated after a day of travel that began with a drive from home to the Philadelphia airport at 5:45 AM that morning.
West Texas travel Murals of Alpine
Alpine, Texas, is the city where our kiddos live. It is a remote, high-desert town nestled in a beautiful valley at an elevation of 4,475 feet.
In the tall hills of this West Texas town is a friendly, bustling community of a little over 5,000 people. It is a scenic valley that feels like nowhere else in the state. The mornings and evenings are cool and crisp, and the stars at night are big and bright.
We found friendly people that say hello as you walk down the sidewalk, and give you a courteous Howdy, a one-index-finger lifts off the steering wheel as you drive along the West Texas roads.
Sul Ross State University
Situated high atop a mountain, with gorgeous views, Sul Ross State University (SRSU) is a public university in Alpine, Texas and where two of our grandchildren attend classes. The main campus is the primary institution of higher education serving the nineteen-county Big Bend region of far West Texas.
Named for Lawrence Sullivan Ross, governor of Texas from 1887 to 1891 and president of A&M College of Texas from 1891 to 1898, the institution was the successor to Alpine Summer Normal School.
West Texas travel Museum of the Big Bend
Located on the Sul Ross campus is the Museum of the Big Bend. It is a small museum but really well done. There are multiple pieces of history about the region covering natural history, human history and the confluence of cultures in what is known as the Borderlands. Walk counter clockwise around the exhibits for a chronological timeline.
Among other notable alumni, Dan Blocker, American actor known for playing Hoss Cartwright in Bonanza, played football at Sul Ross State. More of his memorabilia is displayed in the Museum of the Big Ben.
A great gift shop with a wide variety of carefully selected items, many made by area artists makes for a fun shopping adventure. All sales in the gift shop directly benefit the Museum of the Big Bend!
I think you will enjoy this video tour:
An upward glance in the museum will reveal an unusual ceiling. Called a Lamella Arch, the design, developed in Germany in the 1920’s, is a diamond-shaped latticework using interlocking planks.
If you go:
The Museum of the Big Bend is located on the Sul Ross State University campus in Alpine, Texas. Call 432.837.8143 for more information.
Tuesday-Saturday, 10AM – 4PM. Closed major holidays.
Kokernot Field is a baseball stadium in Alpine, Texas. The field has been called “The Best Little Ballpark in Texas” by Sports Illustrated and the “Yankee Stadium of Texas” by Texas Monthly magazine.
I passed this park when we were trick-or-treating with what seemed like the entire community. A very friendly neighborhood with children as well as adults filling the sidewalks. I made a mental note to return and learn more.
The following Sunday morning, we parked the car on the side of the road and I got out to take a few photos. A gentleman taking a walk asked me what I was up to. This happenchance meetup was delightful, as he shared about his lifelong connection with the ballfield and Sul Ross University.
Kokernot Field, Home of the Cowboys
This historic landmark field has been called “the Yankee Stadium of Texas” by Texas Monthly magazine. An estimated 6,000 attended a 1951 exhibition featuring Satchel Paige’s St. Louis Browns versus the Chicago White Sox. Future Major Leaguers Norm Cash and Gaylord Perry also played on Kokernot Field. The stadium was constructed in 1947 by Big Bend Region rancher Herbert Lee Kokernot Jr. for his semi- professional baseball team. Red clay for the infield was hauled in by boxcar from Georgia. Native stone quarried from the Kokernot Ranch was used to construct the outfield wall and grandstand. The Kokernot Ranch “06” brand was incorporated into numerous decorations throughout the stadium along with intricate ironwork of baseballs complete with painted threads.
The stadium was built to seat 1,400 people. Lighting was installed in 1958. Ownership of the field was turned over to the Alpine Independent School District in 1968 after Sul Ross discontinued their baseball program and semi-pro play ceased in Alpine after the 1961 season. Sul Ross’ baseball program was revived in 1983. The field is currently home to the Sul Ross State University Lobos, Alpine Bucks and the Alpine Cowboys in the Pecos League, formerly the Big Bend Cowboys of the Continental Baseball League through a lease arrangement. Source
While you are in town, stop by the Scoops Creamery, a family owned and operated business that offers fresh baked pastries, ice-cream, milkshakes, floats, Italian soda, gelato, coffee, espresso, lattes, snow-cones, bubble waffles and much more. Find them at 106 W Sul Ross Ave suite A, Alpine Texas.
Stars in the night time Alpine sky
For stargazing in Texas, or for that matter in the United States, you cannot get any better than this area. The International Dark Sky Association ranked Big Bend National Park, a gold-tier designation, one shared with only 13 other parks worldwide.
The region is also ranked number four on the International Dark Sky Association’s top seven spots in the world to stargaze. Experts estimate a person can see 2,000 stars on a clear night compared to a few hundred in a medium-sized city.
Both of the above photos were captured by our youngest daughter, Abbey, that visited her sister a few weeks prior to our visit. These amazing images were from an iPhone at a friends farm in Alpine. Seeing the amazing, star-filled sky causes me to think of Psalm 19:1. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Quirky Americana classic movie, Giant, billboard
If you are a fan of the 1956 movie Giant, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, you might want to stop by the side of the road on the way to Valentine, Texas.
This iconic American western film was shot in Marfa, Texas. There’s not much left of the set today, but in 2018, artist John Cerney made huge outdoor murals on plywood of the movie’s stars. James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor are the feature murals off highway 90 on the Wyatt Ranch, along with the famous Benedict house and the yellow convertible from the film in the backdrop.
The movie was based off the bestselling novel by Edna Ferber, released in 1952. It would go down as a classic in cinematic history, and it put Marfa on the map. The film follows a married couple who move to Texas for the oil industry and the drama the ensues. “Giant” encapsulates Texas in the 1950s and was nominated for 10 academy awards. It was also entered into the States National Film Registry who stated the film was, “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”
A store with high-end, luxury products is not a place you would expect to see sitting on the side of a Texas desert highway. What started as a pop culture land art project is now a permanent sculptural art installation and a popular Texas landmark.
The artists, Elmgreen and Dragset, designed the installation to resemble a Prada store. Prada Marfa was a response to the high-priced commercialism during the 1990’s.
In 2013, the Texas department of transportation threatened Prada Marfa’s removal after deeming it a piece of illegal roadside advertising. The sculpture won its right to stay after Ballroom Marfa granted it museum status.
The building is made of adobe bricks, plaster, paint, glass pane, aluminum frame, and carpet. The door is nonfunctional. On the front of the structure there are two large windows displaying actual Prada shoes and handbags.
Despite its name, the sculpture is not located in Marfa, but 37 miles northwest on highway 90 in Jeff Davis county, just outside of the town of Valentine, TX.
Along the fence around the Prada Marfa building, visitors have been attaching or locking locks of love. These padlocks, have been locked there signifying their love for each other.
A few interesting facts about Prada Marfa
- Miuccia Prada handpicked merchandise for the exhibit’s interior. The cost of the products totaled to $80,000, according to Atlas Obscura.
- The night after the exhibit was installed, it was looted. Vandals broke windows, stole the designer items, and graffitied the walls, according to Atlas Obscura.
- After being vandalized, Prada Marfa was repaired and extra precautions were taken to prevent another looting. All handbags on display have no bottoms and all of the shoes are only right-footed, according to Atlas Obscura.
Paisano Hotel and gift shops, Marfa Texas
A little further down the highway we stopped in to the Marfa Texas Paisano Hotel. It has a lovely interior and very nice gift shops.
West Texas family timeIn between daytrips, we had lots of real family time that included baking with the little ones, Halloween dress-up and trick-or-treating, soccer games, outdoor church under a park pavilion and homeschooling with MomMom and PopPop.
But that’s not all… I plan to share about the gorgeous Big Bend area, Fort Davis National Park, the McDonald Observatory and an amazing Star Party. Posting soon 🙂
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