Saturday, May 23, 2009

No Country for New Minis

Thursday started off as a perfectly beautiful Far West Texas day...
So I took a little road trip...

No, no, not in a covered wagon. In my new Mini Cooper.

Leaving behind the tranquility of La Posada Milagro in Terlingua, I followed the Rio Grande River toward the Chinati Hot Springs, driving deeper and deeper into the Chihuahuan Desert.

During the two hour journey to the Tex-Mex border, afternoon thunderstorms descended on the region, swelling the arroyos and flooding the road.

Could I cross this newly formed river in the Mini? Yeah, right.At this point, with my two-hour drive halted only seven miles from the hot springs, I got out of the car to snap a few photos and let the dogs out for a pee. In these few minutes the road I had just traveled flooded behind me, blocking my return.
Luckily, there was a house nearby...

Well, that's what it used to look like 100 years ago. This is what it looks like now:
The place used to be a cantina. Could it be, perhaps, a future pie shop? Why yes, if you managed your expectations accordingly. With a population of 12, this "town" at the end of the road -- and I do mean END, just look on a map -- you wouldn't be selling more than a pie a week.
The owner, Mattie (pictured below), offered me shelter to wait out the rain. As we sat on the front porch, drips of water falling from the edges of the tin roof, she told me of her recent purchase of 400 cactus-covered acres and the adobe house/bar/chapel complex. She moved from Austin to Ruidosa, she said, in search of a simpler way of life. If you define "simple" as shooing rattlesnakes out from under your washing machine, shaking Black Widow spiders out of your bed sheets, and residing 300 miles from the nearest Starbucks, not to mention 40 minutes from the nearest grocery store, then Mattie has found it.
By morning the sky cleared, the flooding subsided, so I bid my farewell to my kind host and this beautiful corner of the world. I hope to return one day and find Mattie still there, blissfully happy, with the cantina open for business and serving up pie. At the very least she'll still be rescuing Mini drivers like me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Looking for Texas

Since my wanderlust has been swelling like a Grand Marnier soufflé-- and I can't get to Egypt right now -- I decided to continue my pie search closer to home. That is, if you consider Western Texas close to LA. I had driven through this part of the country during my move to and from Saltillo, Mexico and vowed to return.
No sooner did I settle into my new house in Venice, I met a neighbor who by coincidence -- if you believe in coincidences and not some higher power pulling puppet strings -- owns a guest house in this same area.
So I packed up my new MINI Cooper, Team Terrier (my two small but mighty dogs), and hit the road.
I drove through the up and coming artists' community of Marfa, Texas. Though it resembles an Iowa farm town at first glance, a closer look reveals the population of 2,000 is made up mostly of ex-New Yorkers seeking a quieter -- MUCH quieter -- way of life.Tempting as it was to stay a spell in Marfa -- to learn just what was attracting these big city folk arriving by the wagon-full, a mystery, really, as not one store or restaurant was open at the hour of 8PM -- I continued south to Terlingua.
En route, I slammed on the brakes when I discovered a designer shoe store. Guess those New Yorkers can't live without their Prada.

(The store is actually an art installation.)

I got back in the MINI (What a great car! Speed, sportscar-like handing and an average of 35 MPG) and drove into the sunset toward my destination.

Two hours south of Marfa (and an 18-hour drive from LA), nestled in the hillside of a ghost town, is La Posada Milagro, a rustic-chic hotel built from the rocky ruins of miners' cabins, consisting of four guest rooms and an espresso bar.
It also has an outdoor kitchen, which got me thinking...

Wouldn't this be a great place to bake pies? There's a great view of Big Bend National Park.

And there's even an oven.

My first morning, I discovered another coincidence. When helping myself to a cup of coffee I found a cup sporting my pie business logo, the red and white checkered tablecloth pattern. But was it a coincidence? I don't think so!

Looks like I might be staying longer than I planned.