TRAVEL

Hiking Guadalupe Peak by Kelly Garcia

HELLO, HEAVEN.

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Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Houston > Balmorhea Lake > Marfa > Guadalupe Mountains National Park > Whites City

After a good night's rest in Whites City, Brandi and I got up before the sun and loaded up the car. Not knowing where we would land after the Guadalupe hike, we checked out of the RV park with a fully packed vehicle and headed south towards adventure. 

We arrived at the park just as the sun was rising. The land, the sky, shadows and sounds were breath taking. My version of heaven. Kind of like a mini desert version of Big Bend. First stop was the visitor center restroom, so I could braid mine and Brandi's hair. For me, braids are the only way to keep the hair out of my face 100% of the hike and I can easily switch between hat/no hat on the longer hikes.

Our packs included a sandwich for the top of the mountain, 3L of water each, a film camera (still waiting to get developed), a digital camera, a Marigold bar each, our Manready TX caps, beanies (I brought my red John Prine beanie (which worked out nice for International Women's Day), chapstick, mace, sunscreen, etc... When it comes to water, I think it's better to too much than not enough because you never know what will happen.* I usually pack my 3L hydration pack as well as a Nalgene style water bottle, but this time I just took the 3L pack to make room for my camera in my pack.

The view got more and more beautiful each step of the way. There were a couple of places near the end that had my rear burning! After all, we were hiking up! Instead of complaining when we are out of breath and on a burn stretch, Brandi and I like to remind each other how lucky we are to have bodies that can hike mountains. That may not be the case forever, so we really take in every bit of our hikes. 

It was a clear, sunny day and it felt like the birds were singing just for us. We joked that they swooped in to sing when our bums were burning the most. Songs of encouragement. haha. When Brandi and I would pause to catch our breath and look down at what was behind us, I noticed something that I've never given much attention to before. Bird shadows. On a clear day with only birds in the sky, there's is nothing like watching their shadows glide across the land. Now it's something I look out for.

We spent close to an hour on that peak. We relaxed, took photos, and ate our well deserved sandwiches. On the way down, we kept passing and getting passed up by a couple who we eventually struck up conversation with. By the time we reached the bottom of the mountain, they had invited us to share a camp with them inside the park! 

To see more from the trip, check out #buenosjourneywest on IG

 **While we were out, this young kid came running after us panicking and said he needed water for his Dad. He was really worried because his Dad had ran out and wasn't doing well. Had I packed that extra water bottle, I would have just handed it over to him. It would have been a good amount to share. Sadly, I didn't have much to share. We found the Dad a little back on the trail and the poor guy looked awful and embarrassed. 

    

All photos by Brandi Bueno and myself.  

Roadside: What Happened Next by Kelly Garcia

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When we headed out for our week long camping adventure in West Texas, Guadalupe Peak was not a part of the plan. Heck, it wasn't even on our radar! When our friends back home heard that our original plans got derailed, the recommendations came flooding in (thank you!) and Guadalupe Peak caught our attention. Brandi's long time pal, Matt Tantillo, sent us photos and told us about the most beautiful hike he had ever been on in Texas.

Houston > Balmorhea Lake > Marfa > Guadalupe Mountains National Park > Whites City

After driving south to Marfa, heading back north for a couple of days wasn't ideal since the rest of our trip was further south, but we let go of caring about petty things back in Balmorhea. It was just a couple hours after all. We kissed Marfa and our pals goodbye, loaded up my lemon of a vehicle with gas, and headed straight for the Gaudalupe Mountains National Park.

Pro tip: While traveling out west, there are some things you do not want to find yourself without. Stop when you can to grab toilet paper, water, wine or whatever alcohol of choice, lotion, gas, etc... But we will talk more about that later. 

When we got to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park visitor center we were told that all camps were booked up for the night and the closest place to camp was 13 miles further north. Disappointed, we bought our patches (incase we didn't make it back to the visitor center after the hike) and headed further north. We checked out two places marked by only mile markers that looked like abandoned Summer Camps. There was a white truck that followed us in to the second place and parked. It stayed parked the whole time we drove around scoping the place out and no one ever got out of the truck. On edge after Balmorhea, we were not taking any chances. We took out our paper map and saw an RV park in Whites City, NM just a little further up the road. BONUS, there was also a gas station!

Folks staying in Whites City, New Mexico are usually there because they are going to the Carlsbad Caverns. The RV Park we stayed at shared the road with a hotel, gas station, a restaurant that was closed our entire stay, and this odd everything store that was a gift shop, grocery, home goods and more kind of place. There were three options for staying at the RV site. RV, tent, and shelter. The shelter was a cement room with a door, electrical outlets, and two beds. No heat/AC/Water, just the basics. There was a restroom, shower, and laundry room on site that we happily took advantage of. Since we had more days of tent camping ahead, we opted for the shelter to guarantee good sleep and fully charged cameras.

To see more from the trip, check out #buenosjourneywest on IG

 

All photos by Brandi Bueno and myself.  

Marfa, Texas by Kelly Garcia

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Houston > Balmorhea Lake > Marfa > Guadalupe Mountains National Park

I've been out to Marfa, Texas a handful of times and without question each visit has been uniquely different. My most recent trip was unplanned and off schedule. My sister, Brandi and I landed there a few days early because of a few Bozos were messing with us while we were setting up camp at Balmorhea Lake. Balmorhea State Park, where the beautiful spring-fed pool is, was book out and after a full day driving, "6 miles down the road" was the most appealing solution. You can read the full story about all that here. Long story short, we found ourselves in a bind and heading off route and down south about an hour to a place we knew would be safe, Marfa, Texas. Not only do we have friends there, but if for some reason we found ourselves getting messed with, I'm certain my scream would be heard by the entire town. It's teeny.

Sure, getting knocked off route was a bummer, but once we got checked in to El Cosmico our disappointment quickly turned to excitement. This gave us a chance to toss out the itinerary (HELLO SPONTANEITY!) and check out recommendations that were coming in from friends who heard we were on a West Texas road trip. One of which became the highlight of our whole trip, but more about that later.

Before we re-routed the rest of our trip, we called our pals Colt and Logan and decided what we would do the next day in town. Marfa is a funny little town where businesses are always growing, shifting, moving away or moving in town. A few of our favorite businesses have moved on (I think our local friends counted near 27 in the last 6 or so years), but below are a few of our favorites I am happy to see continue to thrive. If you make it out to Marfa, TX...

Do:
Walk or bike around town
Learn about Donald Judd
Shop at Cobra Rock Boot Company
Load up on Marfa Brand Soap
See a show at Marfa Ballroom
Chinati Foundation
Glamp at El Cosmico
Pick up lotion (you'll need lots) and refill your cooler at The Get Go
See Marfa Mystery Lights
Swing in the Freda Shop
Watch the sunrise and set

Eat + Drink:
Hang out at Planet Marfa. Maybe challenge a pal to a round of pingpong
Order Spicy Margaritas at Bar Saint George
Grab Ice cream and/or coffee at Frama. It's next door to Tumbleweed Laundromat, so bring your dirty clothes and a pocket full of change!
Eat a burrito bigger than your face at Marfa Burrito - Cash only!
End the night at Lost Horse. If you're lucky, it'll be karaoke night.

Visit Nearby:
McDonald Observatory
Prada Marfa
Terlingua Ghost town
Big Bend

When you do make it out to West Texas, keep in mind that you are no longer in a busy city where faster is better. Remember to slow your roll and take notice of what is going on around you. Breathe deep and walk slow. Smile and maybe talk to a few locals and get the scoop on what to do around town.

If there's something you have really enjoyed doing in Marfa, Texas, please let me know what? I'm always looking for new things to explore around places I love. 

PS Brandi just posted about "How We Road trip" over on Mucho Mucho Bueno Bueno. Be sure to check that out!

Buenos Journey West by Kelly Garcia

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If you have ever been out to west Texas, you know. The sky goes on forever and like the sea, you can't tell where the earth stops and the sky begins. You can see the shadow of every bird that soars between you and the sun. There are hot springs, cold springs, snakes, tacos, cacti, sand dunes, bears, mountains, cold rivers and swift shifting skies. Shaking out your boots is a routine part of every morning and you'll need a bandana handy for the next sand storm. It's a magical land where tumbleweed roams and you can see the start and end of a rainbow.  I could go on forever with details, but you just don't know until you go.

This whole adventure came about because my husband Seth booked a few guitar gigs in Texas. We are both from Texas now living in Tennessee so of course I invited myself along on his trip back home. It had been around two years since I had visited my favorite place on earth and that's unacceptable. I blocked out a few days to be in Houston with family before and after the journey west and starting looking at which destinations I could hit within 8 days. So many places, so little time! I wanted to hit a few new places and still reserve time to revisit some golden oldies. Once I had a rough idea of what I was going to do, I invited my sister Brandi to join me. We've been out west a handful of times, but never just the two of us. I warned her that is was a camping trip and my two person tent meant that we would be sleeping shoulder to shoulder. Brandi is constantly traveling (check out her blog here), so I fully expected her to say she was already going to be out of town or she needed time to rest between trips, especially with only three weeks notice! But she didn't. She was down for the 8 day journey west. 

The plan was as follows:

Sunday 3.5.17 .......... Houston --> Balmorhea State Park
Monday 3.6.17.......... Balmorhea --> White Sands, New Mexico
Tuesday 3.7.17.......... White Sands, New Mexico
Wednesday 3.7.17.......... White Sands, New Mexico --> Marfa, Texas
Thursday 3.7.17.......... Marfa, Texas --> Terlingua, Texas
Friday 3.8.17.......... Terlingua/Big Bend
Saturday 3.9.17.......... Terlingua/Big Bend
Sunday Terlingua --> Houston, Texas

But as things usually go, the plan went out the window due to some unfortunate events that took place during our first night in Balmorhea. Stay tuned for the full story and for our actual whacky west Texas route that spontaneously developed! 

In the meantime, check out Brandi's blog post about my desert hairdo, the triple braid.

Camping With Stolen Rum by Kelly Garcia

OOoooo lordy, I love a dang cocktail. I used to go for wine or whiskey on the rocks only, but for the past two years, I've been on a solid experimental beverage kick. My good pal, Reuben Bidez, is always making my next favorite cocktail, so I'm always trying to pick up tips and tricks from him. 

I've never really ventured too far into the world of rum. I blame my senior year cruise to the Caribbean. With that regrettable blur more than a decade behind me, i've been a little braver. I had Reu help me whip up a few different cocktails using Stolen Smoked Rum one night. It has a interesting smokey and mildly chocolate taste, so we experimented with two fruity cocktails and one smokey. I enjoyed all of them!   

Eager to relax the week off and recreate what I just learned, I packed a bag, and Seth and I headed away from the noise of the city. Of course he brought his guitar. He even brought his guitar on our Honeymoon. He played us some tunes and I shook up some yummy drinks.  If you want to give this smokey rum a shot, they have a few starter recipes at thisisstolen.com

I'm curious, do you like rum? if so, please share some recipes with me! I'm always looking for something new to whip up.