Jun 12, 2016 by



We’ve just unloaded the car and I’m sitting on the sofa having a cold Stella from the Yeti that we took on our road trip to west Texas.  Dennis had business in El Paso and I went along on the condition we go back through Ft. Davis and Alpine.  Now, you may find this strange, but I enjoy El Paso.  I love the weather and while he is in meetings, I do a little shopping and lallygag by the pool.  But, when the meetings are over and the great citizens of El Paso are assured of drinking water in the future, we head down to the Davis Mountains.  We take I-10 to Balmorhea, holland-avenue-421-300x205choosing not to go through Marfa (don’t get me started) and wind around to Fort Davis where we stop for burgers and delight with the locals in the afternoon shower which brings the temperature down to 63 degrees-a big change from the 101 degrees in El Paso.  We get back in our now clean car and make the final stretch to Alpine.  It’s about check-in time so we pull in front of The Holland Hotel.  I walk in and am transported to the movie set of Giant, which was filmed near by.  I say near by, in west Texas “near” can be a hundred miles.  Because we took the last room available, we have the “penthouse” which really should be called the crow’s nest.  Believe me, the only thing penthouse about it is that it’s at the top of the hotel—as in, take the elevator to the third floor then schlep your luggage up a flight of stairs to a room that is soooo not penthouse-eeee.  But back to Alpine, ohhhh, Alpine.  We walk the main street and see no strangers.  Everybody says a genuine hello, looking you in the eye and most of the time, with a smile.  The shop keepers are welcoming to everyone and the selections of art are eclectic but all with a free spirit flare.  The temperature is warm and dry and there’s no trace of sweat anywhere on me.  I am in heaven…….again.  You see, I’ve been to Alpine before.  My first time was in the early sixties.  My sister, who was going to Baylor, needed a course credit and low and behold, it was offered at Sul Ross that summer.  So, my Mother rented a house in Alpine, Texas for the whole summer.  Our landlord was the chief of police whose wife taught at the university—excuse me, college.  Back then, it was Sul Rose College.  Two things I remember about that summer are (#1) the police chief’s wife would have an open house every Sunday and all the college faculty and friends were invited.  She had the most delicious goodies all laid out on beautiful china and pink table cloths.  The second thing I remember is every afternoon, people would go to the train station and watch the train come through town.  I kid you not.  Oh…..I just remembered something else—-the burgers at the Twin Peaks hamburger joint on the road going to Marfa (by the way, I’ve seen the Marfa lights and yes, they are real).  Such sweet memories of a little girl in a unique part of the world.  But, back to the present.  After stocking up on Alpine Inez cards and finding a super cool Frida Kahlo top while visiting with Judy at Needleworks. I walk on down and see a fun, little painting on an old tin plate at Catchlight Art Gallery that I have just the place for in my living room.  I go into Kiowa  Gallery and find a long sleeve tee shirt for Dennis with a print of the Holland Hotel lobby which Kelly tells me is last years Art Walk souvenir.  I mosey on back to the, ahem, penthouse and we decide to try the food in the hotel.  Good decision.  The chef who is originally from Holland (I know, coincidence-right?) is really good-not just for in the middle of nowhere standards, but can hold his own in any populated city.  I have a fresh salad and Dennis has a really good chicken fried steak.  Then, we have a creme brûlée that is memorable.  We listen to a local gal play a Maren Morris song on the patio and visit with a young attorney who is doing a road trip from Chicago to somewhere in Arizona.  We talk about the amazing ambiance of the hotel lobby and the iconic movie, Giant.  Dennis and I decide because we ate so much for dinner, we will take the stairs up the three floors—plus the ones on to the ,ahem, penthouse.  Not bad, but I think the the almost 5,000 feet elevation may be getting to me.  The next morning, we pick up croissant sandwiches from Judy’s Bread and Breakfast and head down to Lajitas for golf at Blackjack Crossing.  We know it’ll be hotter than the time before when we played in April (ya think!) but because that course is so frigging awesome, we are hell bent to do it.  And speaking of hell, that’s exactly how hot it was.  Like playing on the surface of the sun. They told us when we got back to the golf shop it was 106 degrees.  One Oh Six degrees.  But, where else are you told to watch out for the coyotes on tee number ten and see a jackrabbit so big it looked like a pig running across the fairway?  To get some idea, go to Lajitas golf resort and watch the video of an aerial view of the course.  It is just magnificent.  Anyway, we head back to Alpine, shower and drag our fannies back downstairs for dinner.  We were going to Reata, but decided the food was so good last night we will just eat, again, at the hotel.  Afterward, we walk the vacated street and at one point, Dennis stops and says “Feel this”.  I know immediately what he is talking about.  I feel it, too.  That cool, dry breeze.  This is Alpine.  You know when you hear a song and it transports you back to a place that is now just a memory in your heart and mind?  That’s what I felt when Dennis said, “Feel this”.  I was back in Alpine…….We go back to the hotel, walk the stairs and get ready for bed.  We are happy to notice there are no trains (I forgot to make mention the trains that blew through the night before on the track that is right across the street.).  That is a bone of contention if you want a good night’s sleep.  The next morning, we walk back to Judy’s Bread and Breakfast for a huge, fresh sweet role.  I have my freshly squeezed orange juice from HEB that I have carted over the major part of west Texas and we sit outside and visit with Audrey, the friendly college student who works there. After licking the plate, we wobble across the tracks to the farmer’s market that Liz at Galeria Sibley told me about.  I buy jams, cookies, and th-8local cheeses with the intention of giving to friends, but, somehow will wind up in my tummy.   We swing around the backside of the hotel and peak in at Alpine Teak and meet Gwen, the manager/owner and notice the metro-ish coffee bar next door.  As we make our last, final approach to the hotel, I say goodbye to my new best friends and give them my cards.  I tell them how my blog readers in Europe will love reading about the wild west.  I, also, tell them I want to rent a house in August and hope to see them then.  A magnetic force pulls me into the gallery that has the painted tin plate and I just gotta have it.  It truly speaks to me and makes me smile.  It’s a Day of the Dead looking skeleton biking in Big Bend—reeeeeeely cool.  Which kinda brings me back to where I am, now, sitting on the sofa—-looking at it, hanging in the space it was meant to be…………………………  I feel something trickling down my forehead after the work-out of unloading the car.  Oh, I forgot.  Humidity.  When will the AC kick in?……. The memory of a cool, dry breeze is just that—a memory.    Alpine, oh Alpine…….I’m coming back.  I’m coming back.


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