Our Marathon to Alpine

Three days ago as we drove from Seminole Canyon State Park in Texas towards Marfa, and just outside of Marathon, a little red light began to glow on the dashboard. Realizing that is was our alternator we continued to drive until we saw the first and only garage as we approached Marathon. Sixto and his father, Sixto Sr., wasted no time in confirming our diagnosis and looking into ordering the new alternator. They advised us to remain in the village of Marathon and wait for the alternator to arrive the following day from San Antonio via Alpine. We drove towards the RV Park on the outskirts of town but spotted the Gage Hotel and stopped. We once again were lucky enough to check into the only remaining room. This is a beautiful hotel. How are we going to go back to camping and sharing bathrooms with complete strangers again?! Bathrooms are definitely a theme with us! A contributing factor in deciding to check into a hotel versus an RV site were the quickly approaching heavy rains, a byproduct of the hurricane off of the west coast of Mexico. And indeed it has been raining here in West Texas ever since. Cold, damp and rainy – not ideal conditions for camping. So we consider the timing of our car trouble to be serendipitous.

The alternator did not arrive yesterday. Sixto Jr. re-predicited it would arrive today at about noon in Alpine and thought it would be best if we drove to Alpine to meet it and have it installed by a mechanic here rather than drive the 33 miles back and forth. So, after breakfast this morning we loaded up the van and drove towards Alpine. We only made it half way before the battery died. It died literally in the middle of nowhere, where we had no cell service, heavy rain falling and the only traffic was the occasional transport truck barreling past at 75 miles an hour. We sat there admiring the scenery and weighing our options. At one point Christian asked, ‘do you want to talk?’ When we saw a vehicle approaching we tried waving it down. One driver stopped, someone we met the night before in the bar at the Gage Hotel. Her name is Della Shackelford, the newly re-elected Treasurer of Brewster County. We were actually watching the election results with her, her husband and friends in the bar at the Gage Hotel last night and then congratulating her on her victory this morning in the town coffee shop. She made some phone calls and in no time arranged for Ryan Skelton whose second job is as an Officer in the County Sheriff’s Office to come and tow the van and pick us up. Ryan made several calls to line up someone to install our new alternator. And here we are in the town of Alpine, just north of Big Bend National Park, checked into yet another hotel, the historic Holland Hotel, awaiting the installation of our new alternator by a fellow named Buddy. If all goes according to plan Buddy will have us on the road by tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed that the refurbished alternator from Mexico works and Buddy is successful in installing it and there are no other problems. We are about to drive into some of the most remote territory in Texas, if not the United States so we would like to know that the van is up to the challenges of this remote mountainous desert area.

We have spent the past few days wandering around Marathan and Alpine in the rain taking photos, talking to people in cafes, bars and restaurants. We were in a pizza place across the street from the hotel tonight listening to a musician named Rick Ruiz and thinking how lucky we are and how extraordinary people and places can be. We are lucky to be living and experiencing everything we are including the breakdowns.