Terlingua Ghost Town
We stopped here on the 8th night of our West Texas road trip. We wanted to be in Terlingua that Friday night so we would have a shorter drive into Big Bend National Park on Saturday. There weren't many options in the old Ghost Town, but the price was right at this one!
A Curious Place
Don and I have experienced Terlingua a few times. It's hard to explain what makes up this ghost town, that was once home to 2,000 when the mercury mines were operating. Now there are only about 60 who live here, with a constant flow of characters wandering through. It's good we already knew about the flavor of this "town" or we might have been a little uneasy about our accommodations.
We finally found a sign for the office and spoke to Judy through the window. Her attached office was down lower, so the handy chairs made it useful for speaking face to face. While Don paid up, I studied the walls and tables with posted notices of upcoming events.
What's Happening in Terlingua?
If it had been Chili Festival time, there would have been no rooms available. About 10,000 "chili heads" attend the festival that's been going on for nearly 50 years. But we were just in time for the 11th Annual Desert Chihuahuan Challenge - Dog Races! (My spell check says there's no such word as Chihuahuan)
That would have been an interesting option if we hadn't already made plans for Big Bend.
Café and Bar
It was dinner time and we heard the food wasn't bad at El Dorado. I'm guessing the café was upstairs where I'd seen a deck could have offered spectacular views of the desert at sunset. I talked to a man who was sweeping the downstairs bar and he said there would be entertainment that night. The plastic palm trees and longhorn skull had character and I'm sure there would have been an interesting crowd, but we were holding out for dinner at the Starlight Theatre.
I was a little disappointed to see the motel rooms were behind the somewhat building that housed the office and restaurant. And what was with the gigantic parking lot? I was beginning to get the picture. That huge lot looked like it could hold a good number of motorcycles and it was still early on Friday evening.
Our Fine Room
There weren't exactly many hotel choices in Terlingua. We refused to pay over 100 for a rustic room up the road near the Starlight, when we just needed a bed and shower. We both laughed when we stepped into our room. It was quite spacious and clean, but there wasn't a single thing on the wall or a even a chair. There was however,a tiny TV on table with 1 channel. That was more than expected since Judy had warned us that the channels had been messed up since there had been a lightning strike.
Here's one more picture, as if the first didn't capture it all. Don wondered why I wasn't taking a bathroom photo...which I often do. He seemed to think I wasn't fully appreciating the shower curtain. "Look! It divides in the center, like a bathtub curtain!" I refused to get excited about that, but I did like the counter space and mirror with the sink.
Off to Dinner
After we cleaned up, we headed up the road to dinner. We could have walked I guess, but it would have been a dark walk back. We drove by the wonderful little cemetery with an assortment of wooden crosses and stone shrines.
Then we arrived at The Porch, which is the center of all Ghost Town activity. At sunset, locals gather at this covered area between the general store and Starlight Theatre. There are cans of beer, dogs, cigarettes and usually a guitar or two. We hoped to see who eventually climbed into the yellow cycle-car, but we were eating dinner when the little yellow rocket disappeared.
We were up and loading the car before the sun rose the next morning. I had expected to see a million motorcycles in the lot, but there was no noise in the night and only about 8 bikes in the morning. We dropped the key in the office box and headed out for Big Bend.
The room was clean, but as dull as they come. The view could have been stunning, had we lingered at either end of the day. Luckily there is nothing to report about oddball characters in our motel area. I learned the next day, that a local, who had been charged with murder, got out on bail during our stay! Oh my.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!