I decided to take a solo road trip/retreat this fall and initially had a hard time pinning down how and where to spend my time. This itinerary was ultimately shaped by a random combination of things including roller skating, shooting expired film, and places my family was not likely to visit on another trip. I drove around 2200 miles from our home in Colorado, with a long detour to Mesa, AZ to see an amazing art exhibit, to Tucson, Marfa, TX, and back to Colorado.

Santa Fe

I adore Santa Fe, but on this trip, it served merely as a pit stop.


White woman in her 40s in front of Container by Turner Carroll in Santa Fe


Mesa, AZ

Another quick pit stop!


Shepard Fairey exhibit at Mesa Arts CenterSwoon exhibit at Mesa Arts Center




white woman in her 40s wearing a baseball cap taking a selfie at Saguaro National Park with the desert landscape in the background  Desert landscape with multiple saguaro cactuses

 Desert landscape with multiple saguaro cactuses   Bright red cactus flower

petroglyphs that look like wheel shapes in Saguaro National Park Signal Hill in Saguaro National Park

Large Mexican sunflower plant at Tohono Chul in Tucson Hidden hummingbird at Tohono Chul in Tucson prickly pear cactus at https://tohonochul.org/

Colorful roller skate patterned carpet at Skate Country in Tucson with two legs in tube socks and black quad skates with purple sparkly laces Orange lockers and tables with a mural in the background at Skate Country in Tucson The roller rink at Skate Country in Tucson with a few roller skaters

  • Visit MSA Annex, a cool shipping container park with shops and restaurants

A maroon shipping container store at MSA Annex in Tucson


Bright yellow walls with a few tables at Hot Dogs La Reyna in Tucson

A giant noodle bowl at Noodleholics in Tucson


Hotel McCoy exterior in Tucson Swimming pool at night while the band plays at Hotel McCoy in Tucson

El Paso

I rolled into El Paso early afternoon and parked around the corner from where I was going to eat (see below). I had already stopped at an auto parts store in Deming, NM to get a diagnostic code for a check engine light that came on a hundred miles or so earlier (“engine oil pressure control circuit stuck on”) and then at a nearby mechanic’s shop who reset the code for me. As soon as I put the Jeep in park in El Paso, the light came back on to my dismay. This set me in scramble and decision mode. A couple of days later, I was going to be in a super remote part of the country and likely without cell service for a while. Do I hedge and reset the sensor again and leave it at that? What happens if there is actually an issue and I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere? Do I want to pay now or pay later? After my yummy meal of chicken mole enchiladas, I headed over to the one Jeep dealership in town and pleaded with the service tech. They were already backed up for the day, but I ended up with an incredibly empathetic person helping me who did everything he could to make sure I’d get on my way safely. Around 2 p.m. I prepared myself for the idea I might need to stay the night in El Paso instead and wait for the Jeep to get fixed. I decided to wait around until closing time at 6 p.m. to see what they could do. A minute or two before 6, I had a new oil pump and sensor, (and a hefty $1300 bill), but I was ready to continue on to Marfa. Shout out to Charles and Dick Poe Chrysler Jeep for the last-minute and timely fix.


Colorful vintage sign for L&J Cafe in El Paso



Sunrise popping up over the mountains along FM 170 in far west Texas A white woman in her 40s wearing a baseball cap takes a selfie along FM 170 in far west Texas

Early morning warm light of sunrise along Sunset popping up over the mountains along FM 170 in far west Texas A white woman in her 40s on a horse in Big Bend Ranch State Park

A horse in a canyon taking a break from a trail ride in Big Bend Ranch State Park

  • Wander

A brightly colored mural of Frida Kahlo by Gabriel Portillo and montywelt in Marfa, TX

( Frida Kahlo mural by by Gabriel Portillo and montywelt)

  • Stop at Prada Marfa (note this is not actually in Marfa, but is around 30 minutes away and is an art installation by Elmgreen & Dragset)

Prada Marfa just after sunrise near Valentine, TX Prada Marfa at night

  • Check out digital (and analog) galleries

Art Blocks gallery in a historic house in Marfa, TX 

Murals at the former mess hall of the Chinati Foundation campus in Marfa, TX Outside one of the main gallery spaces of the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, TX

  • Try to spot the Marfa Lights
    • It’s worth hanging out at the viewing platform just to observe fascinating human behavior and talk of who believes what. I only saw headlights the night I was there, but it was still a beautiful place to sit for a while.

Telephone poles at sunset from the Marfa Lights Viewing Platform People and yucca plants are silhouetted at the Marfa Lights Viewing Platform The Adobe structure at the Marfa Lights Viewing Platform




Categories: Travel