Right before I arrived in Austin almost a year ago (!), my friends who lived here had just returned from a festival out in West Texas, called Viva Big Bend and they wouldn’t shut up about it. So when they all said they were caravaning out to do it again this year I couldn’t wait to join. Viva is a small festival that temporarily takes over the small towns of Alpine and Marfa for live music and general camaraderie.
I’d never been to West Texas before, but thankfully a few of my friends grew up in Alpine so we had excellent guides. (And a lovely place to stay – thank you Mr. and Mrs. Fuentez!) We did a ton, and the vibe is sort of hard to describe, but here are a selection of the nearly 200 pictures that I took on the trip (there are more on Facebook if we are friends/you are interested.)
Our first stop was the spring fed pool at Balmorhea, which was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and the water was ridiculously cool and clear.
The drive from Balmorhea to Alpine was through the mountains, that were unlike any landscape I had ever seen before. They reminded me almost of the cliffs near the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, but stuck in the middle of a desert. It was surreal and gorgeous.
Our first night in town we headed over to Padre’s in Marfa, where my friends worked out some unresolved shuffleboard tension from last year, and we watched the excellent Sarah Jaffe bring the house down.
As far as we know he doesn’t receive any money from Donut Taco Palace for this (though he should – that’s a catchy jingle.)
The next day Victoria, Stephanie and I attempted to go to the Chinati Foundation’s tour of the amazing sculpture and art around Marfa, but we didn’t quite make it in time, but we did get to look at some of Donald Judd’s 15 Untitled Works in Concrete, which are pretty impressive.
That afternoon we made our way to the Big Bend Brewing Company for a delicious tasting at the country’s most remote brewery (you can buy their beer in Austin now and you should it’s really good!)
That night we went back to Marfa to have a drink in this tipi (which is one of the things I had been hearing about since last year, that totally lived up to the hype).
Then we drove to the McDonald Observatory for the Star Party. Which was awesome, but I have no pictures of because it was dark and you can’t really take pictures of stars with an iPhone 4, but if you’re ever out there it’s worth checking out.
Saturday morning we drove out to Big Bend itself and once again I was completely blown away by the landscape. And I somehow managed to not get sunburned, which is a feat for me, considering I’m paler than a ghost and the sun was unlike anything I had ever felt before, but the beauty was worth it.
After a long ride back, some storm clouds and bumps in the road, we ended our last night with two great Austin bands that got us dancing. First I attempted to learn how to cumbia to Grupo Fantasma:
And then we headed back to the Blues for Soul Track Mind‘s packed set:
It was an amazing, action packed trip but I still feel like there was stuff I didn’t do. (The tour in Marfa for one.) And I definitely plan on returning for Viva 2016.