Texas is so vast it makes New Mexico feel as crowded as wall-to-wall suburbs back in Jersey. Two hours after leaving Truth or Consequences, we crossed the state line north of El Paso and saw a sign: “Beaumont: 831 miles.” How is it even possible that a single state could be so wide? Just across the highway, the cramped houses of Juarez, Mexico, seemed to sag into the ground beneath lopsided tin roofs.
We had 150 miles to go until Marfa, and soon we left El Paso behind and were engulfed by an austere landscape, lonely ranch gates the only sign of life. Miraculously, the Airstream tires were holding, the door hadn't blown open since we crossed into Texas, and the only thing broken besides the back window was the ancient AM radio antenna, now bent over and nearly dragging on the highway. Compared to the previous day's ordeal, this ranked as a huge success.
With 30 miles to go, we blasted through the outskirts of Valentine, a town of about 100, if that. “There was the Prada–Marfa store!” Steve said as the fashion icon’s black-and-white logo whizzed past my window. The store’s not actually a store, but a wry art installation and cultural commentary on the stylization of an otherwise dusty West Texas ranch town. I thought about telling Steve to turn the Airstream around so I could take a picture, but then I contemplated the horrors that might unleash, and I kept my mouth shut.