El Cosmico

There is something a bit magical that happens in the west Texas desert after you pass Alpine headed to Marfa. The rough rogue highway that leads you to the tiny town of Marfa is somewhat mystical. Marfa, the small Texas town that artist have been flocking to for decades is a must see if you are traveling in west Texas.

I had the pleasure of traveling there last summer when I took a Design Build Adventure class in welding led by Captain Jack Sanders, or as I knew him Jay, back when we became acquainted in the seventh grade at All Saints school in Fort Worth.

Jay, or rather Jack, and I were friends through high school and then, as people do when you go off to college and there is no such thing as Facebook, we drifted and went our separate ways. I stayed in Fort Worth with many of our high school friends and attended Texas Christian University. Jack went on to Auburn, I think…

When I saw Jack again at our ten-year reunion he was nothing like I remembered. He had transformed from Jay to Jack, had a beard, and looked way more hippieish than I ever remembered him. He had gone to architecture school and if I recall right, and I may not, it seems he was teaching at the University of Texas.

When Facebook came around we became ‘friends’ and I was able to catch up on his life. It appeared he was married, had kids, and was doing a lot of cool things, like teaching camps on how to weld.

That’s cool. I thought. I’d love to do that, something so… not me. So when I saw a post about his camp in Marfa I signed up and headed west to the rugged beauty of Marfa.

The camp was being held at El Cosmico, the most mystical magical place I have ever been. Liz Lambert, who is credited for revamping South Congress in Austin in the late 1990’s, brought her renegade spirit to Marfa and El Cosmico was born. A campground where you can, camp, obviously, in your own tent, OR you can sleep in a teepee, a yurt, or one of many adorable little trailers that each come with their own distinct personality.

I had chosen to stay in the smallest trailer available, Pinky, the color lived up to its name. I unpacked, put on a robe {one that I ended up purchasing in the gift shop and wear daily}, unpacked my bags, and went to go meet Captain Jack for our intro to camp happy hour.

Jack walked us along the property explaining that when he had first arrived there was nothing but some rusty plans and a dream. A dream that Liz Lambert had and he created.

I looked around awe-struck that the boy I had met in the seventh grade was responsible for creating such an amazing space in the desert. It’s just so… Marfa. It’s Austin meets desert in the hippest of ways.

There are wood burning hot tubs where you can relax and look up at the most beautiful of night skies. And it’s fun to walk around the property and take in the beauty of west Texas and the design of Captain Jack and Liz, their collaboration just mesmerizing.

I spent more in the gift shop then I did on my trailer and I treasure everything I came home with. I cannot wait to go back. I had planned to go in September for the anual Trans Pecos festival held at El Cosmico where my friends in Golden Dawn Arkestra play every year, but life happens and I was unable to attend. It’s definitely a goal for next year, and I should start planning now as the campground usually books up by this time of the year…

So if you get the itch to head west, don’t miss this spot. You’ll thank me later.

Hotel Ella

Where everybody knows your name… I cannot say enough amazing things about this hotel. It’s… wonderful. The hotel itself is an old mansion in Austin which they have restored and added onto. The staff greet you by name when you arrive, I love all the valet’s but I must say Devon, you are just the best, and because I stay there so much, a couple of the girls who love hearing my stories will actually jump up and down and say, “Ms. Matthews is back, How are you Ms. Matthews?” Megan, Shelbie, Chelsea, you girls rock! 

The pool is outstanding… you feel away from all troubles and worries and any care in the world.

The chandelier  tree/seating area is perfect for working on the lap top, smoking a cigarette, meeting other cool people staying at the hotel, or having a cocktail whipped up for you by one of the fabulous bar tenders at Goodall’s Kitchen, the restaurant on site.

One of my favorite things about this hotel is that they offer free rides from the hotel {you can cab or uber it back}. I think they will take you anywhere within a five-mile radius, but don’t quote me on that. This works perfect for me, because I love to go see my friends play on South Congress, and I’m not going to drive, so I only have to pay for a ride back. So nice.

The other night, no shocker, I was at the Continental Club and… my phone died. Thankfully, they have an ultra hip sister property, Hotel Congress, just up the street. So I just walked up the street, greeted Elliot by name, and ask him to please call me a cab.

“Of course Ms. Matthews! Did your fridge end up working the other night?” He ask.

Good memory… last time I was at the hotel my fridge wasn’t working at Elliot had been sent up and promptly fixed it.

The next morning I was walking out of the hotel and one of the managers stopped me and ask what I did, and ask for the name of my blog. I told him I had just finished up writing the ‘Skid Row’ post and had to get on the road.

“Leaving too soon,” he assured me. “Come back soon, I’m gonna check out your blog!”

So until next time Hotel Ella, the ‘Cheers’ of my world.

*And if you find yourself at The South Congress, look for Andrew at the front desk and Nick at the bar. Nick… who I was about to ask if he remembered me goes, “You’re not still with that Chicago guy are you? Please say no!” The answer was a resounding Hell No. But the Mormon sister wives prevailed!!! More on that in another post.