Visiting Marfa TX

We made it in time for our dinner reservation at the 1 of 3 decent restaurants in Marfa. Of course we had to stop and take pictures at the Prada store which is about 30 miles west of town. We blasted into town, checked into the The Paisano Hotel and were greeted by an old world Texas vibe that is uniquely Texas. Saltillo tile floors, tall ceilings, Texas longhorn cattle and bison heads adorned the walls of the lobby as did huge black and white photos of scenes from the movie The Giant. The movie was filmed in Marfa and the surrounding desert. The cast and crew stayed at The Hotel Paisano. One of my Dad’s friends from Hollywood was Fred Guiol (pronounced ‘gill’) and he was the head screen writer for the movie as well as the 1939 classic Gunga Din. Anyway, we checked in and drove over to the restaurant and had a really great meal after a long drive.

The next day we had booked a walking tour of the Donald Judd collection at the Chianti Foundation located on the old Air Force base on the edge of town. We spent 3 hours with a guide and walked the 10+ buildings filled with Judd’s work as well as a couple of other artists on permanent installation. Judd’s work is pretty impressive in size and simplicity and execution. We were lucky enough to chat up with the tour guide and after the tour he took us to a run down sold adobe house (not live able) to see his work that was still hanging from an opening the night before. There were cold beers in the ice filled tub so we had a beer and toured is work. One of his friends and a Marfa transplant dropped by and joined us for a beer and some art talk. He is a screen writer from Hollywood with some pretty impressive credits and an Emmy that came to Marfa to write. He started the Marfa Correspondence Society - you can find them on Instagram.

After our visit we needed toget some lunch so we found this outdoor eatery and had to wait for it to open. One thing is for certain, in Marfa everything has its own pace - easy and slow. It’s a nice way to live…

Lunch was great and we set off to explore the town. We were told that Monday-Wednesday the town of Marfa is pretty much closed and it’s true. Restaurants, galleries, shops - pretty much everything wakes up Thursday-Sunday and even then the hours are pretty unpredictable. We timed our visit over a weekend for this very reason.

We strolled a bit and not much was open but we did find a couple of galleries and ended up meeting a couple of artists and enjoyed our conversations. There was a shop that we wanted to visit near our hotel so we stopped by and the door was locked but people were inside talking and visiting. A young woman came to the door and told us to come back in an hour that the owner was visiting with some clients privately. The shop was owned by a friend of Amy’s from the CFDA in NYC. So we came back and the door was still locked and the owner waved at Amy as if it indicate, hang on just a bit more and I’ll be right out. We took a walk around the block, so to speak, and came back to a warm welcome to Amy. I was introduced and Amy and her friend talked for the better part of an hour while I toured the shop. Most of what I needed to see in the shop was covered in about 10 minutes and their visit in full swing and going on at a fevered pace talking about some of their mutual friends and acquaintances in the fashion world.

What a conversation, what a character and what a great way to top off the afternoon.

We were parched so we needed a beverage so we walked a block back to The Hotel Paisano and had a margarita in the courtyard by the fountain/pool. All in all a great day in Marfa, Texas.

We extended our stay in Marfa an additional night and had to move to the Thunderbird Motel. The Thunderbird was one of those old style park in central courtyard parking lot pool in the center 2 story motel arranged in a horseshoe around the parking lot. This configuration has been hipsterized by changing the parking lot into a gravel spa/pool experience with updated rooms with paper thin walls.

Checked-in to the Thunderbird and walked across the street to ‘their’ restaurant the Capri - great food, terrific setting on a cool May evening.

We awoke early to the train rumbling directly behind the motel and decided it was time to leave so leave we did. We packed up and stopped for some provisions at the local market and made our way north - today’s destination - Austin!

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Santa Fe, New Mexico to Marfa, Texas

We said goodbye to the family and headed SxSW with our destination of Marfa, TX. This was going to be a longish day in the car but we kinda like that. We got a chance to stop in some really interesting places along the way. Amy and I vowed that this road trip would been different than all the others. Whenever possible we would take the 2 lane roads, off the beaten path, stay clear of the interstates and see some different scenery. That meant that some of the days were LONG drives. Some of the roads were just slower, more circuitous and most importantly more scenic.

We left Santa Fe and headed down HWY 285 through Clines Corner to HWY 54. Along the way we stopped at Capitan NM where Smokey Bear was rescued and eventually buried after he lived his life in Washington DC at the National Zoo. After leaving and paying our respects to Smokey and visiting the museum in Capitan we moseyed down the Billy the Kid Highway to Lincoln and wandered through the graveyard and saw the tombstones that were inscribed “Pal of Billy the Kid” Seems like a dubious title to put on your final resting place considering Billy the Kid was a teenage outlaw that lost his life at age 21. I guess if you didn’t have a lot going on for you that being a pal of Bill the Kid was pretty neat stuff.

We didn’t stop in Roswell nor did we stop in Carlsbad and we kept pushing on because we had to get to Marfa for our dinner reservation. Little did we know at that point how crucial that reservation was.

We pushed on and drove through some of the most spectacularly rugged mountains as we left NM and entered Texas on Hwy 62 just south of Carlsbad driving though the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. As we entered Texas east of El Paso the terrain changed to flat and dry. We saw nothing for miles with the exception of dirt roads that went out into the horizon for miles and miles. This area is a huge fracking area for shale oil and by all accounts they are ruining the ground water and disrupting the water table permanently.

‘Merica!

We pushed on at 90 mph through the flats and high desert of South West Texas. At the time, I didn’t realize how close we were to the Mexican border - pretty darn close really. As we screamed along on long straight flat roads all of a sudden Amy shouts, “THERE IT IS - PULL OVER” I overshot my mark about 200 feet but there it was, one of the true wonders of the world - the Prada store in the middle of nowhere Texas. See photo below. It’s an art installation that was built in 2005 and is a source of much wonderment and delight the world over.

Marfa is our destination and we were getting close only 30 miles to go.

Marfa is one of the coolest, hippest, strangest, places we have ever visited. It was a railroad town that had a military base that has none of that any longer. The only reason it is even on the map as a destination today is because of the artist, Donald Judd. He was looking for a place to move his art and studio from NYC and he found Marfa, TX. If you want to know more, do some reading - it’s a great story.

Here’s how we got from Santa Fe to Marfa.

Highways - 285 - 3 - 54 - 380 - 285 - 62 - 54 - 90

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LA-Santa Fe

The road trip continues, in many ways is just now getting started.

We left LA with the intent to get to Santa Fe to visit Amy’s sister and family. Kelly Anne, Michael and Luke live just outside of Santa Fe on acreage that we have not yet seen. Well, I haven’t visited at least. We started off and headed east and visited some of the primo spots along the way. Desert Rats is what they call the folks that live out in some of this God forsaken lands. We didn’t get an early start so we ended up staying in Gallup, NM for the night. Not much to see there so up and out we went and got to Santa Fe for a late lunch.

LOVE Santa Fe - such a great town and it has been a LONG time since I had visited.

We had a great 2 night visit with family - highlights were just spending some quiet time with KA, Michael and Luke. We had a terrific lunch among the galleries. One of the many highlights for me was getting ride KA’s horse, Cree. it had been quite a while since I had ridden and I forgot how fun it was to ride.

Being with the family was really enjoyable for all the right reasons. Luke is growing up quickly and has such a great life on their 10 acres, he is enjoying school and has a good posse.

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LA: Junk Battle

While in Los Angeles we stayed with my Mom, Dena in Studio City. We were with her for almost a week and while in LA we did some pretty fun stuff. We visited with some friends and generally caught up with ourselves after a very busy and frantic couple of months.

I was asked to be the MC of a really fun event - Junk Battle - conceived by Pando Populus. It was a terrific event at the Clean Tech Incubator in downtown LA. Junk Battle event was the culmination of course work over the spring semester from 5 LA area colleges and universities - USC, UCLA, Art Center, CalArts, and LA Trade Tech. The colleges competed to create the best solutions on removing the waste stream from their institution. LA Trade Tech WON!

LA was action packed and fun!

Now it was time to get on the road - next stop - not sure!

First stop: Ely, Nevada

We packed the car, made Kiki (dog) cozy and headed out for a road trip. We like road trips. The itinerary was pretty straight forward - drive to Florida and back! We were going to visit family and friends along the way. So we jumped in the Subaru and headed out from Ennis. First stop - Ely, Nevada.

Ely is know for 2 things - the penitentiary and the train museum. We visited one of them. If you are ever visit Ely, don’t. In all fairness, it’s not that bad - we had a great Mexican dinner and the train museum is really great, seriously. If you are a train buff, it’s a must see.

From Ely we drove to LA the next day. Along the way we saw parts of Nevada we had never been to before. Desolate doesn’t begin to describe the drive from Ely to Tonopah. We would drive for miles without seeing another vehicle or for that matter any sign of life. It is quite beautiful in a way that the high desert is really pretty. Long expanses of valley floor punctuated by beautiful mountain ranges mile after mile.

From Tonopah we headed southwest and were heading to the northeastern entrance of Death Valley. What an amazing place Death Valley can be. Windy, hot, cold, desolate, unforgiving, beautiful and kinda scary all wrapped up into vistas that seems to change by the hour. Amy nor I had every been to Death Valley and we would like to go back some time and drive the length and maybe spend a couple of days (in the winter).

Climbing out from the valley floor was a terrific drive as you wound up and over the western boarder mountain range that is spectacularly rugged. The route was simple as we drove the northeast to southwest diagonal through Death Valley on our way to Ridgecrest California and then into the LA Basin.

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Moving in and moving on.

We get to Montana, stuff arrives, it’s unloaded and now its time to see how we are going to fit into our new community. We are nomads for the first time in our lives. Nomads is a bit dramatic - we own a home, we own another property in Bozeman and we are in the middle of finalizing the design of the home we will be building in ‘town’. So not exactly nomads but kinda sorta…

The feeling of nomad comes from the fact that we are camping in our house because for part of June, all of July and through the first week in August we have guests (renters) at LP Ranch. We had accepted the commitments for paying guests before we really understood our calendar for the summer. It wasn’t great planning on our part so we are nomads - camping in our own house and basically living out of suitcase.

We moved our stuff, stayed at LP for 10 days and then we were off on an epic road trip.

Montana: we are here!

We pulled into LP Ranch (ranch loosely defined) on April 3rd around noonish. The moving van was scheduled to arrive on April 4th and it did! The entire contents of that big truck (2/3 of it was ours) was stacked strategically in our garage. Our life and stuff from 22 years in Orinda was now boxed and stored in a garage at the 45th parallel in Ennis Montana.

It was an odd moment when we realized that this was reality but the reality of the moment wouldn’t really hit until several months later. The funny thing is that there are moments in life when things change rapidly and its a flash bang moment of change and there were certainly moments in this move that were big flashes of change. But so much of this move was a gradual change because we had been talking and planning about this for quite some time.

Stuff was unloaded and we had some errands to do - like get some food, pick up our Land Cruiser that was in storage in Bozeman and just stuff to do.

The weird part was that we were only in Montana for about 10 days because we had rental guests coming that had booked the house a year ago. We sort of had to honor our rental commitments or pay to have them moved to another location. We had planned a road trip anyway so I guess it would be ok to collect a little rent money while we were on the road. Considering this home has been a vacation rental during the summers for the past 9 summers.

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Leaving California

So, where were we… right - the truck is loaded and off they go, then off we go. We had to get to Montana before the truck so we spent a couple of nights at Amy’s Mom’s house in Oakland. Kelly is always great and we are so lucky to have supportive Mothers that not only keep us in check but give us their time and energy and support our decisions (most of the time, HA!).

The truck was set to arrive on April 6th so we needed to get out of Dodge because we had a 1.5 drive up to Ennis. Here’s the tricky part. Our car - we only had 1 in California at the time - a Subaru CrossTrek - not exactly a large vehicle had to hold 2 people, Kiki (dog), and our valuable stuff that we couldn’t pack in the moving van. That included important files, jewelry, my shotguns that I inherited from my Father and a bunch of other stuff. The tricky part is where do we stay for the night without having to unload the entire car into a motel room and then load it back up again. At this point I was DONE with packing and moving shit around. Simple solution really, put in a 12 hour day and drive to a small b&b in Rexburg, Idaho where we can park the car without a concern of it getting stolen or broken into. Seems like a minor deal but our entire confidential lives were inside that car! Ok, got it - done! Moving on…

Rexburg to Ennis is only about 3 hours so it was an easy drive in after a long and emotional day before leaving California for the last time as residents.

We arrived at LP Ranch to beautiful weather. We stopped along the way and snapped a few photos of the Welcome to Montana road sign. Seemed appropriate since we were now going to be full time Montanans.

Arriving at the house, like we have so many times before was different. It was familiar, of course, after all we made this house ‘ours’ years ago but this was different. It was no longer just a vacation house, a part time home for our family. It was now our home but we really didn’t understand that yet, not at all as you will see in upcoming blog posts. It felt good but there was a task at hand. We had to prep the garage to absorb our California house belongings for storage until our Bozeman house was completed.

So, Amy and I got busy cleaning out the garage and making sure we could put everything in it’s place in some sort of orderly fashion.


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April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018

Worth mentioning...

It’s probably worth mentioning that both of our daughters were not living in California any longer. Lily had moved to Denver with Christian, her boyfriend and Paige was married to Drew and living in Florida for his Air Force special ops training.

One of the hardest parts of this whole decision was leaving family and friends and the decision to sell our home of 22 years. We loved that home and put in a lot of love and sweat into its care and feeding. We raised two wonderful daughters in that home and it was hard saying goodby to those memories.

Until you walk through this door you don’t really realize it but the memories are just that and the vessel of the house doesn’t hold those memories. The good times, sad times and everything in between are held in your heart and mind and its the people that keep that alive, not the house or the stuff.

The stuff of life is just that, a silly word that means nothing. I know, we packed a lot of stuff into boxes.

More on stuff later…

22 years in Orinda: NEXT!

Why move? This was not a capricious decision, not at all. The idea of living in the Rocky Mountains was a dream of both Amy and mine since we were young. The idea of having a ski pass, being able to hike at a moments notice, fly fish without making it a vacation trip and just generally enjoy the outdoors was a dream. But California has all of that? Of course it does and if you can find a parking place in the Muir Woods parking lot you can enjoy it with millions of other people too.

It was time for something different, maybe a bit bold, maybe even a bit scary - it was time.

We promised Lily and Paige we would have one more Christmas in Orinda so December 2018 would be our last Christmas in the house where they grew up. It was fun, and memorable, and stressful, and a bit melancholy, but exciting and hopeful nonetheless.

We made it through the holidays, even having an open house where we didn’t announce to our friends and neighbors we were moving. We remained mum about the whole thing, even though a few people knew already.

On December 28 we started to pack the house and move our belongings into the garage for storage so the stagers can prep the house for an open house in early February. We had some sprucing up to do so ALL the furniture had to be removed so we could re-finish the hardwood floors and paint etc. With that big chore done the house was listed. It sold quickly - twice. What a pain in the butt selling your house can be - seriously - not a fun process. I must say that our real estate agent and dear friend, Finola, was a pleasure to work with and a true professional. The staging was silly - poorly conceived but that’s what you do in NorCal. It is seriously a racket run by bad decorators that have convinced real estate agents that generic was what moves homes. The funniest part of this part of the story is that the people that bought the house, saw it with NO furniture at all while the floors were being finished and the old paint was still on the walls - HA! I’m done with this rant.

So the house is sold to a nice couple with two teenaged daughters so that felt really good.

Next is getting California to Montana - moving vans are ordered and the date is on the calendar!

The truck pulls up, it’s loaded and off they go, off we go to meet the truck at our home in Montana on April 4th.

Moving from California to Montana

Who’d a thunk it? Lifelong Californians moving out of the state - now there’s a shocker. I’m only being mildly sarcastic. As it turns out this journey started a long long time ago.

I first came to Montana as a young teenager and fell in love with the Madison Valley in Southwestern Montana and the little town of Ennis. That is a much longer story that I can dive into in an upcoming post but for now let’s stick to the here and now.

Amy and I decided a few years ago that California was getting too crowded, too exhausting, too expensive and quite frankly too mean spirited. So we put in motion a plan that if we could we would move leave our home state.

This plan actually hatched way back in 1993 when our first daughter was born. I was on sabbatical from Apple and we took a driving trip around the western US with the hope that we would find a great place to possibly move one day. We loved Denver, Seattle, Northern California and so many places along the way. As luck would have it before my sabbatical was over I got fired - laid off, downsized, rightsized, re-orged - whatever you want to call it - I was out of a job with a brand new baby and another one on the way. Oops, now I’m getting into the weeds. So here’s the shortcut and fast forward about 3 years. I was employed, started a new company, took our first round of venture funding and we decide to move from Los Angeles to Northern California for our family health and so our company could prosper with other like minded software companies. So with now with 2 daughters - Paige, 2 years and Lily 4 years, we moved to Orinda, bought a great house that we could barely afford and raised our two daughters.

Here are some milestone events that play into all of this.

October 2010 we have the very privileged opportunity to buy a home and some small acreage in the Madison Valley. There is a great back story here but not in this post.

2012 - Paige starts college at Montana State University

2014 - Lily graduates from California College of the Arts and moves to LA to work at Sony Pictures Animation as a character designer

2014 - I leave my job of 12.5 years as a corporate puke and decided to do something radically different rather than just being an employee wearing my body and brain down to a nub. Do I sound like I was burned out - yeah, maybe just a bit… I become a consultant and step into some pretty cool roles - very rewarding work actually.

2016 - Paige graduates from MSU and oh, yeah, she’s engaged to Drew Billings (Montana boy)

2017 - Paige and Drew are married at our LP Ranch (sounds big huh?, it’s not…)

All this while, Amy is thriving as the longest running Chair of the Fashion Program at CCA - 10 years marked with some amazing successes - then WHAMMO - her Dean gets all high and mighty and decides that changes are what managers do (she’s never managed anything before), so the Dean decides to shake up the world and not renew two highly successful Chairs for their next contract. This is a crazy story that will have to wait.

Interesting choices can now be made because the things that tied us to the Bay Area, namely work and the promise of a steady and lucrative income have kind of had a hold on our lives. Makes sense - its expensive to live. So some of the steady and some of the income have now changed…

We have family in California, our Mom’s live in California - mine in LA, and Amy’s in Oakland, Amy’s sister and her family live in the same town, we have great friends, we have a beautiful home (seriously nice digs), we are connected to our community, business opportunities are pretty plentiful, The Bay Area is a beautiful place to live - geez, what’s not to like. .

Why would we want to leave? Seriously, why?