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My youngest and best memories are of being on the road. A young child takes everything in as a new experience. As an adult, I need that or I get restless and feel old. Traveling to new places fills the coffee cup.

I didn’t get to pick my family, but as a 31 year old teenager, I have picked a few friends to be family. I met Melissa in Iceland. She was a mellow photographer who could handle bad jokes, and when my cell phone disappeared and ended up in her pocket as an accident, I knew we could do more trips together. Since Iceland we spoke about another trip. West Texas ended up on the list. I’ve missed Marfa too many times going through the south, and this time, it was a target.

We started the trip Christmas evening 2015 in a 1975 Toyota FJ43 from Heritage Overland. No heat and 19 degree temperatures made us improvise. Wool blankets, flannels, and down jackets kept us warm on the long drives where going anything over 55 mph rarely occurred.

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Driving into Marfa turned into a snowstorm. We camped out in the field of El Cosmico for two days. Everyone thought we were crazy and they were right. What you learn in hard times is to laugh and smile a lot. Waking up to frozen socks that were wet when you went to bed, and a friend half way across the tent who snores, is better than any day driving a Ferrari through Beverly Hills; or that’s at least how we feel.

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Marfa blew our minds. Left over slice of pizza bets on games of pool at the local watering hole and prison tattoos in a tipi left our hearts in West Texas. The road to Big Bend National Park had closed due to the snow storm so we headed to Austin.

A wrong turn ended us up in a town called Marathon. There we met a woman called the Goat Lady who wore a fur coat, and her engine grease faced covered man, Gilbert. We were invited to stay in an adobe on their property. The stars were brighter than the moon that night. An unexpected experience that made the trip an all time high in my record books of life.

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Back on the road we ended up in Austin a day and a half later. Hikes and fly fishing mixed with taco consumption filled our days and country dancing filled the night into the wee hours of the morning. Our last destination of the trip was Houston. We spent new years with some folks named David and Destiny in a house that has the soul of New Orleans.

This trip made me fall in love with Texas and the new friends I made. Every night I fall asleep with that now old wool blanket I took on the trip. It still smells like camp fire and dirt. I find comfort in this. Each night before bed it makes me think about that one time I went on a road trip and made a few of the best decisions in my life to camp in 19 degree weather and drive across a state in the middle of winter with no heat.

If i could do it all over again I would change…..nothing.

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Photo Credits: 1, 2, 4-19, 21 @melissalaree; 3, 20 @careyquintonhaider.

Items packed up on this trip:

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