From my last trip west..

I’ve been working long weeks here at ACK recently (thanks to Austin and San Marcos Demo Days)  and my mind has been venturing west so I’ve decided that I will too! A buddy of mine moved to the little art / ranching community of Marfa, TX shortly after graduating from UT and I’ve been there once before on a camping trip with him and some other friends a couple of years ago. I didn’t get a chance / didn’t take the time to explore the vast beauty and big sky of West Texas so this time I’m planning ahead.

First, the long eight-hour (give or take) drive will take me to Marfa where I plan to explore the town some more (shouldn’t take long) and catch up with my old college buddy at one of the two bars in town. Then, I will wake up early the next morning and head an hour north from town, through the Davis Mountains, and on to Balmorhea State Park where the crowning jewel is a crystal-clear spring-fed swimming pool in the high mountain desert. From there, I will head another hour north of Balmorhea to the Monahans Sandhills State Park where you can ride a horse through the sand dunes or slide down ’em on a trashcan lid if you’re so inclined, among other things.

This would be a good time to talk about my Trip Planning Tip #1: Always (well… mostly – getting lost isn’t all that bad sometimes) know where you’re going and how much it will cost. If you’re driving, use a resource like Gas Buddy to figure out how much your fuel costs will be. If you’re taking a trip on limited time like I am (four days for me with two of those primarily spent driving) it’s a good idea to use resources like Google Maps to plan the trip and your state and national park websites. Balmorhea Springs, for instance, is closed later in May for cleaning which I wouldn’t have known had I not planned ahead. It’s also helpful to take cash in case the parks charge a fee for entrance or something like a rental disk to use while sliding down the dunes at Monahans.

After that day trip, I plan to head back to Marfa for some R&R with friends and then take off to Terlingua, a small “ghost town” that plays host to an annual chili festival and houses a few good dive bars and restaurants that I’ve been told to check out. After Terlingua it’s off the to the Big Bend National Park for lots of hiking, sight-seeing, photography and maybe even a dip in their hot springs!

Now’s the time for Trip Planning Tip #2: Crowd source ideas for your trip. In this digital age with seemingly all knowledge at our fingertips, it can be hard to find out what you really want to see versus what might end up being a “tourist trap”. That’s why I put out a message on Facebook asking my friends for advice on Big Bend and I got back a ton of responses with detailed experiences and “pro-tips” from people who have been many times or just once and whose skill sets range from novice to expert. Now I have a good idea of what I want to do and my friends did all the work for me!

Those are the planned highlights of my trip and I will be reporting back with how things went, some product field testing results, lots of photos and plenty of new experiences to share with our readers!

-Trent @ ACK