Celebrating in West Texas

Editor’s note: Today, Lisa Martinez concludes her ongoing series about an amazing adventure through Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. In following Lisa’s travels online, I have been truly blessed by the faithfulness, inspiration and fun that went into this journey! I want to personally thank Lisa for all of the time that she spent “unpacking” this adventure with us. Lisa, I hope you take another pilgrimage again soon! Lisa
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Colorado Road Trip Quick Stats:

Trip Day: 11
Location: Alpine, Texas
There is nothing quite like breathing in West Texas air as you take in the sights and sounds of Alpine. Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of a small, friendly city surrounded by the splendor of stoic, Desert Mountains. A very different Mountain experience then that of Colorado, but beautiful in its own rite. If we never had left Tim’s Casita, the scenery there would have been sufficient.


To make the day even better, it was my Husband’s birthday. After 10 days of road trip adventures, we had planned to spend this day in a place that was special to Mike. Tim and I spent the morning texting to arrange a birthday cake surprise for Mike later in the day. I felt grateful that day for smart phones and smart friends!

Tim took us down 3rd Street to Plaine, kicking off the birthday tomfoolery with a Cup of Joe. That coffee shop brews beans from Big Bend Coffee Roasters of Marfa, Mike’s favorite, local roasters of only Organic and Fair Trade Coffee. We sat under the outside awning, sipping our hot drinks, near a food truck.

The enticing smells coming from the truck, and my empty stomach, demanded that I try my first ever Cow Dog,100% Beef Grilled Hot Dogs. I tried “The Mexican” — Cow Dog’s Custom Pico de Gallo, Bacon, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Mayo and Ketchup — and I should’ve ordered a foot long. It was a tasty indulgence.

After four years of hearing about this place, I was excited to strap in for the Alpine tour. Tim drove us around his West Texas hometown, showing points of interest along the way.

Beyond the mountainous desert landscapes, there were many places that held memories for long-time buddies Tim and Mike. We drove by Sul Ross University, where they used to work, and the home that they had rented; nearly every turn was rich with old tales of good times past.

Our tour stopped at the historic Holland Hotel. Established in 1928, there is a combination of “genuine Texas history” and rustic elegance.

Some old friends were back in town, which was perfect timing for a birthday celebration. As we waited for them, we wandered into the hotel bar. The bored Bartender, Emily, was happy to have some customers to serve.

During our wait, I shared a story about my 21st birthday drink. One summer during my college years, I worked as a waitress at a Country Club back in Michigan. Home for Winter Break, my brother wanted to treat me to brunch on my birthday, so we I stopped by the Club. Hosting their Annual Christmas brunch (my birthday is the week before Christmas), my former co-workers were very gracious to us despite the reservation-only event. After eating more than we should’ve, Chevy, my bartender friend, sent us over French Kamikazes. Made with Chambord raspberry liquor, it was like punch, which I always say, “makes a party.” After we enjoyed our drink, my brother had asked for the bill, but my friend Jill responded, “It’s already been taken care of.”

After hearing that story, Emily decided to try her hand at it, and looked up how to make a French Kamikaze. Pouring her chilled, red shaker-full out, she treated us to another round of delicious birthday drinks. It was just like I remembered.


Our friends, Sugar, John, and Yolie met up with us at the Holland Hotel. I first met Sugar and John at the Beach House a group of us rented for our summer Wedding, and Yolie had been friends with everyone for years. What fun that they would join us in celebrating Mike’s life.


Hungry, we headed over for lunch at La Casita, a local favorite for Mexican food. Even though my Dad’s side of the family is Mexican, and my Husband is Mexican, there are still Mexican dishes that I have never tried. I decided on Campachanas – which are similar to nachos, with bits of chicken and melted cheese, with tomatoes and fixings layered over corn tortilla chips – so good.

The birthday party moved from there to the Saddle Club, which serves tapas and drinks, and has a delightful courtyard. Surrounded by old friends, I loved hearing my husband and everyone reminisce.

The women came up with a plan to break away first to pick up Mike’s birthday cake. Thankfully Tim had taken great pains to ensure that the spelling of “Mountain Man” was correct. Cake in hand, we made our way back to the Holland Hotel to eat at The Century Bar & Grill with friends.


For dinner, Mike ordered the Century Burger, and I had the Grilled Cornish Hen. It had a plum glaze, strawberry spinach salad, Texas feta cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. The food was good, the laughs and libations flowed, and the service was excellent.

We all felt great satisfaction at Mike’s surprise when the chocolate cake, lit up with candles, was brought out from the kitchen. We sang a rousing version of Happy Birthday, ate our cake, and planned out the last stop of the night: Back to Tim’s to see Fandango, a Kevin Costner movie with scenes filmed locally — a must-see before our Big Bend trip the following day.

Going out and about is fun, but movie nights at home with friends are among my fondest memories. It was the perfect end to a day of birthday festivities, and 11-days of travel. As a bonus to my final post in this series, I am including some of my favorite pictures with captions from our Sunday day trip around Big Bend National Park.



An old Cematery in West Texas


With the gracious new owners of La Kiva, an iconic bar & restaurant in Terlingua, Texas


Loved Terlingua’s rustic shops and theater


A beautiful clock on a golf course in the middle of the West Texas desert


Mike loves the ocotillo plant


At the famous DOM rock from Kevin Costner’s early film, Fandango


The beauty of Big Bend


Tim had no fear climbing out to the point where Kevin Costner gave his Fandango speech


Um, this was close enough for me to the edge


Enjoying Beautiful Big Bend


My favorite Mountain Men


The Window – I want to hike out there next time!


Ended the day with a delicious birthday dinner and Mike’s favorite Banana Pudding made with love by Joy, Tim’s Mom

About Lisa Martinez

A writer, artist, and silly-heart from her youth, Lisa Martinez utilizes a variety of mediums as outlets for creative storytelling, laced with humor whenever possible. Lisa attended Franciscan University, where she studied Writing, Mental Health, and Theology. In 2004, she discovered her passion for driving small business growth; now, with her husband, she owns a boutique digital agency, illuvint, based in Dallas and partnering with a world-class team across the States. Closed Doors Open Windows is where her personal blog lives on the web.