Yes, that’s a Playboy logo in the desert.

art

On our way outta Dodge on Sunday, we drove past the now-notorious 40-foot neon Playboy logo and, er, Dodge Charger in the middle of the desert. The art installation went up quietly in June on the outskirts of Marfa, and it wasn’t long before disapproving locals filed a complaint, calling licensing and permits into question. Is it art or advertising? Stay tuned for the bunny’s fate.

Caving in

caverns

We decided to cut the drive home in half with a stop at the Caverns of Sonora, a National Natural Landmark about 8 miles west of Sonora, Texas. There, we descended 155 feet into the damp cave on a guided tour through over two miles of passageways. The “show cave” was discovered at the turn of the 20th Century and opened to the public in 1960. On our hour and a half hike underground, we admired an impressive combination of live stalagmites, stalactites and helictites throughout a maze of dripping formations. Go there. It’s spectacular.

The campfire crooner

dyer

Q. How can I rustle up some fine fireside entertainment?

A. Sit around a fire with Dan Dyer on guitar.

The East Texas-born musician is a regular at the Continental Club in Austin. This weekend, he’s hanging out with Chef Lou and his crew, lending a hand to pitch in or poach some eggs.  When I asked him how he describes his style, he called it “a combination of country, folk and soul.”  And that’s just what we got on our last night out in West Texas. In his cowboy hat, overalls and boots, this Texas troubadour had everyone’s full attention as he strummed through half a dozen original songs. I’ll take a concert sponsored by that voice any day of the week.

The bunkhouse at the ranch

bunkhouse

After a few breezy hours in a hammock and some ping pong at Planet Marfa, the local biergarten, we hopped in the car with some new friends and headed north to the Lambert Bunkhouse on Saturday night. The family’s ranch home sits on a hill in between Marfa and Fort Davis overlooking the gorgeous expanse of verdant Jeff Davis County.

First, a demonstration on from-scratch focaccia. Dough goes into dutch oven. Dutch oven is placed atop half a dozen hot coals. Cast iron lid goes on top of dutch oven.  More hot coals are placed atop the lid. Twenty minutes later you have ready-to-eat oily onion flat bread.

Dinner:

  • Onion focaccia
  • Grilled asparagus with cherry tomato relish
  • Cesar salad
  • Gold garlic potatoes
  • Ribeye, rare, with cremini mushroom relish
  • Rack of lamb, rare, with chimichurri sauce
  • Apple & blackberry cobbler a la mode (below)

cobbler