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Day 14 – Sat. Apr. 25th: Saddleblankets to Prada

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<– Day 13 –  Fri. Apr. 24th: We Made it to Texas | TRIP OVERVIEW | Day 15 – Sun. Apr. 26th: Parks and Wind –>


Oh yeah, I can work it!

Our goal for Saturday was to visit multiple odd-ball places in El Paso, then head to the Guadalupe Mountains, before dropping to the town of Alpine. The key to this plan was an early start and an aggressive stop-and-see plan at the oddball locations. However, Texas had other plans for us.


It started 30 seconds from our West El Paso motel. On our way to see Pancho Villa’s finger — yes, downtown at Dave’s Pawnshop is something that resembles Villa’s trigger finger that is for sale, only $9500 — we hit traffic. Since we only had four miles to go, I figured it couldn’t take us too long, right? Wrong. Without any other route options, we were forced to endure stop and go traffic as four lanes dropped to three, three lanes dropped to two, and two lanes dropped to one. One hour later(!!!), we finally made passed the blockage — workers were hanging signs on an overpass. Who knew? We didn’t, at least not in time.

By the time we reached the finger (Ann’s idea) I might have been a little surly. But, it was fun to visit the shop on El Paso Street, a mini-Tijuana that looked like it might be fun to stroll up and down when we didn’t have camera and computer equipment locked in our jeep. So, we passed on exploring the area further, but Ann did get her chance to photograph Pancho’s finger:


After getting the finger, we left for another old relic, a 1919 refurbished gas station with non-functioning pumps. Local resident Rod Davenport restored the gas station. Other local residents were so pleased with the result they turned the surrounding area into a small park. It was a neat little place.

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The next stop on our agenda was suggested by a reader: El Paso Saddleblanket. Dan Horenburger told me he practiced his early horse trading by buying goods from the Saddleblanket and reselling them at a swap meet. In fact, the Saddleblanket’s owner is all for people doing that. Throughout the huge store — actually, two buildings — are advertisements encouraging people to become dealers. But, it was hard to focus on the sales pitch, because there was so much merchandise to browse: saddles, blankets, clothes, jewelry, pottery, furniture, sculptures, knick knacks, and much more.


Between the sign and billboards, you can’t miss the place. I recommend parking in the rear in between the two buildings.


Now that’s a horse of a different color.


Inside the expo building. It doesn’t have as much stuff as the larger main building.


There were some other bowling pin designs, too.


I walked in on her in the men’s bathroom. I had to double check I was in the right bathroom.

After a quick stop for some good tasting Vietnamese soup at Pho Tres Bien (just up the street from the Saddleblanket), we drove north a few miles to see Casa de Azucar (The Sugar House). Starting in 1973 the owner meticulously began adding shrines and decorative elements on three sides of his house. The results are beautiful and quiet out of place given the surrounding bland-designed single family homes. Ann loved it. I was amused.

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Having checked off our El Paso must-see items, we tried to head to Alpine. But, for some reason, SIRI and I began to have difficulties. At one point she wanted me to steer into a barricade that I saw and she didn’t. Since I couldn’t go there, I was nearly forced to head into Fort Bliss, another location I  didn’t want to waste time getting into and out of (at least we have the military ID to reduce confusion). Fortunately, just before we hit the entry gates, a u-turn presented itself. On the way out of the base, I shut off SIRI and turned to Google Maps. SIRI and I will NOT be talking for a while.

With SIRI quiet, I had a chance to check out the freeways. They have some beautiful overpasses in El Paso:


As we left El Paso, we agreed that we would visit again. It seemed like a neat city.

Our drive to Alpine was a pretty one. However, the traffic delays and our not so quick stops forced us to chop Guadalupe Mountains NP from our agenda. Instead, we drove straight for Alpine.

Ann slept for the first two hours or so. By the time she woke up we were heading south on highway 90. She was feeling a little groggy, but then perked up. She said something like, “Did you see that?” To which I said, “See what?”

“I saw a Prada store! We have to turn around!” She yelled, gleefully.

You have to picture that we hadn’t seen any store for about forty minutes. We were deep in West Texas scrub brush and grass. Even the cattle weren’t too interested in being out there.

“You saw a Prada store? In the middle of nowhere?? Do you really want me to turn around?”

“YES!! We have to turn around.”

Now, if you are thinking what I am thinking, you are thinking that technically the woman is certifiably nuts and suffers from a very real brain injury. Add to those issues, her bout with the plague, which has probably worsened the situation. However, I had to weigh that against the possibility that I would be sleeping by myself in the car if I didn’t turn around . . . thinking . . . A warm and happy bed companion did sound much better than losing time turning, because of a u-turn … so that’s what I did.

And damn, you couldn’t have guessed that she was right? In the middle of nowhere was a Prada store. Or more accurately, it was an art project created to look like a Prada store. Again, in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! Thankfully, my wife wasn’t too crazy after all 🙂  As we took pictures, several other cars all passed by and all did u-turns. Their occupants exited their cars as bewildered as we did. (It even shows up on Google Maps)


Following the Prada outlet, we hopped back onto the highway until it brought us to the city of Marfa. That’s where I saw the first and last jeep of the day, a CJ-3A. The keys were in it, too!

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Not far from the jeep was a strange sculpture, an Oldsmobile(?) stood on it’s grille over a small pond. It marked the location of Marfa Contemporary, an art exhibition house.  It sure captures your attention as you come into town.


One claim to fame Marfa has is that it was the on-locaiton production home for the movie “Giant”. The 1955 movie starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and others. It had such an effect on the town that a documentary was made and shown on PBS just last week called Children of Giant.

Once we were done with Marfa, we drove to our final destination, Alpine. It’s a cute little town with a couple amazing murals. Just beautiful!

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Tomorrow we plan to leave early for a run to the border (though not across the border) and follow a scenic road that traces the Rio Grande through a State and National Park.

<– Day 13 –  Fri. Apr. 24th: We Made it to Texas | TRIP OVERVIEW | Day 15 – Sun. Apr. 26th: Parks and Wind –>


14 Comments on “Day 14 – Sat. Apr. 25th: Saddleblankets to Prada

  1. Minnesota Chris

    Hey, nice hips dave. That little gas station is really cool. I’m sure my wife would have made me turn around too to look at a prada store in the middle of nowhere. Be gentle with SIRI.

  2. Idaho Todd

    Look at the bumper on that 3a. It’s a frame bender for sure. It looks like there is no tailgate. Matter of fact, no hood seam, no drain holes and no spare tire bracket holes. It’s got El bondo!

  3. Joe in Mesa

    Always enjoy reading your adventures… although now that I’ve seen you “dressed” in that chair, I can’t un-see it! Perhaps you and Ann should have switched seats 😉

    BTW, was that an Olds or a Chevy Chevelle perpendicular to the mirror pool?

  4. mmdeilers Post author

    Roy: Thought the same thing. That’s why I took and posted the pic 🙂

    Joe, I wasn’t too sure which it was. I assumed someone else would recognized it.

    Todd: Yeah, no trailer queen there.

    Chris: I am giving SIRI another chance today. No one makes me as mad as SIRI.

    Winds out here in Texas has been HORRIBLE most of the day. Dust everywhere.

  5. Joe in Mesa

    OMG: Ann weighed it! I’m going with her powers of observation, after finding Prada in the middle of nowhere 🙂
    That Chevy body style was 1968 thru 1972, as I recall so Doug may have it correct at 1969.

  6. mmdeilers Post author

    Yes, she weighed in on the topic. We got bored waiting for dinner, so she hopped on the site to see what I’ve been writing about her 🙂

  7. Mom

    Dont know if this is true about the park you may be visiting, but have read that some parks are not safe for Americans. So… be careful and you might ask a native if it is safe to go there. Anyone else have advise about the area?

    On another front, really enjoyed todays post.

  8. mmdeilers Post author

    Hi Mom … ummm, exactly which ‘native’ should I be asking? There weren’t too many people of any nationality or creed to answer our questions during our trip through the parks.

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