“When I was 12 years old and in 7th grade, I had a phenomenal science teacher who organized summer trips out to West Texas from our small east Texas town. That was the first time I experienced the quiet beauty of the vast, West Texas landscape, which was in such stark contrast to the piney woods and swamplands where I grew up. The wide open spaces that seemed to go on forever opened up my world and fostered my love for heading west.
Now as a mom of two young girls who love adventure, my husband CJ and I visit our favorite spots in West Texas every chance we get, always capped off with a stay at Marathon’s Gage Hotel.
The tiny town of Marathon, TX has won our hearts with it’s quiet, charming main street and friendly residents. We like to bring along our bikes, cruise around the sleepy town and take pictures of the desert landscape. The history of the Gage Hotel and their attention to detail makes staying here such a unique experience, and is such a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life in Austin.
As photographers, the West Texas landscape offers endless opportunities for photos with it’s unique quality of light and open expanses. Recently, we had the opportunity to document a wedding at the Gage Hotel, and it’s one of our favorites to date. A wedding at the Gage Hotel is such a relaxed, and festive atmosphere where everyone can come together to celebrate, and practically have an entire town to yourselves! It’s such a fun weekend getaway and unique experience for your guests, and great proximity for exploring Big Bend National Park.
We were so inspired while documenting this wedding, with the ceremony held at the historic Captain Shepard’s House, and reception at the Gage Hotel courtyard. We were able to steal the bride and groom away for some portraits against the stunning desert landscape, which are my favorite images from the day. We’re looking forward to documenting another wedding here this fall!
Some of our other favorite West Texas spots include Balmorhea State park, the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. The water is cold and clear and our family enjoys snorkeling and swimming with the catfish.
We always try to make it to a “star party” at McDonald’s Observatory, the darkest observatory in North America. Astronomers will point out constellations in the night sky and you can view planets through their massive telescopes. It’s a wonderful facility and the stars are spectacular!
Other spots we love include Big Bend National Park, El Cosmico in Marfa, the Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains State Park, built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp, and we’ll stop off in Alpine to grab a hot dog from “Cow Dog,” a food truck parked on their main street, and pop into Ring Tail Music to browse their records.
Our family loves visiting West Texas and we find something new each time we visit. We can’t wait to head west again!”
For those of you who have visited us before, you may think you’ve seen all that Marathon has to offer! However, our little town has a few hidden gems that may surprise you. Next time you’re out visiting our area take some time to check out some of our treasures!
The Milky Way: As one of the most isolated areas of the country Marathon’s night sky is one of the top star gazing locations in North America. In fact, it has the least amount of light pollution of any National Park in the lower 48 states and is classified as a Level 1 Dark Sky!
Captain Shepard’s House: Don’t miss your chance to see one of the first colonial homes built in the late 1800’s in the town that would soon become Marathon, TX.
One of a Kind Shopping: Marathon, TX is host to a variety of stores that you won’t find anywhere else! We guarantee that you’ll find great clothes, antiques and one-of-a-kind art.
Marathon Coffee Shop: Not only will their delicious and down-home coffees & fresh baked goods perk you up in the morning, but this is the best spot in Marathon to hear our local banjo player Billy Faier (pictured below) play some fabulous tunes!
Gage Gardens: At the Gage Hotel we have worked so hard to cultivate a “Secret Garden” of our own. The Gage Gardens is a secluded, peaceful oasis perfect for any family picnic or romantic stroll.
First School House: This is the oldest school building in Brewster County. Built in 1888 it was used not only for schooling, but for all town public meetings and elections. The structure is still in beautiful shape over 120 years later due to a restoration done in 1928 by the ladies of the Marathon Study Club. Hence the school house’s new nickname – The “Club House”!
Marathon Jail: While the first “jail” in Marathon consisted of a windmill and a few chains for drunkenness and disorderly behavior, eventually we upgraded to this small, rock structure. Come inside, take a look and try not to get into any trouble! We’d hate to have to dust off those cuffs!
(Photo credits: Daniel Self, Andrew Slaton and the Marathon Historical Museum)
Across the street from the historic hotel, and next to the gorgeous Gage Gardens, sits the Wilson House. This spacious home includes a sitting area complete with TV and fireplace, a king bed, and two twin beds in an open loft. We love the open floor plan and high ceilings of the Wilson house, which is complete with beautiful wood floors.
This airy space is ideal for entertaining and parties as the home also boasts a huge covered porch and a private fenced yard. If we could, we’d take our coffee and eggs in the privacy of the light filled, full kitchen or one of the outside areas each morning.
For more specific information on the Wilson house or rooms at Gage Hotel please call 1-800-884-GAGE.
Don’t walk, run to sign up for October 26th’s, Marathon 2 Marathon, the annual race in West Texas. It’s only fitting that our town of Marathon, named by seafaring Capt. Albion Shepard who said the desert area surrounded by mountains reminded him of Marathon in Greece, host this annual event. Whether you are interested in the Marathon, ½ Marathon, 10 k or 5 k, think no further and take advantage of the opportunity to run in a cool desert climate, on a gradual downhill course, in a wide open space surrounded by rolling mountains and gorgeous scenery.
Friday night, the Gage Hotel will provide guests and runners with a delicious Pasta Dinner in addition to the regular 12 Gage restaurant dining menu, along with live music by Tessy Lou and The Shotgun Stars. Saturday morning busses will shuttle runners from the Gage Hotel to their appropriate starting lines. After the Race we will celebrate with massages at the finish line, a Catfish Fry Fundraiser, street dance, and entertainment by Grupo Maracas.
That’s not all. That night the Marathon Motel Court Yard will host a post race Party with live music provided by the Craig Carter and Spur of the Moment Band. Reserve your rooms at the Gage Hotel for the weekend of October 25thhere today. We will make sure to send you to the race well rested and ready for the big day and we will pamper you upon your return: Enjoy a tasty meal from our 12 Gage restaurant, services from our spa, and a peaceful evening by one of our fire pits before retiring for the night and returning to a big, cozy bed. Hope to see you in October!
What better way to celebrate Fredric Remington, the most significant artist to portray the American West, than in West Texas? Works by Remington seldom leave their home in New York, however the Museum of The Big Bend will exhibit a vast number of his best-known pieces this fall, September 19th through December 8th.
We’ll kick off the opening weekend with a Thursday night dinner under the stars catered by our 12 Gage Restaurant, followed by a Saturday night gala with cocktails, dinner, live auction, silent auction, music and more! If you can’t make it for the opening weekend, make sure you head out before the pieces head back up north. We urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to see the historic works of beautiful and unique art while they are in the land that inspired them.
Join us the weekend of September 20th for The West Fest Cabrito and BBQ Cook-off. Friday evening have a margarita at the White Buffalo bar before putting on your dancing shoes and heading out to hear Craig Carter Band who is playing that night.
On Saturday, enter the competition and bring out your best recipes, or relax, take in the scene, and taste the best of Texas and try the likes of steak, goat, beans, brisket, bread, dessert and salsa! The cook-off is located 5 miles outside of town at the Post Park, which sits on the Pena Colorado River beneath the shade of cottonwood trees, and surrounded by mountains.
Come on out for delicious food, great company, and a good ole’ time! Hope to see you there.
We’ve got quiet a bit going on this fall, and thought we would give you a heads up so you could join us for the fun. Mark your calendars for the weekends of September 19th and October 12th. We can hardly wait for the parties, food, art and fun.
On September 19th, we’ll be celebrating the opening weekend of the Remington Show at the Museum of Big Bend. Join us for a full weekend that includes a private tour, cocktails, dinner and Gala that will feature a live auction and more.
If you can’t make it out then, we’ll save you a seat at Chinati Weekend 2013 on October 12 and 13th in Marfa. The weekend includes an after party, featuring DJ Manolo Black, as well as a sunrise viewing of Donald Judd’s 100 works.
We hope to see you then and toast you over champagne – Call 800-884-GAGE (4243) or 432-386-4205 to book your rooms today.
Here at the Gage Hotel we love nothing more than some home-cooked southern comfort and fortunately we don’t have to venture too far down the road to find just that. Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit, right down the street from the Gage Hotel, serves up fresh-baked, warm, homemade biscuits with all the fixins.
Founded in 1991 by Shirley Rooney this hole in a wall bakery is worth the trip. Famous for their biscuits and fried pies, Shirley’s little joint is a local hot spot and a vacationers dream.
Oh, and did we mention they ship anywhere in the world? They do. But we still encourage you to come down to Marathon and enjoy the home-baked goodness right in Shirley’s shop. One visitor states, “It’s one of those places that just makes you want to sit down and relax for a while….”
Last week The Huffington Post begged the question “is Marathon, Texas the Next (Or Next Next) Marfa?” We aren’t quite sure, and we aren’t sure if we want to be? We absolutely love our “off-beat cool” neighbor Marfa, but we like being Marathon.
We were, however, absolutely flattered that they took an interested in The Gage Hotel and our quaint town “dotted with adorable old-timey eateries and other super Texas-y things” (The Huffington Post).
The Huffington Post highlighted the Gage Hotel, particularly Captain Shepard’s House, as a monument of Marathon’s up and coming culture. While mentioning some of the hot spots in town, they underlined White Buffalo Bar and 12 Gage as a few of the best.
We are so proud to be part of this West Texas town on the rise!
This past weekend we welcomed the start of August with the grand re-opening of yet another historic property at the Gage Hotel. Our little West Texas town provided the perfect backdrop for Tom Perini and Becker Vineyards to come out and celebrate our 1899, newly renovated, Captain Shepard’s House. Between the beautiful weather, the delicious meal, the delightful wine and great company, it was the perfect summer evening.
Chef Tom Perini prepared perfectly breaded catfish paired with incredible tartar sauce, Perini’s famous tenderloin, and bread pudding that made us weak in the knees. It was only fitting that we served up Texas’ finest, as that evening we welcomed guests from New York City who had come to celebrate a very special wedding at the Gage Hotel.
Dolly Shine’s music drifted through the rooms of Captain Shepard’s House and through the gorgeous garden where guests mingled and toured the property. We wish we could do it all over again. In the meantime, we have great photos to remind us of the fun we had.