36 miles north of Big Bend is the little town of Marathon. This was our second visit here – the first time was 18 years ago when we took a whirlwind tour of Texas colleges and universities. Stops included Nacogdoches, Beaumont, College Station, San Marcos, San Angelo, Lubbock, Austin, and Alpine. We stayed at the renovated and upscale Gage Hotel after visiting Sul Ross State. I had thought mile high elevation would mean a thermally cool school, but the place was otherwise cool in no way. Bret had no interest in it, so we moved on, and he ended up at another school with ties to Sul Ross, that friendly one in College Station.
This time we parked at the Marathon RV Resort, which has the most extremely exaggerated Website to Reality ratio I’ve yet seen. But it was clean, with reliable electricity and the water tasted pretty good. We did not dine at the 12 Gage Café this time – it is now a $$$$ restaurant – nor wet our whistles at the White Buffalo Bar. Kat took some nice pictures, met a new friend whom she feared might bite her, and we successfully replaced our dead batteries despite employing a dangerously flawed technique (I should have attached the positive cables first, or is it the other way around?).
Marathon is at the intersection of US 90 and US 385, and a railroad roars through town several times each day, and night. Texas’ second worst earthquake was centered on Marathon in 1995 measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, but did almost no damage. It’s where they filmed the movies Paris, Texas and that Kevin Costner masterpiece, Fandango. Marathon has a long history of failed industry including several false alarm oil booms, beekeeping, and a guayute rubber plant which went into and out of business several times between 1907 and 1926. Someone figured out a way to use local rocks in a hopper to grind rubber juice out of those cacti, but it turns out there wasn’t enough rain to regenerate cactus in commercial quantities. In 1995 we found a few nicely rounded rocks worn down in the process on the abandoned site. They are now all gone, plundered by tourists, then lost or forgotten in flower gardens all over the world. Bret has what’s left of ours. Or so he says.