On a bright Big Bend afternoon in far-west Texas, I steer myself along a high-desert, two-lane highway, tufts of dried-up tumbleweed thistle packed like snow against barbed-wire fences. The sky above opens up its cobalt tent; the space beneath stretches as far as an ocean. U.S. 90 leads me through the Davis Mountains and ocotillo-and-cactus flats to Marfa, Alpine, and Marathon, a string of three Big Bend towns just 60 miles apart. Here they live as siblings in a remote, starkly beautiful landscape as mysterious to me as Mars.
“Driving from Dallas, we often joke,” says Marfa wood artist Camp Bosworth, “ ‘Who would put a town out here? And who would live in it?’ And we realize, well, us.”