Around noon and thirty miles west of Marfa, I got a glimpse of a structure about one quarter mile in front of me. It was a solitary, uninhabited display structure built into the desert floor called “Prada Marfa.” This permanent sculptural art installation was like a monument. The fifteen-foot-long, ten-foot-high rectangular building was a fake Prada purse store, built in 2005 by a Berlin-based art team. It was surrounded by a protective fence, with a small gravel area in front and a low-profile sign describing the history of the display. It stood out, incongruous with the desert landscape. The bizarre roadside attraction is classified as a museum by the Texas Department of Transportation. It is constructed of a material that will eventually disintegrate and blend right back into the desert floor.19
A group of five young adults traveling from Brooklyn to California stopped to check out the unusual structure while I was standing there. They were originally from the Ukraine and Russia. One of the young ladies responded, “Starting a new life,” when I asked why they were traveling to California.
This was exactly how I had imagined my ride through Texas. The day did not disappoint, and I knew there would be more like it in the days ahead.
When driving long distances in a vehicle, we tend to stop periodically for food or to fill the gas tank. Hundreds of miles pass between stops. Much of America stays invisible. The surrounding landscape becomes uninteresting, and senses are dulled. A person’s focus is on getting from one destination to the next. Traveling on a bicycle is an entirely different story. Small towns become a sought-after destination. The succeeding convenience store becomes the next milestone. A city in the rearview mirror means you’re one more town closer to St. Augustine. Visiting small-town America and meeting thought-provoking people brought my ride to life.
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