Posts Tagged With: Tethered Aerostat Radar System


One of the biggest negatives of pulling a trailer is the inability to stop quickly or turn around easily. As we drove west from Big Bend National Park along two-lane Highway 90, we stopped to do some grocery shopping in the tiny Texas town of Marfa, population 1,750 plus or minus. If you’re ever in the area, Porter’s grocery store has an excellent selection of whatever you might need.
But the real surprises came as we left town.

As we sped along the highway we passed this giant mural. (Photo credit HGTV)

There was no place large enough for Reg to pull over, and no time to do so anyway. As we sped past I questioned the display. “Doesn’t that represent a movie…Giant, maybe? Wasn’t that supposed to be James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor?”
A big part of my job as passenger on these trips is to find interesting things to share with Reg while he’s stuck behind the wheel. Fortunately, my phone signal was strong enough to provide answers.

I found that Marfa was indeed the area where the 1956 movie Giant was filmed and is now memorialized by the eye-catching roadside mural. At the time, the all-star cast, including James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson, must have caused quite a stir in the small town.

But this was not the only movie filmed in Marfa. I found a long list of films associated with the Texas town. You can check this link to see if you recognize any others.

A little farther along the highway we had another surprise. (Photo credit: Vogue)

Again, there was no time to stop and investigate why the Italian luxury brand Prada had a store plopped alongside this lonely stretch of highway. A little more research uncovered the story behind Prada Marfa. This vision of artists Elmgreen & Dragset is a piece of sculptural art. The freestanding 15’ x 25’ building was inaugurated in 2005. It’s quite the attention grabber.

According to NPR, Marfa has evolved into a “mecca for art tourism.” Vogue magazine has dubbed it “America’s coolest art town.” Here’s a link if you’d like to learn more.

Tethered Aerostat Radar System

With all the recent sightings and talk of foreign air balloons floating across our skies, we couldn’t believe what we saw next. “What in the heck is that?” I turned Reg’s attention (just for a moment…he was driving) to the blimp-like object hovering above the empty landscape.
The Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS), used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations, provides long-range detection of low-flying suspicious aircraft used for illicit smuggling of narcotics and people. Here’s a link to a fact sheet with more info.

So, it was a day of surprises. A day when we learned that even the most out-of-the-way spots all have stories to tell. We’re on our way to a small New Mexico State Park for a couple days. To tell you the truth, at $14.00 per night, we aren’t expecting much, but then again, we might just get another surprise.

Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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