My friend recently taught me a game called “one time”. Each person starts a sentence with the words “one time” and continues to describe an odd, funny or outrageous thing he’s done. One time I had breakfast with cowboys. I bet my “one time” beats all the other “one times” pretty bad. How can anything compete with having biscuits and gravy prepared by Texan cowboys in the great outdoors?

cowboy poetry gathering alpine tx

Texan cowboys at Chuckwagon breakfast in Alpine, TX

“Where are your long johns, darling?” The question made me jump and come back to reality. In my pencil skirt and shirt tied at the belly I didn’t fit among the tough men dressed in worn-out jeans, old jackets and cowboy hats. My outfit gave me away before I even opened my mouth. Usually, my tongue is the one to betray me first: that heavy Russian accent is impossible to conceal.

One of the cowboys looked at my bare legs and pushed me closer to the fire pit – better make sure that silly city girl doesn’t freeze her bum.

Chuckwagon Breakfast Alpine TX

I was not prepared for a breakfast in the woods. My plan was to spend a day in cool and hip Marfa exploring strange modern art and posing in front of weird installations. But miracles tend to happen when you take the wrong turn.

So we did. And found ourselves driving around Alpine, TX, at 7.30 in the morning looking for a ground where supposedly real working cowboys were cooking breakfast. At some point I started doubting our sanity… what are we doing in the middle of nowhere looking for cowboys before sun has risen? That’s when I saw a fire pit, smoke coming up and a line of people waiting for food.

Alpine TX

A line to get breakfast at 7.30 AM

I almost physically felt excitement rise in my chest with every step towards the improvised kitchen, the kind of kitchen where men undoubtedly reign and feel good about it. I watched biscuits being cooked the right way – in a Dutch oven buried under coals. I watched one cowboy stirring gravy, while the other one was scrambling eggs. I watched tin kettles hang over fire and coffee boil inside.

cowboys making biscuits

Biscuits are cooked inside pans covered by coals

cowboy breakfast in Alpine TX

A cowboy lifts the lid with coals on top to take out freshly made biscuits

It felt for a moment that I was in a Western movie from early 60-s when a kid wearing a cowboy hat told me: “My pop shoes horses in Marfa!” How many galaxies away is his world from mine, in which I reply “I am a blogger” when people ask what I do? The kid’s pop was standing right next to him holding a coffee cup and looking slightly shy when I took a picture.

Cowboy Poetry Gathering Alpine

Big cowboy, little cowboy

When I got my plate of biscuits and gravy glorious morning sun had lit the ground and felt like a warm hug on my shoulders. I squinted to look around: the fire pit, the cowboys, the biscuits and gravy – all of it still seemed so surreal.

Chuckwagon Breakfast

Cowboy breakfast: biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, chili sauce

“Darling, you have to come to this side so the sun doesn’t blast in your eyeballs!” I heard from one side. “Darling, keep talking cos I love your accent!” I heard from another. Oh, I’ll keep talking and eating and watching sun rise over the mountain if only you keep calling me “darling”.

Watch how I had breakfast with cowboys in Alpine, TX:

P.S. Chuckwagon breakfast is part of a bigger event – Cowboy Poetry Gathering – that happens in Alpine, TX, every year. You can visit official website of the event to plan your trip.

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the time i had breakfast with texan cowboys