Cantore Stories: Marfa, Texas   View more episodes

Aired at 06:00 PM on Sunday, Jun 13, 2010 (6/13/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:00F anecdotal stories about them seeming extra terrestrial.
00:00:06I hope we never figure it out and they are mar shans or something.
00:00:13>> Nobody can figure it out, that's why it's a mystery.
00:00:16They look car lights in a way.
00:00:18That's what they look like.
00:00:20>> I thought I was smart.
00:00:22Desert gas stuff.
00:00:23Man, totally cool.
00:00:25I know what it is.
00:00:26And then I like, I went back out and saw them again one night and I was, like, man, I don't know.
00:00:35Forget it.
00:00:36I'm not coming out here anymore.
00:00:39>> To tell you the truth, as long as they bring tourists, we don't want to know what they are.
00:00:45>> Every night people come from far and wide to this viewing platform in the middle of nowhere in the hopes to get a glimpse of the mar fa ghost lights an I've seen a of them.
00:00:57Pretty -- pretty cool.
00:00:58Pretty interestinginging.
00:01:00Looks like car lights in the distance.
00:01:02>> There was one in the middle and then one over to the -- i guess that's southeast.
00:01:09>> The viewing platform which was completed in one was designed by eighth graders at marfa junior high and funded by the state of texas.
00:01:18>> Ty cool, it's definitely an attraction for tourists so a lot of people are really negative.
00:01:25They're like, well, that's blah blah blah.
00:01:28Well, you know, open your mind a little bit.
00:01:30Be, you know?
00:01:31Check it out.
00:01:32I mean, if it was cars, would they have been seeing these 200 years ago?
00:01:38I don't know.
00:01:39>> See them move?
00:01:40See them move?
00:01:41Out there.
00:01:41That's what makes me think those are different.
00:01:45>> Yeah.
00:01:45Moved at all I don't think.
00:01:46>> Really?
00:01:47Must be my eyesight.
00:01:48>> No.
00:01:49I mean, they're twinkle.
00:01:52>> My imagination.
00:01:52>> I think it is moving back and forth.
00:01:56Doesn't look like it to you?
00:01:58>> Looks like a flame to me.
00:01:59>> A flame?
00:02:00>> Like a flame.
00:02:01>> Oh, a flame.
00:02:03>> Rises up and down.
00:02:04>> There is another within out there.
00:02:06>> That's interesting.
00:02:06>> Sure is.
00:02:08>> We just experienced the marfa lights, you all.
00:02:11How about that, huh?
00:02:13>> Do you think so?
00:02:14>> I don't know.
00:02:15>> Somebody out there with a lantern.
00:02:18>> I'm sure people have already thought about that.
00:02:25>> Coming up, lights, the camera, the action.
00:02:29Of marfa.
00:02:32The low down on the lights from an expert.
00:02:35>> In this da age, you have to look for a long time to find something that we don't already know and under >> and welcome to el cosmico.
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00:05:50>>> when it comes to authorities on the marfa lights, look no further than james barnenn who's written three books on the phenomenon.
00:06:03>> I estimate the chance of seeing a mystery light is only about 3% on a given night but when you get see them they can be really interesting and something that you don't forget.
00:06:11>> Bunnell is actively studying the lights since 2003.
00:06:16He has a total of nine cameras.
00:06:18He videotapes the area and takes detailed weather observations every night and periodically spends time in the desert trying to photograph the lights but it was his first encounter that led to his infatuation.
00:06:32>> We saw some spectacular lights.
00:06:34I was shocked.
00:06:34In fact, they were so good i thought probably the marfa chamber of commerce was out there with some kind of show they were putting on.
00:06:42I went back out the next night and the lights were even more spectacular and moving around, lights all over the place and i was dazzled.
00:06:52I was hooked.
00:06:53The more I learned about them, the deeper the puzzle became.
00:06:57>> He believes there's a logical explain for those that say they see the lights on a regular basis.
00:07:03>> People that tell you they're see them every night, it's car lights.
00:07:1166 From presid owe out of the mountains and it's a winding mountain road.
00:07:15Most of e time that's the right answer.
00:07:17>> However, some like 85-year-old like armando vasquez that took people to the des toert see the lights for 25 years swear they're a nightly spectacle.
00:07:29>> Only if it's cloudy, of course.
00:07:31Fog, no way you can see them.
00:07:32>> He took us out to see the lights and we definitely saw something.
00:07:36>> That's a beautiful light.
00:07:37>> Look at that.
00:07:38Look at that bright one.
00:07:40That's one I was telling you all about.
00:07:42>> After looking at the video, bunnell thinks we may have witnessed a marfa light.
00:07:47>> That's a possibility.
00:07:49It is a possibility.
00:07:50And they kind of look like they're joining together there but may just be -- >> if so, we got lucky because bunnell estimates the real can't figure out when or why.
00:08:09>> Some of the friends who are physicists tend to think they're a type of ball lightning.
00:08:15There's something really interesting going on that's physical and that's part of our natural world.
00:08:21And god only knows what it might -- how usefu might be if we would just take the time to figure out what it is and understand it.
00:08:28>> Some say the marfa lights are an optical illusion.
00:08:32Believe me, out here in the desert your eyes can really play tricks on you so you can understand why when I came upon this I had to make sure it's sort of.
00:08:48Built in 2005, prada marfa is one of west texas's most popular art exhibits ght on i-90 and not a soul in sight unless you count e soles on the shoes that aren't for sale.
00:09:03It is part of the minimalist art scene that came to marfa in the '70s.
00:09:08If you're just visiting and looking for artsy adventure, we found a groovy little place to stay.
00:09:17>> it's kind of like white trash camping in a glamorous way.
00:09:23>> It's a vintage trailer park, campground.
00:09:29Hippy dippy hotel.
00:09:31>> Super stylish, stupider hip and gritty and authentic.
00:09:38>> I absolutely love vintage trailers.
00:09:42When I saw they had them here, i had to come, immediately.
00:09:45It's been the best vacation I've ever had in my entire life, for sure.
00:09:49I'm not even lying.
00:09:51>> Besides vintage trailers, there's yertz, tents and a 22-foot teepee.
00:09:59Beware if you yeed to use the outdoor.
00:10:05>> He locked himself out.
00:10:07It's like 20 degrees.
00:10:11>> For being such a small community, marfa has a wide range of restaurants including this delivery truck whh is turned into a kitchen where you can walk right up, order and grab a lunch and then head into the mobile dining room.
00:10:27%',TT=41505000][co:TA=001F8FBF][4987] >> Can't miss this place.
00:10:33>> Yeah, this is delish.
00:10:35>> Look at that ride.
00:10:38>> It's the brain child of christa steinhaur and bork.
00:10:46The food shark rolls into town for gourmet-style street food.
00:10:51>> Mediterranean based and regional food and spontaneous.
00:10:56I don't know what we'll make until that same morning because we have to see what we have.
00:11:00>> Even though the menu changes daily, the quality and popularity remainconstant.
00:11:08Brie, beets,bacon.
00:11:13Their famous falafal has its own name.
00:11:19>> It was really good.
00:11:21>> Hardly knows how to pronounce it.
00:11:27Pronounced marfa and then falafal.
00:11:31>> It's entertaining.
00:11:32>> It'sfine.
00:11:3520 Different pronunciations.
00:11:36>> We thought a few of the comments saying we have the falafal.
00:11:41>> Blond-haired white girl making the best falafal.
00:11:45>> Coming up, spine chilling stories about the marfa lights.
00:11:49>> Next thing I know, it becomes a big ball oflight.
00:11:55And it's spiraling towards us people running and screaming.
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00:14:51>>> We brought you all here together to talk about the marfa mysterious lights.
00:14:56Each of you has a story to tell about them.
00:14:58And we want you to share it with us so, mona you.
00:15:03>> I was looking straight into the desert and I saw what looked like a glow.
00:15:07And the next thing I know, it becomes a big ball of light.
00:15:11And it's spiraling towards us.
00:15:14And I think there was a young man next to us that must have been a soldier because he grabbed his wife and kids and grabbed, down, like he was on the battlefield and they hit the floor and there were people running and screaming and falling down, and I ducked.
00:15:28So, you know, I'm a believer.
00:15:30>> Sherry, what about you?
00:15:32>> Well, I grew up in about an hour and a half from here.
00:15:36So we piled into the pickup and we came out to this area and suddenly it happened so fast.
00:15:42There was a huge ball of light.
00:15:45It split into two, those two split into four and I felt kind of likdn't breathe but I knew they were very far awe and then suddenly the light this originally started was all back into one and it was coming towards me at a very fast rate.
00:16:02I was scared but suddenly it went away.
00:16:06It was that fast.
00:16:07>> Let's hear lydia's story.
00:16:09>> The lights were very, very active back in the desert.
00:16:13They were just dancing around.
00:16:16They were splitting.
00:16:19Coming together.
00:16:20And so then, we were like, we've seen them.
00:16:22Let's head on back.
00:16:23And then all of a sudden, as we were driving, right behind us, it was a good ways.
00:16:30We saw a light so as it started getting closer, one of my sisters, she was just terrified.
00:16:36She was, like, no, no, no.
00:16:38We have got to go.
00:16:39We have got to go.
00:16:40Don't let it catch us.
00:16:41My other sister was like no, no.
00:16:46This is exciting.
00:16:47It was mesmeing where if you looked at it too long, it was like it could draw you into it.
00:16:56>> What do you think they are, lydia?
00:16:58>> The scientists are saying they're gases.
00:17:00Gases don't really, you know, react in that kind of way.
00:17:06And, mirage doesn't follow you an change sizes and so I don't know what they are but they're special.
00:17:12>> What about you, mona?
00:17:14>> This area's called magical and I think there's good reason for that.
00:17:18There's something here that makes people wonder and they're awe struck by it and I think that's a good thing.
00:17:28>> Other countries have been here.
00:17:29Japan's been here with the high-speed photography equipment.
00:17:34Germans have been here.
00:17:35No one knows but once you have seen the marfa lights you know it's not car lights.
00:17:40It's nothing that you can explain.
00:17:42And once you've seen them, you will be a believer.
00:20:54>> Cantore: Marfa, texas -- small-town living with a in the middle of a desert, a collection of cowboys and free spirits who have escaped mainstream america.
00:21:18To make up mystical marfa.
00:21:22>> There's a saying that whatever eccentric quality you have when you move here gets exaggerated.
00:21:31Something about being in the wide open west texas space.
00:21:34>> And brings out the marfa mystery lights.
00:21:37Most everyone agrees, there's something.
00:21:40But >> we cannot move our curiosity gapt to believe we already know everything because we sure as heck don't and this is a good this day and age, you have to look for a long time to find something that we don't already know and understand.
00:21:58 made a career of being in the middle of storms, and I love it, but there's more to weather than storms.
00:22:06Some people live where they have to deal with harsh or unusual conditions on a daily basis.
00:22:11On "cantore stories," we'll take you to these places, you'll meet the people that call them home, an culture.
00:22:19On this episode, we take you inside the icebox.
00:22:23--Captions by VITAC-- Captions paid for by the weather channel >> Johnson: Welcome to the icebox of the nation.
00:22:36>> It's kind of a perverse pride.
00:22:37We do have that here.
00:22:38Other people think we're crazy 'cause we're proud of it, but people kind of are.
00:22:41It's kind of a badge of courage, I suppose.
00:22:44>> We don't stop living up here at 40, 50 below.
00:22:48We live.
00:22:49>> It's unbelievable, I think, to some people.
00:22:52But to us, it's just natural.
00:22:53>> Johnson: How much does the weather play in where you're from?
00:22:58We love it up here. we love it.
00:23:00>> Chris: Someone called for a cannonball!
00:23:03[ Indistinct shouting ] >> Cantore: Welcome to the icebox of the nation.
00:23:08Hey, everybody, I'm meteorologist jim cantore in international falls, minnesota.
00:23:13They've long promoted themselves as being the coldest town in the continental united states.
00:23:18And as you'll see, they actually enjoy the cold as much as the title.
00:23:23Well, you better, especially if you're one of the 7,000 or so who have to endure temperatures at or below freezing almost 200 days a year, and where it once got down to 55 below zero.
00:23:37>> Johnson: There's a lot of people that come up to visit the icebox of the nation, but then there's also those people that go, "it's the icebox of the nation.
00:23:45" >> Cantore: Just a snowboard jump away from canada, international falls sits on the often frozen rainy river, directly across from fort frances, ontario.
00:23:57And the moniker of the icebox comes honestly.
00:24:00They are the coldest city in the lower 48 -- average annual temperature a chilly 37 degrees.
00:24:08Surprisingly, there are no waterfalls in international falls.
00:24:13The town got its name in 1901 from the way rainy lake falls into the rainy river, and in recognition as the river's role and canada.
00:24:23But their trademark nickname, well, that came decades later.
00:24:28>> Boyle: Well, in the '40s, all the radio programs used to refer to international falls as the icebox of the nation because we had cold weather.
00:24:34And then eventually over the years, we capitalized it.
00:24:39>> Chris: If you are the icebox of the nation, then you shouldbe called the icebox of the nation, right?
00:24:44>> Shawn: Yeah, if we weren't the icebox of the nation, we'd be fretting about the safety of the ice.
00:24:48>> Chris: Right, and we're sitting next to a big guy like this.
00:24:51We're not even nervous we're going down.
00:24:53>> Shawn: It's supposed to be balmy today.
00:24:54It's supposed to be 18 above, right?
00:24:56But then the wind kicks in.
00:24:57What's the temperature, like minus 10?
00:24:59>> Piekarski: I'm gauging the temperature on the icicle forming under chris' nose.
00:25:04[ Laughter ] >> Chris: Doug is more than just funny-looking.
00:25:07>> [ Laughs ] >> Cantore: Wow, who would have thought, sitting out on the ice all winter.
00:25:14How exciting.
00:25:15Not to mention, it's probably 40 degrees below zero outside.
00:25:18[ Chuckles ] most of us would probably just want to hibernate, right?
00:25:22Well, not the folks here in the icebox.
00:25:24They go out, and they embrace the cold.
00:25:29>> McBride: We do things here.
00:25:30We snowmobile. we ice fish.
00:25:32We play hockey, basketball -- everything.
00:25:34I mean, there's outdoor activities going on constantly in this town, even at 42 below.
00:25:39>> Get set!
00:25:41[ Gunshot ] >> Cantore: Seemingly to prove this point, the rugged folks of international falls annually celebrate their frosty reputation with a january festival called icebox days.
00:25:52At times, runners, snowshoers, and snow sculptors have had to endure windchills of 45 below.
00:25:59This does have its advantages, though.
00:26:01There's just no chance of your turkey thawing.
00:26:07[ Cheering ] >> Burtness: This turkey bowling is a great event.
00:26:11In january, when there's not a whole lot to do and 20 below, we just like to find extra activities for the community.
00:26:19It's just good old family fun.
00:26:22We're originators.
00:26:23>> Piekarski: We had a tough time figuring out how to get a curve on the turkey.
00:26:26>> Chris: Right, right, righif you flex one of the legs out, you can really throw a good hook ball.
00:26:31>> Can Turkey isn't the only oddity you'll see on the ice up here.
00:26:37Bruce fletcher has lost over 100 pounds traversing rainy lake bike.
00:26:42>> Fletcher: There is some unusual reaction.
00:26:46Sometimes, it's kind of fun.
00:26:47I get thumbs-up, people going, "wow, hey.
00:26:50" I guess I'm just an older fella bike kind of like instead of a moose.
00:26:57[ Laughter ] >> Shawn: Cold weather t is an industry up here in the wintertime.
00:27:06They come out here, and they test their tires and their brakes on these ice roads because, certainly, you know, if you can stop a vehicle, cont a vehicle on an ice road going high speeds, that's a good test.
00:27:18>> Bill: This area should market more cold weather testing.
00:27:21You know, we do a lot it in vehicles, but we should do, ..
00:27:25>> Piekarski: They should justlls, minnesota.
00:27:39A car sits on a frozen lake through january, february, and march.
00:27:46[ Engine sputtering ] ..
00:27:50[ Engine turns over ] started, thanks to a >> Cantore: So, international falls capitalized on their notoriety and, in 2000, built an icebox inside the icebox, so to speak.
00:28:05>> Nevanen: People have come from all over the world to test their products to see how they hold up.
00:28:09And a lot of it was done outside in the early days, and even to this day, but this provides us a guarantee thrs will hit their target temps.
00:28:20And a lot of our customers like to go to that minus-40 threshold.
00:28:24And once it gets beyond minus 40, well, things don't work too well anyway.
00:28:30>> Cantore: He icebox -- it's a huge part of the winter culture here at international falls.
00:28:36Hundreds of icehouses just like this dot the landscape.
00:28:40And you know what's most amazing?
00:28:42They have almost all the comforts of home.