Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Amarillo, Texas

Just because we are in Colorado, don’t think we were not going to post something on Amarillo.  And before you hit the back button thinking there must not be anything interesting in Amarillo, hold on!  We had three days of Amarillian bliss – even Spirit agreed (since we found a doggy day-care for her).  We went to the American Quarter Horse Museum, a livestock auction, hiked in the second deepest canyon in the U.S., drove on historic Route 66, and visited a cow pasture with Cadillac’s sticking out of the ground.  And of course, we found a burger dive.
We looked a little out of place with our kayaks in the middle
of the dry Texas plains.  But, the drive through the plains was beautiful.
Finally, we crossed into Colorado and saw the Spanish Peaks rising up from the horizon.
Our drive to Amarillo was about 330 miles – which is plenty for us in one day.  We like to get to the RV park in the late afternoon, set up, walk Spirit, and relax before cooking dinner.  While perusing the brochure of things to do in Amarillo, we were intrigued by The Big Texan Steak Ranch which is a steak house and so much more.  Their “claim to fame” is the 72-ounce steak that is free if you eat it and the side dishes within an hour.  This legendary hunk of beef was featured on the Food Network TV show Man vs. Food and the gastronomic challenge is frequently attempted but rarely achieved. Our palates for beef are strong but we were not even tempted to try that one.  We went anyway though but the average person’s steaks were not anything to write about.    
Typical steak restaurant with cowhide print table cloths and dead animals on the walls.  The only problem with dinner was that it took them three times before they were able to serve Betsy a medium-rare steak.
This was our ride - a limo with longhorns driven by a Texas cowboy.  Free rides from the RV park.
And they have a gift shop where you can buy some genuine Texas souvenirs.
Now that we were well rested we set our sights on seeing Amarillo.  Our first destination – a drive down Historic Route 66.  The town started a campaign to revitalize a section of the old route with stops, restaurants, galleries, and curio shops to recapture a piece of an era gone by.

Texas is cattle country and what visit would be complete without going to a livestock auction.  Now this may not be something most people are interested in, but we had a good time taking in the sounds, smells, and sights of the auction.  And we had to eat burgers at their stockyard cafĂ©.  

The Amarillo Livestock Auction was established to support the first industry in Texas - Ranching.  Now famed for handling more cattle than any other commission auction in the United States.  We were not looking to buy!
The real reason we wanted to stop in Amarillo was to visit the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum.  Betsy has a love for horses that date back to her days of riding cross country endurance rides and winning flashy belt buckles for her (and her horses) well-deserved efforts.  Although she has always owned, showed and ridden Arabian horses, she has a genuine love for all horses.  And she worked her way through college by selling foals from her Arabian mare.  The museum shares the evolution and story of America’s only native horse breed and the people who made them the great breed they are.  The outside of the museum greets you with stunning bronze statues exhibiting the many facets of the breed from a working cattle horse, rodeo star, and sprinting fast race horse.

The American Quarter Horse was the first breed of horse native to North America.  So why is it called the Quarter Horse?  Early colonists liked to race horses but they preferred "sprint racing" as they did not want to tire their horses and there was no place suitable for running longer than a quarter mile.  The horses were called the Celebrated American Quarter Running Horse until it was later changed in 1941 to the American Quarter Horse, paying homage to their quarter mile racing history.
The Great Hall leads you into the museum in an impressive
This was a great exhibit in the kids wing.  You slide
the board across the horse and it explains the
horses internal anatomy.

The museum has two floors of exhibits, a theater, conference rooms, a great gift shop, and an outdoor exhibition ring.
Pictures and biographies of Hall of Fame Members (which includes horses as well as people) are displayed with donated personal items and artifacts.
Charles Goodnight is credited with making the first chuckwagon.  He used  an  Army surplus wagon with strong , durable axles that would carry food, water, a tool box, shade cloth, and everything else needed for a 5-month trail drive.
The closed electric starting gate (invented in 1939) was coined the gate that "revolutionized horse racing."  The electric starting gate prevented horses from breaking out early and getting an unfair advantage.  
Ever heard of “Cadillac Ranch?”  This art exhibit (for lack of better term) consists of ten Cadillacs buried nose down in a pasture complete with cows and wheat surrounding them.  The cars date from 1949 – 1963 and were buried – one a year – by a gentleman who was frustrated with the manufacturer because he got a “lemon.”  So in an act of aggression, he buried the car in the ground and a media event ensued.  He continued to make his point by repeating the process every year for nine years thereafter.  Or so the story goes. 

Cadillac Ranch.  Don't worry admission is free...just watch where you step since cows are everywhere.  Cadillac Ranch has been featured in movies, songs, album covers, documentaries, and as a campaign billboard when they were repainted with Ron Paul's name on them.
The cars are planted at an angle corresponding to the Great Pyramids of Giza.  Go figure!
I promise Mom, I did not spray paint this car.
Although spray painting is allowed.  Every year, the cars get painted black and then the defacing begins again.
Our last and third day in Amarillo was spent exploring the Palo Duro Canyon, also known as the “Texas Grand Canyon.”  This is the second deepest canyon in the U.S. descending to a breathtaking 800 feet.   And the great thing is you can drive down to the bottom of the canyon.  “Palo Duro” is a Spanish word meaning “hard wood” in reference to all the juniper trees that thrive in the canyon.  The canyon is breathtaking and a geologic wonder dating back to a million years ago when the Red River carved its way through the rock layers.  Archeological and ethnographic artifacts reveal human habitation began around twelve thousand years ago and tell the stories of the wars that were fought, lands that were settled and ranched, and trade routes that traversed the canyon.  Today, the land is part of the 20,000-acre state park that was established in 1934 and open to the public for all to enjoy.

There are lots of recreational activities available to visitors including camping, hiking, biking, swimming, picnicking, etc.
Spirit was eager to hike the trail.  But, one was enough since the weather was approaching the mid-80's in the hot, dry canyon.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, wikipedia doesn't mention anything about the Cadillac's being part of a disgruntled owner. But interesting nonetheless. Seen them many times driving across country. Love reading your blog.



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