June 24, 2017


“Manage the sail; the wind will take care of itself.”  Unknown Author

Carol writes:  After spending the last 6 weeks traveling across the very large state of Texas, we gained an appreciation for why Texas can be so windy!  The Lone Star State is known for its wide open spaces, with few geographic contours for hundreds of miles to stop the wind once it gets started.  This results in a windy tunnel effect which is all the more magnified in the Texas Panhandle.  At the southernmost region of Tornado Alley, we paused for a week in Amarillo, Texas,  

for an opportunity to get together with our daughter over the Memorial Day weekend before our final push into Colorado Springs for our annual medley of medical checkups. 

For the casual tourist there isn’t a whole lot to do in Amarillo.  Maybe that’s the reason why on many a road trip we had always passed through Amarillo but had never taken the opportunity to spend the night.  However, our feeling has always been that the full-time lifestyle is all about embracing the detours…

It turned out that the greater Amarillo locale around Lake Meredith National Recreation Area was indeed worth a second look at Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, one of our lesser known and more sparsely visited national monuments

The only means of seeing the flint sites was by means of what turned out to be a very informative ranger-led hike to the bluff above.  Some 13,000 years ago, Paleo Indians quarried exquisite, beautifully banded, very hard Alibates flint

which breaks into predictable patterns when struck, making it ideal for fashioning superior spear points that were used to hunt big game, such as prehistoric mammoths and bison.  On a bluff above the monument there were remains of masonry structures of the Antelope Creek people, who lived in this area along the Canadian River 

from 1200 and 1450 and traded their prized flint with other peoples.

Hands down, the crown of the greater Amarillo area would be Palo Duro Canyon, a jewel of a canyon which at 120 miles long claims to be the second largest canyon in the country, second only to the Grand Canyon.  Our plan was to spend the day hiking in Palo Duro Canyon State Park with our daughter, who had frequently hiked its trails and had a good recommendation for the trail she thought we would like. 

The past week, a spring heat wave had settled over the Panhandle and so we knew to anticipate high heat that was sure to be radiating through the canyon.  We took dire warnings seriously—slathered on sunscreen, wore hats, and hiked with plenty of food and lots of water.

Oh, it was so thrilling to be back out West where the  Lighthouse Trail scenery was spectacular

and hiking was nourishing for the soul.

Our trail led to the iconic Lighthouse rock formation, 

a backdrop perfectly created for great pictures!

Our 6-mile roundtrip hike in nearly 100-degree heat, with the sun nearly directly overhead, probably stretched the limits of my ability, but it was well worth it to me for precious family time.

One of the fluffier things Amarillo is best known for is the quirky “Cadillac Ranch,” a 1974 work of art consisting of a collection of old Cadillacs buried nose-down on Route 66 west of Amarillo.

It was obvious that visitors were highly encouraged to bring lots of spray paint which they could use to “graffiti-away” to their heart’s content!  I didn’t quite understand the appeal, and I especially didn’t appreciate the accumulating trash dump of empty spray cans on an unlucky farmer’s field.

We rounded out our stay in Amarillo with a day trip to Clovis, New Mexico, for one more visit with daughter Megan.  

Mother/daughter pedicures

and Mexican food at a local restaurant made for a very special family day together.  To round out our day on the windy plains, a blinding dust storm, preceding a violent thunderstorm that sent the cows stampeding in the pasture along the deserted Texas road back to Amarillo, topped out our authentic Panhandle experience. 

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”  Robert Brault

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