Yesterday, I arrived in Amarillo, Texas, to visit an amazing state park called Palo Duro. The park is a giant crack in the flattest land I’ve ever seen and looks a lot like the Grand Canyon. I went to the park with a plan to hike the trail to Lighthouse Rock until I learned in real time that getting to the trailhead requires driving down a very scary road into the canyon. One of my best driving skills is finding a way to turn around on a narrow mountain road with no pull outs while I am feeling terror. As I was finding a way, several large RVs towing jeeps went by on the other side of the road, which was annoying. Anyway, even though I never got down into the canyon, I’m sharing this information because Palo Duro is beautiful from the rim, and you might not think the road to the trailhead is scary. So. Highly recommended!
Not at the bottom of a giant crack in the flat land is Cadillac Ranch, just off Route 66 near Amarillo. I have read several versions of who built Cadillac Ranch and created an enormous controversy among Amarillions. But it is certain that a rich local named Stanley Marsh 3 funded this project that features vintage Cadillacs buried nose-down in the Texas clay. The project was immediately vandalized, which the artists welcomed as a form of public participation. Forty-seven years later, it’s still ok to steal a tire, or spray paint your kid’s name on the hood. I might have done one of those things if it hadn’t been snowing. Anyway, it was fun just standing in front of a bunch of psychedelic cars sprouting like spring flowers from the barren plain.
Although Palo Duro and Cadillac Ranch are great, they are anomalies here and don’t really define the Panhandle. Horses and cattle do. You know that because you can smell them everywhere! Plus Amarillo spells its name with two little cowboy boots instead of L’s. And the clerk at Palo Duro gift store says everyone in town has a horse hair key chain. So, in the spirit of getting an “immersive local experience,” I went horseback riding on flat ground where cattle live. It was great!
Other than that, Amarillo, meh. Until the Quarter Horse Museum reopens, I guess I need Brad.