A Texas Take On The Grand Canyon

Betty & I are just south of Amarillo, Texas, at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Unlike Arizona’s better known canyon — where you can look but not easily touch — Palo Duro is much more accessible, while still being extremely dramatic. It brings to mind the old family favourite hymn we sang on Sunday: “Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands hath made…” It may not be bigger in Texas, but it’s still pretty big! More on that later.

After we left our free site at Levelland, Texas, we drove the short distance to Lubbock, where we paid due homage to the shrine for Buddy Holly at the appropriately named Buddy Holly Center.  The center chronicles his short life (22 years) and even shorter career (18 months), showing memorabilia from his childhood, and teenage friends & influences.  It obviously highlights his 25 hit records, with music that lives on and resonates with new generations.

The Center describes other musicians who influenced Holly, as well as the influence he had on his contemporaries: “As the band’s (Buddy Holly and The Crickets) popularity gained momentum, they toured the United States and then traveled to Australia and the United Kingdom in 1958. This was their biggest, most successful tour. Buddy Holly and the Crickets influenced some of the greatest British bands and artists, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Elton John. In fact, The Rolling Stones first hit was “Not Fade Away,” a Buddy Holly song. Elton John wore unnecessary glasses to be more like Buddy.”

Of course all of that ended the day the music died. On Feb. 2, 1959, Holly was on a short flight between Winter Dance Party tour stops near Clear Lake, Iowa, when his chartered plane crashed, killing Holly, “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and Ritchie Valens.  Waylon Jennings was supposed to be on the flight, but gave up his seat to The Big Bopper, who was sick with the flu.  Tommy Allsup was also slated to be on the flight, but lost his seat to Valens in a coin toss.

If you’re interested in music and the guitars Buddy Holly played in his short career, it’s worth the trip to Lubbock.

Ok, to the main focus of this post – the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, just south of Amarillo, Texas.  BTW, before I get too far, someone said “If you’re ever in Amarillo, you need to go to Edes Custom Meats.”  Well, being steak lovers, Betty & I stopped in for a butcher shop tour, a sampling of their local jerky, and of course, an opportunity to pick up some premium steak.  Being a custom shop, staff will cut your steak to your specifications, with a board showing cuts from ½ inch to 2 inches thick. I really wanted to go for the 2 inch steak, but Betty insisted that would be more of a roast. In any event, this post includes a picture of the 1-½ inch steak that Betty and I shared last night with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and a nice bottle of Valpolicella. (For those who have read this blog before – yes, we have had this paring in the past, and we will have it again, as there is more steak in the fridge and freezer. LOL)

After traveling across a stretch of Manitoba-like bald, flat, prairie, we approached a Texas State Park entrance, where we again took advantage of our annual pass, purchased in Galveston at the beginning of January. Almost immediately we began to drop into the bowels of the earth, with the thought in both of our minds “Oh sh-t, what have we gotten ourselves into now!” LOL.

The grade is extremely steep, and appears to go down forever, with switch-backs all the way down the side of the canyon wall. Of course we are now at the bottom thinking, what goes down must come back up. But will our old Boy really make it all the way to the top again? Stay tuned, because we don’t know the answer to that question yet. LOL

As with the Grand Canyon, we’re not sure it’s possible to overdo it with pictures. We have taken dozens already, but will try to cull them to a manageable number for this post. The difference, as earlier noted, is that we are actually IN the canyon, rather than just looking at it from the rim. Our campsite has amazing views in all directions, some of which are posted here.

There are also many hiking, biking, and horseback riding paths throughout the Park, rated from easy, to moderate, to difficult. Today’s hike was an easy one, with Charlie, past a cowboy dugout built into the side of a hill. Check out the cowgirl looking out. LOL.

Speaking of cowboys, we didn’t intend to attend the Cowboy Church, which we passed on the way back from Amarillo the other day, but went to the Crossroads Country Church instead for Sunday service. One of the things that struck us was the rows of cowboy hats on the walls leading to the sanctuary. We wondered if they were maybe decorations – until after the service when the men started grabbing them and putting them on as they left!  I just had to sneak a picture as we were leaving. Unfortunately, at that point most of the hats had been picked up, but here are some that were left. Not sure if it’s only in Texas. LOL.   BTW, the service was on Matthew 25, focusing on visiting those in prison, so the message was a very nice coincidence, if you believe in coincidences…

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, we sang “How Great Thou Art”, and continued to hum it as we wandered through the woods and forest glades, hearing the birds singing in the trees; looking down from the grandeur of lofty mountains; and seeing the brooks, and feeling the gentle breeze. It was another great day as our souls sang!


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