June 2, 2021 Palo Duro SP TX

Watching this storm roll in was pretty cool. Particularly since it did not turn out to be as bad as it looked.

Our day got off to a later start than planned due to the weather. When I went out for the first time the skies were blue all around us and I thought we would have a nice day to travel. After I brewed the morning coffee I went outside to begin breaking down the water and electricity and the sky to the north west was really ominous. Dark billowing clouds were down to ground level and moving fast towards us. I stood outside mesmerized for a few minutes watching the storm approach. Our neighbors stuck their heads outside looked at the storm approaching, shrugged and said “Texas” and went back inside. I also decided that was a good indication for me to go in Scout too. It was a pretty good storm but fortunately blew thru in about a half an hour so we were not too delayed.

Our first stop the Big Texan. A very touristy restaurant.

Our destination for today was Amarillo in the panhandle of Texas. We had two stops in mind for Amarillo, the Big Texan Steak House, and Palo Duro State Park which bills itself as the Grand Canyon of Texas.

This guy finished his 72oz steak with 14 minutes to spare.

We had stopped at The Big Texan on a previous trip traveling from east to west, and we both had fond memories of it as a fun place. It is a real tourist destination. The draw is a 72oz steak challenge. If you can eat the 72oz steak, a salad, and a side dish in one hour you get the steak for free. Those who take on the challenge are put on a stage and introduced to the restaurant before the clock starts. While we were there one guy succeeded in finishing the meal in 44 minutes, though he did not look like he particularly enjoyed the experience. By the way if you fail to finish, the steak costs you $72. Ton and I enjoyed our much smaller steaks and had enough left over to have another meal later.

A pavillion at Palo Duro State with the canyon wall in the background.

The main attraction for the day was Palo Duro State Park. Palo Duro Canyon is the second longest canyon in the US after the Grand Canyon. It stretches over 120 miles following the Prarie Dog Town Fork (a cool if long name) of the Red River. It is not nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon but quite beautiful. The state park is located near Amarillo. When we checked in they told us all of the hiking trails were closed due to the recent heavy rains. The campground was nice but we could see the effect of the rains with some campsites with standing water, and others showing signs where water had flashed across the site.

All of the rain has the cactus flowers blooming.

We took a drive along the loop road in the canyon, and there were some nice views. It is about 800 to 1000 feet from the canyon floor where we were to the top, it was pretty but not super impressive compared to the Grand Canyon and the Snake River Canyon on the Oregon/Idaho border which are both much deeper.

The one place we could get off the road was a short walk to a cave.

We settled in for the night and had a conversation with our neighbors who had lived in the Portland area for 30 years before retiring to Texas to be with their daughters. As it turns out one of the daughter is now moving back to Oregon for work so they told us they would be going back to visit soon.

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