Friday, June 6, 2008

11-08 Lubbock to Amarillo Texas

Lubbock Tx.

Amarillo Tx (The Panhandle of Texas)

Campground: Buffalo Springs Lake. $24 elect 30 amp/water. 7 days, $126, 30 days $420. Caution, they advertise $18 elect sites, but they are 110 not 30 or 50 amp.

Campground: West Rim RV Park. $10, full hookup. A Recreation USA park. At the entrance to Palo Duro Canyon, on the rim of the canyon. You’ll feel like your in an abandoned campground. It’s old and run down, but the sites are all pull-thru’s and the full-hooks all work, so enjoy a rustic setting overlooking the canyon.

BLOG NOTE: I recently added a list of all the camping resource books I use along the way and hope it may help all you campers or future campers. I also moved My favorite camping things from the bottom of the Blog to the right hand column and added the list of Camping Club info there as well. Check them out.

I decided to leave Ballinger Tx, mainly because the only wi-fi site in town at a small Bakery coffee shop was closed temporarily due to family emergency. The town really had nothing to offer, except for a really cheap city park campsite.

Driving along hwy 84 Abilene Tx to Lubbock Tx. The scenery continued to change as I left the Hill country and entered a vast area of farm country. Signs appeared warning of heavy winds. And they arrived. Gusts easily in the 25-35 mph range. A constant wind, with power behind it. Just as I noticed the winds, a slew of wind turbines appeared on the horizon. You may remember I was thrilled to see some of them in the past year, in of all places Minnesota. Well I think I found the mother load of wind farms. As I drove along hwy 84 from Snyder heading NW on, the hugest wind turbines I’d ever seen appeared in the fields and on top of mesa’s. Thousands of them, from one horizon to the next. Mile after mile all I saw were those huge three bladed windmills. Many on desolate land, useless for anything else, but others, planted in the middle of rich farm land and ranches. Dotted among all this were the oil wells, bobbing up and down. Riches underground, in the land itself and in the constant winds that blow through here.

I had found Buffalo Springs listed in one of my camping books and decided to check it out. Coming off of hwy 84, down a farm road FM 835, past fields recently planted with crops, I arrived at Buffalo Springs. A large gated entry clued me into the size of the place. After registering at the gate, I was directed to go towards the church at the edge of a cliff, then turn right, down to the lake. A sign at the turn off pointed to the Fire hall and City hall as well.
After taking the turn, I headed toward the rim of a canyon, descending down a steep road leading into the canyon, I could see lush trees, the spring fed lake with 7 miles of shoreline. Houses dotting the cliffs and shoreline. From up above, the flat terrain and fields gave no clew that this canyon was here.

The land the houses are on is leased land. Along with the gulf course which wraps around one end of the lake, campground, ATV trails, swimming and boating and even an amphitheater are all owned by the Buffalo Springs Lake District. It’s like entering a sunken oasis. I’ll only be here this time for one night. I had to pay the $24 nightly fee, which is at the top end of my budget. Ok it’s reasonable, but when you have to pay close to $100 a day to fill up the truck with diesel you try to get a bargain wherever you can. Next time, I would stay for a full week or longer to get the discount that would be well within my budget range.

Heading out the next day along hwy 27, I’m only traveling about 100 miles. I’ve now hit the flat arid panhandle of Texas. Miles and miles of flat farm land, much if it just being planted, due to the lack of rain.
Heavy winds have begun and will continue for days. This is a regular occurrence in this area. The camp owners warned me not to open my awnings or put up our antenna, as the winds would rip them off.
Note: At times I even closed the big slide because of the high winds.

Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US, after the Grand Canyon of course and is almost 1,000 feet deep. There are a number of activities around here and things to see and do, so I’ll stay for 4 days. I couldn’t help but think about my good friends Walt and Ben who are into horses. Just a short distance from my campsite is a horse ranch with lots of horses for riding into the canyon. I’m not much of a rider, but would love to have Walt along to encourage me to get up on one and go for a ride into the canyon.

Unlike the Grand Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon lets you drive right down into the canyon for sightseeing and hiking. Can’t do that at the Grand Canyon. There are a number of great campsites right in the state park for $22 a night, not bad, of course you would also have to pay the $4 entry fee each day if your camping in Palo Duro.

Wed. I went back down into Palo Duro canyon in the evening for a Steak dinner and show. What a deal, for $35 you get a full steak dinner with all the trimmings, eating outdoors with the winds howling around us. Covered areas for all the picnic tables, with mist being sprayed too keep us cool.
And for the $35 they put on a huge show called “Texas” about life in the Panhandle of Texas. The amphitheatre, a huge stage and sets are dramatically back dropped by the canyon walls as the sun sets over them. The show, a full production of 85 actors and singers portrays the exciting times during the settling of this prairie Texas Panhandle area.
It’s a good way to experience the history of Texas told through song and a compelling story. It lasted about two and a half hours. As we all left the canyon, you could see the red tail lights of each vehicle as they climbed the switchback road up to the top of the canyon. A dramatic ending to a great evening.

Now that’s a great way to enjoy history without going to some stuffy museum. Which I did do one day back in the town of Canyon on the outskirts of Amarillo. There I found the Pan Handle Plain Historical Museum, touted the largest history museum in Texas. The displays were huge.
Particularly the oil well rigs which took up an entire two story room and windmill displays, both being a major part of the development of the area. They had a couple great antique cars on display with the history of the local owners along with pictures of them with the cars when the owners first bought them. Really added to the display.

Side Note: I thought Fla TV stations had lots of weather warnings, but here in the Panhandle of Texas as an example, I am currently watching Tv with the following warnings: High Wind Warning, Wildfire Danger, Wind Advisory, Tornado Watch and T-Storm Watch. Yikkees! PS, they’re all color coded on a map stamped in the lower corner of the screen and the text in the upper right hand.

My last day here in the Panhandle of Texas I spent over at the Elkins Ranch for a Cowboy Morning Breakfast. Kind of a neat thing. It’s right across the street from where I’m staying and is the remains of the million acre ranch that once encompassed all of Palo Duro Canyon. They continue to raise cattle down in the canyon today. The group was driven to the bottom of the canyon in open-air jeeps where they had a cowboy breakfast waiting for us. After the breakfast, we were entertained by Ed Montana and Hody “Long Bow” Porterfield. A bit of comedy and music. A fun way to end my stay in the Panhandle of Texas. Oh, they also give jeep tours in the canyon.

So, till we meet again…. (here the music) Happy days to you, till we meet again….
Opps, almost forgot to mention this last picture. I went into Amarillo and saw the Cadillac Ranch. That's where the rancher decided to line up some old Cadillac's and bury them on his ranch. Really cool. They get painted with graffiti all the time so each time you visit they look differant. I met a mother/daughter team who have seen it a half dozen times and each time it looks differant to them. The tires were whole when they first started visiting the site.

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