Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week in Review: Amarillo

The main problem with finding something to do when you travel for work is hours.  Because I must spend the working day with my customer, I am only afforded a few hours in the evening to find out what the area has to offer.  In this case, that wasn't much.  

One of the main attractions in the Amarillo Area, aside from The Big Texan, is Palo Duro Canyon.  

I drove out on an overcast, chilly, windy evening. This is the view from to the top of the canyon.

A winding road takes you down into the canyon.

There are a lot of trails where you can get out and hike.  I didn't because it was overcast, chilly and windy but more importantly, because I am traveling alone.  I was worried that if I fell and hurt myself, no one would even know I was out here until they found my abandoned rental car.  And falling is a definite concern since I once fell in the unobstructed flat parking lot of an Academy Sporting Goods store, breaking my ankle.

I expected to see some kind of wildlife here and was on high alert looking for it.  At one point, I stopped the car and backed up (it is possible I was the only person in the park since I saw no other cars or people).  I thought I saw a cow lounging by a picnic bench.  It was a fallen the shape of a lounging cow.

I was ready to head out when I came around a corner and spotted 4 turkeys.

I got out to take a few pictures but this one kept puffing up at me and when he started to come my way, I got back in the car.  After recently being buzzed twice while trying to check the mail by the hawks across the street, I decide not to take unnecessary chances of being attacked by a turkey in Palo Duro Canyon.

On the way back to the hotel, I have dinner at Country Barn BBQ & Steaks.

It is like The Big Texan with no free steak gimmick and no...

people.  Like the Big Texan, the food was fine but nothing special.  If the Big Texan didn't have all of the extra stuff, it would probably be this crowded too.  Based on the decor outside and in the dining room, I was not prepared for the bathroom.

The Hall Of Mirrors leads to the bathroom.  I watched a lot of What Not To Wear on TLC at one time and was concerned that David might nominate me.  No need now since I know what the 360 degree mirror is like.  I came home and threw those pants in the trash.

Historic Route 66 is another primary tourist attraction but I must say, I don't get it.  Coming out of downtown you pass a stretch of ugly abandoned buildings.  Finally, you come to the "good" part.

This area has a lot of antique stores and restaurants.

I am reduced to window-shopping because all of the stores are closed. This is one of the factors that makes seeing things when you travel on business a little tough, a lot of places close before I can get there.

My customer and I meet here and try to eat on the patio.  There are so many motorcycles going by it is hard to carry on a conversation and even harder when they stop and back in right in front of you.  More on this sign in a moment.

I didn't stay long, didn't go back another day and probably won't ever try to.  Part of the problem is that it is strung out.  The stores and restaurants are pretty far apart making walking from one cluster to another very difficult.

My first day in Amarillo, I was driving down Washington when I saw this sign:

Good thing no other cars were around, I might have had a wreck I was so surprised.

According to Wikipedia, these traffic style signs are collectively known as the Dynamite Museum but none of my customers had ever heard the term.  They did know about the signs and confirmed they are all over town in all kinds of neighborhoods, and as you saw above, even at some businesses.

I normally don't travel home on the last day due to an unfortunate, unavoidable stay once in Memphis where I was stranded with my laptop, the dress I was wearing and nothing else after my luggage went to Dallas without me.  But Amarillo is relatively close and I have been gone a lot so I chance something I try to avoid...the last flight of the day.

First problem occurs when the women's bathroom is closed.  There is only one inside of security.  It is unclear how long this situation will continue and the TSA agent guarding the door isn't any help.  "Use the family bathroom," she suggests.  It is a one-person-at-a-time affair and the door is currently locked.  Once again, it is unclear how long that will be the case or whether you will want to enter when it becomes available.

I sit and try to relax after a long day but the two competing televisions don't make this easy.  Bill O'Reilly is ranting on one and the other is blaring HGTV. I put on my headphones but the man behind me is talking so loud I can hear him over Adele at full-blast.

Time passes.  Slowly.

The clock in this bottom right of this image shows the time is 7:44 and we are supposed to  leave at 7:50.  It says we are BOARDING.  I am pretty sure that isn't true because, as you can see, the door is closed and...

there is no airplane.  There are no airline employees at the gate either and there haven't been any since I arrived over an hour ago.

At 7:53 we are given our first information since I arrived: the plane will be here at 8:05.  The sign behind the employee giving the notice shows our status as DEPARTED.  Many of my fellow travelers are stressed out that this is not the case as they have connections to make.  

When the plane arrives, I watch as the ground handler comes out to guide the  plane into the gate.  This is better than watching the other people here freak out at the gate agents.

I wonder if the pilots like particular ground handlers better than others?  I imagine them in the cockpit discussing the pros and cons of various airport staff.  "Yeah, I really like the way that Joe Bob in Amarillo handles the orange batons but don't get me started on Big Jake over in Omaha.  He wouldn't know how to work the batons if they were sewn to his big ole' dewclaws."

Here is the most important thing you need to know about travel to Amarillo. You know those slotted boxes full of travel brochures you see in the hotel or at the airport?  The ones I saw in Amarillo were for other places.  If Amarillo is going to advertise places in Colorado or New Mexico instead of their own sights, maybe you and I would do well to take their advice.  Well you anyway, I might have to go back someday whether I want to or not.

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