Thursday, November 18, 2010
Top 10 Misconceptions About Amarillo
By Steve Douglass
Passing through on I-40 one might think that Amarillo is nothing but a big truck stop. But our western city is much more than that. Consider getting off the wide ribbon of asphalt and spending a few days here – you'll be glad you did.
But first, let's clear up some misconceptions.
1. There are no trees here.
False: We have two of them – and they are made of plastic.
2. The weather sucks.
If you like boring well then yes. But if you like beautiful sunsets and sunrises, amazing storms lit up with gorgeous bolts of lightning and our epic tornadoes (that actually do suck) then you'll love it here.
We also get blazing hot afternoons, blizzards, hail the size of grape fruit, dust storms and floods – and all in the same day.
3. Amarillo is close to: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Waco, Austin, El Paso and Galveston.
False: Most people don't realize how big Texas is and our city is located in the northwest corner of the state. We are closer to Denver than Houston, Albuquerque than Austin and Oklahoma City than Dallas.
4. Everyone in Amarillo wears a cowboy hat, drives a pickup truck and is either a rancher, oil man or works on nuclear weapons.
True and false – I drive a Saturn.
5. Amarillo is flat.
Almost true – we don't have any mountains – but we do have this immense hole in the ground called Palo Duro Canyon where we drive out and stand on the edge and throw stuff in. From the bottom, looking up - it kind of looks like mountains.
6. Amarillo is an arid and dusty wasteland.
False: Average rainfall in Amarillo is 17 inches a year – but this year we had over twenty-five. We are now much greener than Dallas and Waco.
The thousands of playa lakes overflowed this year and just last week we had a three inch rain followed by a five inch snowfall within eight hours time. Sure, there's no water in Lake Meredith – but that's New Mexico's fault.
7. There is nothing to do in Amarillo.
Absolutely untrue! Like every major city we have plenty of venues, theaters, eateries, malls, parks, museums and attractions. Just Google: Amarillo attractions to see a list.
Besides, when you've done all you think to do here, you'll find out you can do things that you didn't think you could do anywhere, like chase a storm, listen to cowboy poetry, have a great chuck wagon dinner under the stars in Palo Duro Canyon, water ski at one of our many area lakes, fish, road-bike (forever with very few hills to slow you down) or plummet down treacherous mountain bike trails in the Canyon.
How about toting your ATV out to the Canadian River and go blasting through the red clay having the muddiest and dirtiest time of your life or if you are a meat eater – go hunting for pheasant, quail, dove or even deer.
Not to mention, in just a few hours drive you can be shushing down the slopes in Northeastern New Mexico or go chasing UFOs down in Roswell.
Take a day trip and experience our wonderful wildlife. Even in town you'll encounter wild creatures, like Red Tailed Hawks, coyotes and prairie dogs by the thousands. The High Plains are teeming with white-tailed and mule-deer, plus herds of prairie antelope, huge flocks of geese, ducks and birds (including turkey vultures) as well as our official bird – the V-22 Osprey!
On any given day – take a drive out to Amarillo Rick Husband International Airport and watch the Osprey's fly, or the Cobras, or the Huey's or the myriad military aircraft who frequently use our 15k+ long strip for training. Have a quit bite to eat at the English Field House and quite possibly sit next to an astronaut or rub elbows with a Top Gun.
Since Amarillo is so centrally located almost everything that flies has landed here to gas-up and go. Charles, Lindbergh landed here in the Spirit of St' Louis as has two Space Shuttles!
8. Amarillo is behind the times.
Yes and No.
If you like smog, long stop-and-go traffic jams, inner-city violence, rampant unemployment, inflated real-estate prices and the other problems that plague large urban cities – then yes- we are behind the times.
But no, if you think that Amarillo is not cutting edge.
Heck, we build advanced military aircraft here, and nuclear weapons. We also take them apart. There are jobs to be had here – and at good wages – from fields as diverse as cattle ranching to computer technology, aeronautical and petroleum engineering, to wind and nuclear energy.
In Amarillo we also have some of the best schools anywhere – from kindergarten to advanced doctorate degrees – in almost any field - we rate tops in our classes. There are medical schools, technical schools, junior colleges as well as WTAMU all within a twenty mile circle of the city.
9. Amarillo is intolerant.
Like any city, we do have our share of rednecks, biggots, criminals, idiots, lunatics and just plain jerks – but all in all you'll find the majority of us are friendly, tolerant, outgoing and just plain down-to-earth nice people.
Unfortunately the Quaran burners and racists and intolerants get more national press than the good people who will give you their chair, or let you in a long line ahead of them or who go door-to-door to collect money for the poor or for a good cause like cancer awareness.
Amarillo is ahead of the curve when it comes to charity. Almost every weekend there is a canned food drive or a charity walk or a benefit for someone of some cause in dire need. The majority of Amarilloans are kind, caring and generous.
Within our city limits are Catholic and Baptist churches, Mormon chapels and stake centers, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu mosques-all completely accepting of each other.
Yes, there are some bad apples among us but like most Texans, we won't stand for it.
10. Amarillo has no culture.
Again – wrong! In Amarillo you can boot-scoot-boogey on Friday night and enjoy the Amarillo Symphony on Saturday. You can take the kids to the Discovery Center to learn about science and nature or hike through Wild Cat Bluff to experience it first hand.
Plus you can partake in some of or unique Amarillo culture – such as spray paint your name on the Cadillac Ranch or hunt through town for the sometimes humorous but always strange “Stanley” signs.
You can go disco, two-step, waltz – and all in the same club. Go tail-gating in the parking lot at WTAMU or take in a rock-em-sock-em hockey game at the Civic Center.
All in all – Amarillo is a great place to visit – but an even better place to live.
Spend a day here and you'll want to return. Spend year here and you won't want to live anywhere else.
PS: I want to hear from you! What are your favorite things about Amarillo or what do you think we need to work on? Drop me a line or leave me a comment!
Posted by Steve Douglass at 1:05 PM