Not every city can say it is famous for a restaurant that offers a steak the size and weight of a laptop computer, but this is Texas, and Amarillo is a particularly Texan part of Texas. The city's logo has a pair of cowboy boots for LLs and in the brief history found in one of the tourist pamphlets we picked up at the hotel, we read that when the city got started, it had something like 500 people and 500,000 head of cattle.
We were not there, however, for the cattle, or the steaks, but for our cousins, who were coming through town on their way from Arizona to a new job in Wisconsin. We used Travelocity to find a cheap hotel with a pool and free breakfast and the boys chanted "Swimming! Swimming! Swimming!" the whole drive there. I think we were spoiled last summer when our apartment complex had a swimming pool and we got to go swimming every day.
Driving north out of Lubbock always makes me think of our drive from Ohio. The Interstate between Oklahoma city and Lubbock was the last leg of our journey and our first glimpse of Texas. We counted dead Armadillos on the road and watched cotton fields spread out like billowy quilts on all sides. We counted pick-up truck after pick-up truck and craned our necks in a small town called Groom where we passed this 190 foot cross:
Texas felt like a foreign country then, and it still does, in a lot of ways, but now I don't notice the cotton fields so much anymore, or the size of the sky, which stretches out before you on the road and runs all the way to the horizon line, like the whole world is divided into two great swaths of blue and brown.
The boys handled the drive really well and didn't fight at all. They read books and slept and we listened to some kids' music, all the while reminding the boys that we'd go swimming as soon as we got to the hotel. We even had their swim suits on the top of the suitcase.
We pulled up into the parking lot of the hotel, checked in and walked up the three flights of stairs toward our room, which was in the back of the hotel overlooking the pool.
As we walked down the open air hallway toward our room I said, "the pool is just around the corner boys!"
It was hot, and we were all ready for a dip.
Then we turned the corner.
Travelocity advertised this hotel as having a pool, and I guess, technically, they weren't lying. The boys were again sad, but they managed their disappointment and reverted to jumping on the hotel beds while I got on the phone with Travelocity to figure something out.
Eventually, Travelocity paid for us to move to a hotel right next door and the boys got to go swimming. The next day we met our cousins, ate some breakfast and headed off to the Amarillo Zoo. We had Pizza Planet for lunch with a coupon out of the gas station phone book and hit the local science museum on our way out of town.
All in all, it was a nice mini-vacation.
Even without the 72 ounce steak.