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Extraordinary Outing to Palo Duro Canyon

Town Center residents headed west for a trip to Palo Duro Canyon to see the show “Texas” and visit some of the fun places along the way. Our first stop after leaving in the morning was at the Country Dove Tea Room, rated the #2 Tea Room in Oklahoma…it is in Elk City, right on the border of Oklahoma and Texas. Glenna, one of the owners and manager, greeted us at the front door and lead us to a beautiful room with sunlight coming through the lace curtains. It was designed to fit the atmosphere of a typical tea room, in a two-story house with many fun gift items and antiques both downstairs and up. She keeps a list of everyone who visits and she has had some very famous people stop by. It is on Route 66 and several people, including Paul McCartney, have decided to travel Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. while there are still sites to see. Some residents ordered chicken salad sandwiches on croissants, one tried the chicken/avocado on croissant (mashed avocados mixed with chicken, a delicious creation of the owner). Most opted for the special of the day which was a chicken dressing casserole topped with cheese, served with a homemade creamy potato soup, a heart-shaped raisin muffin, and their special lemon jello (a topic of much discussion after we left…a secret recipe even the wait staff didn’t know…but we decided to all try making our own batch with what we think is in it!). Their signature dessert is a French silk pie, handed down to the owner by her mother. The crust was soft and flaky with chopped pecans in it. Many of us had to give it a try!

Then on to Palo Duro where we stayed in the city of Canyon, Texas. We checked into the hotel and took a two-hour rest before heading for the evening events. The Palo Duro park was just down the road and we passed some beautiful scenery along the way. The canyon is the second largest in the USA, next to the Grand Canyon. It is 3,500 feet above sea level, 120 miles long and 20 miles wide. The depth is 880 feet. The canyon was formed by water erosion from Prairie Dog Town Fork at the Red River. We filled our plates with three BBQ meats, potato salad, beans, cole slaw, and peach or cherry cobbler…definitely plenty to eat. I must admit it was hot when we sat down to eat but as the sun began to go down, it grew a little cooler as it was time for the show. We proceeded to the amphitheater and found our seats. The show began with a rousing song and dance number about Texas with students from the local colleges who performed throughout the show. Members of the cast act out the story of the beginning of the panhandle of Texas, along with many songs and dances including one about all the multiple fires on the plains. Dancers in costumes of red and orange flames did a dramatic ballet while real flames burned in various areas in the background. The stage is set in front of one of the big hills in the canyon which makes a dramatic backdrop with lighting and digital images on the rocks. Cowboys on horseback ride in the background and on the stage carrying flags of the United States and Texas throughout the program. There is a train that comes from far in the distance up to the back of the stage, showing how the railroads changed the country. The simulated storms with thunder and lightning created an authentic experience for the audience, especially when lightning strikes a large dead tree up on the hill…everyone in the audience jumped and screamed! The 2 1/2 hour performance ended with a patriotic tribute to our veterans throughout the years. There were screens with pictures of veterans, dancers and singers wearing red, white, and blue costumes, water displays in the background in colors of red, purple, blue, yellow, white and a big fireworks show as the cast and audience sang, “This is My Country”. This was definitely a professional show everyone should see, depicting the struggles the pioneers and the Native Americans had in this country many years ago.

The next morning we headed for The Big Texan, famous in these parts!  If you can eat their 72 oz. steak, you get your dinner for free…but you have to eat all the side dishes that go with it too, and you have 30 minutes to do it! It has been done, but it’s a mighty big steak!! We had fun going through the buffet and most of us got omelettes…you choose your own ingredients and put it on a small plate to give to the chef who makes them. The food was delicious and very filling. Then we had fun going through the huge building taking pictures wherever we went. There is a big room in the far back of the restaurant with all kinds of photo ops including a jail, a coach, a big boot, and a huge rocking chair. You can see from the pictures, everyone had a fun time posing! After breakfast, we headed for home with a brief McDonald’s stop for sodas and services…and on home Thursday evening. Everyone was pooped but we all had a wonderful time!

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