Monday, December 12, 2016

The Good Girls Land in the Flatlands of Texas

Rick Husband statue in the Amarillo airport named for him.
The Good Girls, Debi Lander and Judy Wells, hail from Florida, so a trip to the plains of Texas required a flight to Amarillo.  We landed at RickHusband Airport, one of those fine regional airports that never see overly long TSA lines. Incidentally, Rick Husband was a local hero, an astronaut who sadly lost his life when Columbia exploded on reentry. The statue in his honor inside the terminal makes a good meeting point. 

We then picked up our rental car for our annual road trip and headed for downtown Amarillo, an area known for cowboys and cattle.  

A sign you can't miss. Photo by Debi Lander.
We didn’t get very far because we soon passed an icon and simply had to turn back. You can’t miss the Big Tex Steak Ranch sign featuring long-legged Big Tex. This sprawling restaurant became a beacon for travelers along Route 66 back in the day and later moved to Interstate 40. 

Perfect for selfies ans souvenir shots.
Big Tex caught our eye, and we naturally had to snap some photos.  The giant White-faced Hereford steer makes for a fun selfie and is a must for anyone visiting this area. 

Big Tex-Rex. Photo by Judy Wells.
So is Big Tex-Rex, called by the restaurant's founders Spirit of the Mother Road, Route 66.

In true Texas spirit, the restaurant was created to satisfy the hunger for good steaks and the ambiance of the Old West. The now World-famous FREE 72-oz. Steak came to life not long after it opened in 1960.
Steak Ranch dining room. Photo by Debi Lander.

We had no intention of trying to eat four and a half pounds of steak in one hour, but we had to find out more.  Here are the rules to get a free meal: 

1    Entire meal must be completed in one hour. If any of the meal is not consumed (swallowed)…YOU LOSE!
2    Before the time starts, you will be allowed to cut into the steak, and take one bite. If the steak tastes good and is cooked to your satisfaction, we will start the time upon your acceptable approval. The time will not stop, and the contest is on, so make SURE before you say “yes.”
3    Once you have started you are not allowed to stand up, leave your table, or have anyone else TOUCH the meal.
4    You will be disqualified if anyone assists you in cutting, preparing or eating your meal. This is YOUR contest.
5    You don’t have to eat the fat, but we will judge this.
6    Should you become ill, the contest is over… YOU LOSE! (Please use the container provided as necessary.)
7    You are required to pay the full amount up front; if you win we will refund 100%.
8    You must sit at a table that we assign.
9    If you do not win the steak challenge, you are welcome to take the leftovers with you.
10    No consumption or sharing of the leftovers is allowed in the restaurant once the contest is over.
11    If you fail to complete the challenge, you must pay the full $72 dollars.

Texas-themed gift shop. Photo by Judy Wells.

Since it was afternoon, no one was attempting to win a steak dinner, so we perused the gift shop.  The place reminded us of Wall Drug in South Dakota, kitschy souvenirs celebrating any and everything Texas.  While we were thoroughly entertained, we escaped without spending any money. 

Our downtown hotel, the MarriottCourtyard Amarillo Downtown, was a gem. It’s the restored historic Fisk Building, a former medical arts building, that found new life. Downtown Amarillo is coming alive, and the Marriott is in the center of the action. 

 Examples of Pueblo Deco. Photos by Judy Wells.

 Amarillo also is making a concerted effort to save their Art Deco - or as they call it, Pueblo Deco buildings - with design motifs inspired by Pueblo sand paintings,  and we applaud their work. 

Baked potato and filet mignon at Embers. Photo by Debi Lander.
Thanks to Amarillo CVB, Eric Miller, we were treated to a fantastic filet at an upscale restaurant named Embers.  The menu featured steaks and seafood, fresh vegetables and steak toppers. Specialties of the house included a yummy fried baked potato that Judy devoured. Debi stuck with the traditional baked potato.  Since the Good Girls had recently spent three weeks in China, the steak dinner fulfilled meaty dreams. However, we could not fit in even a bite of the unusual, but we hear scrumptious, jalapeño cheesecake.

We returned to the Marriott Courtyard to get ready for a full day of museum hopping the next morning.

------ By Debi Lander

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