Thursday, September 20, 2012

The charms of Amarillo

Amarillo is a tough place to love, not to mention a tough place to find a decent latte or stroll merrily from place to place in. It sometimes feels like a ghost town in the making. People who live there must be really good at keeping secrets because alll the good stuff seems to be hiding. Since my husband has family there I've found myself wondering what to do with myself and my kids on more than one occasion. It wasn't until our last visit, driving through after the Renegade Austin show, that I could say I really felt l had discovered some redeeming characteristics. Namely, good thrift store shopping, good doughnuts and coffee, a bit of the art scene and something for the kids.

The first I located whilst tagging a yarn bomb just outside of downtown proper. Peering a the darkened shop window I spied cute vintage dresses. How could I stay away?

The next morning we were set to leave for home so I made sure it was on our itinerary. After coffee, of course. Roasters is the best place for that, really. I had learned that lesson on an earlier trip. It's a local chain, a touch Starbucks-ish but with local ambiance and good iced americanos. But what about those doughnuts? You cannot, I repeat- CANNOT leave Amarillo without doughnutting up. It's a quasi-legal reqiurement. So I was giddy to discover that the store I thought had gone out of business the last time I was in town was, in fact, right where it had always been. Like I said, it's a confusing town-in more ways than one.

Thank god for husbands who can read maps. Benjamin's is the art house of doughnut shops, an oasis of pastry in a desert of mediocrity. Green tea raised? You got it. Want a Cherry, candy and cake? Blueberry? Lemon glazed? Oh my freakin' yum! Get one of each and go to town! I mean it. Because next I went downtown, back to Heroine's. Remember the yarn bomb?

If good coffee and doughnuts made for a good morning then the folks at Heroine's made my day. Cute clothes, lots of selection (which, sadly, I have to attribute to Amarillo not having much of a hipster scene), a sweet shop dog and the guy at the register went above and beyond to help me out. They even have an Etsy site.

In between all this and, really, the whole time we were in Amarillo, I made my darling husband pull over to the side of the road about a bazillion times. For these:

One of those exceptional men with more money than sense has been nurturing the scene in this dusty Texas town for a while now. These prolific street signs are one of his projects. You can find them scattered throughout the "seedier" bits of town. Random quotes are generally the rule, but once in a while you find a graphic one like this. They have been a my favorite part of Amarillo since we started dropping in every so often a few years ago.

Our very last stop was several miles out of town and another of the benefactor of Amarillo's installation pieces: Cadillac Ranch. It's been moved once already to avoid the encroaching sprawl and the first hint I had of its existence was in a fleeting scene in one of my favorite movies, Arizona Dream. Cans of spray paint are scattered among the half buried cars and tagging is encouraged, in fact it's kind of the point. Art for the masses, by the masses. My own kids were happy to oblige. All of us were.

Thanks, Amarillo. For once, a good time was had by all. I apologize for taking so long to send this thank you note!


No comments: