Travel: the panhandle of Texas

Katelyn Mitchell

This past weekend I visited the panhandle of Texas in a little town named Pampa, Texas. Most of you probably have never heard of this little oil town, but after spending an entire weekend immersed in the Texas lifestyle, I can’t wait to visit again. 

The Big Texan Restaurant (Photo: The Big Texan)
The Big Texan Restaurant. (Photo: The Big Texan.)

When I arrived in Amarillo, I knew instantly I was in a whole new world. For starters, the plane I flew in on was only three seats wide. It was a tad different from the usual massive air crafts that fly out of DIA. While walking to the baggage claim (where there were only three carousels) I saw the funniest ads to start off my Texas experience. The Big Texan (a 72-oz. steak challenge) and “Texas, home of the world’s largest beer.” So far, everything met my expectations of Texas — everything being bigger than it needs to be. Don’t get me wrong, though — it made the trip even more fun.

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After finding my way to the pickup area, I found my boyfriend, Brenden, and his best friend ready to pick me up. I hadn’t eaten all day and the Waffle House apparently is the place to go. Now, I was expecting the Colorado version of the Waffle House. Most of the buildings here have been refurbished, but not in Texas. I walked into a straight-up, blast-from-the-past Waffle House. Before we sat down, one of the guys in our group asked for an ash tray. Whoa, wait a minute. That’s right, a law that Colorado set in place for no smoking in public buildings does not exist in Texas. My table was smoking, the old man in the corner reading a paper was smoking and even the waitress lit one up occasionally. I could not believe how different it was down there. To top it all off, Waylon Jennings, one of the best old country singers, was playing on the jukebox. It was so much Texas in one sitting, it was hard to take it all in.

After we finished in Amarillo, it was time to head to little old Pampa. The next morning, I met literally my boyfriend’s entire family. For those of you who understand the struggle, meeting your significant other’s family is a big deal, especially when they fly you out to meet them. From the first second I met them, I loved them all. Besides just being wonderful people to begin with, they really showed me true Texan hospitality the entire time I was visiting. I never had to ask for anything. There was even one day I was beyond sick — I looked and felt like death. Between Brenden’s mom and Meme (his grandma), I was well taken care of and was better before the day was even over. I can give some of the credit to Meme’s chicken and noodles — so much goodness in a pot. 

Now, if you ever get the idea you want to go somewhere in Texas, I highly recommend Pampa. Overall, there is not much to the town, but what they do have, they cherish. In my eyes, I think this is a town that is too easily overlooked. If you do go, there are several must-dos. 

  1. Order any burger from Smokin’ Joe’s Grill (the fuggly burger with dogg sauce is the most delicious thing you will ever eat and it upholds the standards of Texas-sized food).
  2. Eat at Chicken Express (it’s even better than Cane’s).
  3. Get a snow cone from one of the many snow-cone stands.
  4. Visit Main Street and go inside all the boutiques and the coffee shop.
  5. Take a drive around the entire town.
Pampa High School Stadium (Photo: Texas Bob)
Pampa High School Stadium. (Photo: Texas Bob.)

A word of advice: Pampa is a very proud town of their high school football team, the Pampa Harvesters. So if you visit the town during the fall, definitely join everyone in supporting their pretty darn good team.

With it being such a small town compared to Denver or even Fort Collins, there are somewhat limited options on what to do with your time. Driving around and going to Walmart are sometimes the only things to do, but don’t let that turn your interest off from Pampa. I was there a total of four days and I can’t wait to go back and live the life of a Texan all over again. I give the town at least five out of five stars for being an all-around awesome town and a place where I now have great memories.

For even more stuff to do in Pampa, or even if you’re a little bit curious, click here.

Also, a huge thank you to the Rice and Steen family for flying me out and welcoming me into their homes. You guys are all amazing and I can’t wait to see you again.  

Collegian Travel Blogger Katelyn Mitchell can be reached online at blogs@collegian.com or on Twitter @mitch_kate_.