Amarillo by suppertime

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Recently, I took a break from my grueling summer staycation for a business trip to exotic Amarillo, Texas. (Try to contain your jealousy.)

I had never visited Amarillo – other than passing through in the middle of the night on my way to Colorado ski resorts during my Clearasil-laden teen years – so I was fairly excited by the prospect, mainly of what I might find to eat there.

Before I went, I did a little research on the city and its history, and I discovered the name comes from a Spanish word meaning “No, it has nothing to do with armadillos.” I was also excited to learn that Amarillo was historically a cattle-marketing center, which meant that I would probably not go hungry.

And speaking of hungry, our flight landed at around 10:30 p.m., and other than a fun-size bag of subatomic airline pretzels, I hadn’t eaten any supper. It didn’t help that our Uber driver’s floorboard doubled as a fast-food packaging landfill, so once we reached our downtown hotel, even an armadillo sounded appetizing – if I had some ranch dressing for dipping. When I travel to a new city, I always try to sample some quintessentially local cuisine, so, naturally, I ordered a pizza from Domino’s, with extra ranch dressing.

The next evening, after a full day of business tripping, my colleagues and I attended a minor league baseball game at the impressive Hodgetown ballpark, the home of the Sod Poodles. Before this trip, I wasn’t sure what a sod poodle was, but I was pretty sure it was an armadillo. I was soon corrected by the team’s website, which claims that “sod poodle” is another name for a prairie dog. (I’m still pretty sure it’s an armadillo.)

I love the festive ambience of a live baseball game where I can eat my way through all nine innings–and occasionally notice what’s happening on the gridiron, or diamond, or whatever.

The Right Field Picnic Patio gave us access to an all-you-can-eat buffet of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, cookies and soft drinks. By the time the buffet closed, I was absolutely stuffed, so I could only manage a jumbo bag of roasted peanuts and a cranium-sized scoop of butter pecan ice cream to get me through the rest of the game. And to top it off, the Sod Poodles won – I think.

In all seriousness, I found downtown Amarillo delightful. The late June weather was warm and dry with a cooling breeze, which was a welcome change from summer in East Texas, where you inhale a six pack of humidity if you dare go outdoors.

Before heading to the airport on our last day, we grabbed lunch at the excellent Blue Sky Texas. I had a plus-sized chicken sandwich and a large pile of sweet potato fries – for health reasons. It was a delicious end to a great trip.

I hope to return to the Amarillo area soon since I only caught a glimpse this time around. Until then, I’ll have fun memories anytime I order Domino’s pizza and put on my official Sod Poodles ball cap. (I still say it’s an armadillo.)

Copyright 2023 Jase Graves distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at [email protected].