Palo Duro Canyon Trip - June 2003
--- Stan, Nancy, Brad, Dan ---
A few years ago I saw a segment on our local news about a Cowboy Morning breakfast at
the Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, TX. I've been wanting to go ever since. Well, I finally made
it there - along with my dad and two friends, Stan & Nancy Ferguson. It was worth the wait - and even worth the six
hour drive. The above picture was actually taken at the Cap Rock Canyon area which we visited before we
visited Palo Duro Canyon.
--- Stan & Nancy at Palo Duro Canyon ---
--- Stan & Nancy at the Figure 3 Ranch ---
We spent the night in Amarillo after briefly visiting the canyon on Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday morning we headed back out to the canyon, to the "Cowboy Morning" breakfast at the Figure 3 Ranch.
About ninety other folks showed up too. The owners of the ranch, The Christians, were nice as could be
and said that they average about eighty guests per morning for breakfast. We were loaded on 4 or 5 large
wagons which were each pulled by two horses. What a great way to go to breakfast! It was a twenty minute
ride to the eating spot on the edge of the Palo Duro Canyon. As we wound through the mesquite trees a few folks
began singing "This Land Is Your Land". A bit corny, yet it somehow worked.
--- Nancy and Dad fillin' their plates. Just look at those eggs. Mmmmm. ---
Dad was very intrigued by the iron stove used to cook the eggs. He's pondering making one at Brushyland.
The "Biscuit Man" (more on him later) told us quite a bit about the stove. The grill is on
hinges so you can lift it up to put wood under it. There is no bottom to it. That top, solid surface can
get hot enough to cook on too. They added another large flat piece of iron to the front - about two inches
out from the original front - as a heat barrier to protect the cook's legs a bit. The stove is roughly a 4 ft by
4 ft square and you can cook 25 steaks on the grill (they lay a piece of "expanded metal" on the grill
when cooking steaks).
They cooked the biscuits in Dutch Ovens placed in hot coals contained in a large, partially buried steel ring.
I thought the ring idea was pretty clever. They originally tried using a rim from a large tractor but the
heat caused it to buckle. They eventually found a large steel ring (over 4 feet across) that was supposedly
part of an old steam engine. That bed of coals put out a heck of a lot of heat. Anyone who has ever tried
cooking biscuits in a Dutch Oven on coals knows how hard it can be. Well, I got the "Biscuit Man" to give
me a few pointers. He first pre-heats the lids on the flaming wood as the wood burns into coals. He said we
should do this when cooking cobblers too. He then sets the Dutch Oven in the coals and puts coals on the
lid too. Just when the top of the biscuits are turning brown he removes the lid and places it (with hot
coals still on it) on the cool ground. He then sets the uncovered Dutch Oven on top of the lid/coals for
a couple of minutes. He says the heat rising up from the bottom helps finish the inside of the biscuits.
He must have had a dozen pots of biscuits cooking - and every one of them turned out perfect.
--- The "Biscuit Man" ---
For many years Nancy's parents owned a dude ranch up in the Rockies, near Lake City, Colorado. So she became
a skilled rider at a very young age. I've heard her talk about her love for horses over the past several
years so it was nice to see her spend a little time with beautiful mare after breakfast.
--- Dan & Brad at the rim of the Palo Duro Canyon ---
The "Cowboy Morning" breakfast was a lot of fun for the whole family. The young 'uns were given a chance to ride
horses and practice a little lassoing too. There were even a few "cow chip" throwing contests...
It was certainly a great time. And at $19 a person, it's a bargain. They had at least a dozen horses and
a dozen folks serving food, cleaning, cooking, driving the wagons, etc. I don't think they are
doing this for the money. I'm definitely interested in doing their steak dinner soon. There's also
a play about the history of Texas peformed in a large amphitheatre near
the bottom of the canyon that I want to catch one day - I hear it's terrific.
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