Panhandle Pit Stops in Outlaw Country

Leaving the Stillwell Ranch experience was like slowly acclimating back into society. Even the tiny burg of Alpine seemed like a big city after living within the desolate lands of the Big Bend.

To lessen the impact of immersion, we meandered up the Panhandle through the smallest Texas towns while staying ahead of devastating tornadoes and hailstorms.

One of our first stops was the Roy Orbison Museum in Wink.

“Football, oil fields, oil, grease and sand”

That’s exactly how Roy once described his hometown. It’s still true. But really, how can you resist a town called Wink, especially if it’s the home of a famous rock star?

Jim and I are only old enough to remember Roy from his Traveling Wilburys days, but are well aware of the influence his amazing voice had on 1960s rock and roll. Since I can’t resist a good tourist trap, I had to see the museum honoring his memory.

Don’t blink, or you’ll miss the free Roy Orbison Museum on the main drag.  Each June, the town honors their most famous resident with a Roy Orbison Festival and Pretty Woman beauty pageant. It’s a small place with a massive collection of memorabilia including his trademark sunglasses and even the high school yearbooks he illustrated while attending Wink High.

Wandering into Waylon Territory

As we continued up the Panhandle looking for more fantastic free city parks to pass time until our date with RV America in Loveland, a Days End Directory listing for “Waylon Jennings City Park and RV Campground” caught my eye.

Located just west of Lubbock, I wondered, could this park be named after the Waylon Jennings? Yep, shore is!

Waylon grew up in Littlefield, a small cotton growing town that’s hanging on by a thread. Of course every small town needs a liquor store, and Littlefield has two.

Turns out that one of them is owned by Waylon’s brother James, but we didn’t know this at the time, and stopped at the spiffier competitor up the road. Bad decision. Duh!

We missed Waymore’s Drive Through Liquor Store and Waylon Jennings Museum, which features a collection of Waylon memorabilia, including his first guitar and a a framed platinum record of “Wanted! The Outlaws” the LP that put Outlaw Country on the radar.

If you catch his brother James on a good day, he might even give you a ten minute tour of Littlefield and show you landmarks like the house where Waylon grew up and a popular corner for fistfights back in the day.

Waylon was one of the greatest country musicians who ever lived. He deserves so much more than shrine enclosed in a liquor store. I hope some day his significance is properly honored with a dedicated building.

Don’t underestimate the Panhandle, it’s full of fantastic freebies, free camping and nifty little attractions like these.

Just be sure to avoid the stinky parts and visit when there’s less of a chance of a tornado tossing your rig into Oklahoma.

10 thoughts on “Panhandle Pit Stops in Outlaw Country”

  1. Hope the fire isn’t anywhere near your property. We just spent a week in Fort Collins. Love northern CO. Fires are always scary…stay safe.

    • Ingrid, I’m sorry we missed you,! Isn’t FC great? The fires are close enough to see & smell the smoke but not putting us in any danger. I hope those folks who live near it are doing OK, it’s still only 5% contained. Scary stuff for sure. Where are you now?

      • Back in Pueblo West, not by choice. We love FC and wanted to spend more time at Lory State Park. Working toward Full-timing….baby steps. Ya know the whole $$ thing. Hope the fires are out soon. Congrats on 15 years!

        • Ingrid, I didn’t know that you were back. Baby steps will get you there, you’ll see! Keep your dream close to your heart, it’ll take shape. Thanks for the well wishes.

  2. Oh, and I call that we bit of musical inspiration, “The Chords Player”!

    Enrico – again and again and again…

  3. You’re traveling through hallow grounds as far as I’m concerned, as one who sings and plays acoustic guitar, I know those names like the pledge of allegiance (and or like the French National Anthem La Marseillaise, take your pick, which is something us guitarist do as well, take picks, moving on…).

    I’ve got a gig coming up in July where I sing Orbison, Cash, Haggard, Lovett, and others and truth be told, there are few pleasures (save for those of the flesh) that can match singing country! I stand firm on this point because if someone would have told me I’d be singing country even three years ago, I’d have spit like a camel and quite possibly drop a little human waste on their shoe, but I’ve seen the light, or is that a B7 chord?

    Jeeze, when I sing, “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” (not written by Willie but played by him like nobody’s business, I believe Fred Rose penned this one?) I can’t help but feel something as big as Texas in my being.

    When you listen to Johnny Cash sing “Seasons in My Heart”, I can’t but feel more human or more reflective, it’s like a tour of Chartre Cathedral, overwhelming, profound, yet I understand it without without thinking about it too much. I guess I speak to us lovers of elder/mature country? Today’s country has it’s moments but everyone looks and sounds a little too polished for their own good – Johnny Cash didn’t need a wall of session musicians and a “Hat” to sound as poetic as he did?

    Excuse me for dusting off my boots in your blog, but the names mentioned in this post bring to mind songwriters who just did what Buck Owen’s once sang, “Act Naturally”!

    Today I don’t think Buck, Haggard or others could even get a record deal? They didn’t quite look like today’s calender models or have those clean singing voices that never seem to “fail to please”. Am I becoming a country music snob/purist? No, but I respect and revere the path paved by those who gave us a solid reason to listen to Willie, Waylon, Perkins, Elvis, Johnny Horton, Williams, Miller, C. Rich, G. Straight and others too many to mention.

    I have written a little prayer for all y’all:

    Our father, who has six strings, hallowed be thy Collings dreadnought.
    Thy chords will play in bar rooms, taverns, and at bar-B-Qs
    Give us today our daily turnaround on the 8th or 12th bar
    and forgive those who won’t play a 1, 4, 5!

    Lead us not into just open chords but play thy minor as well,
    Let 7th chords deliver the bluesy power and glory of thine progression
    now and forever – Amen(able) to Jazz.

    Enrico strikes and strikes with a thin strumming pick…

    • I can’t wait to hear you sing that Enrico!

      I don’t think Buck or Haggard would want a record deal in the current country music scene, I imagine they would go it alone and start their own label. Outlaw all the way.


Leave a Reply to michael ultra Cancel reply