Aaron Watson’s Got Some Tips For How To Enjoy His West Texas Native Like A Local.
It doesn’t take much to get country star Aaron Watson to wax romantic about his home region’s natural beauty. And, well, once he gets going…
“There’s just nothing like that West Texas sunset,” he says, gushing, and fairly unprovoked.
He understands why when his band tours the country – and even overseas in Europe – his fans love talking about West Texas and its gorgeous skies, too.
“Oh, I totally get it,” he says, laughing. “To stand there and be able to look around — it’s the bluest, most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. And then in come these colors that seem like they’re impossible: Purples and pinks and oranges all across the across the sky. Like, literally, you’ll think the sky is on fire. There’s a reason they shot that last scene of Indiana Jones here — It’s because they wanted that sky!”
A West Texas sunset is the kind of fleeting sight that you wish could last a lifetime. And if the cast and crew of Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade had tapped Watson to be its tour guide while shooting on location out this way, they might not have ever left.
And, with Watson’s list of three to-dos for all visitors to what he says is still very much the Wild West, who would ever want to?
1. Check out Palo Duro Canyon. Sure, if you want to get scientific about it, you could say that color changes in the bare-for-all to see sedimentary rock formations here tell our planet’s history. But, really, they’re just plain pretty to look at – to the point where painters as renowned as Georgia O’Keefe were known to sing their praises.
Watson’s Walk-Through: “Me, I’d start off in Amarillo first – that’s where I grew up. And on the way out of town, I’d stop by Doug’s Bar B Q. I’ve been getting two sausage sandwiches and a bowl of beans there ever since I was a little kid. Doug’s will never do you wrong.”
2. Go for a drive among the bluebonnets. In 1969, when Lady Bird Johnson successfully championed the passage of the Highway Beautification Act, it’s doubtful she understood just how much she’d affected Texas culture. These days, the violet-blue blooms that cover the lands around Texas’ many highways each spring are so treasured that most people falsely believe that it’s illegal to pick the flowers from the ground. It’s not. Go ahead and grab as many as you want.
Watson’s Walk-Through: “When you see the bluebonnets along the highway – they’ll get you. My song ‘Bluebonnet’ was inspired by how my wife and I lost a little girl six years ago. The song is about how life is short and sweet, like bluebonnets in the spring. And the little country cemetery where we buried her, every spring, it’s covered in bluebonnets. They’re only there for a little while – but they’re all over the place. It’s really something.”
3. Stop in for a bite to eat at Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap. Once hailed by the James Beard Foundation, the most prestigious culinary organization in America, as one of “America’s Classics” – a designation handed out to just five restaurants in the country each year – this renowned steakhouse isn’t just for the suit-and-tie set. If you have kids (and they’re anything at all like Watson’s) they’ll love the food, too.
Watson’s Walk-Through: “It’s just so Texas there! It’s this elegant five-star restaurant out the middle of nowhere. We share a fence-line with them — my ranch is right next to the restaurant. It’s a special place to me because, where a lot of kids are asking their moms and dads to take them to a fast food joint and get them some chicken nuggets, my kids want to go to Perini Ranch and have quail legs and jalapeno poppers. I’m like, “Gosh, guys! You can’t eat here every day or daddy’s gonna go broke!”