Camping adventure to Palo Duro Canyon


So we had made the commitment to be at the BBQ in the Boonies out at our friend Mel’s place Palo Duro Zip Adventure Park and we rented an RV from Billy Sims Trailer Town…

We packed enough stuff for weeks on the road even though we’d only be there for two days but that isn’t the point…the point was we wanted to have fun while working at judging the Battle of the Bands, and the IBCA sanctioned cook-off that benefitted the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation…we had throw pillows and first aid kits and even pictures from home to keep our families close to heart while we were gone…

Billy Sims Trailer Town gave us lessons on how to work our 28 ft. RV and we loaded our six weeks worth of supplies and we were off.  Nikki-Dee made us a couple of sandwiches and decided that she would unload all our things while I was driving.

Driving at a top speed of 58 miles an hour (the slowest I’ve ever driven on the highway, EVER) we hadn’t been gone 15 minutes and I heard a huge crash and a few choice cuss words and because I was driving I couldn’t go find out what had happened so Nikki-Dee let me know that three of the wine bottles had fallen out of the fridge and broken in the floor…so there was wine, glass and blood flowing down the stairs of the camper…So after asking if everything was ok and finding out that she had a paper towel to stop the blood flow I got the giggles and laughed until I had tears rolling down my face…I couldn’t do much because I was white knuckling the steering wheel because I was worried…so after the twenty minutes of cleaning the glass and wine and blood off the floor she finally moved on and decided we would have to stop in Plainview and restock our wine supply.

We googled liquor stores in Plainview and found one blessedly off the beaten path that I could drive into without having to get into too much traffic, restocked our supply and were back on the road.

Once we got to Palo Duro Zip Adventure Park we didn’t have to do anything, our friend Mel parked our camper and volunteers hooked us up and plugged us we decided to decorate the RV with our lights and banners. 

Neither of us knew what to do so we hung out in the camper and tried to relax to no avail.  So we decided to get on top of our camper and hang out.  That was nice until we sort of caused a ruckus with the cooks who were trying to work so we got down and got to work.  We scheduled our hiking and rappelling adventure for the next morning and decided to shoot some video.

Later on in the evening we were asked to judge the Kids Q where the kids actually do all the cooking of whatever recipe they want to make.  Talk about some amazing food!  We were pretty impressed with the abilities of the youngsters. Because we were out of town there was severe weather coming in.  So back up on top of the camper we went because you get the best footage and pictures from up high…because of the rain we had to get down and into the shelter of our nice Billy Sims RV.  Because it was still early we played multiple rounds of UNO until our friend Ray Bonner from the Outdoor Chef came and got us and we went to check out other campers.  That was great fun because we met new friends. 

At the end of the day we were super excited because we got to go to bed by 10PM!!!  Saturday morning at 6AM came bright and early though.  We were up and freshly showered and ready for our morning hike and rock rappelling.  Our guide Ashton met us at the office and saw that we had come prepared with one water bottle each…he promptly asked us if we knew or understood what we would be doing.  We told him we were going hiking…but if we needed more water we’d go grab some and be right back…so we trekked back to our RV and grabbed more water and Gatorade and went back to the office. Poor Ashton said ok so either the two of you have really good balance and don’t need your hands or y’all don’t realize how much of a hike this is…We let him know we did need our balance and that maybe we just needed a backpack to put all our stuff in…I do think he thought we were crazy but he said hang tight he’d be right back… Sweet Ashton had gone to his house and come back with a camel pack that we could haul water and all our snacks and Gatorade in.  We got our gear on and headed down to the trails.  And we hiked and hiked and hiked some more…we were breathless and were questioning our sanity at this point but we are tough girls and weren’t gonna let our guide know this. Needless to say we were definitely clueless about how strenuous this hike was going to be.  At the rappel wall Ashton got things tied down and gave us our lesson on what to do…Nikki-Dee went first and was doing really well until we realized she had stopped.  She let us know later that halfway down she hadn’t stopped to pray.  Because it’s gonna matter when you’re halfway down…but she learned to trust the rope. Then it was my turn.  I had listened to all the instructions and yet getting over that overhang 10 feet down was more challenging than I was expecting…I put my feet together thinking I’d jump down and ended up falling over and whacking my head on the dang cliff…of course no one has ever done that before according to Ashton…yep that’s me an accident waiting to happen.  It rang my bell and after a few seconds I was ready to rappel the rest of the way down. 

After watching Ashton make it look so easy, we were back to hiking along the very bottom of the canyon.  It was so pretty but then Ashton pointed up a sheer cliff and said that’s where we are climbing back up the canyon…With nothing tethering us or anchoring us we began the climb to the top.  We did it though!  We’d barely had time to celebrate making it to the top when Ashton stopped suddenly and told us to back up…Nikki-Dee gripped whatever she could and I wanted to know why we’d stopped…there was an enormous territorial owl that wasn’t going to permit us to pass…and of course that was the only way we had to go to get out of the canyon.  So we hung out for a few minutes decided what we’d do when Ashton told us to scoot on our butts to the edge of the cliff and shimmy past the owl with our backs to it and maybe it would let us by.  Whew! We made it.  Then a couple more miles to the office and two and a half hours later we’d completed a hike/rappel that typically takes an hour and fifteen minutes.  Heck we were just thrilled to have been able to say we’d finished! 

The day was still young and we had work to do.  We were judges for the Battle of the Bands and now dressed in clean clothes and smelling better we hung out and listened to nine very talented local bands from Lubbock, Plainview, Levelland, and Amarillo vie for the top spot which would allow them to  open for Restless Heart in Amarillo.  It was a long but very fun day. 

We got to announce the winners of the cook-off in between bands and several of our friends won!  We were so proud! 

Back to the bands…the clouds began rolling back in so when it finally started to thunder and lighten we had to clear out the bands but it hadn’t started raining so we just moved over to the huge bon fire that was blazing.  Nikki-Dee was on her second or third wind…or her ADD meds had run out but she was running circles around me.  By the time it started raining she was bouncing off the walls.  I was absolutely exhausted and ready for a hot shower and bed.  We agreed we’d take long showers and by the time she got done she looked at me and said, “the water isn’t draining, is it supposed to do that?”  Oh my…I realized that our gray water tank was full which meant we couldn’t run any more water for anything until we emptied it…of course at this point it was pouring outside and the wind was blowing like crazy.  So we threw a t-shirt on over our jammies, Nikki-Dee put on her rainboots and I got my cowboy boots on and we ran out in the rain with a flashlight to find someone to help us empty the right tank because Lord knows we didn’t want to empty the sewer water instead of the gray water… the camp grounds looked like a ghost town…everyone that had stayed had battened down and gone to bed…so soaking wet we ran over to the shop to find it locked and not a soul to be seen…then we ran back up to the office looking like drowned rats and thankfully Mel and his staff were relaxing from the long day and our sweet friend Ashton agreed to help us empty the right tank.

He had us stand out there with him so we could learn.  By the time we got back into the RV we were chilled to the bone and waterlogged. Laughing like crazy people.  I’m pretty sure that Mel and his staff think we were missing some crayons in our boxes but we didn’t want to mess anything up. 

I finally got Nikki-Dee to settle down and we crashed. You can’t really sleep late in an RV so we were up early again Sunday morning.  This time we were determined to break things down ourselves to prove that we could.  We cleared tanks, cleaned the RV and were  back on the road to Lubbock.

I can tell you this…We had so much fun that weekend and will definitely be going back again next year!  Thank you again to Mel and Ron and Ashton and all the staff at Palo Duro Zip Adventure Park along with Ray Bonner from the Outdoor Chef and to Eric Sims from Billy Sims Trailer Town for letting two crazy women rent an RV!!! We are blessed to know such wonderful people!