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Lubbock–So Happy to Z You

Written by Marty Lange.

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I admittedly have a soft spot for Lubbock.

After my most recent visit, I love it even more. Why? By the measures used to evaluate most destinations—interesting things to see and do, friendly people, good places to eat, and nice places to stay—this West Texas city has been noticeably raising the bar.

And when you travel there (or anywhere for that matter), the journey can be half the fun, so what you drive can very possibly produce prodigious portions of pleasure. Why take a generic sedan or condo-size SUV, when a fabulously entertaining sports car conveniently arrives courtesy of Nissan North America?

We’re headed for Lubbock, y’all—in a Nissan 350Z! Road & Track recently named this cozy road rocket the best $30,000 sports car in the world. Hard to argue. With a legendary 3.5 liter, 300-horsepower V6 engine, and Miracle Whip-smooth, ultra-precise, close-ratio 6-speed transmission, this dream machine goes from 0 to 60 in 5.9 seconds. Believe me, Six Flags and Disney World don’t have a ride like this. OK, maybe, but you can’t park theirs in your driveway. What a priceless thrill this marvelously meticulous piece of automotive engineering was to drive—reminiscent of the adrenaline rush experienced by coasting a Radio Flyer wagon down a hill on Oak Street in my tiny Midwestern hometown when I was 6 years old à la Calvin & Hobbes. In a cool car headed for a famous Texas city—is this a great state, or what? I’d toured the Panhandle many times, but never in something as purely exciting as a 350Z. It made the Llano Estacado’s plateau prairie landscape—capable of elevating one’s senses and sensibilities—even more appealing. They don’t call it the High Plains for nothin’. Big sky. Flat earth. It makes a lasting impression.

Upon arriving at the Lubbock city limits, I could see (and smell) enormous cattle feeding lots, as well as notice sizable representations of Lubbock’s multimillion-dollar cotton industry (gins, mills, elevators, markets, storage facilities, et al). As always, such scenes made me proud of American agriculture, and in a way, acknowledged my proclivity for wearing jeans and T-shirts, not to mention my penchant for hamburgers, burritos, sirloin steak, chocolate milk, and yogurt smoothies. The surrounding counties’ cotton fields, rows of sunflowers, wineries, apple and pecan orchards, and acres of sorghum are purely a thing of beauty.

C’mon, let me show you what else is so great about Lubbock. I’ve got Joe Ely, Kimmie Rhodes, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Waylon Jennings, Butch Hancock, and Buddy Holly in the CD changer. We’re in the Hub (City), bub, let’s go.

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Lubbock, a pleasant, livable city of over 200,000, is a West Texas/High Plains hub at the intersection of I-27/US 87, US 84, TX 114, and US 62/82. The area code is 806.

For more information, contact the Lubbock Convention & Visitors Bureau at Wells Fargo Center, 1500 Broadway, 6th Floor, 79401; 747-5232 or 800/692-4035; www.visitlubbock.org. Or, stop by the Lubbock Welcome Center at the Buddy Holly Center, 1801 Crickets Ave. (formerly Ave. G).

Where to Stay

Ashmore Inn, 4019 S. Loop 289; 785-0060; 800/785-0061.

Where to Eat

Ranch House, 1520 Buddy Holly Ave., 762-3472; http://ranchhouse.musselman.net.

Cowamongus, Texas Tech Animal & Food Sciences Bldg., Indiana & Main, 742-2882; www.cowamongus.com.

Lujans, 10101 Slide Rd., 368-9444.

Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy, 4401 82nd St., 794-1762; www.abuelos.com.

Lisa West’s Double Nickel Steakhouse, 5405 Slide Rd., 792-0055.

Stella’s, 4646 50th St., 785-9299.

What to Do

American Wind Power Center, 1701 Canyon Lake Dr.; 747-8734; www.windmill.com.

American Museum of Agriculture, 1501 Canyon Lake Dr.; 239-5796; www.agriculturehistory.org.

MacKenzie Park (Prairie Dog Town, Meadowbrook Golf Course, Frisbee disc course, Joyland Amusement Park), 4th St. and I-27.

Buddy Holly Center, 1801 Crickets Ave. (formerly Ave. G); 775-3560; www.buddyhollycenter.org.

Cactus Theater, 1812 Buddy Holly Ave.; 762-3233; www.cactustheater.com.

National Ranching Heritage Center, 3121 4th St.; 742-0498; www.nrhc.ttu.edu.

Texas Tech University, 2500 Broadway; 742-2011; www.ttu.edu.

Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre, 5101 US 84 W.; 806/749-SHOW.

Apple Country at Hi Plains Orchards, US 62/82 E., Rt. 2, Box 234, Idalou 79329; 892-2961 or 800/765-7055; www.applecountryorchards.com.

Annual Events

National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration, Sep. 6-9; 798-7825; www.cowboy.org.

Panhandle South Plains Fair, Sep. 21-29; 763-2833; www.southplainsfair.com.

Lubbock Music Festival, Sep. 21-22; 800/ 692-4035.

Lubbock Arts Festival, Apr. 2008, 744-2787; www.lubbockarts.org.

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