As many of you know, I recently spent a few days in my hometown of Odessa, Texas. While driving around my old stomping grounds I started to think about all the things I enjoyed growing up there.
I know I give West Texas a lot of grief at times and it’s no secret that as a kid, I couldn’t wait to get out of that town. It’s also no surprise that I love where I live now and couldn’t imagine ever willfully moving back home. See, Odessa has more than its fair share of Confederate Flag lovers, bad drivers, dirty roads with no trees and certainly no hiking trails, but to be fair, there’s a lot of things about the town that I do love. I mean almost my entire family lives there, along with a host of friends I’ve known nearly my entire life, so there’s never a dull moment.
But there’s more than good company that makes Odessa a town I can sometimes miss. Emphasis on sometimes. So without further adieu here are nine great things about living in Odessa.
- The big sky
OK, I know you people in Montana think you have the most glorious Big Sky in the country. And I’m sure it is amazing. But Odessa could definitely hold its own in that comparison. The flat, treeless landscape makes for a great canvas as the sunset paints the sky. It’s true that Odessa has some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. Seriously, just type “Odessa Sunsets” into Google images and behold the beauty that is West Texas at sundown.
I know you can get great Tex-Mex food in most Texas towns, but it’s safe to say that you’ll never go hungry in Odessa. I mean there’s a Taco Villa AND Rosa’s Café. You can all have your Chipotle, I’d rather visit that pink restaurant with the tortilla machine in the entrance.
- Warm summer nights
Odessa is a desert. So it gets hot. Like really, really hot. So often it isn’t until nighttime that it’s safe to venture outside. Imagine stepping outside your door at 11 p.m. wearing shorts and a t-shirt. No jacket needed around here! Up north, when the sun sets in the spring or early fall you’d better grab yourself a jacket. But down south, there’s no need.
- Marquez Bakery
Coffee and Mexican sweet bread. Need I say more? Sorry New York City bagels. You lose.
- Snowcone stands
Odessa has a snow cone stand on every street corner, much like the Northwest has a coffee stand on every corner. And nothing says winter is over like seeing an “Open” sign on your local snow cone stand. There’s also a Bahama Bucks which is basically a snow cone stand open year-round. My favorite? Tigers Blood or the Pickle Sno Cone. Don’t hate.
- Swimming in flood zones
There are no storm drains in Odessa, Texas. I repeat there are no storm drains in Odessa, Texas. Yet ever year West Texas gets wicked storms causing flash floods and before you know it the entire town is swimming in the Dixie Boulevard River. Growing up we would take inner tubes and float down the roads, much like how kids go sledding in the north. Gross, I know, but when you grow up in a small city with no lake, river or ocean nearby you take what you can get.
First, I would like to clarify that I no longer eat Southern Maid Donuts. As a vegan I only eat doughnuts that are labeled as such, however, I grew up on these doughnuts. And I can tell you that they are the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of doughnuts. The chocolate and the cherry doughnuts are my favorite. Get them while they’re fresh out of the oven with a glass of (almond) milk and you just might think you’ve died and gone to heaven. I was such a doughnut fan my nickname used to be The Doughnut Lady.
- High School Football
I know this is a cliché to say, but high school football in Odessa is King. And when you are a part of it it makes you feel like royalty. Whether you’re a football player, cheerleader, band member or on the dance team (wink) there’s something electrifying about going to a high school football game. Yeah, sure I was a Broncho and our team basically stunk the three years I was in high school, but that didn’t take away from the sheer enjoyment every Friday night. I remember walking onto Ratliff Stadium for the first time as a member of the Odessa High dance team – the Showgirls. I was scared, I was proud, I was a little gassy – because I’d had a Jumburrito beforehand – but I was also really excited. Stands are filled with thousands of cheering fans, the band is playing the fight song and Battle Hymn of the Republic. It was all so invigorating. And then there was the after game dinner at Rosa’s. Such a good time.
So here’s some information for those of you who don’t know a lot about Odessa. The town is situated in what is known as the Permian Basin. So since it is in this little bowl the chances of getting a tornado are pretty slim. However, it still gets some wicked thunderstorms. I recently “slept” through one during my trip. Heavy rain, loud booming thunder and bright flashes of lightning. They are amazing to witness and even though I am deathly afraid of lightning I really do miss a good thunderstorm.
So there you go. These are just some of the great things about growing up in Odessa, Texas. There may only be two seasons. Hot and cold. There may even be too many giant trucks trying to run you off the road! But it really does have its perks.
The biggest one being all my family and friends who still live there.
– Veronica Craker