It’s a good place to be. We love Amarillo, our city of choice for more than 22 years. My wife and I carved out a nice life here and whenever we leave the city for any length of time, we are happy to return. Our life is in flux as we prepare to resettle elsewhere — hopefully sooner rather than later.
Now that I’ve gotten the positive vibe out of the way, I want to register a minor quibble.
We returned home today via Interstate 40 westbound from points east and a little bit north. We logged 3,760 miles on our Dodge pickup and the fifth wheel RV we hauled behind it over the course of the past 17 days.
I was struck as we approached Amarillo’s eastern border, though, by something that troubles me. The community’s physical appearance looks, shall we say, seedy. It looks tacky. It’s unkempt and unattractive.
Is it the city’s fault? Frankly, I cannot remember if I’d seen the city limit sign prior to making our approach. If the abandoned rail cars near the airport sit in Potter County territory, then perhaps these remarks ought to be directed as well to the county. We noticed a few old vehicles as well.
Then we entered interchange where I-40 merges with U.S. Highway 287. What greeted us there? A non-descript sign that reads “Amarillo.” No mention of the big skies, endless opportunities, Palo Duro Canyon (one of the state’s true treasures) or that it’s the home of some notable native sons and daughters; the late astronaut Rick Husband came immediately to my wife’s mind; perhaps the reminder of another notable astronaut Gen. Tom Stafford’s roots in Weatherford, Okla., where we had passed through earlier in the morning brought Husband to my wife’s attention.
Mayor Ginger Nelson ran for office this spring on an extensive platform of ideas, issues and initiatives. One of them dealt with gussying up the I-40/27 interchange, about which I’ve written already on this blog. No need to belabor that point.
Perhaps Her Honor can expand her beautification vision to include some effort to make the westbound approach to our city more appealing to those who are laying eyes on The Big A for the first — or perhaps only — time.
Let’s get real. The Good Lord didn’t bless this region with purple mountain majesty, although we do have some mighty pretty sky. As we cast our eyes downward, toward the terra firma, we see that humankind has to do his and her part to tidy up the place.
We have some work to do.