Happy Trails, Part 93

MELISSA, Texas — This likely won’t come as a huge flash to most of you, but I’ll offer it anyway.

My wife and I are spending a couple of nights at an RV park just down the highway from our granddaughter and her parents. We’ve been on the road for a couple of weeks.

I am torn by the notion that I cannot take my mind off of what is happening in Amarillo, where we are current headquartered.

The wind has kicked up on the High Plains yet again. It has ignited fires all across that sprawling landscape. I heard on the news this morning that Fritch, Texas, about 50 miles north of Amarillo, was evacuated because of the deadly threat posed by wildfire.

It occurs to me that it is going to take a great deal of time for me to put Amarillo in the distant past. We intend to move soon to North Texas. We have inched a bit closer to making a decision where we might move and on what terms we will relocate.

However, my mind is occupied as well by what is happening in the community we called home for 23 years.

It’s not a surprise.

Our life together took a dramatic turn in the spring of 1984 when we relocated from Portland, Ore., my hometown, to the Texas Gulf Coast. We picked up, packed up and moved our young sons to another culture. We didn’t leave Portland behind, either. Then we departed Beaumont for the Texas Panhandle in January 1995. Beaumont has stayed in our hearts and minds ever since … along with Portland.

Now we’re set to move on from Amarillo. We’ll settle in another community. Yet the misery that frightens our neighbors in Amarillo gnaws at us from afar.

We’ll be returning to Amarillo in the next couple of days. We’ll hang loose there for a time before shoving off yet again. I cannot project precisely where we’ll end up. I can, though, predict that Amarillo be on my mind — more than likely for as long as I draw breath.

A lot of good things are happening there these days. Downtown revival is under way. The state is rebuilding huge chunks of Interstates 40 and 27 in Amarillo as well as the southern loop. The city is repairing and renovating streets.

And, oh yes, those damn fires keep threatening people and property. These are our friends and neighbors.

I cannot possibly forget about the danger they face.

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