Tag Archives: Big Easy

Happy Trails, Part 136: Planning our destinations

I have decided that perhaps the coolest aspect of retirement is thinking of places to see and then just deciding when we’ll get there.

We have so many places we still want to see on this continent of ours. We are planning an April excursion that will end up in New Orleans. We’ll hitch up our RV in Amarillo and then haul it to the Hill Country, to the Golden Triangle and then through the Atchafalaya Swamp en route to the Big Easy.

But then the thought came to me tonight: I want to see Monument Valley, Ariz. I told my wife and she agreed, just as I agree with her travel-destination ideas.

I don’t know when we’ll get over there. I am betting it will be soon after we return from New Orleans.

But my point is that retirement has given us the freedom to just think of these places we want to see. All that is left for us to do is decide when to shove off.

Do we have a “bucket list” trip we want to take? You bet we do.

The Big Journey will take place across Canada. Our plans call for us to haul our fifth wheel to Vancouver, British Columbia, from where we will trek east. We intend to haul our RV across Canada, perhaps as far as Nova Scotia. Then we’ll come south along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, visiting friends and family in Virginia and in Washington, D.C.

Yes, retirement for us has opened up so many opportunities. In a strange way all the travel destinations we have laid out before us remind me of how busy my work as an editorial page editor had become, especially after 9/11.

That was the date when all hell broke loose. There was so much on which to comment, my task each morning was to decide which issue we would tackle for the next day’s newspaper edition — and which issues we could set aside for another day.

The United States and Canada comprise between them more than 7.5 million square miles. Surely that means we have enough destinations awaiting us to last for the rest of our lives.

On the hunt for a Katrina survivor


A decade ago, Amarillo opened its doors — and its arms and heart — to about 100 or so refugees from down yonder, on the Gulf Coast.

They fled New Orleans after their homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Many thousands of residents were left homeless, hopeless and penniless.

Some came here, far away from the danger of storm surge, horrifying wind and torrential rain.

Amarillo showed what it was made of at that time, just as communities all across Texas and the nation did in lending a hand to those who were in desperate straits.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of them, thanks to some help I got from the city’s public health department, which then was led by Matt Richardson, who’s since moved on.

Her name is Emma.

Ten years ago, this courageous mother and grandmother told me she had every intention of staying in Amarillo. She wanted to find the kind of work she was doing in The Big Easy. Emma said her then-boyfriend was qualified to do a lot of odd jobs and he, too, hoped to make Amarillo his home for life.

My curiosity over her whereabouts and her well-being has been rekindled as the nation looks back at that dark time.

A great American city was inundated and nearly destroyed. It has come back — more or less. New Orleans isn’t quite as heavily populated as it was pre-Katrina. But much of it has been rebuilt. Many folks have returned to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

I’m wondering, though, about Emma.

I hope to find her soon and get caught up on how she’s fared in the past decade on the High Plains.