Tag Archives: Metroplex

Happy Trails, Part 130: Reaping the reward

Grandparents who read this blog will know what I’m talking about, but some of them might be likely to say, “So what’s the big deal?”

You’ve known for some time that my wife and I relocated from the Texas Panhandle to the Metroplex essentially for a single reason: We want to live near our granddaughter, who’s now 5. We want to be a significant part of her life.

Today we reaped part of that reward. Yeah, I know it’s not a huge deal to grandparents who’ve had countless exposures to this kind of joy. It’s still fairly new to us. So, I want to take just a moment to share it here.

We took Emma to a children’s fair at the Fairview Town Center. They had rides, various exhibits and activities for children. It was inexpensive. The weather was lovely. Emma had spent the night with us, so we walked with her this morning to an event we were told had been planned for Halloween, but the weather rained them out.

Emma got her face painted; she played with animals at the petting zoo; she rode a pony; she got to climb one of those bouncy-house contraptions and then slide down the other side.

She couldn’t get enough of it.

This event today reminded my wife (Grandma) and me of the wisdom of our move from way up yonder to this community. It is to bond more tightly with our precious little one.

We are acutely aware she won’t stay this age for long; we did rear two sons into adulthood, so we’ve been through the rapid-rate time travel associated with watching children grow into adulthood. We just felt the urge some time ago to get here and enjoy as many experiences like this as we can.

Time surely will bring changes to all of us … eventually. For now and for as long as is humanly possible, we are going for the grandparenthood gusto.

Has the latest drought ended — for real?

Amarillo and Texas Panhandle residents — and millions of visitors to the region — know what this picture depicts.

Cadillac Ranch was under water earlier this month. The picture, snapped by KFDA NewsChannel 10 reporter Jami Seymore, illustrates the good news/bad news situation that is occurring throughout Texas.

I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex these days. I spent 23 years in Amarillo, visiting Cadillac Ranch many times.  I don’t recall ever seeing the Caddies under water in this fashion. Wherever he is, the late Cadillac Ranch founder Stanley Marsh 3 is smiling.

The region has been punished by drought since the beginning of time. It also has been restored by heavy rain over that same span of time. The Panhandle and much of the rest of the state well could be undergoing a restoration at this moment.

We’ve been wet in Collin County of late. I have bemoaned the rain at one level, in that it makes running errands a bit problematic on occasion. I’ll suck it up and endure right along with the rest of my fellow travelers.

As for the Panhandle, the good news quite naturally is that the moisture replenishes farm and ranch land. The dryland farmers who don’t irrigate their crops, relying exclusively on rainfall to do that for them, are ecstatic. So are the ranchers whose livestock depend on rainfall provide them feed to fatten them up for market.

Lake Meredith, the huge reservoir in Hutchinson County that provides potable water for communities throughout West Texas, also is seeing a resurgence. Remember when it sank to a depth of 26 feet about five years ago? It’s at more than 75 feet today — and it’s getting even deeper!

Is the drought over? I don’t think we should act as though it is. The Panhandle is wetter than it’s been for some time. So is the Metroplex, where communities as recently as two years ago were enacting water-use restrictions on residents. Water remains a finite resource and it’s more vital than any of the oil and natural gas we’ve been pumping out of the ground since the early 20th century.

We gripe about all the “bad news” we hear and read. I want to share this post — and the picture — to cheer you up. Are you cheerful now?

Good! Have a great day.

Water getting harder to reach

Happy Trails, Part 128: Getting tired of rain … again!

I once posted a blog item that told of how I had grown to appreciate the rain, given that we lived in the Texas Panhandle, where annual rainfall amounted to fewer than 20 inches.

We moved to Amarillo from Beaumont, where it rains a lot more than that; we moved to Beaumont from Portland, Ore., where it rains constantly. Growing up I hated the rain.

Now we have relocated to Fairview, just north of Dallas.

It has been raining here. A lot! It’s making me grow tired of the rain yet again.

My wife and I spent a few days out of town. We pulled our RV from our garage location in Amarillo to Copper Breaks State Park, about a dozen miles south of Quanah. It rained a good bit while we were there, but it was mild compared to what fell on the Metroplex and the Hill Country while we were staying at Copper Breaks.

Then we returned home Wednesday, driving into the deluge that had flooded much of the Metroplex.

Now we hear that “a lot more rain is on the way,” according to a TV meteorologist.

OK, I am not going to gripe about the rain. I know it brings life to any region that is fortunate enough to receive it. I also know that it brings destruction if it comes too rapidly; just as those who live along the Llano River in the Hill Country have learned.

I guess it’s just in my nature to bitch about the rain, just as I griped for more than two decades while living in Amarillo about the lack of it and the incessant sunshine.

Now that I am older and possibly wiser (although that’s open to plenty of debate, as my blog critics might suggest), I’ll just have to learn with what I cannot control.

Getting set for the Red River Rivalry

Hey, they’re going to play a football game just down the highway from my wife and me this weekend.

It’s a pretty big game. They call it the Red River Rivalry, the annual game of blocking and tackling between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma.

This is the first UT-OU game my wife and will get to witness from something approaching an up-close location. No, we don’t have tickets to the Cotton Bowl. Indeed, we’re likely to steer clear of the venue over the weekend.

The State Fair is under way, too. The Big Game is part of the festivities. We attended our first State Fair just a few years ago, even though we’ve lived in Texas since 1984; we never found the time or had the interest in going until our granddaughter came along. So we took the DART train from Collin County and got off the train at the fairgrounds.

This year? No thanks.

I do, though, want to say a brief word about some of the talk I’ve heard in recent years about moving the game out of Dallas. I understand there’s been some chatter about moving the game west along Interstate 30 to the stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play football … in Arlington. There’s also been some talk about making it a home-and-home series: rotating between Austin and Norman.

Keep the game at the Cotton Bowl! During the State Fair!

Fill the stadium with half the fans wearing Burnt Orange and the other half wearing Crimson and White.

The venue is roughly equidistant between the UT and OU campuses, which makes it a “neutral field,” even though it’s in Texas.

I get that the Cotton Bowl — which opened in 1930 — lacks many of the amenities found in many of the newer stadiums. Still, the game played there is a slice of Americana that needs to stay put.

The Metroplex is going to be thrown into a frenzy no matter who wins this Red River Rivalry contest. It will be maddening to be sure. It needs to stay right where it is.

Time to study up on local election races

I regret that I haven’t yet gotten up to speed on the political tides of Collin County, where my wife and I have lived since May.

An election is coming up. I have to get busy. Like … right away.

Our congressman, former Vietnam War prisoner Sam Johnson, is retiring. Rep. Johnson, a Republican, was held captive for seven years by the North Vietnamese, which is about a year and a half longer than the late Sen. John McCain was imprisoned.

I still hope one day to shake Rep. Johnson’s hand and thank him for his years of public service and sacrifice to the country.

I also need to catch up with the Republican and Democrat who are running to succeed him.

There’s also a whole lot of county races I need to understand.

And then … we have the Legislature. We’re going to have a new state senator and a new state representative elected from our part of the county.

I’m pretty well versed on the statewide ballot and the individuals who seek to represent us in Austin. I’ve made my share of commitments, made up my mind on many of the races. I’m still working on a few others.

Living more than 23 years in the Texas Panhandle gave me a pretty solid grounding on the individuals who seek to represent residents in public office. That’s behind me now.

It’s time to get better acquainted with the lay of the land in Metroplex, where the politics — based on what I’ve seen to date — is a good bit more complicated than what we experienced way up yonder on the Caprock.

Pray for me.

Happy Trails, Part 122: No ‘organized activities,’ please

You know already that my wife and I have returned to our “roots,” if you want to call it that.

We started our life together 47 years ago in a two-bedroom apartment in southeast Portland, Ore. We have returned to an apartment lifestyle in Fairview, Texas. We sold our house in Amarillo and decided — after relatively little discussion — to hang on to our dough and use it to travel; the idea of assuming a mortgage at our age didn’t appeal to us.

And that brings me to the point of this blog post.

While we were shopping for an apartment to call “home,” we entertained the idea of living in one of those “active adult communities,” you know, the places that restrict residence to those who are at least 55 years of age.

We visited some complexes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We chatted with enthusiastic young marketing professionals who sought to impress us with all the “benefits” of living in such a community.

Perhaps you know what they are: quiet surroundings, well-kept property, easy access to amenities.

Then came this one: group activities. You know, tours, shopping sprees, various and sundry outings with our peers.

My wife and I would look at each other fairly routinely when we heard about all of that; we would nod, thank the marketing whiz for his or her time and be on our way.

It then dawned on both of us at about the same time: We might be old, but we don’t want to be treated like two old people. I am about to turn 69 years of age; my wife is, shall we say, a little younger than I am. We remain in good health. We want to enjoy our recreational vehicle. We intend to make ample use of it now that we have all this time time on our hands.

I don’t feel like a fuddy-duddy. Neither does my wife.

There might come a day when we need to relocate once more to one of those “communities” that feature group activities and, all that blah, blah, blah. We both are acutely aware that time isn’t necessarily our ally.

Just not yet.

Puppy Tales, Part 55

Toby the Puppy has an identity issue.

I won’t call it a “crisis” because our puppy isn’t bothered by it. How does it present itself?

OK, Toby weighs about 11 pounds. When he meets much larger dogs, he tends to act more aggressively than when he encounters fellow canines of similar or smaller size.

Toby the Puppy thinks he’s a pit bull. Or a Rottweiler. Or a German shepherd. Or any variety of Lab.

It might be that he is smitten by the sound of his own voice. Toby’s bark sounds as if it comes from a much larger dog. He speaks sparingly. He barks only for a good reason: someone at the door he doesn’t recognize or someone outside who gets his attention.

We now live in a Fairview neighborhood that is full of dogs. Many of them are much larger than Toby. Some of our neighbors have pit bulls. I’ve seen a couple of English bulldogs. I’ve seen many mixed breeds of considerable size as well. When Toby sees them, he pulls hard on his leash. I have to shush him when he barks or snarls. He listens and then settles down — immediately.

I won’t worry about whether Toby will ever come to grips with the fact that he’s a small dog. He isn’t going to whip many other dogs in a pooch-on-pooch fight. His temperament won’t engage them.

I’ll let him strut around the neighborhood, going through whatever motions male puppies go through.

He will keep my wife and me in stitches every step of the way.

Happy Trails, Part 117: Technology comes in handy

Now that I am a 21st-century man — more or less — I can report that we are relying on state-of-the-art navigational technology to help us get from place to place in our new community.

We live in Fairview, Texas — which is tucked between Allen and McKinney in Collin County. We live about 20-something miles north of Dallas.

Oh, but more importantly, it takes us about 12 minutes to drive to where our granddaughter lives.

We have some technological devices are our disposal to help us stumble and bumble our way around. They all work pretty well.

We have Google apps on our cell phones. The smart phones are pretty damn smart, if you know what I mean — and I know that you do. Hey, we don’t even have to provide a physical address to these devices; we just type in the place where we’re wanting to go and the phone gives us detailed directions.

Then we have the GPS system in our 3/4-ton pickup we have named Big Jake. That system works quite well … as long as the route we intend to travel is an established one that’s been there a while. The Metroplex is full of newly built highways, tollways, turnpikes and parkways. Big Jake’s guidance system, therefore, is a bit of a crap shoot.

And then … we have the Garmin GPS we store in our Prius. Same problem with the Garmin as with the truck’s built-in GPS system.

The bottom line? We’re going to rely primarily on our phones’ guidance systems until we feel comfortable enough getting around without any telecommunications assistance.

It’s going to be some time before that occurs. The Metroplex is hu–u-u-u-ge, sprawling urban center. Dallas/Fort Worth comprises about 7.5 million residents living in the nation’s fourth-largest metropolitan area. You get my drift, right?

But we’ll find our way. Meantime, a prayer or two would be much appreciated.

One more thing. We had no trouble learning the way to and from our granddaughter’s house.

Seeking no credit for this heat

When we moved to Beaumont, Texas from Oregon in the spring of 1984, I would jokingly take credit when it rained for more than a couple of days in a row.

I would give a nod to the same thought when we moved from Beaumont to Amarillo in early 1995. When we would travel from Amarillo to, oh, damn well anywhere in the States, we’d take credit for whenever the wind would blow hard.

However …

There ain’t no way I’m going to tolerate any references to our former places of residence if someone wants to comment on this damn heat.

We’re setting heat records in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. The temp hit 109 today. A record. It did so on Friday, too. There might be another record in jeopardy on Sunday and again on Monday.

The heat is an annual event in this part of the world. I’ve known that for many years.

It ain’t the same heat that blankets the Texas Panhandle. This one lingers well into the night, unlike on the Caprock, where it dissipates (more or less) when the sun sets, owing to the 3,650-foot elevation on the High Plains.

This heat requires us to get reacquainted with humidity.

The good news? It won’t last forever. I’m already looking forward to autumn.

Oh, this heat just keeps the pressure on

Just about the time I am inclined to link this incessant Texas heat wave to the issue of global warming, I think of Sen. Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and prominent global warming/climate change denier.

We’re broiling in the D/FW Metroplex with temps hovering around 110 degrees (if you factor in that “heat index”). It’s been several days with temperatures topping out at around 100 degrees. I might say, “See, I told you that the climate is changing.”

Sen. Inhofe? Oh, he quite famously walked onto the floor of the U.S. Senate during a recent winter snowstorm in Washington, D.C. He was packing a snowball about the size of a large grapefruit. He then proceeded to declare in a Senate floor speech that the existence of that snowball and the bitterly cold temperatures in the D.C. area proved that the planet isn’t warming up.

I wrote at the time that Inhofe was nuts to use a real-time episode in one community as a way to debunk an event that scientists around the world have said is occurring.

Look at global picture, Sen. Inhofe

So, with that said, I am going to refrain from linking to this hideous heat to the notion that Earth’s climate is changing.

There. Are you climate change deniers happy now?