Tag Archives: Metroplex

Happy Trails, Part 104: Half in, half out

I am at this moment in the midst of a curious emotional state.

My wife and I have taken up residence in Fairview, Texas, which is tucked neatly between Allen and McKinney, or just about a 30-minute drive north of Dallas.

It’s not entirely that simple. Nor have we completed the move entirely.

Our other “home” is our fifth wheel recreational vehicle, which at this moment is parked in an RV park in Amarillo, the city of our residence for the past 23 years.

We’re in. We’re out. We’re back and forth.

I tell friends in the Texas Panhandle that we have moved. I say so with absolute confidence and, to be candid, supreme pleasure. We had planned for years for the move; or, more to the point, we started planning the moment we learned that our granddaughter was on her way into this world. Our son and daughter-in-law live in Allen, so the deal was done when they told us of their pregnancy.

The RV has served as our home since October, when we vacated the house we built in December 1996. It’s our Panhandle home to this day. Our Fairview home is still a work in progress. You see, we are still trying to stuff many of the contents of our house into our new, and considerably smaller, dwelling in North Texas.

What’s more, we have decided where we’re going to store our RV when we’re no longer living in it. That transition will occur in about three weeks.

I have complete faith that we’ll succeed in this endeavor. The new place will be comfortable. We are looking forward to calling it our full-time residence. At this time, though, we remain tied to our former community as well as to the current one.

Family matters will keep us attached to Amarillo for the foreseeable future. Eventually, we intend fully to make the turn toward Fairview.

I guess you could call this the “long goodbye.”

Happy Trails, Part 102

FAIRVIEW, Texas — We have done it. Our task is far from complete, but we have executed successfully the next major phase of our retirement strategy.

We have relocated — although not yet completely — to Collin County, just a bit north Dallas, within a short drive to our granddaughter’s house.

Don’t break out the bubbly just yet. We have some work to do.

You’ve heard the saying about trying to shovel “10 pounds of stuff into a five-pound bag.” C’mon, you’ve heard it, except that the version we’ve said uses a profane noun in place of “stuff.”

That is the task facing my wife and me.

We vacated our southwest Amarillo house this past fall. We moved into our fifth wheel recreational vehicle; where until yesterday morning we were living full time. We’re not living full time in the RV any longer. Actually we aren’t yet living full time anywhere at the moment. We’re still in a state of transition, shuttling back forth: RV to new digs; back to the RV; back to the new digs. This will go on for a little while as we sort through some family matters as well as look for a place to store our RV when we’re not hauling it hither and yon across our vast continent.

I’m generally a glass-is-half-full kind of guy. Here’s how I look at this move we’ve just made. Yes, we moved from a house into an apartment; the apartment comprises roughly half the square footage of our house, but the apartment is about three times more spaceious than our RV.

Thus, I will fixate on the latter comparison as my wife and I try to figure out where to put all these possessions the mover delivered bright and early today.

Here’s a final word to the wise: If you’re going to downsize, be sure you commit to doing it thoroughly.  My bride and I are kicking ourselves that we didn’t sell more than we did when we prepared to move out of our house.

Blogger’s Note: I won’t be providing a Fairview dateline on future blog posts from our new home base. It will be evident where we’re located when I comment on local happenings and issues. I just need to get up to speed … in due course.

Happy Trails, Part 101

We’re getting into a sort of countdown mode as we prepare for the next big challenge in our life.

There’s some sort of saying about how you put Amarillo “in your rear view mirror.”

That ain’t gonna happen as we head on down the road toward the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Yes, our big day is just hours away as we execute our relocation strategy, but the Internet is going to keep me connected to Amarillo — where we have lived for 23 years — possibly for “the duration,” if you know what I mean.

I received several heartfelt goodbyes today from friends I have made over the years in the Texas Panhandle. My response to them is the same: We’ll be back; we aren’t gone forever, as we still have family in Amarillo. Yes, we also have family in Collin County, where we’ll declare official residency very soon now.

And our friends know with absolute certainty that a little 5-year-old girl, our granddaughter, is the reason we are making this big move in the first place.

However, that thing called “The Internet” keeps me connected to what’s happening in Amarillo. I’ve noted many times on this blog how delighted I am at the progress that’s occurring in Amarillo. I intend to keep my eyes focused on what I believe is a huge prize that awaits the residents of the city.

Thus, the goodbyes I’ve been getting seem to presume that we are walking away, turning the page, putting Amarillo in our book of memories. Not exactly.

It occurred to me not long ago that the longest stretch of time we spent anywhere was in our southwest Amarillo house we had built in 1996. It now belongs to someone else and my hope is that the new owner puts as much love into the place as my wife and I did.

So, our retirement journey is about to take another turn as we head on down the road.

Happy Trails, Part 94: Home is where you park it

It’s not often at all that I adopt a bumper sticker slogan as a mantra for living.

But I have done that very thing. We now live according a slogan we saw on an RV: Home is where you park it.

We just returned from a two-week sojourn — all in Texas — through the South Plains, the Hill Country, the Piney Woods, the Golden Triangle and the Metroplex.

Along the way, I adopted a new manner of referring to “home.” You see, now that my wife and I are no longer tethered to property attached to the ground, we now refer to our fifth wheel as home.

So, instead of saying I’m “going home,” I find myself referring to some geographical location. Home is attached to the back of our pickup, or it’s anchored to an RV campsite temporarily — until we head for the next place.

Our return to Amarillo reminded us of one of the “charms” of living on the High Plains of Texas.

It’s the wind, man!

Holy moly, it was howling when we departed in early April. It was howling today when we pulled into our RV park/temporary residence. We had read about the wildfires that scorched lots of ranch land; this afternoon, we saw evidence of them along U.S. 287 just west of Clarendon, where we understand the fire caused closure of the highway for several hours while heroic firefighters battled the blaze.

This arrangement — an RV serving as our “home” — won’t last forever. I don’t want to give away too much, but we might have located a precise location to resettle once we depart Amarillo on a (more or less) permanent basis. I’ll have more on that later.

In the meantime, our life now is a reflection of a slogan made popular by other RVers.

It’s cool.

Happy Trails, Part 63

I am going to miss many aspects about living in West Texas.

My friends; the big sky and the fabulous sunrises and sunsets; Palo Duro Canyon; the distinctly different seasons of the year.

I won’t miss one aspect of life on the High Plains: the distance one must travel to get anywhere.

Our 23 years on the High Plains has acclimated my wife and me to this reality. It is that you don’t measure travel in miles; you measure it in the time it takes you to get somewhere. If it’s only an hour’s drive, no sweat. Even a two-hour drive is tolerable. Three hours? Eh, it’s still doable.

It took me a while to get used to that element of West Texas life. But I did. It’s no longer a big deal for either of us — and I’m presuming this of my wife — to “commute” 30 or 40 miles in a morning. Hey, it’s still less than an hour behind the wheel!

We moved to the High Plains from the Golden Triangle, where any destination of note was much closer to home. Ninety minutes to Houston; four hours to New Orleans; five hours to Dallas-Fort Worth; 30 minutes to the beach.

Soon (I hope) we’ll be relocating to points southeast of the High Plains. We’ll be settling somewhere in the Metroplex. Our precise destination is yet to be determined.

I’m not yet sure how long it will take me to re-acclimate to travel in a region where destinations aren’t spread so far apart. I suspect it won’t take long. I figure it’s always easier to fall back on what we once knew than to venture into a strange — and largely unknown — way of life.

If only we could take our friends, the canyon and that gorgeous sky with us.

It’s kind of like returning to previous haunts

LAKE BOB SANDLIN STATE PARK, Texas — The author Thomas Wolfe once wrote that “you can’t go home again.”

That may be true, but you can return to places that remind you of where you used to live.

This East Texas state park has a curious way of reminding me of a place where my family and I spent more than a decade of our life together just straight south of here.

It’s hot here. And damn humid, too! This state park is near Mount Pleasant, about a two-hour drive east of Dallas. If you drive about four hours straight south, you end up in Beaumont, where my wife, sons and I moved in the spring of 1984.

We weren’t used to the sticky air that shrouds this part of the world when we got to the Golden Triangle. We grew to accept it every late spring and through the summer.

My sons went off to college in the early 1990s and my wife and I moved to Amarillo in early 1995. We moved away from the stifling humidity and into the wind of the Texas Panhandle.

I mentioned to my wife as we walked through the woods at Bob Sandlin State Park, “You know, I am looking at billions of leaves on all these trees and I don’t see a single one of them moving. Nothing is fluttering in anything approaching a breeze.”

We remained holed up in our RV. The air conditioner was running full blast. Our windows got wet with moisture collecting on the outside of them.

We’re likely going to need to get used to this kind of weather all over again. Our plan is to move from the Panhandle to a location in the vicinity of the Metroplex, where our granddaughter, Emma, awaits.

Until then, a lot more travel is on tap for us. A good bit of it will take us back toward this part of Texas, where we’ll be reminded of our prior life when constant perspiration became the norm.

I get that you can’t really “go home again.” We do plan to relearn how to live with what we used to know.

Biking gets a big boost


Let’s get real. Texans love their cars, trucks and just about any vehicle that burns fossil fuels.

We pull a lot of fossil fuel out of the ground here. The Spindletop oil gusher in 1901 brought us the Texas oil boom and it has continued ever since, with all of its ups and downs.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Heck, our 21-plus years in West Texas have given us a keen appreciation of how much distance one must travel . . . to get anywhere. It almost always involves a motor vehicle.

So it is with that I noticed this story — yes, it’s a bit dated, having been reported initially in the fall of 2014 — about a proposal to build a 64-mile bicycle trail between Dallas and Fort Worth.

KERA-TV reported more than a year ago that a study of Dallas residents reveals a significant portion of folks would support greater emphasis on bicycle trails in their city.

It’s being called a “superhighway.” It marks a remarkable departure from the love affair Metroplex residents have had with their motor vehicles.

So now comes the question from me, a resident of another community in the midst of some serious urban living change.

Is such an emphasis possible here, in Amarillo?

It’s a creative notion to connect two cities the size of Dallas and Fort Worth with a bicycle trail network.

It prompted this thought: Is such a network possible that would connect Amarillo with Canyon?

Amarillo’s downtown district revival already has begun. They’ve busted up plenty of pavement and begun erecting some structures in the central business district. More construction is on the way.

I am wondering, though, about the city’s effort to connect neighborhoods with bike trails. That project began about a decade ago. Then it stopped. Indeed, we have bike lanes marked off in my neighborhood, which is great. Except that they don’t go anywhere.

I have been told that the city Parks and Recreation Department plans to finish the bike trail network — eventually.

The reality is that the weather here is conducive to that kind of activity. The unseasonably warm winter we’re having is an aberration. Spring can be a bit dicey; summer isn’t oppressively hot; autumn is the most pleasant season of all.

The Metroplex bicycle “superhighway” is still a couple of years away, according to KERA. I do applaud the innovation that’s gone into planning for it.

Might there be a potential for something like that here, way up yonder?


Puppy Tales, Part 12

Did you know dogs get car sick, the way people get car sick?

A member of my family has a large dog that gets sick while riding any distance in a motor vehicle. So my family member and his wife cannot travel far in their car with their pooch.

I am happy to report that Toby the Dog should be renamed Toby the Road Warrior.

We’ve just returned from a weeklong motor vehicle trip to Arizona, where we spent several fun- and  laugh-filled days with my sister, brother-in-law and my aunt and uncle.

And yes, Toby the Road Warrior was a big part of our fun-filled week on the road.

He’s not quite a year old. He’s been on the road with us on trips to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and to Oklahoma City. This trip to Phoenix-Mesa was a test of Toby’s stamina. He passed with an A-plus grade.

How did he do it? Well, he slept most of the way.

Toby also managed to, shall we say, hold it while we were traveling in our pickup. We’d go a few hours between stops. Then we’d get out, stretch our legs and then Toby the Road Warrior would, um, take care of his business.

He’d finish and he’d ready for the next non-stop segment of our cross-country adventure.

Toby the Road Warrior made us proud.