Tag Archives: North Texas

Happy Trails, Part 116: Puppy now knows Emma

I was torn between filing this blog item under a Happy Trails installment or a Puppy Tales episode. I settled on the Happy Trails route, as it helps explain another milestone that our retirement journey has passed.

It actually arrived some time ago, but I noticed again today.

Our granddaughter visited us briefly this morning at our place prior to taking her downtown to see the Dallas World Aquarium. When she walked through the front door, Toby the Puppy greeted her precisely the way he greets my wife and me whenever we’re away for more than 10 minutes: tail wags, licks and running around vigorously in circles.

This is the kind of greeting Emma can expect whenever she sees Toby. It’s also the greeting she’ll get with increasing frequency now that her Grandma and I have moved to our new digs in Collin County.

She’s used to enthusiastic greetings from dogs. She has one of her own. Madden is much larger than Toby. He also is just as cheerful and affectionate when he sees Emma. For that matter, he greets Toby the same way; Toby is more than happy to return the affection to his much larger family relative. I hasten to add that Madden greets my wife and me with plenty of licks and tail wags, too.

This is one of those transitions we expected to occur once we resettled in North Texas. I enjoy watching it every time it occurs.

Today was no exception. I am so looking forward to many more of these greetings.

I should add that Emma loves Toby as much as he loves her.

Happy Trails, Part 115: First house guest arrives

I am happy to report that our first house guest arrived, spent the night and then departed for points north.

Why is this a big deal? Because it occurred in our new home.

Our dear friend lives in Roanoke, Va. He was visiting his mother-in-law in East Texas. His wife, another dear friend, had stayed behind to spend more time with her mother.

I’ll stipulate that we’ve actually had another person spend the night with us prior to our friend. That other person, though, is our granddaughter and, given that she is family, I won’t count her as a “first house guest.” Emma isn’t a “guest” in our home, if you know what I mean.

This is a big deal because of the hard work my wife — aka Wonder Woman — has done to assemble our new digs in Fairview, making them livable and comfortable not just for us, but for those who choose to visit.

I know there will be others who’ll come to see us. We will welcome them.

Just not all at once. Our new place isn’t that big. It is, however, big enough for us, for our granddaughter, for Toby the Puppy and those who want to share some time with us.

I’m just thrilled to have spent some fellowship in our new dwelling with someone who came from far away.

Driverless car service? Umm, no thanks!

As a soon-to-be resident of a North Texas community, I believe I shall declare here and now that I have zero intention of ever partaking of a new service that a neighboring community will allow.

Frisco is going to allow a driverless service. Yep. Get into a motor vehicle and let it take you where you want to go.

No-o-o-o thank you!

The Texas Tribune reports: The service, reported Monday by The Dallas Morning News, will first be accessible in July for roughly 10,000 employees working in a bevy of corporate offices located less than a mile away from The Star, a retail and dining area that also serves as headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys. The service will also be free for the first six months.

The service reportedly will expand beyond this limited accessibility … eventually.

Until the day comes when there can be an ironclad guarantee that this technology is absolutely, unequivocally fool-proof, I always will sit in a motor vehicle with a fellow fallible human being sitting behind the steering wheel.

The idea of an even more -fallible “Drone Car” mingling on our streets and highways with the rest of us scares the bejabbers out of me.

There. I’m out.

Happy Trails, Part 100

So many questions get tossed at us as we prepare for this next big phase in our life together.

We have let it be known that we intend to rent our next dwelling. We sold our house and then decided that we no longer want to be saddled with the responsibility of home ownership: no more yard care, no more home repairs, no more property taxes.

We are moving soon into a “luxury apartment” just north of Allen, Texas.

The question associated with this move? Are you going to move into one of those 55-and-older “retirement” communities?

My answer? Hah! You’ve got to be kidding! I might be an old man, but I don’t feel like one and I don’t want to hang around a bunch of old folks.

Yes, we looked at some of those “retirement communities” on our search for new digs in North Texas. We opted out of them. I was a bit turned off by the pitch from property managers that extolled all the “activities” available to residents: tours, shopping, shuffleboard. They pick up residents up and ferry them around to do things as a group.

Umm. No thanks.

We decided instead on a place that provides us easy access to entertainment, shopping and dining — that we can enjoy on our own time! What’s more, it’s only about 30 minutes from Dallas, 45 minutes from Fort Worth, and even closer to outdoor activities where we can haul our fifth wheel RV for a weekend outing.

Our retirement journey has taken us to this critical juncture in our life. We are preparing to vacate the “home” we’ve known for the past 23 years. We intend to forge new friendships, familiarize ourselves with new surroundings.

However, our retirement will not slow us down for a moment from our intention to travel throughout North America. We’ve seen a lot of it already, but there’s a lot more of it to enjoy.

Oh, yes. We also have a precious, adorable and beautiful granddaughter with whom we intend to share this new life.

Facing a topic quandary for this blog

A relocation might be approaching more quickly than my wife and I thought. More on that at a later date.

As we prepare to detach ourselves eventually from the Texas Panhandle and relocate to the Metroplex region of North Texas, I am facing a bit of a quandary: how to transition from commenting on local matters that pertain to the Panhandle to our new surroundings.

High Plains Blogger will retain its title even after we relocate. I have made that “command decision.” I like the name. I’m comfortable with it. The blog title does pay a sort of tribute to one of my favorite actors, Clint Eastwood.

It comments heavily on national political matters. I also like commenting on local issues. Even though my wife and I departed the Golden Triangle more than two decades ago, I am even prone to offering a word or two about life in our former digs. along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Our time in the Panhandle, though, is more than double than what we spent in what I affectionately call The Swamp. Thus, I likely will continue to keep an eye on goings-on in Amarillo and the Panhandle even after we depart for points southeast of here.

I do intend to familiarize myself with issues unique to the area north of Dallas where we’ll end up. I cannot pretend to know all the nuances that go into every issue. Heck, I am quite willing to acknowledge that I don’t know all there is to know about everything that happens in a community I called home for more than 23 years.

But … my Panhandle knowledge base is a good bit more informed than it will be when we relocate to the Dallas ‘burbs.

Oh well. It might be that I’ll refocus my attention on matters relating to national politics, government, public policy and, oh yes, a bit of life experience thrown in from time to time.

Heaven knows the president is keeping my quiver full of arrows.

Happy Trails, Part 95

The three of us — my wife, Toby the Puppy and yours truly — are enjoying one of the peculiarly fascinating aspects of retirement as my wife and I have defined it.

We have moved to the the third RV park in Amarillo since we vacated our former home in October 2017.

Our two-week sojourn downstate was yet another glorious trek through Texas, where we saw family and friends — and, oh yes, resolved a mechanical difficulty at the front end of that trip.

Then we returned to Amarillo. We moved from one end of the sprawling to the extreme other end. From east to west.

We intend to stay at our current location for a month, maybe two. After that? Well, I’m not entirely sure.

We also located a place in North Texas where we would like to resettle. I’ll have more on that at the appropriate time.

For now, I am delighted to share with you that this mobility mode — hauling our current home to a new site — is all that it’s cracked up to be. One of the joys of this retirement journey so far has been to tell those who ask that our “home” is attached to the hitch in the bed of our pickup.

That keeps us mobile, nimble, ready for whatever else awaits.

Another ‘first’ occurs on this journey

MELISSA, Texas — Life is full of firsts, isn’t that correct. First born. First kiss. First traffic ticket.

How about this? First recreational vehicle setup in the middle of a ferocious North Texas thunder and hailstorm.

Yep, my wife and I cleared that “first” with mixed results.

Our day started out calmly and peacefully as we pulled out of our RV campsite just north of Beaumont, where we had visited with some of our many good friends. We hooked our RV up to our truck, shoved off and headed north to this community just north of Dallas.

We arrived under a darkening sky. We need to navigate our way through some road construction, pulled into the RV park where we had reservations.

Then it happened. The sky opened up. And it poured torrents of rain. The thunder roared. The lightning flashed.

Before we got out of our truck after we pulled into our reserved space, the hail began pelting — no, pummeling — our vehicles. The hailstones were size of agate marbles, man! They beat the daylights out of us.

I sought to unhook the truck from the fifth wheel, plug in the water line and hook up the electricity.

We fled inside the RV. We decided to wait it out. The hail didn’t stop. The noise was deafening. We had to shout at each other to be heard over the roar. Toby the Puppy was frightened. Heck, I was scared. So was my wife. We wanted it to end, I’m tellin’ ya.

The hail then began to subside. Aha! I’ll take another pass outside at finishing the setup.

That was a mistake! I stepped outside. The hail returned in full pummel mode. It beat on my noggin. I lowered my head to keep my face from getting pounded by the hail … and then I walked smack into the tempered-steel fifth wheel hitch on the front of our RV.

I cut my face in two places: on the bridge of my nose and on my forehead. Yes, it bled! My wife was horrified. She pulled me inside the RV, applied an ice pack wrapped in a dish cloth.

The end of this tale? Well, the hail stopped. We finished setting up. The blood stopped coming out of the cuts on my face.

OK, there’s a glimmer of good news. Our pickup didn’t suffer any hail damage; nor did the fifth wheel.

We know this is only a first-time event. It won’t be an only-time happening. Hey, we live in Texas, where the weather is spectacularly unpredictable.

Our journey will continue.

Happy Trails, Part 85

I’ve heard it hundreds of times in my life from friends: Autumn is their favorite season of the year.

You won’t hear that from me. We are now entering my favorite season. Spring portends a season of hope. Of renewal. We are coming out of the type of darkness that winter has blanketed over us.

It’s a season of change. This year particularly brings immense change for my wife and me.

Winter in the Texas Panhandle has been a challenge, to be sure. It’s been the driest winter we’ve ever experienced here. We’ve been through 22 winters on the High Plains and none of them has been as tinder dry as the one we’ve just endured.

From what I hear the dryness is expected to continue for the foreseeable future as well. But the coming warmth is going to awaken the dormant grass and assorted flora around here.

This post, though, isn’t really about coming out of the barren and dry winter. It’s about the change that we have initiated.

A big move awaits. It likely will occur soon. We have sold our house. We have moved completely into our recreational vehicle. The roof over our heads is perched on four wheels, which we tow behind a muscular pickup.

Our destination is somewhere in North Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex,, near our granddaughter. We have no definite plan lined out just yet, but one is coming into a little sharper focus as we ponder the next big step in our life together.

We won’t sever our ties to Amarillo. We intend to remain highly mobile, even after we resettle in North Texas. We intend to be frequent visitors to the city we’ve called home for 23-plus years.

The spring of 2018 will be unlike any season we’ve ever experienced. Of that I am absolutely certain, although the winter of 1996 was a beaut as well. We took possession of the house we had built in southwest Amarillo the day after the Winter Solstice and had a delightful Christmas opening boxes and rediscovering possessions we had stored away for nearly two years.

That was then. The next season of big change is at hand. It’s my favorite time of the year.

RV travel presents weather-related headache

You are aware by now that my wife and I have moved into our recreational vehicle.

Our house is empty. It’s been dolled up. It’s about to go on the market. We’re now living full-time in our home on wheels.

We returned from a lovely week downstate, settling for a few days in an RV park in Sherman, Texas. We got to visit with our granddaughter, her big brother, our son and daughter-in-law and our daughter-in-law’s parents.

As great a time as we had, we did experience our first significant weather related conundrum. It got cold in North Texas. As in bitter cold, man!

How cold was it? It was so cold we lost our water for two days.

We did what we were supposed to do. We unhooked our fifth wheel from the water source. We had water in our tanks. Then the temperatures plunged, into the low teens, with wind chills taking the temp into single digits.

The water in our RV froze. We got it to trickle some. Then as the temps inched above freezing we tried to turn the spigot outside. No luck. The water source was frozen, too!

Thanks goodness we stayed at an RV park with working restrooms/showers. We were parked only about 50 feet from the park’s facilities.

Here’s some more weirdness for you. We left Sherman on Tuesday. We arrived in Amarillo later that afternoon. I figured we were jumping from the fridge into the deep freeze. It’s generally much colder in Amarillo than it is downstate.

We arrived at our RV park back home. Then we got some good news. The outside temperature hovered around freezing at 4 p.m., then we were told that we had running water at the site reserved for us.

Ahh, yes. There is good karma, right?

We’ve now prepared for the next serious cold snap. No damage done by the loss of water — and for that we are grateful.

Today was a good day, indeed. The Arctic blast that took temperatures on the High Plains to single digits has dissipated. The sun is shining. The ice has melted. The water is flowing.

Life is good … once again. It’ll get cold again. We are ready for it.

Happy Trails, Part 67

Rarely have I looked forward to new years with quite the level of anxiousness that I am looking toward 2018.

My wife and I are retired. You know that already.

We are preparing to relocate. You know that, too.

We have spent the week between Christmas and New Year in North Texas. We’ve played with our granddaughter, visited with our sons, our daughter-in-law, her parents and one of our grandsons. It’s been a glorious holiday.

We’ll return in our now-permanent home, which we are hauling behind our 3/4-ton pickup, back to Amarillo to prepare for the next big challenge in our life together.

Our house is going on the market. We keep hearing from those who say they’re “in the know” that the house will sell quickly. Truth be told, I don’t want to hear that. My interest only lies in the actual sale.

Most of our worldly possessions are stashed away in a storage bin. The rest of it we’ve jammed into our fifth wheel RV. We’ll live in it for as long as it takes to sell the house and then find a suitable dwelling to call “home” nearer to our precious granddaughter.

I’ve already said I’m “anxious” as the new year commences. By that, though, I don’t mean to infer that I am impatient. This RV lifestyle has been quite fun. We do intend to take our time looking for just the right place once we sell the house we’ve owned for 21 years.

The beauty of RV living is that we can take it all with us. We tire of one place? Fine. No sweat. We’ll pack it all up and go … somewhere else.

So it might proceed as we get farther into 2018.

It’s a bit of a leap of faith. However, my faith is strong that we are ready to take it.