Tag Archives: Portland OR

Why not run the rail line a little farther north?

If I were more of a political activist, I might be inclined to raise a little ruckus in my new community of residence.

Fairview, Texas, is a nice town in Collin County, just north of Dallas County, which is where Big D is located.

The issue at hand? Why not run the light rail service that shoots north from Dallas to Fairview?

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is a successful mass transit system that serves the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. We’ve ridden DART from Plano south to the Dallas County Fairgrounds. It’s a nice ride, believe me.

I now live just a few blocks east of where the rail line ought to run, along U.S. Highway 75. Except that it doesn’t come this far north.

Were they to run the line just a little farther north from Plano, past Allen, through Fairview and into McKinney, I would use the train. I would be its most vocal champion. I would take up the cudgel for mass transit rail ridership.

My hometown of Portland, Ore., is arguably the unofficial “mass transit capital of the United States.” Its bus system is second to none; it runs a light-rail system that carries passengers into the city from miles beyond the city limits.

I don’t yet know whether they plan to extend DART service eventually farther into Collin County. I’ll have to study up on it, sniff around, ask some questions.

Fairview Town Hall is just around the corner from where we live these days.

What the heck … I believe I am going to stick my head in the door and ask to speak to the city manager/administrator.

Hey, why not try to rustle up some interest in a proven method of moving people from place to place?

Wish me luck.

Rain is no longer an annoyance

There once was a time when I hated the rain.

I lived in a city, Portland, Ore., where it rains constantly. I grew up there. I detested the endless drizzle.

Then I got married and moved eventually to Texas. We lived first in Beaumont, along the Gulf Coast, where it rains a lot, too. There, though, the rain comes in furious bursts. Then the sun would come out. So would the humidity. Ugghh!

After a while we moved to the Texas Panhandle, where it rains a lot less. Of late, the Panhandle has received even less than that, which is to say it’s been tinder-dry here. We’ve had one day of measurable rain since October 2017.

Today, though, we received another healthy dose of measurable precipitation. More is on the way, along with some thunder and lightning, or so we are being told by the TV weather forecasters. Hey, they got this one right. I’ll accept their projections for the next day or so.

The rain we’re getting through the night and into the next day won’t do a thing to break the drought we’ve endured for the past six months. It’s a bit strange to recall that a year ago at this time the Panhandle was being drenched. The playas were filling up. Farmers were grinning from ear to ear; so were the ranchers who watched their cattle fatten up with the rich harvest of grass and grain the rain produced.

Then it stopped. We finished 2017 with nary a drop of precipitation, even though the first half of the year enabled us to nearly double our annual average rate of rain and snowfall.

Here we are today. The rain is falling. It’s coming in fits and starts.

I no longer hate the rain. It brings a sense of comfort.

Weird, eh?

Praying for sun gives way to praying for rain

There once was a time — long ago! — when rain drove me nuts. It made me stir-crazy. I suffered cabin fever because it rained constantly in my hometown of Portland, Ore.

I took a couple of years away from home to serve in the U.S. Army; my hitch took me to Vietnam, where it also rains a good bit of the time.

I got married not long after I returned home. My wife, sons and I eventually moved to Texas; our first stop was in Beaumont, which also gets a good bit of rain. Then my wife and I moved to Amarillo, where, um, it doesn’t rain so much.

We are now in the midst of a drought. It’s been months on end since we had any measurable moisture.

I no longer pray for sunshine. I now pray for rain. I am doing so this evening. The weather forecasters are telling us we can expect some rain tomorrow.

I hope they’re right. Oh, brother, I want them to be correct.

I’ve written on this subject before.

This isn't the Dust Bowl, but …

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself. Still, it bears repeating. The Texas Panhandle doesn’t get a lot of rain annually, only about 20 inches — give or take. This year we’ve got to go some if we’re going to reach our annual average.

The region is quite dependent on agriculture, which quite naturally requires water. Those dry land farmers who don’t pump groundwater to irrigate their crops rely exclusively on the sky to bring rainfall to them. Five-plus months of no measurable “precip” has deprived them of their income — and their ability to produce food that ends up on our dinner tables.

My outlook about rain has changed dramatically since my boyhood. I griped so much about the rain I drove my parents — chiefly my dad — to near madness.

With all of that said, I think I’ll wait — and hope — that the Texas Panhandle gets wet.

‘I may be old, but … ‘

A Facebook “memory” I posted this morning brings to mind a personal anecdote I want to share briefly on this blog.

The memory was this, from Feb. 10, 2013: Best bumper sticker of the day: “I may be old, but at least I saw all the cool bands.” You go, dude!

I am now 68 years of age. I graduated from high school in the Summer of Love, which would be 1967. My life took a dramatic turn the following year when I shipped out after being inducted into the U.S. Army.

It took yet another marvelous turn in 1971 when I married a girl who had appeared before my eyes, like a vision. The rest, as they say, is history.

But in 1965, I got to watch the all-time greatest rock ‘n roll band. It was the very first rock concert I ever attended. I tell folks that today and they are shocked and amazed, I tell ya. The Beatles came to my hometown of Portland, Ore., in August 1965. It was their second U.S. tour.

They played at the old Memorial Coliseum, built in 1960 at a cost of $8 million. When it opened, the “Glass Palace,” as it was called then, was considered a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue. These days, you can’t repair the plumbing in such a venue for what it cost to build the Memorial Coliseum.

John, Paul, George and Ringo came to Portland back then. They played in front of a hysterical crowd of about 10,000 fans at the Coliseum. My sister and I sat at the center of the front row.

My most vivid memory of that event isn’t so much the music The Beatles played. It is the brevity of the event. They played 10 songs. The “concert,” if you want to call it that, lasted about 30 minutes.

They came onstage, they hooked up their instruments, played some songs and then were gone. Poof! Just like that.

I’ve been able over the years to see many more such events. The Association, Toto, the Doobie Brothers, the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Grassroots. I’ve seen some others. Those just stand out.

Oh yes, I also saw Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney perform solo shows long after The Beatles broke apart.

Yes, we Baby Boomers got to see some “cool bands.”

Rock on, y’all!

Name tags: cure for embarrassment

PORTLAND, Ore. — Thank goodness for name tags.

They saved my backside while my wife and I attended my 50-year high school reunion. I had feared walking into a roomful of individuals I hadn’t seen in a few decades. I was prepared to deal with the consequences that time has brought to human beings over a 50-year span of time.

I did discover a couple of things about my classmates. One is that a surprising number of them remain quite recognizable. Another is that they — and I, for that matter — are pretty good at shooting quick-hit glances at name tags before greeting each other.

I found myself relying somewhat on name tags — which contained pictures from our 1967 Parkrose High School yearbook.

The event was far more enjoyable than I expected, which demonstrated the wisdom of setting the bar low and then being pleasantly surprised at the positive result.

I made up a throwaway line for those who wondered where I live these days. “I live in Amarillo, Texas,” I would say, “but my wife and I came all the way here for this reunion — and just to see you.”

Here, though, is my major takeaway from the 50-year reunion. It is that I am giving some preliminary thought to attending the 60-year event when it rolls around.

One of the women of my class, Karen is her name, mentioned attending No. 60, presuming she’s still alive. Indeed, time has that way of reminding us of our mortality.

If I am still on this side of the grass in 2027 and am in reasonably good health — and still have my wits — I’ll likely be there.

It is weird in the extreme to have these thoughts after how I felt coming out of the previous reunion two decades ago.

I’ll have to remind the event planners, however, to be sure to print the name tags. We’ll need ’em even more the next time.

Reunion No. 50: much better, thank you

PORTLAND, Ore. — I owe one of my sons a debt of thanks for steering me this direction, at this time, to attend a particular event.

I have regaled (or bored) you already with my tale of woe regarding my 30-year high school reunion. I had some serious trepidation about coming to the 50-year event. My son talked me into going.

I’m glad he did.

Yes, the event exceeded my expectation. Who knew? Perhaps it was because I set the bar so low that it was next to impossible to not clear it with ease. It was quite  unlike No. 30, for which I set an impossibly high bar; there was no way to meet the expectation I had set for that one.

And wouldn’t you know it, as I gravitated around the room schmoozing, back-slapping the guys, hugging the girls and getting caught up, I heard from three — maybe four — of my Parkrose High School classmates that they thought No. 30 was a downer, too.

Imagine that, will ya?

My son had advised me that this one would be better because his mother — my wife — would be there with me. She had a good time, too. She met some of my classmates, a couple of whom shared stories about me back in The Day that bore a semblance of truth, although one of my old runnin’ buddies seemed to embellish his recollection more than just a little.

My best friend from high school, Dennis — along with his wife, Linda — attended the event, which all by itself made it worth the trip from Texas. Dennis’s friendship is the longest sustained relationship I have with anyone on Earth who is not a member of my family; we go back 55 years, to the seventh grade.

My biggest takeaway is this: The 110 or so classmates who attended seemed to go out of their way to circulate and to talk to those they might not have known all that well in the old days. My comfort level was enhanced many times over what I felt two decades ago when I ventured here from Portland to attend the high school reunion I swore would be the last one I’d ever attend.

Silly me. I must have forgotten how time has this way of making most of us grow up.

I am glad I came.

‘Atmospheric river’? Huh? Eh?

PORTLAND. Ore. — We are being swept up in something I never knew existed.

The TV weathermen and women here are referring to something called an “atmospheric river.” You might ask, “What the bleep is that?”

I have deduced it describes a long band of rain clouds that is tracking over a region. We are RV-parked along the Columbia River in Portland. It’s been raining like the dickens almost since the day of our arrival. Weather conditions are producing more of it, which is welcome around here, given the Eagle Creek fire that incinerated much of the forest land around the Columbia Gorge.

But I am amused/bemused at this new meteorological term of art: atmospheric river.

The last time I heard weather people glom on to a particular term I guess was that “polar vortex.” I laughed when I heard that one.

Whenever I hear the term “vortex,” I flash back to 1970. They had a music festival here then. It took place at McIver State Park near Estacada, which is southeast of Portland in the foothills of the Cascade Range. I recall it was meant to protest the Vietnam War.

They called it “Vortex.” The most interesting part of it was how then-Gov. Tom McCall decriminalized marijuana use during the run of the festival. I believe the late governor wanted to give those rascally kids a pass on getting stoned while they “protested” whatever it was they were protesting. No need to hassle them and assign lots of cops to round ’em up, McCall thought.

Just so you know: I didn’t attend Vortex.

I digress.

“Atmospheric river” is a descriptive term used to define a lot of rain. That “river” has become a rapids.

And aren’t you just relieved that climate change is just a giant, cooked-up “hoax”?

Hoping a lower bar allows for satisfaction

PORTLAND, Ore. — A big day awaits my wife and me.

We ventured to the city of my birth to attend a high school reunion, an event I once swore I’d never attend again for the rest of my life. Not ever. Not in a million, billion, gazillion years!

Here we are.

The 50-year reunion for my high school class will commence in a little more than 24 hours and I am expecting it to produce a significantly different emotional result than the 30-year reunion I attended.

I graduated from Parkrose High School in the Summer of Love; that would be 1967. I took a stab at college, but didn’t make the grade. The U.S. Army beckoned the following year and it sent me to Vietnam, which placed me on the fast track to becoming an actual grownup.

I returned home in August 1970, got married a year after that. My wife and I went to my 10-year reunion in 1977. I skipped No. 20, but flew back to Portland from Amarillo to attend No. 30.

I hated it. I had set the bar far too high. I placed too great an expectation on what I would discover about the people next to whom I sat in class or goofed off with in the hallway or the cafeteria.

One of my sons blamed my disappointment on the absence of my wife at No. 30. He’s a wise man and he’s likely correct that my trip back alone contributed to my lack of satisfaction in the 30-year reunion.

I got invited to No. 40. I chose to skip it for reasons relating directly to the event I attended a decade earlier. I heard from one of my pals who did attend No. 40; he told my wife and me that everyone had a blast. Good deal.

So, my wife and I have ventured here together in our RV.

I will walk into the hotel banquet room with next to zero expectations. My wife and I will catch up with a couple of good friends of mine with whom I’ve stayed in touch over the years. I’ll seek to catch up the best I can with the others. I won’t expect anyone to recall what a great guy I was back in those Glory Days.

I’ll slap a few backs, shake a few hands and perhaps swap a lie or two. Then my wife and I will be on our way.

But you know … these low expectations just might be exceeded by what we encounter. I’m not expecting it. Then again …

Happy Trails, Part 49

PORTLAND, Ore. — Our retirement journey has brought us to where our lives together began nearly 47 years ago.

It was a rocky landing, though. It had nothing to do with my wife and me, or our relationship per se.

It had to do with an RV park where had reserved space.

We had intended to stay at an RV location in Vancouver, Wash., across the mighty Columbia River from Portland, where I was born and where I spent the first 34 years of my life.

I called ahead from Eugene, where we spent the previous night. We made the reservation. The young woman told us all she had left were “back-in” sites. Fine. Let’s reserve it, I said. She told me the space was “tight, but no one has any trouble” backing in.

All righty. We arrived at the RV park. We paid for our reservation. e drove our truck and our RV to the site. Tight fit? Uh, yeah. It was. It was so damn tight, we couldn’t get the RV/truck assembly positioned correctly to back it in. The spaces were packed like sardines.

I am not yet an expert at backing in our fifth wheel, but I am not a complete novice/dunderhead, either. I couldn’t get it to fit. A young man who works part time at the RV park took the wheel of our pickup. He couldn’t get it right, either. He had to leave to pick up his girlfriend.

My wife and I looked at each other. Then she spoke words of wisdom: Did we want to stay there or try to find another location … somewhere? We went to the office and read the riot act to the young lady, the one who told me “no one has any trouble” maneuvering their RV into these back-in sites.

The lady made an offer. “We can reserve a spot for you at a sister site in Portland, Oregon.” She called ahead. They had pull-through sites available. We could get in for the cost of our stay at the Vancouver RV park.

Deal! Done! Let’s do it.

So, we did. The Portland site was just a few minutes away.

The lesson? It came from my wife: Never again are we going to reserve a back-in site at a private RV park. State parks are OK. We’ve discovered that the Texas state park system, for example, has ample space for back-in sites.

The journey now can continue.

Time to tap that limitless prayer well … once again

It’s a good thing that humankind’s wellspring of prayer knows no limit. We can pray forever. For eternity. Until the end of time.

I now shall do so yet again, just as I did for our friends and the millions of others along the Texas Gulf Coast as Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey bore down with all its rage and savagery.

The recipients now are those who sit in the path of Hurricane Irma.

Oh … my. What awaits them?

Irma is churning across the Atlantic Ocean. The storm has drawn a bead on South Florida. It’s a Category 5 monster, with sustained winds of about 185 mph. Have you seen the traffic moving north, away from that monster? And have you wondered — as I have — about the few motor vehicles one sees on the news video heading south, toward the storm’s Ground Zero?

We don’t have many friends in South Florida. But I worry specifically about a former colleague and friend. She’s a journalist who lives in Fort Lauderdale. I am going to pray extra hard for her and her loved ones’ well-being.

While all this has occurred here in Texas and what is about to occur along the Florida coast, my hometown of Portland, Ore., is choking from the smoke and ash being deposited from that hideous Eagle Creek fire just east of the city.

The fire started on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, but it has jumped the big river and is now burning forestland in Washington. I read today that firefighters are beginning finally to contain the blaze — and that the weather might be about to turn in the firefighters’ favor with shifting wind and some rainfall expected over the weekend.

Let it rain! As a friend of mine pleaded, we need to send some of that Texas deluge north to the Pacific Northwest. If only one could do such a thing.

Hurricane Irma is being called the monster of all storm monsters. It’s stronger, windier, larger than any storm in anyone’s memory. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was a pigmy compared to what Irma is expected to deliver. That’s pretty damn scary, given the damage Andrew brought to South Florida and then to the Louisiana coast.

I guess I should ask those who read this blog to join me in some prayer for our fellow travelers over yonder in Florida and along the Caribbean. Keep praying, too, for those along the Texas coast who are trying to cobble their lives back together. And, yes, please pray that firefighters extinguish the Eagle Creek fire sooner rather than later.

Just remember: Our prayer source is infinite.