Tag Archives: Rocky Mountains

Happy Trails, Part 168: Oh, such splendor

GOLDEN, British Columbia — This photograph proves something I’ve known more or less by instinct over many years.

You do not need sunshine to reveal Mother Nature’s splendor when it is laid out before you.

We arrived in Golden, British Columbia. We parked our fifth wheel at an RV park. We unhooked the RV from the pickup. We grabbed a bit of dinner. We returned and my wife took Toby the Puppy for a short walk.

She returned to the RV and said, “You have to see this.” So, we did.

We walked about 200 yards to a bench and we cast our eyes on the Rocky Mountain range just east of us. Alberta sits on the other side of that splendorous view. We’ll be there soon.

This is part of the grandeur my wife and I expected to find once we hit the road in our RV. We’ve seen plenty of it already in the United States of America. From coast to coast we’ve soaked in all that Mother Nature has to offer. I won’t belabor the point by listing all those magnificent sights we’ve seen; I surely will miss a few. You get the point.

Our trip across much of Canada has been equally jaw-dropping, as the sight of those majestic mountains will attest.

We’re not entirely certain what the road ahead will reveal to us. Hey, there is no need on Earth to predict such a thing.

Whatever it is, I am positive it will give us unimagined thrills.

The open road awaits.

Here is God’s gift to the High Plains

You don’t see any mountainous splendor in this picture.

Instead, you see flat land. You also see a very large sky that seems to be on fire. Those of us who live on the High Plains of Texas got to see this sunset on Black Friday, 2017.

Not a bad way to end the day, if you ask me.

I didn’t take this picture. I did snap a picture of the sunset, but this image comes from a social media acquaintance, Bill Bandy, a fellow Amarillo resident.

I want to share a view with you that I’ve had for as long as my wife and I have lived on the High Plains. It is that God Almighty has a way of paying us back for deciding to put those tall mountains and tall timber in other regions of the country.

My wife and I returned recently from a 4,200-plus-mile journey out west, where we got our full measure of nature’s splendor. The Rockies, the Cascades, the Sierra Nevada — along with the endless stands of tall timber we saw in the Pacific Northwest — all provided plenty of stunning landscapes for us to ogle on our journey to Oregon and back.

We don’t have that kind of scenic splendor out here on the Caprock. We do, though, have a sky that won’t quit. I have said before on this blog that whoever hung the “Big Sky” label on Montana never laid eyes on the Texas Panhandle.

The sky is the Almighty’s way of telling us: I get that I didn’t bless you with terrestrial grandeur, but I hope you appreciate the sunsets — and the sunrises — I am able to provide.

Yes, I do. I’m quite sure we all do.

Happy Trails, Part 39

Our retirement trail is going to take us west quite soon. Indeed, we’re going to put ourselves and our RV and pickup to a fairly stern test.

We’ll be parked for a few nights in Durango, Colo.

The test will occur on our way there. We expect to climb significantly in a fairly short period of time.

We’ve been through Durango already — years ago. We haven’t spent any significant amount of time there. This adventure will provide us proof that our truck is, indeed, strong enough for us and our fifth wheel. We already believe it. We just sort of need some affirmation of it.

We are inching our way toward (more or less) full-time RV living. Family obligations likely won’t allow us to be living exclusively in our RV while we hunt for a new home. But we intend to spend significantly more time in our RV exploring this and/or that bucket list destination.

North America, as you know, contains a number of towering mountain ranges. The Rocky Mountains loom huge out there just to our west; farther out west are the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range. We’ve hauled our RV over the Appalachian Mountains and the Ozarks and, yes, we’ll go back … again and again.

But as we prepare for this next big adventure in our lengthy life together, we are looking at this moment for one final road test that will give us complete confidence in our vehicle assembly’s ability to take us to wherever we intend to go.

It’s a big world out there. We intend to see every single bit of it that time will allow.

Happy Trails, Part 35

Our retirement journey is now getting ready to depart in another direction altogether.

We’re heading west. All the way west — to the Pacific Coast states. I figure we’ll be about 80 or so miles from Pacific Ocean. It’s still pretty close to the Big Blue, right?

This test will give our Dodge Ram pickup its sternest test to date. Big Jake has done well already on our jaunts eastward. Our beastly 3/4-ton truck hauled our fifth wheel with little strain through the Appalachian Mountains, along the Shenandoah Valley, through West Virginia, through the Ozarks.

We have supreme confidence in our truck’s ability to do the job it is about to do.

We’ll be crossing the Rocky Mountains. We’ll travel near the edge of Death Valley. We’ll climb into the Sierra Nevada Range. We’ll trek north and cross the southern edge of the Cascade Range and then drive through the heart of the Cascades on our way back home.

Then we get to do it all over again on our return to the Texas Panhandle. Through Utah and crossing the Rockies yet again.

Our outings are becoming more frequent. Indeed, soon — perhaps even quite soon — we intend to empty our house in Amarillo and then move into our RV full time.

That’s when the fun really begins. We’ll need to maintain our base of operations in Amarillo for a time as we await the sale of our house. We need to keep an eye on an elderly family member as well.

We have a number of “bucket list” destinations in store. We plan to drive the breadth of Canada. We’ll likely go from west to east, starting in Vancouver and ending up in the Maritime Provinces along the Atlantic Ocean. I’ll keep you advised on how those plans come together.

Until then … the next big adventure is on tap.

The river’s a flowin’ once again

canadian river

Take a good look at this picture, which I pulled down from my Facebook feed.

It confirms what a fellow I met Friday told me. It’s not that I disbelieved him, but it’s nice to see visual evidence of what he said.

This is the Canadian River, upstream from Lake Meredith. The fellow I met told me he lives in Keyes, Okla., and he came to Amarillo to take care of some business. He said he’d “hadn’t seen the river flowing like this since, oh, I don’t know when.”

This picture confirms some very good news for the formerly parched Texas Tundra.

That water is flowing rapidly into Lake Meredith, the body of water once derided as “Puddle Meredith.” They built a dam across the river, finishing the job in 1965. The dam backed the water up behind it, forming Lake Meredith about 55 miles north of Amarillo. It rose eventually to more than 100 feet in depth.

Then it receded, ever so slowly, for lots of reasons. Heavy irrigation. Growing urban consumption. Salt cedar trees planted to protect against soil erosion, but which turned out to be thirstier than anyone imagined. Evaporation and a lack of rainfall.

Now the tide is turned, if you’ll pardon the metaphor.

El Nino has been warming the Pacific Ocean currents. The storms have been more frequent coming in from the coast. Snow runoff in the Rocky Mountains has helped as well.

El Nino, of course, is creating serious havoc as well, as our neighbors in Mexico and in downstate Texas are finding out as they’re coping with that monstrous Hurricane Patricia. We all wish them well and pray for their safety.

Lake Meredith, which saw its depth reduced to about 26 feet in 2013, is now back to more than 60 feet. And it’s rising.

Water authorities had stopped pumping from the lake. Now they’re pumping again.

OK. Is there a lesson here?

Sure there is. Let’s not assume that we’ll have this water forever.

I prefer to continue to act as though we’re still in drought conditions.

Many of us got pretty nervous around here when the lake shrunk so badly. Remember that time?

Enjoy the rain and the river flow that comes with it. However, let’s not get smug.