Tag Archives: Pacific Northwest

Happy Trails, Part 164: The open road awaits

Is there such a thing as “half a bucket list”?

I’ll ponder that one for a time. Whatever the case, we’re now in preparation mode for a lengthy trip aboard our pickup, which will be hauling our recreational vehicle behind it.

We had billed this as a “bucket list” trip, you know, one of those things you want to do before you, um … well, you know. We had planned originally to take our RV from home all the way to far western Canada and then we would follow the trans-Canada highway to the Maritime Provinces.

Then we got cold feet … sorta. We decided we didn’t want to stay away from our new home all that time. What’s more, we would miss our granddaughter too much. She’ll be in school by the time we hit the road, so she’ll be busy meeting new friends while getting reacquainted with existing friends. (I refuse to call them “old” friends, because 6 year olds do not have “old” friends.)

So, here’s the plan we’ve mapped out. We head northwest to the Pacific Northwest. We’ll see family members along the way. We’ll stop in Portland for a few nights. We’ll attend a party for my brother-in-law, who celebrates one of those “landmark” birthdays.

The first few days of our sojourn will be fairly tight. We have to be there in time for the party. After that? Well, then we turn into serious vagabonds.

We will have no deadlines. No plans to be anywhere at a certain. The open road awaits and we’ll see how far we want to travel before we park it for the night.

Once we leave Portland, we’ll end up in Vancouver, British Columbia. Then we head into the Cascade Range and then the Rocky Mountains. We’ll come down from the peaks and head onto the prairie. We’ll drive to Winnipeg, Manitoba before we turn south and return to the U.S. of A.

My intention along the way is to visit with Canadians to seek their perspective on matters that are convulsing on our side of the border. You know about what — and whom — to which I refer. Yes?

One day, perhaps in a year or so, we’ll see the eastern half of Canada, thus finishing off that particular item on our bucket list.

This journey we’re planning explains precisely why we chose to live like this in our retirement years.

As I told a neighbor just the other day: We’ll return when we decide we’ve driven enough.

I surely intend to keep you apprised of our journey as we trek along.

Having trouble letting go

I must admit to a peculiar circumstance that I will not define as a “problem.”

It is an unwillingness to let go of affairs occurring in the city where my wife and I used to live. I refer to Amarillo, Texas, way up yonder in the Texas Panhandle, on the Caprock … in a place I used to “affectionately” refer to as the Texas Tundra.

We moved away a little more than a year ago, yet I am continuing to devote a bit of High Plains Blogger’s posts to events that occur in the Texas Panhandle’s unofficial “capital” city.

You know what? I am going to keep both eyes and both ears attuned to what’s happening there. Why? The city is undergoing a significant change of personality, if not character. I want to watchdog it. I want to keep my channels of communication open to the community my wife and I called home for 23 years.

The truth is my wife and I lived in Amarillo longer than have lived in any community during our nearly 48 years of married life together. We were married in Portland, Ore., but moved to Beaumont 13 years later; we stayed on the Gulf Coast for not quite 11 years before heading northwest to the other end of this vast state.

I enjoyed some modest success during all those years as a working man. Retirement arrived in 2012. We stayed in our home until late 2017. We moved into our recreational vehicle, then sold our house in March 2018. Our granddaughter’s birth in 2013 and our desire to be near her as she grows up lured us to the Metroplex … but you know about that already.

But Amarillo retains a peculiar hold on my interests.

I am delighted with the progress of the city’s downtown redevelopment. The city’s baseball fans are turning out in droves to watch the Sod Poodles play AA minor-league hardball. Texas Tech University is marching full speed toward opening a school of veterinary medicine at Tech’s Health Sciences Center campus at the western edge of Amarillo. The Texas highway department is going to begin work soon on an extension of Loop 335 along Helium Road. Interstates 40 and 27 are under extensive construction.

I want to keep up with the progress that’s occurring in Amarillo.

I also intend to stay alert to problems that might arise along the way.

So, I intend to declare my intention to devote a good bit of this blog for the foreseeable future on matters affecting a fascinating — albeit at times infuriating — community.

Although we no longer call Amarillo our “home,” the community is not far from my heart.

Happy Trails, Part 155: Staying flexible

SLIDELL, La. — A news source back in Oregon once told me he was “so flexible I hurt all over.”

That would be me. Also my wife. Toby the Puppy? Oh, sure. Him, too!

Our retirement journey has imbued the feeling of flexibility as we travel here and there around this vast country of ours. Mother Nature’s wrath sometimes requires us to change our course, adjust our timetable, make changes . . . stay flexible.

We had intended to depart this New Orleans suburb on Wednesday. No can do, man! The weather is going to be too crappy at our next spot. We’re heading home later this week. We are quite likely to pull our fifth wheel into Princeton, Texas, on Friday.

But instead of spending two nights in Shreveport, La., we’re spending an extra night here. We’ll shove off a day later, staying in Shreveport only overnight.

Ahh, that’s what retirement has enabled us to do. Ain’t it grand? You bet it is!

We have been blessed with wonderful weather on almost all of our excursions. We ventured to the Pacific Northwest in October 2017 to attend my 50-year high school reunion in Portland. It poured the entire time we were there. So I’ll toss that trip aside.

The rest of our sojourns have been bathed in sunshine . . . more or less.

Now we’re having to wait out a thunderstorm that threatens our next stop on our way home. That’s OK. We can wait as long as we need to wait.

Flexibility allows us that luxury — even if it makes me hurt all over.

Feeling cursed by Nature’s wrath

Forgive me if I sound as if I’m feeling cursed these days.

Mother Nature is drawing a bead on communities I know well. Beaumont and the rest of the Golden Triangle along the Texas Gulf coast is bailing out from the deluge dumped on the region by a storm named Harvey.

Most of our friends are OK. Not all, though. There’s a lot of heartbreak and agony to go around as the Triangle struggles to recover from the Harvey’s savagery. Our hearts go out to them … along with our prayers.

Now as we look in the other direction, toward the Pacific Northwest, I see that my hometown is under siege from an entirely different foe.

Fire!

I see pictures on social media from the Columbia River Gorge, one of the world’s greatest natural splendors, and my heart breaks all over again. Flames are consuming many acres of virgin timber. Historical structures are in jeopardy.

Portland, the city of my birth, is now being showered with ash, reminding residents there of when Mount St. Helens exploded in the spring and summer of 1980, blanketing the city with a fine coat of volcanic ash.

The picture above is of downtown Portland. That ain’t fog, man! It’s smoke billowing over the city from the fires that are burning not far away.

We’re getting ready to head that way for a little R&R. Our trip isn’t coming up in the next few days, but we’ll be hauling our RV in that direction fairly soon. My hope is that the fires are quenched soon. I have considerable faith in the firefighting crews that are on the job. They’re pretty damn good at fighting those forest fires.

Their expertise comes from experience, just as the Gulf Coast rescue crews and other first responders have plenty of experience dealing with the aftermath of killer hurricanes and tropical storms.

But these monstrous events make me nervous in the extreme and they break my heart for tangible reasons.

Not complaining about the rain

As a boy, the rain drove me batty.

I grew up in the dank, damp and sometimes dreary Pacific Northwest, where it rains three or four days before you ever notice it.

Now that I’m older and now that my wife, one of our sons and I live in this so-called semi-arid region I refer to as the Texas Tundra, you won’t hear me complain about the rain we’ve been getting of late.

More of it is falling tonight. Even more of it is expected through Friday and perhaps over the weekend.

You won’t hear me gripe. Nope. Not me.

I know the sun will return in due course, just as I (more or less) knew we’d get the rain we’ve all sought through prayer.

These things run in cycles.

Our playas are full. McDonald Lake — which is just about a mile north of us on Coulter, is practically overflowing. I saw some video of fish that had ended up on the street next to the lake. Now that’s weird.

The closest thing to a gripe I’ve heard has come from cotton farmers who need to start planting their crops, but cannot do it because the ground is too wet.

Be patient, folks. The sun will return.

Oh, and the drought? It’s still with us.

I’ll guess that Amarillo’s daily water use gauge is down … considerably. That, too, is a good thing.