Tag Archives: Texas High Plains

Happy Trails, Part 70

Our retirement journey has hit a bump in the road.

Don’t worry. It’s not serious. It’s not a dealbreaker. There’s an “end game.”

As I write these few words, my wife and I are hunkered down with Toby the Puppy in our fifth wheel waiting out a winter blast that’s plowing through Amarillo, Texas.

The temperature is plummeting through the day. The sun will set — although we won’t see it through the cloud cover — and the temp will bottom out at around 8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then it’ll climb back to something more, um, tolerable.

We knew the moment we moved into this fifth wheel full time that we were set to experience a bit of the downside of this new lifestyle we have adopted.

The winter blast we’re experiencing at this moment is one of them.

We’ve taken measures to protect our plumbing. We’ve also taken measures to ensure we have plenty of heat.

As for Toby the Puppy, he seems to have gotten over his case of cabin fever I told you about a few blog posts ago. He knows it’s cold out there and, given that he’s among the smartest — if not the smartest — pooches ever, he is not about to ask his mother and me to go outside until it becomes an absolute imperative … if you know what I mean and I am sure you do.

So, the journey continues. We’re just not going anywhere — until it warms up a bit.

It’s the onset of spring, baby!

I’ve heard it a bazillion times: Oh, I love the fall season.

Not me, dear reader. My favorite season is about to arrive. The vernal equinox will occur in a little more than week and it will signal my favorite time of the year.

I noticed something quite welcoming Thursday while mowing my lawn: the Oklahoma redbud in our front yard is beginning to show its buds. Bring it, Okie tree!

I totally understand why many folks love the autumn in this part of the world. Our summers can get blistering on the Texas High Plains … although,  hey, it’s a dry heat. I also welcome the cooler temps that arrive about the time of the autumnal equinox.

The spring, though, presents an entirely different dynamic.

We turn quite barren around here in the winter months. Grass goes dormant, turning the fescue more brown than green. When you drive along the rural highways, you see even more of it; vast expanses of it, to be honest.

Rain? Sure, we get some. Snow? That, too. The cold, though, gets pretty damn bitter even without the precipitation.

My wife and I do appreciate the seasonal changes we get here. They are much more pronounced on the High Plains than where we used to live on the Texas Gulf Coast, in the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Texas.

We saw snow one day during our nearly 11 years in Beaumont; it was gone by noon that day, if memory serves. It wasn’t until after we left Beaumont for Amarillo more than two decades ago that our former city of residence got pounded by a serious winter storm of snow, ice and assorted weather-related miseries.

Here? That kind of winter pummeling is a much more regular occurrence. Which brings me to my point.

It is that our lengthy winters make me long for spring, the time for renewal. It signals an emergence from the cold, the dark.

I totally understand that Mama Nature doesn’t always respect the calendar, which tells me that spring arrives officially on March 20. We well could get another winter-type blast; that’s happened too over the years. Indeed, today the temperature is about 30 degrees cooler than it was Thursday.

The redbud in the front yard, though, tells me that spring is at hand.

I shall welcome its arrival with great glee.

Ol’ Bum would love it here today


Today is the kind of day on the Texas High Plains that would make Bum Phillips proud.

The late, great Texas football coach said a lot of things about life in his home state. He once, for instance, might have told a TV reporter after coaching his Houston Oilers to a win in Buffalo — late in the NFL .season when the weather in upstate New York was at its worst, with wind chills in the minus double-digits, snow, wind and sleet — that the folks there ain’t seen cold.

“I used to coach football in Amarillo, Texas,” legend has it he said on national TV.

Well, coach, today is your kinda day.

It’s about 10 degrees. Wind chill puts the temp at something south of zero. It is, shall we say, a bracing kind of day.

I also am reminded of something one of my sons once told me. It was during his first winter in Amarillo. I’m trying to recall if he said it the day he moved from Huntsville, in the southeastern part of Texas, to Amarillo after graduating from Sam Houston State University.

Whatever. It got so cold that day in 1995 that my son moaned, “Dad, I can’t feel my face!”

Yep, this is his day, too.

Hey, and just think: The winter solstice is still five days away!