My Backyard

My Backyard Was Huge!

My BackyardTrue, the most anyone ever knows of us is how our front yard is presented to the road. Think about all those streets you drive down and proclaim the beauty and uniqueness of what you see.

What you cannot see (most of the time) is what is hidden behind the facade of the house and yard. When we lived in Anchorage, the streets behind us made a curve and brought more backyard views to our back deck. We could sit and watch the backyard lives of about 10 neighbors.

I sometimes think you are who you are by how you live in your backyard. That place few others ever get to see.

Still, the yards we lived in were huge, varied, and spread across a big piece of Texas!

For the first 18 years of life I grew up on the east side of Houston. Born in Baytown, and growing up in Baytown, Deer Park, Seabrook, Channelview, LaPorte and probably other little towns that I don’t really remember. It seems most of our extended family lived in East Texas and we would often spend days and weeks living out of town.

I don’t remember the “names” of all the grade schools, but I have school pictures from Deer Park, Seabrook, Channelview and LaPorte.

2015-05-12 11.24.59Then along comes Marriage, College, and Work – each took us all over Houston, and even down the coast to Corpus Christi and Alice. Eventually, as far away as Anchorage, AK – and now Yelm, WA.

My backyard today consists of the Bald Hills, the Cascade mountains, Mt Rainier to the east, the South Puget Sound to the northwest, and the Pacific ocean due West.

I posted several things yesterday that took me down the memory trail of these backyards. How we loved to range the outdoors – the further from home the better! Get us some woods to play in, a mountain to climb, a potential cave to explore…

Daisy BB GunsWe were happy brothers! Daisy BB guns, pocket knives, and anything that could protect us from “…lions and tigers and bears…” (I was in this play in 1964 or so and Chrissy Carpenter, daughter of Astronaut Scott Carpenter, was Dorothy). Our imaginations were huge! Playing in the barn, or around the pond, along the creeks, and around some mighty fun lakes.

Lake Murvaul TexasIn Ace, Texas we had fun around Fish Gale Lake (never could figure out the correct spelling) hunting snakes, camping and some even went fishing! When my dad’s parents lived by Duke Lake, we pretended to be big hunters tracking Nutria, a big water rat. Then, along the Trinity River camping and fishing. Up in East Texas near Carthage, my mom’s parents lived on Lake Murvaul and this was all about swimming, fishing and learning to water ski.

When we would go to the store with Granddad to buy some White Gas for the lanterns, he would often get us those little red cardboard tubes of peanuts – sometimes with a hidden coin in Candy - Kitsthe bottom! When we went to visit the grandparents on Murvaul Lake, then Chappell’s little store would have penny candy that we could enjoy for days on just a dime! This is probably where I developed a taste for Kits, little flavored taffy squares that I still buy today when I find them.

The few times I remember hanging out in the house was often revolving around playing games and building things with Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys. Of course, putting together model cars and airplanes was always fun.

TelevisionStereo CabinetNo computer in those days, and what TV was to be had was only 2 or 3 channels. Black and white for the most part. Very little about life was portable! TV’s were huge boxes of wood and tubes. Stereo’s were furniture pieces.

Gas Heater 001Gas Heater 003We did not grow up in Texas loaded up A/C. No, sleeping with the attic fan pulling air throughout the house was generally enough. Heaters were normally gas flames – one in the main room, and another one in the bathroom. Floor and wall mounted!

When we camped, it was old canvas army style tenting, pump up gas Coleman stove and lantern. We camped one summer at Lake Houston while mom was in summer school at the university. She would come to the camp site after class and homework. Such good times at Deussen Park!

Long road trips were fun. Kentucky to see family. Carlsbad to visit the caverns. Camping trips to Lake Travis and the Frio River in Garner State Park…. I remember sleeping on the back deck of the white Ford. A favored place to get to see everything, and to be far away from the siblings! It was in the yellow station wagon where my patella popped out of place when I turned around to see Lookout Mountain, TN near Chattanooga…

Ford Falcon Station Wagon1964 Ford Custom1970 Plymouth Satellite



Since we’ve lived in the Pacific NW for nearly 30 years, my backyard has grown dramatically. Driving between Houston and Anchorage a dozen times, covering 5,000 miles each way, and normally doing it in 96 hours – that’s 4 full days of traveling. We have experienced so many sights – Rivers, Mountains, Lakes, Snow, Glaciers, Ice, wildlife… Some of the most beautiful spots of the world are here. Some of the tallest mountains in the world.

Over the years of traveling – Mexico, Canada, Iceland, Scotland, England, Germany, France (airport layover), Israel, Jordan… There are so many more places to check out!

Before you get too old, be sure and enjoy the backyard you grew up with. Just don’t limit yourself to enjoying one place. We live in a mighty big world!