Betty, my wife of 59 years, and I live in Munday, a small, rural town in Texas. At last count, the population was 1,300 although it’s likely lower than that now. We’re located about 70 miles from both Wichita Falls and Abilene. 

How we ended up in Munday is an interesting story. Six years ago, we lived in Garland, east of Dallas. After being hit-from-behind by a woman on drugs at a stoplight, the police said I was lucky that I wasn’t pushed out into the 5 o’clock traffic by another vehicle in front of me. After that, I decided to go on the Texas Press Association website and found a place outside the Metro area wanting an editor. It’s certainly easier to get around in traffic here and the people are really nice and friendly, especially with the recent loss of our daughter Tamara at the age of 48.

Life Without Travel is a series of first-person accounts from the Getting On Travel team. Each post offers a personal glimpse into the lives of our travel writers and bloggers apropos of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

James and Betty on porch of small home in Munday.

James and Betty on the porch of their small home in Munday

There’s been only one case of the virus in our country (the infected women worked at a prison in a neighboring county) but the county judge still invoked a stay-at-home policy except for everything but essential businesses. Wearing of masks was suggested when going into stores. On May 1, Governor Greg Abbott allowed restaurants and churches to open up with certain social distancing requirements. Only 20 congregants showed up at our church today, spaced far apart except for family units.

I’m not as afraid of getting the virus here in a rural area because we have plenty of space to practice social distancing whereas that’s not as easy to do in a larger city.

Life in Munday with social distancing

My work as editor of The Knox County News-Courier hasn’t really been curtailed. I still have to write, edit and get out a weekly issue. I rely on others to report on meetings I used to attend,  some held via video. Our business manager, Vonda Carter, comes in a few hours each morning, but mainly works from home.

Of course, Betty and I don’t visit our daughter in Metroplex, and we’ve had non-essential doctor appointments postponed. It has been seven weeks since I had a haircut and when we shop, Betty wears a mask and I sit in the car.

My passions: Golf, writing and travel

James of Munday finishing up weekly edition of The Knox County News Courier

James finishing up the weekly edition of The Knox County News Courier

I started caddying at the local course in my hometown of 12,000 as a teenager and really got  hooked on the sport when I made a hole-in-one at age 16. Another important turning point in my life was switching to a journalism class as a senior in high school and then getting jobs as a sports writer while in school.

After 12 years of writing about all kinds of sports, I advanced to writing for Golf Digest and got a chance to visit Hawaii on assignment and decided right then that I wanted to do more such traveling. As a result, I’ve golfed in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Great Britain, Spain, Morocco, Mexico, Bermuda, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and Aruba along with 47 of 50 the states (still missing North and South Dakota and Alaska), and have written about my experiences for various magazines as well as for Getting on Travel. 

My biggest regret? I still haven’t visited or played golf in Australia and New Zealand. If the occasion arises that someone needs a golf writer to go there, I’m available!

Recently, I haven’t been able to get out and rank golf courses in Texas as I often did in the past. Last month, I started walking at least a mile and try to get out and walk a few holes on the golf course whenever possible.

But my travel writing has been largely curtailed as no one is sponsoring press trips and also for medical reasons. Numerous ER visits put a halt to that for most of 2019 but now I have a new pacemaker for my heart. I’m feeling better and want to get on the road when we can safely start traveling again. Right now, I’ve been trying to find a copy of my golf writing friend Jeff Wallach’s new book.

Betty and I would love to go to Costa Rica to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary. I worked at a resort there for three years as director of marketing and golf from 1998 until 2001. 

My glass is more than half full

Artist Kacy Latham brightens up the small town with paintings such as this one

Artist Kacy Latham brightens up the small town with paintings such as this one

Betty and I have watched a lot of Hallmark movies; they all follow a similar formula with some sort of dilemma that gets resolved in the last 15 minutes. I’ve also been watching the old Perry Mason and Matlock shows. On a golf trip to Florida last December, I saw one of my golfing buddies playing a 42 domino game on his phone and I’ve started doing that, too, over the last two months. I’m actually ready to play against others now, I think.

Yes, these are scary times, but our ancestors survived bad things like wars and previous viruses. I’m still a guy who sees my glass as more than half full, despite a leak that needs filling soon. Thanks to our $1,200 stimulus  checks, Betty and I are actually better off than a lot of others, since I also still get a small salary plus our Social Security. I do feel sorry for others who are not as fortunate as we are, and offer my prayers daily for things to get better for them soon.

James McAfee

Based in Munday, Texas, James McAfee is a veteran travel writer who specializes in reviews of golf resorts. He is currently the editor of The Knox County News-Courier, a weekly newspaper located in Munday, Texas. He formerly served as sports writer and editor with other newspapers in Texas and was an editor with Golf Digest Magazine. He has been a member of the Golf Writers of America for 44 years. He spent three years as director of golf at a resort in Costa Rica and 23 years as golf administrator.