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20 Questions - Posted September 28, 2012 noon
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photo by Jeff Harbin, Life of Riley Photography

Mark and Amy Becker Williams

Globetrotters, authors, teachers

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Together, Mark and Amy Williams have stuck pins in more than 70 countries on the map. With summers free, (Mark teaches at North Heights Alternative School and Amy teaches third grade at Sleep Hollow Elementary), the husband and wife of nearly 24 years are always ready to pack their bags and jump on a plane or hit the road in their trustworthy Jeep, which Amy aptly calls The Trout Mobile.

“I get tired of the place I’m at. I have wanderlust!” exclaims Mark, who has published 21 books, including “So Many Fish, So Little Time” from HarperCollins.

The couple specializes in the travel of the American Southwest, but outside of the states, western Europe, especially Spain, has won these globetrotters’ hearts.

“I [travel] for myself because of journaling, but I like to share it with people. I like to try to find a different perspective on things,” says Amy, who has co-written two books with Mark and recently published an app, Girlfriend Getaways USA.

Mark and Amy’s shared appetite for history, food and drink, geography, literature, people, and of course, writing, keeps their marriage “fresh and fun,” Mark says.

What’s up next for the adventurous couple? A voyage next year to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, the end of the Way of St. James pilgrimage route.

Q&A

My friends and family call me…
(Amy) determined, quirky, and too busy.
(Mark) when they need help with an essay or letter.

In an alternate life, I would’ve been a…
(Mark) I can't sing a lick but in an alternative life, I bet I could. So I'd be a singer-songwriter – with a full head of hair.

One of my favorite childhood toys was…
(Amy) my Barbie camper. Who knew Barbie camped back then?

I’m secretly addicted to the TV series…
(Amy) “Flipping Out” – Zoila is the best reality character out there.
(Mark) “Castle,” “The Newsroom,” “Suits,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Sherlock,” and dang it, “House Hunters International.”

If I had an open plane ticket to anywhere, I would go to…
(Amy) coastal Spain without a doubt.
(Mark) Easy. Anywhere in Spain. We love Spain.

Right now, I’m listening to…
Amy: Athleta’s Power to the She on Pandora, it’s full of great music for getting into the exercise groove.
Mark: NFL Radio.

My favorite meal to make from scratch is…
Amy: Something delicious from Pinterest, like the healthy stuffed bell peppers I put in the Crockpot last week. (I’m pretty sure Mark would have liked them if I hadn’t told him they had shredded cauliflower mixed into the filling!)
Mark: Gateau Basque, a traditional dessert from the Basque region of France and Spain. The cake is made from layers of almond-flour with a filling of pastry cream and/or preserved cherries. I’m also very good with bologna sandwiches.

The most famous or interesting person I’ve ever met is…
Amy: I’ve met a few famous people, but my favorite is Jason Kidd who until just recently played for the Dallas Mavericks. I love pro basketball and I especially love the Mavs.
Mark: I met lots of pro sports athletes over the years like Nolan Ryan, Juan Gonzalez, Pudge Rodriguez, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Ozzie Guillen, Rafael Palmeiro, Tony Perez, Manny Sanguillen, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, Joe Morgan, Ray Fosse, Harry Carson, (and many many more because I was a sportswriter in DFW before coming to Amarillo.) I played football catch between takes with Warren Beatty and Gene Hackman numerous times in 1966 because Mother took me to watch Bonnie and Clyde being filmed in the Dallas area every day that summer. I’ve gotten in-person autographs from Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Joe Namath. I've corresponded for two decades with President George H. W. Bush about flyfishing, but the most interesting person I’ve met in my 52 years is Dr. Gerald McDaniel, my professor and mentor, McMurry University.

If I had an open plane ticket to anywhere, I would go to…
Amy: Coastal Spain without a doubt; I love everything there from the turquoise waters and the warm people, the history and the countryside, to the locally made wine and farmers’ market finds.
Mark: Easy. Anywhere in Spain. We love Spain. Of all the countries and places we've traveled, there's just something about Spain. I think I'd pick Barcelona or maybe the Hotel Aiguablava on the Costa Brava, a great hotel overlooking the Mediterranean, a family-owned resort where I am writer-in-residence.

My go-to stress reliever is…
Amy: Playing in the park with my dogs or reading a good book like “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”
Mark: Reading a book. I am usually in the middle of several books at any one time. Right now, I’m reading “The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago” describing a major Christian pilgrimage route from the Middle Ages across northern Spain ending at the resting place of the Apostle St. James. Amy and I are planning to walk this route (complete with staff and clamshells) next summer.

One of my favorite childhood toys was…
(Amy) my Barbie camper. Who knew Barbie camped back then?
Mark: I was a fan of Strat-O-Matic baseball (a simulation stats game).

My favorite most-quotable movie is…
Amy: Oh Brother Where Art Thou. The funny banter and characters like the loveable Delmar make me laugh just thinking about them.
Mark: Too many to name but they include Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (And that's how you play "Get the Guests"), Raising Arizona and any John Wayne or Clint Eastwood movie.

If I were a character in a book, I would be…
Amy:
Mark: Nicholas Urfe in John Fowles’ The Magus. Except I would learn my lessons and not let Alison go like he did.

The greatest piece of advice I’ve ever received is…
Amy: Do what you love and love what you do!
Mark: N/A.

I know every word to the song…
Amy: Summer of 69 and most any other Bryan Adams song; don’t judge me please!
Mark: Operator by Jim Croce, American Pie by Don McLean, Pancho and Lefty by Willie Nelson and anything from Rickie Lee Jones or Counting Crows.

My favorite bad-for-me-food is…
Amy: Raw chocolate chip cookie dough, but shhhh; don’t tell Mark! He’s certain I’ll get sick (and if I have, I’ll never tell).
Mark: Potato chips. We don't buy them because I'll just grab the bag, sit down and eat them. All of them.

My Facebook friend count is…
Amy: Not as big as Mark’s, but I’m not counting.
Mark: It's not about numbers. Is it? I just looked and I have 552 very close and important Facebook friends and family

My celebrity crush is…
Amy: Brad Pitt back in his A River Runs Through it days.
Mark: A tie: Stana Katic and Meghan Markle.

by Drew Belle Zerby

After graduating from LSU in 2009, Drew Belle worked as a page designer in north Louisiana until moving to Amarillo and joining AGN Media in late 2010. In her spare time, she loves to read, travel and spout out useless movie trivia.
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