Settling in the West |

Settling in the West

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal John Morris and Leah Kruse moved to Carson City after they each lost a home in Lake Charles, La., during Hurricane Rita. Morris, an employee of Harrah's, was offered a job at the Lake Tahoe property. Parkway Manor Apartments is giving the couple a break on rent until they can get settled.

John Morris knew the Harrah’s in Lake Charles, La., owned property in Lake Tahoe. He often considered transferring there, though the Georgia native had never been farther west than Illinois.

On Sept. 25, the hurricane winds of Rita made the decision for him.

A few days later, Morris, 26, and girlfriend Leah Kruse, 24, rented a moving truck, filled a quarter of it with what they could salvage from each of their water damaged homes, and with mutts Willy and Jezi in tow, they headed across the country.

They arrived in Lake Tahoe on Oct. 21, spent four days as a guest of Harrah’s and then found an apartment in Carson City. Parkway Manor Apartments offered the couple a break on rent for the first two months until they get settled. They moved in Tuesday.

“I’ve lived in hot, humid, sticky, flat country where there’s nothing to see. Everything is just so picturesque here,” said Morris who was awestruck even by the view from his apartment window. “I’ve never really been an outdoors-type person, but I can’t wait to go hiking and camping. For the first time, I feel like I’m really going to take advantage of the surroundings.”

Kruse, who was born in Washington and lived in San Jose, Calif., as a girl, said her time in Louisiana erased a lot of memories of the West.

“I’d forgotten what mountains looked like,” she said with a chuckle.

She said she was surprised to discover Carson City was a small town.

“I think it’s so cute, but it’s so tiny for it to be a capital city,” she said. “We love it here.”

Morris hasn’t begun his job as a dealer at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe yet, and Kruse, who was a cocktail server in Lake Charles, is considering a career change. Mostly, she’s concerned about her education. In Louisiana she was working on her marketing degree at McNee State University. The hurricane put a damper on that.

And as Hurricane Rita was bearing down on the already ravaged Gulf Coast, Morris and Kruse were cultivating their fairly new relationship. Surviving the storm and making this move has turned into a blessing.

“If anything, this has brought us so much closer together. I was so lucky to find him,” she said.

n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.