Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma City National Memorial was on my “must see” list. It made for a memorable and very moving two hour visit.


The chairs beside the reflecting pool are arranged in nine rows, to correspond to the nine floors of the Murrah building. The number of chairs in the row indicated the number of people who perished on that floor. What was particularly heart breaking was the second row with the nineteen small chairs representing the children that died in the bombing.


I thought about all the times I dropped Greg off at daycare and started imagining the unbearable pain those parents must have felt standing outside, waiting and praying that their child would come out of the rubble alive. It was particularly poignant,given that I was visiting with Greg. I reflected on how much happiness he has brought into our lives and how lucky I am to have him as my son. How do parents find the strength to recover from loss of a child?

The bombing showed us both the worst of human nature and the best–as demonstrated by the first responders and the outpouring of love and support from around the world.

We needed something to lighten the mood, so next stop was the Cowboy and National Heritage Museum. The building and grounds are absolutely beautiful.

Where else can you find an entire WALL filled with cabinets of “devil’s rope”? Every one of the handles in the photo below is attached to a pull out display of barbed wire. But wait, Oklahoma–Texas can do you one better. McLean, Texas has a its own Devil’s Rope MUSEUM!

The replica of the western town was fun, especially the saloon. Here was my chance to belly up to the bar, just like a western workin’ gal. I didn’t have the proper attire, or hair ornaments,the light was low, and I couldn’t use a flash, so this was the best I could do to immortalize the moment.
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Oklahoma City was the starting point for our Route 66 adventure, so we headed west, planning to dine at one of El Reno’s famed establishments, Roberts.

You can’t always judge a restaurant by its exterior, so we ventured inside. The interior consisted of a counter, with about 10 stools, some torn. Mine was wobbly enough to test my balance. Can you see why we decided to beat a hasty retreat?

Back to Oklahoma City for dinner and lodging.

While in Oklahoma we experienced a wide range of human emotions: sadness, empathy, revulsion, excitement, then later anxiety, as we listened to the tornado alarms, and finally relief that Greg was smart enough to park his car under the hotel canopy. We watched hailstones ricochet off cars in the parking lot and felt grateful that we were not the owner of this Mercedes.

Once we figured that we were not in the path of tornado, the evening took on a festive air, as we huddled with other travelers under the canopy to watch the storm pass by.

Cross country jaunt…well, almost

The very best thing about being retired is when opportunity comes a knockin’ you can say “come on in, pull up a chair and make yourself comfy”. That’s exactly what I did when Greg announced that he was driving to his summer internship in New Mexico. Mike had prior commitments, so Greg didn’t need to ponder which parent would be the better traveling buddy. Instead, he first had to decide if he even wanted someone riding shotgun, and then determine whether he had room in his car for me and my baggage (not emotional, the kind used to carry clothing–good thing, huh?) He did and he did.

This trip will be the longest that either of us have ever driven. Google Maps calculated the distance at a little over 2,000 miles. Had we kept going through Arizona and California, the total would have been 2,750 miles. So, although the ride won’t be from sea to shining sea, it will be pretty darn close.

Our destination for Day One was Greg’s apartment at the University of Virginia. It took us just about 6 hours to cover the 375 miles. Aside from a short cloudburst, the ride was quite beautiful. Not much traffic at all.

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Great lookin’ set of wheels, no? Here’s the thing. The car’s a standard. One of the many skills I never mastered was the ability to drive a stick. Some might argue that I never completely learned to drive an automatic, but they would just be being mean. Lucky me. I get to sit back and enjoy the scenery while Greg does all the hard stuff, which he does very well.

Charlottesville is such a fun little town. Dinner was at Frye Spring Station, a gas station reincarnated as a great place for pizzas, salads, sandwiches and beers. What makes the place really special is that the huge doors where the service bays used to be are still in working order. When the weather is nice, one wall can be opened up. You feel like you are eating outdoors, except you are sheltered from the sun and the rain. Good thing, because that cloudburst followed us.

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Next stop was the Charlottesville Downtown Mall, for drinks at the Sky Bar. Given that it was only up one flight, the name seemed a bit of a stretch, but the bar did afford a nice view of the mall.

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I loved the artwork. Isn’t this couch great?

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Day Two’s destination is the greater Knoxville area. We plan on getting to Memphis by Sunday, and to Santa Fe between June 1 and 3 but the rest of the itinerary is still in the formative stage. By keeping it open, we can take advantage of random opportunities as they occur. We’ll be listening for those knocks!