Oklahoma City. What does that bring to mind? For me, not much. I am too young. But with prodding and reminders and I can be brought back to my high school history lesson and I can recall something about Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols causing the deaths of 168 people and injuring at least 600 others. April 19, 1995. I had just turned two.
I spent the weekend catching up on much needed rest. I have been needing sleep for days now. My camping as been done haphazardly, to say it nicely, and because of this my sleep has been restless and in need of work. I worked on it a lot this weekend. I was surrounded by (almost) wilderness in the Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. I wasn’t more than ten minutes away from the nearest town and when I hiked the highest hill I could see the trailer park nearby, but I didn’t let that effect me. I dreamed it was wilderness, and while I slept It really felt as such. Since I spent atleast 28 of the 40 hours there sleeping, I did a great job of dreaming that I was in the middle of nowhere.
When I wasnt sleeping I was up and hiking, but that was intermittent between the wind and rainstorms. Actually, there was only one rainstorm which occurred the first night I was there, Saturday. I had hit the sack the moment my tent was set up and didn’t even bother to make dinner that night. I slept through most of the rainstorm, woke up at 8:00 pm to look at the setting sun, and then went right back to sleep. It felt wonderful.
I slept in the next morning as my tent was buffeted by the giant Texas winds, and gargantuan Texas tumbleweeds (everything is bigger in Texas). Eventually, around eleven the wind died and I wandered outside. I had woke up about 10:30 and ate a little snack and read a bit. When I wandered outside, fully defended from the wind and 50° temps by my layers of clothing, I heard the hills calling my name. The birds chirped a good morning greeting and I made my way to the lake. I was grateful for the excuse of cold, because the lake didn’t look welcoming. It looked muddy and unappealing, but there was no way I was donning a swimsuit that day anyway.
The lake was created by a dam set up on the Canadian River to provide water from the bigger cities around the area, one of them being Amarillo , TX, you may have heard of it. The spot had been home to old flint mines, used by the Natives of the area before the Europeans had come and dominated it. Now there are pieces of flint scattered all around the area, and I kept stopping to admire these rocks, which could almost be mistaken for Lake Superior Agates, if not for the informational phamplet telling me otherwise that I had picked up at the ranger station.
By 12:30 I was back in my sleeping bag after a tough hike up some of the steep hills, and a searingly cold journey across the tops of said hills while the wind had a field day with my uncovered face. I slept for a good long time, woke up hungry,and rode into town for some real food, hot and everything.
When I got back to camp the sun was out and the bone chilling day had turned into a balmy 70° day. I heard the hills calling to me again, and the birds sang their sweet songs as I took my energy to higher elevations again. I was no longer tired or hungry, and the earth had rewarded me with the most gorgeous weather I could imagine, it was time to enjoy it. I hiked, I danced, I sat and I meditated. And when all that was done, I sat down at a campfire I built and read, and made some campfire food. Life doesn’t get much better, does it?
Texas wasn’t my favorite state in the world, but it surely was peaceful. It was also fast. I went 80 mph almost all the way through it, and since I was in the Northern half that got me through in no time at all. I was going 80, and then — quite abruptly — I was in Oklahoma and the speed limit was 65.
Oklahoma, it’s a nice state. It looks quite similar to Minnesota except with more hills. But the trees are all the same height, and there are a lot of them. The grass is green, the world is green, and it all smells like the world is growing. The air is moist and there are puddles and roadkill on the side of the road. Though I have observed two dead armadillos among the road kill, and that is a bit different than Minnesotan roadkill. Also, there aren’t coffeeshops everywhere around here. They are hidden and hard to get to. In their place there are donut shops and Sonics.
There are some good murals here as well. During my drive into Oklahoma City I got to see some pretty ones. I am impressed.
People here speak with Oklahoman accents, the way I imagined Texans would sound. It is a strange new world for a girl from Minnesota, but, I’m officially back in the Midwest.
There was a police car and a couple of other vehicles stopped on the side of the Interstate. I moved over to the left lane to give them space, and saw that one of the vehicles had a horse trailer and man with a cowboy hat was leading a horse out of the trailer. What happened? Did the cowboy get into a fender-bender? Was the horse alright? I strained my neck and slowed down more. I got a good look as other cars sped up to pass me on the left. There was a red Range Rover parked off the road, on the other side of the guardrail, pointed in the opposite direction of traffic flow, and the police officer stood on the side of the road, his hands on hips. I turkey necked it, and when I could finally see beyond the guardrail I saw three black cows standing alongside a fence. Not the inside of the fence either. Lined up like miscreants, the three black bovines stood looking at the cop with his hands on hips, and they appeared to cower. And that is all I saw of that saga. I can only imagine the cowboy with the horse trailer was going to put the cows in their place, and the driver of the Range Rover was probably going to help while the police officer over saw. Reminds a person of where they are; I’m cleary not in Minnesota.
Last night I went to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The 20th anniversary of the bombing happened on Sunday. I wonder how someone could of done that.
I imagine that they weren’t too wise as far as the world is concerned. Maybe the boy’s that did it hadn’t traveled and saw how good the world could be. Maybe they hadn’t learned to value life because they hadn’t lived enough of it. Or maybe it was just mental illness. Who know? Not me.
I look at the world and I see so much good stuff. Yesterday though, I saw tears. I don’t cry much, you know. I usually keep my emotions locked up, I’m not sure where at. I have found them since I found out about my gramps, but I still don’t cry much. The fence in front of the monument is filled with memorabilia from the victims of the bombing. There were stuffed animals, tshirst, poems, and photographs. There were keychains and bracelets and clear signs that these items once belonged to living beings. Chokes a person up.
I’m off to Arkansas today. Who knows if I will make it there. I have friend of a friend that I haven’t met yet who lives their. This friend has invited me to a festival in the Ozark hills at a pepper smoking farm. I think I shall go, we will see.
As a wise twenty-one year old just told me while sitting in a rarely-spotted, Oklahoman, coffeeshop, “the most meaningful answers don’t come easy.”
I think I can handle that.