Monday, October 10, 2005

From Amarillo, TX to Oklahoma City, OK, Thur. 10/6

Quick note on internet access. Every hotel I’ve stayed in has claimed to offer free wireless internet access. The only places it has actually worked are Flagstaff, Oklahoma City, and Asheville. At first I thought it was my computer, since it’s so old. But the fact that it has worked perfectly well in those three locations makes me wonder. Anyway, it’s working great here in Asheville so I will tell you about the past few days and hopefully show you some pictures.

The night I spent in Amarillo in the little “kabin” was fine. Here are a couple more pictures of it:

I slept okay and was not cold or anything. I opted not to use the common showers but when I went into the bathroom it was empty so I’m sure it would have been fine if I’d thought to borrow a towel from my parents. We left the campground on time, but immediately got separated. I had to stop at the front office to return my kabin key, and my parents I guess forgot about this and just took off. I tried to catch up with them, but they needed to stop for gas before getting on the highway and I just got right on, so I was actually ahead of them. I called my dad and let him know I would just go on ahead to Oklahoma City by myself.

Before leaving Texas, I came across a positively ginormous cross. Apparently it's the largest cross in the western hemisphere.

Being on my own, I could go my own speed, and make my own stops. I stopped at the Cherokee Trading Post and browsed around a bit, looking at all the Indian crafts and regular tourist “junk.” I made some pressed pennies and got some postcards as well as some cool rock magnets and some fragrant rose pods.

Then I went across the street and bought Subway for lunch. Continuing on, I passed by a field of giant windmills. Because I wanted to get good pictures of them, I got off the highway and backtracked on the frontage road. Just having the freedom to do this was enjoyable. I got lots of good shots,

and then got back on the freeway. Lo and behold, I came across my parents. I pulled in behind my mom, and we drove the rest of the way to Oklahoma City together.

In Oklahoma City I stayed at the Regency Inn, a hotel I’d seen a billboard for. They advertised rooms for $34.99 with free internet access. This was one of the places it actually worked, so I posted the previous two entries, which I had already written. The frustrating thing about Oklahoma City was that there was very spotty cell phone service, at least for us Verizon customers. My dad and I could not get a hold of each other. They didn’t know which hotel I was at, and I didn’t know where their campground was (they couldn’t stay at the KOA because it was full, I found out after calling the campground directly in an attempt to get a hold of my dad). Finally, after calling like 25 times and hearing the annoying message, “The wireless customer you are trying to reach is not available at this time,” I got through, and we arranged to meet at the Applebees. We had dinner there, and it was pretty good. After dinner, we went back to my hotel room and took advantage of the internet access to take care of a few things.

After that, we went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. It’s been ten years since Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building, and the monument is very well done.

The reflection pool, the glowing empty chairs, and the time walls (the bombing happened at 9:02, so the walls say 9:01—representing innocence--and 9:03—representing innocence lost). There was a survivor wall, too, which I found thoughtful and somewhat surprising and yet very appropriate. I was also surprised to see the fence with all the teddy bears, flowers, and photographs; I thought that kind of thing died out after a couple months but in Oklahoma City it’s still going strong. We found an ID card of someone named Jarod Mertz; we’re not sure if he left it as an offering or if he was one of the children killed in the blast.

The whole experience was very worthwhile, and it made me wonder if New York will be able to get its act together any time soon regarding a 9/11 memorial.

One last comment about Oklahoma. First, it is NOT a wasteland like I expected. Yeah, I was pretty surprised to see the landscape turn from brown and flat to green and rolling. But it was still very cold and windy.

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