We came out of Joplin and headed for Albuquerque, NM–well we were supposed to reach there by nightfall but there were other things that happened so we ended up in Amarillo, TX. When we woke up this morning, we were all glad to be out of alien territory. At least we didn’t get abducted, right?
Megan drove the rest of the way from Joplin to Oklahoma City. She decided to go off the Interstate highway and follow historic Route 66. It was a nice change for us. It was also her favorite part of the drive. Rick was shotgun-navigator again. I really liked the scenery that the country side had to offer. It wasn’t the usual high traffic.
Rick suggested that we go for steaks (of course!) when we got to Oklahoma City. Megan and I were tired of diner food. She wanted some fresh veggies. I just wanted something different and from what Adrian told me, Oklahoma City has the best Vietnamese food. Oklahoma has a big Vietnamese population because many refugees from the Vietnam War ended up there. I thought of Fred who was in Vietnam during that time. I thought of how this city had changed so much. I mean, it started off as a town for people who wanted land for themselves and then there was an influx of Vietnamese who built a better life. Other Asian immigrants came after that… I think Oklahoma City will always have new people chasing the American dream.
We decided to split up and meet at the Oklahoma City National Memorial in two hours. Rick and Kaitlin went to a steak house after they dropped us off at a Vietnamese restaurant. I had a stir fried Vermicelli dish, Megan ordered rice, fish and stir fried water spinach–you know Megan, she had to order that because we haven’t tried it. The food was really tasty and I was glad we were eating something different. “I’m really glad I came on this trip,” said Megan while we were finishing up. “It’s clearing my mind a lot.” “Well, good,” I told her. I really was glad for her because she seemed to be feeling a lot better. We walked to the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which wasn’t a short walk, but I didn’t mind because I needed to stretch my legs anyway.
We were early when we got to the National Memorial, so we took a tour. I listened to the tale of what happened that morning. The outdoor exhibition was really breath taking. I think my favorite part of the exhibition was the Field of Empty Chairs. Each chair represents a victim who lost their life on that day. The symbolism behind the empty chairs really struck me. All those families have a person missing from the dinner table. It made me think about the victims of 9/11. It made me think about the war and how much we’ve lost so far. Over 4,000 families with someone missing…
Right before we left, I got myself two large root beers for the road from a root beer stand. They’re fantastic, why won’t they open up root beer stands in New York? When Rick and Kaitlin showed up, they didn’t look like they were in a good mood. Kaitlin was behind the wheel and Rick was shotgun. Megan and I looked at each other quietly. sat in the back and we took off headed towards what we had hoped was Albuquerque. The ride was so quiet Rick fell asleep. So did Megan. She cuddled up, laid her head on my shoulder with her back to me and fell asleep. I was engrossed in my novel, secure in Kaitlin’s capable hands.
Around about sunset Rick woke up. He looked around and said, “Something’s wrong. We’ve been here before,” Kaitlin looked annoyed, “Don’t start that thing again. Just because I’m from New York doesn’t mean I can’t drive,” Kaitlin retorted. Rick turned his PDA on that has GPRS and sure enough, we had been traveling in the wrong direction for the past three hours. Kaitlin couldn’t say anything, but she was really mad and her eyes were as red as her hair. We took the next exit to a gas station, we had a quick pit stop and Rick took the helm. Everyone was awake by then. We finally managed to cross the state border into Texas and Rick suggested that we stay in Amarillo for the night.
After all, it’s his territory, so we agreed to stay there for the night. We decided to get into the Big Texan Steak Ranch for a meal. Well, we didn’t really decide, Rick just drove there straight and we got in. We had a sensory overload when we saw the place and got in. I think that’s the thing about Texas that I like: everything is extravagant and no expenses are spared. When people are mad they get really mad, when they’re happy they’re jumping up and down, like Rick does. He’s a real true blue Texan boy, I can tell ya that. He loves simple things, an uncomplicated life–what more can a man ask for, right?
We had a very filling meal of steak and potatoes, and some veggies on the side, but no one was really interested in the veggies. We were really amazed at the size of their steaks. But for Rick it was like heaven. He went outside to smoke after dinner and he met one of the locals. He was told to watch the local news if he was gonna be staying in Amarillo for a while. The guy said there was some special election going on about an ordinance banning smoking in public areas.
We checked into our motel and Rick told us that we had five minutes to freshen up. “We’re going square dancin’–yee hah!” yelled out Rick, throwing his hat in the air. Kaitlin had a look of disapproval but she didn’t say anything. Once we got to the dance hall, Kaitlin really didn’t want to dance. Rick was nice about it though, it’s surprising that he’s in a good mood considering that we lost a couple of hours driving in the wrong direction. Love does strange things to people, I guess.
“Kaitlin, I haven’t scolded you or said nothin’ about your drivin’,” said Rick to Kaitlin, “I told ya I wouldn’t when we were in Oklahoma–but you gotta pay up for drivin’ in the wrong direction. Besides, I know you’ll like the dancin’. Heck, it’s the closest thing to them Irish dances you like. Think of it as the American West version.” Kaitlin gave up and joined Rick reluctantly. Megan and I watched from our table. Watching Rick trying to reach Kaitlin how to square dance was hilarious.
At first they bumped into each other a lot. Kaitlin stepped on a couple of toes. I’m glad people had a good sense of humor–if it were in New York, we’d be in a bar fight already. After a while Kaitlin got the steps and seemed to be enjoying it. Rick and Kaitlin really did look romantic together in a very cowboy-dixie-ish sort of way…
Well, tonight I’ll leave you with this Zen quote from Louis L’Amour–“Too often I could hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.” We covered a lot of miles alright and seeing the sight of Rick and Kaitlin in love was priceless–I am really happy for him.
FREE GREETINGS FOR THE PLANET
P.S. Don’t forget! You can schedule your Mother’s Day ecards so they arrive on the day!