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Monday, September 22, 2008

Blonde and Blue Road Trip Day 2 & 3

We woke up in Oklahoma City refreshed and ready for another long day on the road.  Little did I know, though, that Alison and I would end up showing our teeth to each other before the sun went down - all because I have this terrible fear of riding in a passenger's seat going 80 mph down the highway in a cramped car.  There is something about having twisted metal and glass around me after an accident that makes me a little crazy.  There was also something eerie about waking up in Oklahoma City, where just 13 years prior, in 1995, this country faced a horrific terror attack in this very city just 2 months before my daughter, Kimberly, was to undergo her 4th open-heart surgery at the Oklahoma City Children's Hospital.  The hospital was damaged from the explosion, and we were all concerned that her surgery may have to be postponed.  But it all worked out and she had a successful surgery.  She had just turned 15 years old. 

Do you remember this photo:

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It was the image of firefighter Chris Fields holding baby Baylee Almon, a young infant who was dying from the blast.  If you recall, it was at 9:02 am on April 19, 1995, that Gulf War Vet, Timothy McVeigh detonated 4,800 lbs of fertilizer and fuel oil. The blast destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and took 168 lives.  The bombing was the largest act of domestic terrorism in the United States.  Without doubt, this act of terrorism destroyed this country's innocence prior to 9/11.

As the fires raged, rescue workers and bystanders rushed to pull victims out of the twisted wreckage.  Sifting through the rubble police officer, Sgt. John Avera, found a small half buried body. Shouting. “I have a critical infant! I have a critical infant!”  he thrust the, 1-year-old, Baylee Almon, into the arms of a nearby firefighter - Oklahoma City Fire Capt. Chris Fields.

This was the resulting image.  Taken by Charles Porter, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography in 1996 for the image.  Lest we never forget.  Baylee would have been starting high school now.  She was the same age as my daughter Sarah, who just started 9th grade.

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So, as we began this road trip through Oklahoma City, I couldn't help but think of Baylee and the 168 other souls who lost their lives 13 years ago.

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The landscape was beautiful, and the memories are still fresh on my mind, not only from that day in April, 1995, but from my daughter's open-heart surgery in June, 1995, just down the road from where the blast occurred.  We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for a week and then drove Kimberly home to recover that summer with us in Maryland.  But that is a story for another time.  It was quiet in the car and I was thinking.  Soon we were in Arkansas.


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Welcome to Arkansas, home of former President Bill Clinton.  I don't know much else about Arkansas, sorry about that.  If you have any tidbits you'd like to share - have at it.

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The landscape was also beautiful.  It was greener and a bit more yellow.

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I thought it was downright pretty.

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Although it too, looked a lot like Oklahoma along the roadway, with pastures as large and as wide as your eye could see.

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By this time, the cats were no longer throwing up and Maggie Mae was actually enjoying the trip.  She is such a cutie-pie.

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Mee Mee and Boo Boo curled up together and comforted each other.  Mee Mee enjoyed the scenery as much as we did.

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I would glance over at the Garmin (you really can't do without one of these things if you ever go on a trip - a Garmin is a must-have) and appreciated not having to think about getting lost.  Not that we would get lost going on a straight shot down I-40 East, but there were detours along the way and I was grateful for this little device.

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Isn't Arkansas - golden?  I love a golden landscape.

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I don't care much for a road filled with 18-wheelers and...

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Deadly trucker tread along the side of the road.  I had a piece about this size fly over my head and just miss me one time when I was riding my Harley down interstate 95.  No thanks.  That could have taken off my neck.  Doesn't do much for your paint either if it comes flying up and hits the hood of your car.

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There were farms

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And hordes of birds flying South for the winter, and luckily, none of them crapped on our windshield.  I had enough bug guts, though that made it difficult to see out the windshield.

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Are we there yet?

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I think this guy is driving with his elbows.  That's a new trick.  He does, however, have on his seatbelt. 

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It was by this time that I felt like I was going to be sick.  My stomach was in knots and I had to find a bathroom - fast.  So we stopped and gassed up. 

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and I drove - all the way home.  But not today.


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Welcome to Tennessee.  It was a dreary day.  Overcast.  It looked like rain - over Memphis.  Hello Elvis!  Wherever you are.  We called it a day - almost 500 miles - and before it got too dark, we found a Quality Inn in Memphis.  It wasn't quality though.  There were bugs in the shower.  The room was as hot as a sauna.  The WiFi didn't work so I kept my computer packed.  It wasn't a good night.  And besides, I had a diet of Immodium AD to keep me going.  I was in the bathroom every few hours.  This was not good.

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The following day was looking better already after we got thru the city.

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Or so I thought.

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Here we were in Nashville.  Home of the Grand Ole Opry. 

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And I really wished we had the time and the money to stop and look around, but we were anxious to get home.  You know how you can get on road trips.   We wanted to enjoy the trip, but we also wanted to get home  more.

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But then a traffic jam ensued.  I took this picture because I thought for sure that my boy, Matthew, would get a kick out of this truck.

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It was dark and gloomy outside.  When you see truckers standing outside their cabs, you know you are in for a long wait.

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And a long wait it was.  It took over 2 hours for us to move 6 miles.

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There had been a terrible accident.  Three people lost their lives when the passenger car in which they were riding down I-40 West crossed the grassy area median and had a head-on with a semi.  It was horrible. 

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The accident had happened at 2pm and we got stuck in traffic at 4pm.  I took pictures of our I-40 East neighbors.

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And we struck up a conversation.  "So!  Whereya headed?"

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"Would you like some chips? Yogurt?  A spoon?  A soda?  I've got a cooler full here in my car."  Aren't Tennessee people nice?

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I felt sad and heavy-hearted for the people who lost their lives and I just wanted to get home - more than ever.

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But we weren't moving.  This sign on the back of this truck seemed appropriate.  And the answer?  We're not getting very far, obviously.

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Traffic started moving, but it was getting dark and we had moved - uh - 6 miles?

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The road opened up, and it was then that I knew why I loved living in the east.  This.  This is why I love the east.

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"Are we there yet? Meow"

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No, but we're gettin' closer.  I can smell it.  Fresh air, cut grass, blue mountains and green.  Lots of green.

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I love you too.  (see that sign in the distance?).  I don't like these dang bugs, though.  I think we will stop for gas, maybe a bite to eat, and we are making this day a short one.  We are exhausted, and it looks as though we are going to stay in Tennessee again for the night and not push this trip. 

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We have only 280 miles to go to home and the twists and turns of the mountainous highway were making me dizzy and tired.  We came up on another traffic accident - another fatal one.  It was time to stop.  So, we stayed in a Motel 6.  It wasn't bad.  The only thing that was bothering me was my stomach.  I had another night in the bathroom and couldn't wait to get home.  I was almost out of Immodium AD.  Isn't this a  pleasant trip?


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