Update: Perspective on Route 66
We owe everyone an update. There is a lot of our trip, that has already happened, that I promise to share in more detail. Some great pictures and stories will be coming, just out of order. Obviously, the setbacks with the car have been tough. It has created massive delays, on a trip that was already pressed for time. But one thing we are both learning is, Perspective on Route 66!
An update on Mark. The heat, or more accurately, the humidity, along with the stress of the multiple visits to garages has been hard on him. Both emotionally and financially. We set out to raise money for the MS CENTER, and this trip has ended costing him much more than we were able to raise. He is doing his best to push through each day, but there is no doubt this has been discouraging. The delays mean, there is no way we can reach California. He wants so badly to have this experience. Not just for himself, but for the people, at the MS CENTER and for everyone who donated to our cause. Once we know more about the car, we will come up with a new final destination. We have several ideas, so stay tuned!
Stranded in Edmond, OK
As it stands now, we have been in Edmond, OK, since Saturday. We hope to get out sometime tomorrow. We have been staying the Sleep Inn. Fortunately, there are enough restaurants around to keep us fat. Aside, from coming up with our next steps, I have tried to get out and walk off a fraction of the food that I have eaten; I must admit, unsuccessfully.
Oklahoma City Memorial
Yesterday, I took UBER down to the Oklahoma City Memorial. So powerful. I am in awe of how well the city put together a tribute, timeline and complete story around such a tragedy. The memorial has been created with such respect and reverence, while at the same time, it stays compelling and engaging. I definitely ran out of tears on the tour. Not since my visit to Dachau, outside Munich have I been so emotionally overwhelmed by a memorial.
They grab you right up front with a recreation experience. You sit in a room. Across from a conference table, several chairs and an old-style tape-recorder. You sit and listen to an actual recording of a water rights dispute hearing. The recording, is the only recording leading up to and capturing the bomb exploding. It was taken across the street from the Federal building. When the bomb explodes the room flashes and a wall is lit, to reveal the 168 souls that were lost that day. So many of them babies in the buildings daycare.
In the next room, they unleash the confusion and terror. Room after room drags you through the hours and days after the bombing in real time, before you are brought on a wild ride of how the killers were caught; they even have the car Timothy McVeigh was pulled over in, complete with the missing license plate, that was his downfall. Finally, you are led to the courthouse in Denver where justice was handed down to the killers.
When it is all over you are released to the outside where lighted chairs, one for each victim, line a beautiful reflecting pond, the entire area is known as the Gates of Time, where to gates, one marked as 9:01 and the other as 9:03 flank the pond.
The gates frame the moment of destruction that took place at 9:02 a.m. The 9:01 gate is a symbolic reference that represents the last moment of innocence for our nation in reference to domestic terrorism and of those affected by the bombing. The 9:03 gate is a symbolic reference that represents the first moment into the aftermath and hope for the future. 9:02 is the moment where those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever are represented. ~ Oklahoma Memorial FAQ’s
I left in a daze. Emotionally spent, hot and sweaty and in need of some nourishment. I chose to walk to an area known as Bricktown, home of Oklahoma’s first warehouse and distribution area, about a mile away, just past the Old Santa Fe Railroad stations. Beautiful brick buildings, murals and street art are everywhere. I could spend days exploring the history here. Today, I was interested in checking out Henry Hudson’s Public House, for libations and a snack. Next door, was the Oklahoma Banjo Museum, unfortunately, the museum was closing and it was also closed on Monday. It looks amazing, and in the future, I know, I will be driving back to Oklahoma City to check it out.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
― Charles Dickens
After a few minutes in Hudson, a guy joined me at the bar. He was entertaining. Joking with the bartender and asking me a bunch of questions. He proceeded to tell me how he has houses all over the world and about his divorce. I couldn’t tell, exactly what was happening. He repeated himself a lot, and I thought perhaps he had already had a few stops in local establishments, prior to coming into Hudson’s.
After about 20 minutes, he apologized to me for his behaviors, slurring and repeating himself and being so personal. Then he proceeded to break down. I thought he was kidding. After all, he had made so many jokes up until this point, I thought his more of his shtick. But then I saw the tears pass from under his hands that were covering his eyes. He looked at me, and choked out the words, “I Have Multiple Sclerosis.” He could have knocked me over with a feather. He had no idea, who I was, or why I was sitting a bar in Oklahoma City, stranded on an MS Charity Event Drive. When I asked, he told me he had been diagnosed 3-years earlier. Approximately, one year before Mark.
Joe meets Joe
I still didn’t know if he was looking for a free meal, or drink, or something else. Was I being setup. I tried to get, Chris, the bartenders attention, to find out if I was just the latest rube to fall for a local’s story, but, he assured me he had never seen the guy before. The stranger’s stories of travel had such accurate detail, I had a hard time disbelieving his stories of great wealth.
He pulled himself together, as his appetizer arrived. Then, he reached into his pocket, and showed me a business card for his hotel. He said, his dad always told him, “Joe, always carry a card from your hotel, that way you can just hand to any cab driver, wherever you are in the world and they will get you back there safely.” Then, he turned his arm over to show me where he wrote his room number down, so he wouldn’t forget it. He was staying at a nice hotel. One more notch in his stories truth.
Somewhere an Angel Gets their Wings!
After a few bites of his appetizer, he said he had to go. He was getting tired and had to lie down. He couldn’t eat. His wife was divorcing him. All the money and success he had wasn’t going to change his situation. You could tell he was trying to make the best of a bad situation, but he was so sad. As he left, he said, it didn’t matter what I told him, because I didn’t even know his name. He had forgotten that he mentioned it, in the story about his dad. I introduced myself, and said, “nice to meet you Joe, I’m Joe too.”
I gave him a casual heads up, regarding some stray cheese under his lip. He went to shake my hand, but saw that it was covered in more cheese, so he bumped my fist with his other hand, wiped off the cheese, left a generous tip, and walked out the door. I told my wife it reminded me of George Bailey, From A Wonderful Life, hanging out with Clarence in “Martini’s Bar” as Nick slung hard drinks for men who wanted to get drunk fast! I didn’t hear any bells, but I am sure wings were being given out somewhere.
Once again, I am out here, on the road, surrounded by perspective. The towns we travel through, Mark’s MS, the people at the center back in Colorado, the Memorial, this stranger, etc. I am not sure why we were summoned to get stranded in Edmond, OK. On my travels, when these things happen, I like to believe there was something up the road I was meant to avoid, at least temporarily. This time, however, I think, I was meant to go experience the Memorial, and to meet Joe/Clarence.
I believe, we are all constantly surrounded by learning opportunities, but it is easy to get caught up in our own minutia, and miss it. We forget to be grateful; this goes for the healthiest amongst us, to those with the greatest maladies. Sometimes those who are most put upon, have the greatest perspective of all. I try to be grateful for each day.
I try to slow down enough to be grateful. Often, I suck at it. But, occasionally, I get a glimpse into how good living in the moment can feel. When I kick fear to the curb, and have the courage to follow my heart, things tend to work out. The only thing that could cap off this crazy trip to Edmonton, is finding a copy of Tom Sawyer in my suitcase when I wake up!
More to follow . . .