Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

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Oklahoma City Looks Mighty Pretty...

"Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty... "  Or so the line goes from Bobby Troup's song.  I have to say I wasn't all that impressed at it's "beauty" Thursday night and Friday morning -- it looks like a pretty non-descript average city with bumpy freeways, ugly 1960s buildings, and rows of strip malls.  I was staying in a typical off-freeway ramp Holiday Inn Express.  The 90 degree heat and humidity were getting to me as well.  It was a city I didn't feel all that keen on staying and looking around.  I caught up on laundry, washed the bike so it wasn't so awful to sit on and ride.  I find it funny how folks will come up and say "beautiful bike" to me all the time, even when it's bug encrusted and dusty!  Yeah she is, but she's even prettier after being washed up.  Resting Friday was nice -- but I was looking forward to leaving. 
For lunch I ran over to a little local 66 landmark -- the "Charcoal Oven".  It boasts of "the finest charbroiled hamburgers...cheezin' & pleasin' since 1958, Route 66, Oklahoma City" or so it says on the bag, complete with a logo that matches the sign and was created in 1958.  And while it may appear that all I do is eat on road trips -- and eat hamburgers to boot -- I didn't this time.  I had a chicken sandwich that was very tasty, despite what the sign bragged about.  It was a bit tricky to do -- you order from the central building above, they hand it to you in a sack, and you drive away or go park under the red and white awnings.  The whole thing is outlined in glowing red neon, contrasted with the white paint and golf-course manicured lawn.  I sat in the white picnic tables with the umbrellas.  However I had to order from the bike - then go park and walk up to get the food.  One cannot carry a sack and drink on one's lap on one's Harley and expect to not crash.

I was getting pretty bored in my hotel room, so I thought I'd go look around.  Fortunately the Harley dealer in town was closing in five minutes or I'd probably have gone there and gotten yet another shirt.  Instead I thought I'd mosey downtown and see the Oklahoma City National Memorial, that sits at the site of the old Murrah Federal Building that was destroyed by the bomb in 1995.  It cooled off to the 80s, and Oklahoma is a "no helmet" state so it was nice to ride in a t-shirt and feel the wind.  It took some winding around downtown to find it, but I have to say I was stunned.    Words simply cannot do it justice.  Like the Holocaust memorial, the Vietnam memorial and others, I got teary eyed.  The designers created a masterpiece that both moves one to pause and reflect, and makes emotions rise to the surface.  The memorial is on the footprint of the building -- parts of it made from reclaimed materials.  It has one chair for the 167 people who died at 9:02am.  The gate has 9:01 to reflect the moment before everything changed on one side of the reflecting pool.  Like I said, word's don't do it justice -- and I'm speechless.  I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.  The words above the gate entrance say:  "We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived, and those changed forever.  May all who leave here know the impact of violence.  May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."
I watched the sun go down and the lights come up around the memorial -- under each chair and illuminating the time on the arch.  It was all very moving and everyone there was quiet and reverent.  It's an amazing place.  I can only hope the 9-11 memorial will be just as moving.

I wandered over to their older part of downtown -- it seems every city now is "rediscovering" it's old brick warehouses and making them a trendy new "district".  In Denver it's LoDo (Lower Downtown), in Vancouver it's Gastown. In Seattle it's Pioneer Square.  They all tend to be very similar in nature, and while I love the fact they do this, they can tend to run together with the same "chain" restaurants and shops.  OKC's is "Bricktown", and they did this right too.  It's got the AAA Baseball park, and a lot of nice non-chain restaurants.  I had dinner at Micky Mantle's Steakhouse and enjoyed the band.  However I'm anxious to get home.  It's getting lonely on the road -- I've been out 10 days now, with four more to go.  

I'm headed east now -- off up Route 66 on the last couple of segments, doing Bobby Troup's song in backwards order --  I saw San Bernadiino, Barstow, Kingman, and I didn't forget Winona.  I rode through Flagstaff, and Gallup New Mexico.  I saw Amarillo, and next up is Joplin, MO, then St. Louie, then Chicago.  And Oklahoma City is "mighty pretty".

(More pictures of the memorial on my FaceBook album: )

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