O-klahoma!

Yesterday was a long day, with showers and wind interspersed with some beautiful scenery amidst what was mostly nondescript Oklahoma towns. 

One of the first we passed through, after a great night’s sleep at Walmart, was Afton, Oklahoma. The downtown’s buildings looked almost entirely gutted or long vacant or fire-damaged. It was really sad. We also noticed a few ads on junk cars dressed as police cars that read “Been Bad? Call Brad!”. Apparently it’s a bail bond service. Sad that that is such an in demand industry. On the other hand, there were lots of video stores in Oklahoma, including Family Video, which is hiring! So if you miss the days of Blockbuster, try Oklahoma!

This was our first time really seeing American Indian nations. Different tribes have their own license plates and it was neat to get a glimpse as we passed through. Of course there are many casinos but the Choctaw Casino is like a gorgeous city unto itself in the middle of nowhere! Anyone want to see Franki Valli and the Four Seasons there in a few weeks? 

The best part of the drive was driving over Lake Eufala. I knew NH mountains would be hills out here, but I didn’t realize our lakes are like ponds in comparison! This one goes on for many, many miles, and the combination of hills, foliage and lake was incredibly gorgeous, even on a cloudy day. 

Churches (and sometimes schools) were very different in Oklahoma. They often looked like strip malls! We haven’t seen any like that in the Midwest or the Northeast. I wonder if anyone has photographed the churches of the U.S.? And today Ross taught his first Skype lesson from the RV which was awesome. I found us a town with excellent cell signal (Verizon) and we parked at Loew’s, which had usable internet for emails from our vehicle without a booster!

Some of the hills we passed yesterday reminded me of Tennessee. Other things struck us as different though. Apparently “Bag of burgers” are a thing at multiple places here? Braum’s looks like a cute, quaint chain with their own cow’s dairy and ice cream. Oklahoma also had some weird highways where cars could enter and exit from cross streets (and occasionally you’d have to stop completely) which felt really unsafe. 

So far, Texas seems like suburbia in steroids. Everyone drives incredibly fast and the ramps aren’t built for slow drivers. So far we haven’t seen much if any sign of public transit either. Just strip mall after strip mall with too many cars. My friend told us a plus and minus out here – you aren’t a close drive to the ocean or mountains. BUT everything is open almost 24 hours, which is handy. 

Last night we socialized with our friends (I went to a screen acting class while Ross enjoyed drinks and conversation) and today I will be picking up a rental car and baking and preparing for tomorrow. I will be preparing almost all of the meal for 7 people (not the turkey and probably not one of the veggies) so I definitely have some work to do! Our insurance company has been giving me headaches so I hope it all goes smoothly today. 

Cross your fingers that my key lime pie is not only edible but vaguely reminiscent of my grandmother’s. It’s going to be fun!

The Best Rest Stop Ever?

Yesterday was a long day, but we powered through and we are hopefully within a day’s drive of our destination today. Moving forward we would like to limit the driving to more like 5-6 hours plus stops, but the car issue definitely set us back. On days where we sightsee, we want to drive even less. 

Although the internet was only useable during the evening when the Visitor’s Center was closed, the Lamoni, IA rest stop makes the most of its location in a way I haven’t seen before. Art permeates the building, with the Mormon Trail as a centerpiece. The gorgeous design includes lots of comfortable seating, and against the wall are booths with Internet and seats so that you can work with electricity (and heat!) in comfort. The rest rooms are really nice too.

Outside you’ll find a pet area, tons of picnic tables and some historical information in the area. An outdoor patio invites you to linger. Two additional walking trails are worth a look. One leads to an overlook of the river. It’s a nice walk, even if the foliage is a bit overgrown like it was when I was there. And the other leads to an absolutely incredible spot on the lake with a picnic table to enjoy the views. There are also walking trails (not handicapped accessible) that look like they go around the lake, but I wouldn’t explore that without an orange vest at this time of year.

I absolutely loved waking up to the sunrise here. What beautiful (and free!) views.

Other things we did yesterday:

Got gas in Kearney, MO (and resisted the excellent Krispy Kreme displays)

Crossed the Missouri River

Walked downtown of historic Independence, MO, home of Harry S. Truman and his library; full of beautiful homes and sidewalks and diverse residents (at least one that didn’t seem thrilled we were visiting!)

Drove through Kansas, including a few city areas that were crazily busy

The highways had “exits on exits” which weren’t our favorite

Drove the Frontier Military Historic Byway

Enjoyed the look of Fort Scott, KS (future trip?) which seemed fun and historic

Enjoyed this pretty state with lots of lakes and trees 

Visited Missouri for literally another minute before entering Ohio

Stayed warm although it got down to 25 degrees outside our RV (40 in)

We had hoped to stay at another rest stop last night, but they actually close it down after hours so we found a different free parking lot (Walmart) to crash in. Miami, OK is home to eight American Indian nations and it is kind of fun to be in Miami! We were also charged the car rate when we exited to pay a toll, $.75, so that was fun. 

Today we will head toward a friend who lives outside of Dallas for Thanksgiving. No grand sightseeing plans for today. We are ready to relax our pace after this. Thanks for reading!