Day 3: Raising the mainsail for Oklahoma

14-1112 Ruth and Carolyn


Wednesday brought a goodbye to Carolyn and St. Louis, a morning sky full of clouds, rapidly lowering temperatures, and 535 miles behind the wheel. Phewwwww doggies…

Things I have lost count of on this trip:

  1. The number of times I’ve listened to the 10 mix CDs I burned for this trip.
  2. The number of political statements I’ve seen spray-painted on buildings along 44W. (“Obama Lies. Period.” “Rand Paul 2012.” etc.)
  3. The number of Sonics and Huddle Houses I’ve passed.
  4. The number of times I’ve role-played interviews with myself for movies I’ve just released, my experiences with cross-country drives, and jobs I don’t even actually want.

Did you know there’s an Infant Jesus of Prague National Shrine in Oklahoma? Because there is. I couldn’t afford to burn daylight if I was going to make it to the Oklahoma City area by nightfall so I wasn’t able to stop in, but if you’re ever passing through Oklahoma, have a look around for me will you? I’m curious what the blond Messiah is up to in Prague.

For all you 44W drivers out there – you know the Walnut Bowl exit in Lebanon, MO? I stopped at the Waffle House there for lunch. Ordered a cup of coffee to go with my chicken melt. Slowly but surely I’m turning into my brother.

There was a guy at the counter there – young guy, military, yuckin’ it up with the older fellas on either side of him – who was a solid 18 ounces of bashful pride in a one pound bag. Kept answering the other guys’ questions about his online girlfriend, and how she’s 21, and how cute she is, and “of course I’ve seen a picture of her!” and “yes I’m sure she’s real!” and how they just watched a movie together over the internet the other night. When the other guys finally came around, it was just about the cutest thing you ever saw. They set to patting Young Military Boyfriend on the back, cheering him on, telling him how nice it was that he found someone he liked so much.

Their conversation shifted to music, with YMB saying he wished more radio stations were like WKRP and how it’s his favorite station to listen to. The waitress caught my eye and we shared a chuckle, waiting to hear where this was headed.

Turns out YMB does know it was a show, and that one of the radio DJs he listens to is honestly named Les Nessman, and that they refer to that station – locally – as WKRP. So there you go. We all got a pretty good laugh out of it. I hope it’s all true. He sounded pretty convinced, so I’m willing to go with it.

Oklahoma. Ta-da...

Oklahoma. Ta-da…

I wasn’t prepared for the Oklahoma landscape I hit shortly after lunch. I’ve driven that route before, but I’d forgotten just how many trees there are along that corridor. I talked with my mom on the phone for a bit while I was driving through, and I wanted to share with her how beautiful the colors were, but — I mean you can say you’ve seen fall colors and changing leaves, but Fall isn’t a “you’ve seen it in one state, you’ve seen it everywhere” sort of deal. Oklahoma in fall is not like Wisconsin in fall. There’s more sage in the greens here, more pumpkin in the yellows, more blood in the reds. Everything is rust-tipped and comes pre-filtered for Instagram.

Unfortunately the best I could do was hold up my camera and blindly hit the button while hoping for the best. I wish I could share something better, something more. But I suppose it doesn’t really matter. You have to be there to really see it. So here, enjoy this picture of my passenger side door, and part of a bridge, and a narrow view of a river I don’t know the name of.

I was able to reach my goal of getting just past Oklahoma City before stopping for the night, and bedded down in El Reno, OK at a Super 8 motel two electives short of an honorary Master of Divinity. I’ll leave you with their welcome letter from my in-room guest binder:

Super 8 letter

So say we all.



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