Go West Young...

Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
Trip End Oct 05, 2010

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Where I stayed
Warrior's House

Flag of United States  , Oklahoma
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Go West, Young… Westward Ho'
I pulled out of Memphis around 8:00 AM, 56 degrees and ready to roll. A little bit of rain, with a forecast of possible showers.  It started to rain a bit, so I wisely put on my $250.00 Harley-Davidson rain suit.  I love their apparel, made in Taiwan. Moving west for whatever lies ahead.  Somewhere in Arkansas, Bonnie and I pulled into my favorite road eating place, Waffle House, found at every exit. 

Its lunch and tank fill up time.  The wait staff was friendly and a regular customer was sitting near me.  This older woman was preparing a small plate.  A waitress asked where Timmy was.  The woman said he’s in the car and is not eating much these days.  She took to small plate out to the SUV and placed it on the floor.  Timmy was a dog?

She returned and we exchanged pleasantries.  She asked which way I was going.  I pointed west.  She said, "Oh, you’re heading to it."  To it?  It? What it?  The tropical storm called Hermine that was down south coming up here to Arkansas.  She said, “We always get the wind and the rain.”  I am riding to a storm.  What happened to the possibility of rain?  I guess there really is a possibility of rain when a tropical storm is blowing around.

Bonnie and got in the wind.  It’s OK; I have my rain suit on early and will remain dry when it comes.   As we went further west the skies darkened and the rain came.  I have ridden through rain storms before, but never the advanced rain from a tropical storm on the open plains.  As we managed to keep a good pace it got so dark and with such a downpour, I felt it best to put the four-way flashers on.  Conspicuity is a great word to a motorcyclist.  We need to be conspicuous.  Often the words said by the driver that ran over a motorcyclist include, “I just didn’t see him!”

A car carrying a sheet of plywood went on by me with flashers on.  30 minutes later that same car was spun out on the embankment. As if the zero visibility rain was not enough, the motorcycle gods felt a need to challenge me further.  Let’s see how they handle cross-winds.  I saw a sign that said “Motorcycles be Cautious.”  I have never seen a need to post a permanent sign before.  Why would they do that?  A few minutes later, it became apparent.  The road was slippery, the cross wind severe.  Whoa, this is fun.  Keeping her straight and bracing for an unexpected gust of wind.

This went on for a couple of hundred miles.  After what felt like a nerve testing eternity, I begin to see light.  The wind was even dying down.  Reprise?  The tank wanted fuel, I wanted relief.  I pulled into a gas station that advertised Indian cigars and dismounted feeling that we had survived.  I walked into the store and looked at the TV screen simultaneously broadcasting the sports.  The radar indicated I had come through a tropical storm remnant.  Remnant?  The screen displayed what I already knew; I had passed through a mess.  What lie ahead for my remaining 90 miles to Oklahoma City was clear.  It looked Florida clear to me, considering what I just rode through.

Empty Chairs During my preparation for this pilgrimage I focused on me, the bike and the route.  I most selfishly forgot what was along my journey in Oklahoma City.  As an emergency service professional for thirty years, I have studied the Oklahoma City bombing.  What would we do in Atlanta should that occur.

Fellow Buffalo Soldier Club member, Winfred “Warrior” Coffee took me of the site.  He drove me there at night as a surprise.  I was expecting a night of entertainment as Warrior is known for.  He remembers, he had friends there, he felt the explosion on April 19, 1995. 

The Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum is most beautiful at night.  There is a pool of reflection.  I did just that, reflect.  I was lost in my own selfish preparations and Warrior knew to remind me.  As an American and an emergency service professional, this night pricked my heart to the loss of children, office workers, and other innocent people.  The empty chairs, lit from within, represented each of the 168 souls lost.  There are small empty chairs for each of the 19 innocent children gone forever.

Gates of Time The Gates of Time are stamped with the time of loss.  Two buildings were directly devastated.  One building fell at 9:02 the other 9:03 AM.  They are guarding the Pool of Reflection, which is less than one inch deep.  There is also an area in memoriam of where the Murrah Building’s day care center children played and died.

Let’s not forget the senseless domestic terrorism that came from within our own country.  This act changed thousands of lives forever.   This act changed the way I managed bomb scenes, long term incident management, and the emotional recovery of emergency workers.
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Ms San on

"Oklahoma City Reflections"...that's tight!

Soft... on

Glad you are safe!!!

PrettyBlack on

Wow, James! This is so touching!

Wanda on

Never really thought about this. I mean I followed the bombing and news cast for weeks, but then didn't hear much about what they did to pay tribute to the people that died. This makes is "real".....thanks for sharing this..

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