Oklahoma is a lot greener than we thought

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End Oct 07, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Friday, September 21, 2012

So we are just over the border into Joplin, MO. For those who don't know, Mike's dad spent a good part of his childhood in Neosho which is about 20 miles away. We haven't seen much of Missouri yet, there'll be more of that tomorrow.

However, we did drive through a large swath of Oklahoma. It is a very green state from what we can tell. In fact, almost immediately upon crossing the border from Texas into OK, the grass was green. There are also trees! Yay. The soil is very red there too which I think some of our pictures show. 

We didn't spend much time in Oklahoma City. We missed out on several things, but the one that I was most regretful of was the new Cowboy Museum (Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum) which is supposed to be excellent. We are learning to accept that we are seeing a ton of things, but that some things might have to be sacrificed. We did make a quick stop at the Oklahoma City bombing memorial. It was a very nice memorial, very much in the standard of modern public spaces that I have been to like the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach and others. As the pictures show, they went with a fairly abstract look which I think is nice. I didn't see a single mention of Timothy McVeigh or any information about what might have motivated him which I thought was a shame. I sorta get that victims of such events don't like to give "credit" to the criminal, but at the same time, it seems like for the rest of us, knowing about the source of the event is more important than avoiding his mention. Anyway, my personal feelings aside, it was a very nice memorial, very well done.

We drove to this town in northeast Oklahoma called Talequah which is where the "Trail of Tears" ended for several Native American tribes who were displaced from their land in the early- to mid-nineteenth century. Talequah is the capital of Cherokee Nation. It is a very large reservation with many nontraditional houses and a number of stores. Our visit was to a recreation of their original village settlements which were located in an area encompassing parts of Kentucky, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia. It wasn't the best tour ever, but it was fairly informative. They were a farming culture in the 18th century and were not nomadic

Their removal from these lands was pretty horrific. They had partially assimilated into American culture by the early 19th century, but they were treated essentially like cattle. Even though the US Government was officially somewhat sympathetic to their plight, the soldiers who herded them out did not allow them to take many, if any, of their possessions and the remainder were pillaged by new settlers. They managed to create a new life in Talequah and the entire downtown is comprised of buildings that are the first in Oklahoma, including a college (now a state school) which they founded.  See here for more: 

Anyway, in summary, I would say that Oklahoma exceeded our expectations. The drivers are good; their speed limits are high (75 in places) and the landscape was very pretty throughout. It reminded me of New England at times (although not as many trees). 

Mike wants me to recount the fact that a few days ago he tried to get us killed. Not really, but, according to Mike, it makes a better story that way. So, Mike wanted us to see the Rio Grande Gorge (the pictures of which you may have noticed in my previous entry). There also happened to be a road leading from Sante Fe to Taos which would allow us to see the river and the bridge spanning the Gorge. The road started off fine: we were driving alongside the Rio Grande, it was a slow winding road. We also ran into a fly fisherman in the river which I found especially romantic. However, then, we suddenly hit this giant hill which is unpaved as well. I literally got stuck going up hill with my Corolla which has the giant cargo box and is loaded down with lots of other crap in the trunk and in the backseat. I was spinning out in the pebbles as I attempted to go uphill. I start freaking out and rolling backward intentionally to try to gain some traction. The problem was really the weight, I think. Also, because we were on a hill, it was very hard for me to be in first gear and try to get a nice even start in the pebbles. So, we ended up turning around. I was actually worried that I would get stuck trying to do that, but it was fine. Of course, with all of the stuff, I only realized someone was waiting to go downhill when I was about 1/2 way through my twenty-point turn. Sigh. Anyhow, everything was fine. I, of course, lost my temper at the time, but we didn't have to call AAA or ask one of the truckers to haul us out of a ditch so I consider it a wash. I have attached a screenshot of the road from Google Maps. I don't think you get the full effect, but pretty close. Oh yes, so how did we end up getting pictures of the Gorge if I never made it up the hill? We went with Matt and Laura from Taos. It was a nice drive the other way and the views were pretty amazing. 
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