This past week Kay and I took an extended trip (2827 miles), partially in respect for the Labor Day Concert at the National Cathedral that didn’t happen and for a continued birthday present for her. All in all, I would say I had a great time; saw many wonderful sights and some of the country I had never been in before. We even discovered, quite by chance, the BB King Museum, learning how he started playing the blues and about his life as an International
Music Ambassador. We found Kermit the Frog’s birth place in Leland, Mississippi, and had our picture taken with the ‘old boy’. Learned that “Kermit” was named after a close boyhood friend.
Crossed into Alabama and the great fields of cotton where it was difficult to see the other edge of the field. Crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas and spent the night in Hot Springs in the Historic Section of town. The next day we bought a few pieces from the Dryden Pottery factory (opened in1946) and spoke to the present owner and
his son bough a few pieces.
Moving forward, we spent some time in my home town of Mena, Ark., and saw found my family’s church; my grandmothers house and the empty lot where my uncle’s house once was next to my grandmothers.We visited the main park and sat by the old spring that used to quench travelers thirst. All changed, all different. We learned that the Old ruins of the Queen Wilhelmina Hotel has been rebuilt and sits on top of the Ozark Mountain with a grand view of the valley.
Instead of backtracking down to Mena, we forged ahead through the “Winding Stairs” mountains and park, 38 miles riding atop the ridge peering through a blue haze into the hills of Oklahoma.
Discovered the re-Acquired Creek Council House Museum and their history, which is a story in itself. Speaking of the treatment of the American Indian Nations and their peoples.
Found ourselves on a original strip of “Route 66” and wandered around “The Blue Whale” National Landmark. It was at the Cherokee Welcome Center that we learned about the Pow Wow and how Labor Day is also celebrated as their National Holiday, by holding the Pow Wow at their spiritual grounds in Tahlequah, OK.
We left a little early after visiting their quilt show, ruins of their female Seminary School and exhibits of the “trail of tears”. As an observer of their singing and dancing I was moved in some spiritual way. Leaving all to soon to race over to Enid, Ok., to spend the night at Vance AFB as we had made reservations. We saw quite a few Historical Markers on our journey across the USA and back, but the one we did stop for, was the marker for the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889 of the “Cherokee Strip”, starting at 12 noon and by nightfall over 2,000,000 acre tract had been staked and settled.
Well, now it is Sunday and the last day of the Octoberfest in Choctaw, just east of Oklahoma City. We had discovered the two weekend beer fest after the DC Concert as canceled and it was our main reason for the trip. The beer was great, the German Bands were wonderful and I got to play bell with the other kids. Kay knows her way around the web and can find some good hotel room prices; staying at military lodging is a great bargain if you can. As we leftOklahoma City we found ourselves at the Oklahoma City National Memorial Reflecting Pond and grounds. Quite a powerful place for feelings as the timing of our visit was approaching the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
We saw the tomb and museum for Will Rogers in Oklahoma and learned how he was captivated the American People as was an Ambassador in his own right. But the most frightening scene was as we crossed I 20 into Kilgore, Texas we could see the smoke of the huge fires that are burning across the plains of Texas, destroying crops, homes, livestock. The land is burning up by fires and the two year drought; the animals can’t find enough water to drink or grass to eat. They all lie together in whatever shade they can find.
One thing I learned is that you really can’t go back home; for one thing, your home might not be there. Places and people change. Most of the older folks die and others have moved on, just as you have. Just as I have taken the road ‘less traveled’ and thought I needed to burn my bridges, I know that going back to the place where the two road diverged, one finds two new and very different road. Memories long forgotten are awakened by just looking for them.
We are glad to be home to sleep in our own beds tonight.