An adventure with my sister covering 3 weeks and around 8,000 miles in the western United States.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Day 3; Sallisaw OK to Weatherford OK
5/24/11 Wow, what a day! It was a day of huge adventures; some good, some bad, and some pure luck.
The day started with blue skies and white, puffy clouds. With the storms the night before, the skies were a welcome sight. Because we were up late watching TV looking out for tornadoes, we slept a little later than usual.
After leaving the hotel, we rode to Sequioa's Cabin, just north and east of Sallisaw. The visit was good, we spent some time talking to the guy in charge of the exhibits; he was very knowledgeable and nice, taking time to explain how the Cherokee alphabet worked. Sequoia was the indian that developed the Cherokee alphabet and his final living place was there. The location was beautiful, with a stone wall built by the WPA encircling the property. Very nice visit.
As we were leaving town, we stopped at a local diner for breakfast. We had tried to eat there at dinner the day before, but they were not open. Breakfast was very good; we did a buffet and filled our gullets.
After breakfast, we started on the road to Oklahoma City, some 150 or so miles to the west. Traffic was light, and we moved along very well.
Coming into town on the Interstate, I was driving in the "slow" lane, about a mile from our exit, when a white car that I had not noticed at all went flying by on the lane to the left. Just as it went by, it cut hard to the right and slammed on brakes as it was shooting for an exit that was almost past. I hit the brakes as hard as I could and swerved left, trying to miss it as it was going to the right. It happened in a blink! I thought we touched--it sounded like it, and it felt like the car shifted just a tiny bit, but I could not see any marks on it's rear bumper as it went on to the exit ramp. It was the closest call I've had in a car in years.
From there, we drove on to the Oklahoma Cit y Bombing Memorial downtown. Parking was very easy, and when we got out of the car, I checked the front bumper to see if it was damaged. I wasn't sure if we had touched, but I thought we did. Looking very closely, there was one spot on the bumper, and one very small dent in a front plate! We had touched. Had the difference in speed been just a little different, it would have been much like the NASCAR races, where they tap the rear corner of the car in front of them to spin them. We would have spun the white car, and there would have been a nasty wreck. But God was with us, and we were fine.
I had been to the memorial earlier, but evenso, it was still a very moving experience. There's a chain link fence near the entrance, and people have left mementos on the fence. Seeing the stuffed toys was the most difficult; why did he have to kill young, innocent children. The sadness is almost overwhelming. Bar was moved just as I was.
We left the memorial and drove to Brick Town, an area of the city where there are lots of restaurants and bars in a pretty setting. Sis wanted to go to Toby Keith's I Love This Bar. So, we found it, parked, and walked to the bar for a drink. I had a beer and it was very good. While there, I got a phone call from a guy who is selling my old bike, letting me know it was sold. GREAT! The atmosphere in the bar was nice, and we had a good stop there.
As we finished our drinks, we noted that the weather outside was worsening, so we left to walk to the car. We got in the car and had a very hard time negotiating to the Interstate. It took about 45 minutes to go about 5 miles. The streets were packed.
We were watching the skies, darkening by the moment, while gusting winds were pushing trees around. But we got on the Interstate and we moved west in traffic that was much like RTP traffic at rush hour. But in a while, traffic was getting lighter. We needed gas, so about 10 miles from the center of town, we pulled off the Interstate to buy gas. As I was pumping the gas, it started raining and the wind was really howling. The skies were black!
After the gas was pumped, I went inside to use the bathroom and to see what the clerk was saying about the weather. We learned that there was a tornado to the east of us, near downtown, and there was one to the west of us. I was trying to decide whether to stay at the gas station or to get into the car and drive west. I knew that tornadoes always move towards the northeast. There was a young woman in the store as well, and she asked where we were going. I told her we were headed towards Amirillo, and she said she was as well. She lived in the area, and said that she was leaving now, that there was time to stay between the two storms. So, I decided to do the same.
We took off, headed west on I-40. About 5 minutes later, the news announced a tornado right in the same area as the gas station! We were lucky to be gone.
About 15 miles to the west, traffic stopped. As it crawled forward, we began seeing the effects of the storm that had hit there about 10 minutes earlier. We saw two tractor-trailers blown over on their sides. There was debris all over the place, and trees down. A number of rescue vehicles were on the shoulder of the road, with rescuers running across the fields to get to buildings that were flattened. We spotted what we believed to be a car in the middle of the field. It was rolled into a ball about the size of a ATV. WILD!!
We learned that there were two deaths in the area near the gas station. A toddler is still missing in the same area. The tornado outbreak was very similar to the one that hit in North Carolina about 5 weeks ago, but in this case there were only 3 lines of storms vs 8 lines of storms at home. And like North Carolina, I was between two lines of storms. God looked after us again today.
We drove just a little while longer and decided it was time to stop for the day. We found a hotel in Weatherford, OK, and got the last room there. Maybe our third touch of good fortune! Checked into the hotel, watched some TV coverage of the storms, and went to dinner.
Dinner was at Lucielle's Roadhouse, a place where Gary and I had stopped when we came through the area on our bikes. The food and service was very good.
Back to the hotel to do this blog. It was a day of many blessings for Big Sis and me. We're fine, even though there were two incidents that could have been very bad.
***Note. I cannot post pics tonight (5/24) due to some unknown technical issue. I'll try tomorrow night. Sorry...
Tomorrow will be a day of many miles heading toward Carlsbad Caverns National Park.