Spent an hour at the The Oklahoma City National Memorial. I had stopped there a few years ago and was very moved. It was no different this time. The memorial is at the site of the bombing, with fragments of walls of the Murrah Building still in place. I won't go into much description here, there is too much to write about.
East entrance to the Memorial.
On the interior west wall. On the interior east wall is the time 9:01,
a minute before the bomb went off. 9:03 is a minute after.
The chairs, one for each of the people who were killed.
Name etched in the glass base of each chair.
A remnant of original wall and a pine tree within the site.
There is so much more I could write about the experience of being there.
It is so hard for me to understand how someone could do something like this.
Yet, I think of how often tragedies like this are perpetrated on humanity. The
saddest aspect for me is the children who are killed by such violence.
On the fence outside.
This made me think of the chapter, "Rebellion" in Dosteyevsky's "Brothers Karamazov. A powerful chapter I first read when a teenager. Powerful.
The next photos are from one of the public spaces in Oklahoma City: The Myriad Public Gardens, right in downtown. OKC has a lot of public space, parks and gardens.
One downtown side street was blocked off and a chili cook-off was taking place as a benefit for United Way.
I left the city and headed south toward Austin, TX. Camped for the night at Chickasaw National Recreation Area in southern Oklahoma. Half price with my senior pass - $7.
Took a hike before sunset to Bromide Hill Overlook.
The trail up the hill.
Looking off to the southeast. Very wooded with
a little bit of autumnal color.
Prickly pear cactus,
Leavenworth's Eryngo or Pineapple Thistle.
Spent a little time in the park before heading on to Texas.
This is Little Niagara. A popular swimming hole fed by two springs at a steady 67 degree temperature. There has been drought conditions the last few years and the springs have pretty much dried up.
I left the park and continued on south on I-35. Just after entering Texas I crossed the Red River.
The Red River. Again, the dryness of the last few years.
Stopped for lunch in West, Texas. A sizable Czech population settled here in the 1890s. A good meal of kraut, sausage and Czech fries, grilled potatoes with onions.
As I ate lunch I thought about how West seemed familiar, then realized this is the town where the fertilizer plants explosion happened earlier this year and 15 people died.
Texas. I just kept moving on heading to Austin and a visit with Stefoni and her family. I've known Stef more than half of her life. We first met when she was a junior in high school and she attended my first ever poet-in-residence work with high school students. That was 20 years ago. She has been wanting me to visit her in Austin for years now and finally that's going to happen.
Two days in Austin and I haven't really explored the city. Have been mostly visiting with Stefoni and her family.
Momma Stefoni with almost six month old Hensley.
Did have a reading at Blue Awning Books
that was fairly well attended. Met some interesting people and have been given a number of contacts for future work here in Austin. I was told I could come up here for a week and read in a number of venues and that people would love what I do. I think I may return here in the near future.
I also recorded a radio interview with Francois Ponteau, who hosts a weekly program on WOTA called Writing on the Air. It's an hour-long program that will be broadcast at a future date. Francois was a wonderful host and the conversation flowed easily. I was surprised when he wrapped up the taping. I don't know that I have ever experienced a faster 50 minutes.
Even though I have not gotten out much to explore Austin, this has been a wonderful stay. It has been great to reconnect with Stefoni and to get to know her family: husband Brian and children, Kade, Isaiah and Hensley.
Once again, which has happened often on this journey, I'm reconnecting with an old friend. There have been so many wonderful experiences on this journey and a fair amount of those have been with this reconnecting. So often friends become removed because of time and space and the connection gets lost. This journey was based on poetry to start, but in many ways the focus has shifted to the personal relating. That may be overstating it a little, for the poetry is still the main focus, but the people aspect certainly has been a major part of the vitalness of this tour. And not just reacquainting with old friends, but also the new ones I've met along the road too. There are a few new friends I've made that I already have plans to see again.
There are a little less than three weeks to go on this journey, but still many miles to cover, places to see, people to meet. Unknown adventures still ahead on the road.