Until I visited the Hubs’ home state of Oklahoma, the only things that came to mind when I thought about the state were tornados and flatness. After traveling to the midwestern territory… yeah, my thoughts haven’t changed a bit. This is regardless of Hubs disagreeing with my title, stating, “No, there’s also the cowboy hall of fame!” ………. My post title still stands. Anyway………. there aren’t even rolling hills there, just slight rises in the insanely straight roads. And cows. Lots and lots of cows. Cows that feed the obviously insatiable appetites of the residents. It’s quite the obese populous. If you couldn’t tell, Oklahoma certainly isn’t my favorite place to visit. Plus, this excursion solidified my hatred of American Airlines even further.
Dear American Airlines Pilots,
The fucking plane is not supposed to BOUNCE back up into the air upon landing. The wheels are supposed to STAY ON THE GROUND!!! Please refrain from failing to land the plane on the first attempt, rocketing the aircraft back into the air.
Sincerely – Whitney
But I digress… After landing part two, we grumbled passed the pilots lurking around the cockpit and departed the airport. Anyone that has traveled and required access to a vehicular device on their journey likely knows that the rental car industry is failing travelers right now. Rental cars are astronomically expensive compared to past years, and stupidly hard to come by. After researching our options on the Internets, I discovered the AirBnB of car sharing… Turo. Turo allows private people to loan their privately owned vehicles out to other private people. We’ll give it a shot. Thankfully, it turned out to be quite a success and far cheaper than the double cost of using your run of the mill rental agency. The chick we rented from left the car at long term parking the night before with the key in the center console. Brave. Beware of “delivery fees” if you request the owner deliver the car to the airport for you. Some were upwards of $60! No, this is not an affiliate post – I just want to share my wayfaring successes with other adventurers.
On to the main focus of this post… what is there to occupy one’s time in the Sooner State? The real answer is not much. However, a tragedy gave way to an informative, and interesting, museum. The Oklahoma City Bombing April 19th, 1995. The targeted building, Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, was basically demolished by the explosion. When you approach the park on the exterior of the museum, two black arches flank a reflecting pool. On one side the time 9:01 is prominently displayed, and the other time is 9:03. The significance behind these times is that they book end the time of the actual bombing…. 9:02. The pool is in the spot the road once traversed between two buildings. The park is very calming and tranquil. Grassy areas surround the reflecting pool, and a single tree that managed to survive the explosion is present in front of the office building turned museum. The scars are very visible on the trunk.
Entrance to the museum is $15 for adults – I gladly fork over my hard earned cash to support things like museums and national parks. And this particular exhibit is very well done. One wanders through room after room of photographs, evidence, and artifacts related to the bombing. It begins with the daily operations of the buildings – the agencies housed within the walls, the number of people commuting in to work that morning, and the most depressing revelation… a daycare was harbored within the structure for the many employees in the federal building.
At 09:02 an explosion ripped through the concrete structure. The northside of the building may as well have evaporated. The blast registered on the US Geological Survey Richter scale it was so monumental. The final death toll was 168 with almost 700 injured. The death toll started lower, but rose as rescue efforts commenced. 312 buildings suffered from shattered windows. Twenty-five additional buildings were seriously damaged. A quote from the displays in the museum…
“Any changes in routine – a meeting away from the office, a doctor’s appointment or traffic delay – determine whether a person lives or dies. Everyday occurrences, like a trip to the copy machine or rest room or a stop in the snack bar, impact the seriousness of a person’s injuries.”
The gallery is lined with TVs showing the actual footage from that fateful day, including actual news coverage, rescue efforts and the horrible aftermath. Relics from the building are on display throughout the museum – anything from blinds to shoes to office furniture to ancient computers to door and window trimmings. Notes written by survivors trapped beneath the rubble stating their location. It all gave a sad, but accurate depiction of the scene before first responders. Then the displays delve into what the first responders had to manage. Searching for survivors and the dead alike… grappling with the idea that there might be a secondary explosion… exhaustion… defeat… the mounting number of deceased.
The route the investigation took was prominent. Law enforcement’s steady collection of evidence, from the serial numbers on parts of the vehicle to the contents of the exploded van to a VIN of the vehicle that connects to a rented Ryder truck out of Miami, FL. Eventually, the vehicle was linked to the two terrorists… Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. A chance traffic stop nailed McVeigh… if only he was smart enough to not drive with a missing license plate. An Oklahoma state trooper observed a 1977 Mercury Grand Marquis traveling on the interstate without the necessary tag. He initiated a traffic stop, noticed a telltale bulge, and discovered McVeigh was concealing a 45 caliber handgun and a 6 inch knife. Getaway car recovered, though, it wasn’t known at the time of the stop what the occupant was getting away from.
“My gun is loaded.” – McVeigh
“So is mine.” – Trooper Hanger, as he placed his gun to McVeigh’s head
Being a cop myself, the traffic stop and investigation was enthralling to follow. The dangerous situations we are placed in daily are monumental. Many of which, we have no idea are actually perilous at the time. The displays then delve into the remainder of the investigation and the trails investigators followed. I was fascinated, being the investigative dork that I am. Then on to the trials that followed.
“It is truly ironic that the very government and the Constitution… you professed to hate is the very government that assured a fair trial and protected your rights.”– Judge StevenTaylor to Terry Nichols at his sentencing
The other purpose of this visit was to visit with Hubs’ family that still lives there. Actually, let me correct myself… that’s the only reason we ever go to Oklahoma. They’re a pretty decent bunch, so I suppose I’ll keep going.
Next on the list… Ecuador and the Galapagos in December.