Hello from Albuquerque! I pulled into a Days Inn pretty late tonight, so I don't expect you to read this until tomorrow, but I wanted to show you what "we" did today! Enjoy the review!
I snapped this first picture so you could see how our day started as we left Wichita. It was raining lightly, and I was so glad it wasn't all the terrible weather that was happening just east of me! When I had The Weather Channel on as I was getting ready, I had to keep looking at the TV screen because I wasn't sure what counties in OK and TX I was going to be going through! Luckily the flooding, tornadoes and thunderstorms predicted for today weren't in areas that I was driving through.
South of Wichita, I was so excited to see GREEN! It really made it feel like spring, especially with the falling rain, the buds that were starting to bloom on the trees, and well... honestly... just the SMELL of spring in the air!
As I think I've mentioned, I've been blessed to be able to see 43 of the wonderful United States of America. That number of 43 has been the same number for many, many years. As I thought about it today, I couldn't actually remember the last time I went to a state that I haven't been to before. Since I grew up going on frequent family road trips, and then had 2-week-long band tours in high school, I was able to see many of our states during those times. I'm sure when I worked for Youth Ministries I got to a "new state", but I honestly can't remember the situation. So, knowing I would get to both Oklahoma and Texas today, both "new states" for me, I was pretty excited! I thought I'd share that excitement with you in a video. Granted, a little corny, but remember, it was an otherwise pretty uneventful drive!
Untitled from Kari Swanson on Vimeo.
I decided that the one thing I could take time for in Oklahoma was to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Wow! There are hardly words. I am SO glad I did this, even though it was hard to see. I can get choked up fairly easy (I like to call it being compassionate, not emotional...) and I didn't really prepare myself for what I was about to see. I also should have brought some Kleenex along and did not. The memorial is right on the site of the bombed building, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in downtown Oklahoma City.
I parked right on the street, across from this "gate" and then walked through and entered into the outside memorial.
Along the outside wall, there is still a chain link fence where people continue to leave things.
The reflecting pool, that has a gate at each end.
On one gate is 9:01 which represents when the world was still "normal".
The bombing happened at 9:02, so the other gate shows 9:03, when all the world was different.
The outdoor "Field of Chairs" which are individually dedicated to each person that died in the bombing, organized by where they were located in the building. Each chair has a name inscribed on it, and it was especially difficult to see the smaller-sized chairs that represented the children that died in the blast.
Amazingly, this tree survived the explosion, and is now called the Survivor's Tree. It's been around since the 1920's and though a little damaged during the bombing, with the right pruning it has flourished and has come to have a lot of significance for the people of Oklahoma City.
Looking out from the tree over the reflection pool and field of chairs.
A spray-painted sign on the building just next to the Murrah building, which now houses the indoor memorial and museum.
The Rescuers Area -trees planted in honor of all the people that immediately came to help.
The Children's Area, which was especially hard to see.
I also went around the indoor memorial area, without taking any pictures. It was really a good representation of what happened on April 19, 1995 and the days and months following the bombing. There was so much to see, that even though I spent longer than I planned (it's not something to do quick) I still wasn't able to read every word.
Back outside, there is this statue of Jesus with the memorial in the background, and at the base just two simple words, "Jesus Wept". Powerful.
If you are ever in Oklahoma City, I highly recommend going to the memorial, taking time for the inside as well as the outside. But, prepare your heart a little before you go, and put some tissues in your pocket. I think every American should see this at some point in their lives, as it was a great way to honor the people that died, and because it so clearly shows how in adversity, it really can be the best in people that comes out. The survivor and rescue stories were amazing.
After grabbing some lunch for the road, filling up the tank, and leaving Oklahoma City later than planned, I finally started heading west. The rest of Oklahoma was pretty flat and bare. The only excitement was seeing some more windmills, this time right along the road.
Since I took a video to show "us" crossing into Oklahoma, I thought one for Texas was appropriate as well!
Untitled from Kari Swanson on Vimeo.
Not too far into Texas, this huge cross was seen in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. I'd love to know what the specific story is about it, as it was so interesting.
I talked with my Aunt Barb for a while (it's her birthday today, Happy Birthday again!!), then finished driving all the way to Amarillo where I wanted to stop and pick up a spoon for my spoon collection. I know, some people might think that's a silly collection (who would think such a thing?), but I enjoy the fact that it can be a great way to get a souvenir from a location, and it won't take up much room. Except for the spoon rack on the wall, it's a relatively small way to show where you've been! While in Amarillo, I realized that I didn't have much to show that I had been in Texas, so I thought these Texas flags blowing in the wind would do nicely. It's also so my friend, Laura, can see a visual reminder of her home state!
As I got closer to New Mexico, the sky kept changing. As that was really the only thing going on, I snapped a few pictures. I love looking at cloud formations! It had been clear blue skies for a while, then I came up under this big dark cloud. It only rained a small amount though...
I love the contrast of the light and dark here.
I didn't take a video going into New Mexico since I've been here quite a few times in the past. In fact, I just remembered a night camping at a state park that was REALLY cold, and some people ended up finally sleeping in the car. I can't remember if I stuck it out in the tent or ended up in the car... Random memory...
Anyway, the only NM pictures are of the sunset I got to watch. It was pretty with the the clear sky seen behind the big fluffy clouds.
Overall, definitely a good day! It was fun to chat a bit on the phone (thanks for either calling me or being willing to chat when I called some of you!) and also listed to an audiobook. I started "Jane Eyre" yesterday, but with the bad rainstorms, I couldn't actually hear the words very well since the raindrops were so loud. Well, today was a pretty windy day all around, and again, I felt like I was missing stuff. So, I stopped Jane Eyre and went on to "The Greatest Generation". It's an excellent book! Tom Brokaw is the author, and also the reader. I've always enjoyed listening to him (he has such a deep, distinct voice) and his story-telling abilities are shining through in this book. It really is the Greatest Generation. It's a generation I've always admired (and secretly wished I had been a part of) and I bought the book for my dad when it came out. I wish I had known his dad, my Grandpa Swanson, who died the year before I was born (I was born on his birthday!). As a WWII veteran who served in France, he lived what this book is about. It's really a book to put on your list if you haven't read it already.
Well, that about sums up our day. I hope you enjoyed your trip! We'll leave Albuquerque in the morning, then have a shorter drive (only 480 miles, compared to today's 704) and arrive in Phoenix in time to see some fun people! I'm going to stay with my mom's cousin, Forrest and his wife Julie tomorrow night. Forrest is the pastor of the church I helped to start when I moved to Phoenix in 1999, and I'm excited to see them again! I'm sure I'll post fun updates of the changes/growth I see in the church since I moved away in 2001, but it's time for bed now!