In lieu of mountains and dirt I spent last week on the great plains helping out my friend Carrie and her family in Oklahoma City. And they aren’t kidding when they call the mid-west the plains….the only slopes are the on and off ramps to the highways. It’s very sad to know there are kids in America who do not grow up sledding for lack of elevation changes.
Getting to OK City proved to be much more difficult that expected. But flying through DIA, we should have known that we were in for a few schedule changes. We arrived at the GJ airport around 7am and boarded the plane like usual. Then the pilot informed us that, due to fog in Denver, we weren’t allowed to take off (it only takes about 40 minutes from GJ to Denver). We unloaded and waited around in the airport for another 2 hours talking about how we could have slept in another hour.
Finally we took off for Denver but the delay caused us to miss our connecting flight. The gate lady was great though and immediately put us on standby for the next flight and then confirmed us for the flight after that. So we were scheduled to leave DIA no later than 3:30pm. It was 11am so we walked laps and did an enormous amount of people watching.
We headed to the gate for the standby flight and they gave us boarding passes right away which, to me, implies that we were allowed to BOARD the plane. But as we were literally walking out to the plane, someone important looking with a name badge called out “Passenger Allen?”. I must admit, part of me thought about ignoring it and being someone like “Passenger Gratowski” that day. But I stopped and she told me that someone had shown up and they were taking away my ticket. United Airlines giveth and United Airlines taketh away. Back to the terminal.
Now we had another couple hours to kill before our confirmed flight. Well…we thought it would only be a couple hours. Turns out United has been playing musical chairs with the gates. We went back to the gate we had previously been and waited. After awhile we wondered why our flight was not boarding. Carrie checked the ticket and we were at the wrong gate. OOPS! So we ran to gate 85 only to find it empty. I cannot the describe the size of the OH CRAP feeling I had at that moment. We checked the boards (which we should have done in the first place) and found our flight was leaving from gate 54. The sprint began again. We arrived at the gate door looking like a scene out of those movies where the guy/girl is chasing down someone they just realized they are in love with- out of breath, bags falling of our shoulders, desperate look in our eyes. The lady gave us a stern look and said, “you guys missed your flight.” Again in Hollywood fashion, I dropped to my knees and screamed NOOOOOOOO!
Feeling like morons and completely defeated, we accepted a standby ticket for the next flight at 8pm and then immediately tracked down a margarita. After 9 hours in DIA, we finally made it to OK City.
The first few days were spent getting down to business and unpacking the Barber’s new home. But after the hard work was done, we took off to check out the downtown area. They have this cool section of town called Bricktown which is a little like LoDo in Denver. There’s a small riverwalk which is pretty cool but all we found were restaurants, no shopping.
This ballpark was really cool though. Dedicated to Mickey Mantle, whom Carrie felt it appropriate to assault.
The anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing was just a few days previous, so we went to check out the memorial. I was home sick from school (7th grade) when it happened. And I remember The Price is Right was interrupted by the news story of the bombing. The memorial and museum are incredibly moving. They did a great job respecting those affected.
The reflection pool and one of the “gates.”
Part of the original building
There is a “gate” at each end of the reflection pool. One displays 9:01 and the other 9:03. The bombing took place at 9:02.
The field of chairs, one for each person killed in the bombing. There were 19 children killed and are remembered with smaller chairs. Extremely sad.
If you are ever in OK City I highly recommend checking out the memorial. Go to the museum first, then wander the grounds. The museum is located in a building right next to the memorial grounds and it still shows some of the effects of the bombing- missing bricks, cracks, etc.
The week (and my entire vacation) went by way too fast. But I suppose that’s always the case.
Things I learned from the Sooner trip:
It is impossible to tell directions without mountains and other landmarks.
You should never trust an airline to disseminate correct information. Err on the side of obsessive/compulsive caution.
That mexican place on the riverwalk in OK City is NOT good…no matter how many people tell you it is.