Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Day Eleven - Tuesday, 1 July

The RV was to stay in Oklahoma City a few days, so the Road Book was put aside.

I was all packed up and ready; laundered my sheets and towels; filled Rita’s car with gas at the 7-11. I thought I would be joining Bill at the RV, but it turned out that he planned to come stay with me after all. Again, completely typical of how well we don't communicate.

For the day’s tours, the youngsters and the oldsters split up. Jane reckoned that Simon had had enough of being the ‘kid’ and being instructed by the grown-ups. I got picked up about 9 am and we drove through Nichols Hills to look at the houses (the link I found does OKC proud!). Chris had wanted to see the Overholser Mansion, which we found quite by accident – having seen Mesta Park and Heritage Hills as well by now. The Mansion was shut for some reason I didn’t quite catch. Maybe they were looking for more ghosts.

So we went to the main thing planned for that day, the Memorial Museum. This commemorates the bombing of the Federal Building in April 1995. Bill and I had been before and so were perhaps better prepared for the emotional impact this place makes. It begins by using pictures and a sound recording from a nearby official hearing to help visitors very nearly experience being near the actual explosion and the unfolding of events on the day. Then it carries through day by day describing the rescue, recovery and reconstruction phases from the point of view of family members, the news media, local community groups and the emergency response workers. I'm always pleased to read about how Oklahomans supported the emergency response teams throughout their work on the site: food, supplies, shelter, phone service, massages even haircuts were provided (for free, unlike elsewhere) to the FEMA teams that gathered from around the country to work in Oklahoma City.

The survivors and the family members are recorded explaining their experience of the bombing.There is a room in which each of the people who died is memorialised with a photo and some little momento provided by their family to represent what was important to them. It is a very difficult room to tour. The chairs outside are arranged in rows to represent the floor of the building each victim was located, including smaller chairs for the children who were in the daycare center there. The Museum and the gardens are beautifully and tastefully done, but I'm not sure I will want to visit every time I go back to Oklahoma city. It's exhausting.

Thank you, Bob, for these pictures from the Memorial Museum.

Apparently the youngsters had toured only the outside and the gardens. Simon said after he saw the outside chain link fence covered with messages he decided he couldn’t cope with the inside. After our tour we ate lunch at a Markies Deli, a cafe with too many staff and not enough brains: they were all standing around chatting, but somehow lost our order. I was not impressed.

If walking all over the Memorial Museum wasn't enough, we apparently also toured the Myriad Gardens (as I have pictures that follow on from there). First of all we passed this amazing fountain outside the library. I don't know how or why, but somehow the water looked as though it was jumping. Something technical about the trajectory and timing that I'll never be able to understand, along with probably a computer program. It wasn't just us, lots of people had to stand and watch it.

Then there was the Myriad Gardens themselves --

in the middle of downtown OKC -- with all sorts of exotic plants

and waterfalls

and a sort of gangway... I guess that's what they call the Crystal Bridge.

It's pretty cool, but I was glad to sit down.

For dinner that evening, we decided to eat in Bricktown and I requested Mexican so we had dinner at Abuelo’s. Bricktown used to be the old brick warehouses by the railway line near the older downtown area of OKC. Maybe about 20 years ago, someone converted one to a big, fun restaurant, Spaghetti Warehouse, and the area started being re-developed. More recently the Canadian River has been channeled into a canal and this has added to othe attractions of Bricktown. When I was growing up in OKC, I thought it was a fairly dull place. It's got a lot more sophisticated in recent years than I ever remember it being.

Our waitress was a tall, bulky young woman. She asked where we were from and then told us she was from the Ukraine, but had lived in Isreal a while before coming to OKC. I asked what brought her to OKC and she said a basketball scholarship. Apparently she’d finished college, but now as working as a waitress (?)

After dinner, Simon dropped Bill and me off at Jack's. I dont' know if I didn't sleep well because the air mattress was too hard with two people's weight or whether it was that my stomach was too full...

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