Thursday, April 10, 2008

“Okey” Dokey or “Gone With the Wind” - Oklahoma style

The reflecting pool at the Oklahoma City National Memorial

An empty chair - one for each of the 168 victims. The small one is named for Baylee Almon, the one year old girl pictured in a fireman's arms on front pages around the world

The largest Chihuly sculpture in the world: 10 tons, 55 feet tall, 2,100 separate blown glass components

I captured this Chilhuly hallway ceiling by laying on the floor

Part of the Oklahoma Land Run Memorial. From noon to midnight on April 22, 1889, the population of Oklahoma City went from 0 to 10,000.

The drive from Dallas, where Spring is fully engaged, to Oklahoma City, where Spring is emerging, was “interesting” in the “May you always live in interesting times”, Chinese curse kind of way!!! Brochures proclaim that “Oklahoma spring weather can be severe at times”. No kidding!!! After driving for 1 ½ hours with the wipers at full speed, we pulled into the RV Park, where rivers were flowing anywhere there was a sloped, paved surface. Lightning flashed everywhere. Around the area 3 – 6 inches of rain fell in 12 hours.

We were advised that the RV Park has a storm shelter, hooked up, and turned on the TV to watch reports of tornados touching down to our south and east. The technology employed here to deal with severe weather is impressive. Forecasters continuously up-date the location of “high level circulating winds” and predict to the minute at what time the winds will reach each small community. If they “descend” and form a tornado, people have ample warning. Everyone living in this area must have a “storm-safe place”. Local fire departments can map every lightning strike to the nearest foot. We watched news reports of an expensive home burning to a complete loss in a fire last night. The fire department could prove that the house was hit with 2 separate lightning strikes within one second of each other.

The return trip to Oklahoma City was sparked when we passed through before Christmas and learned that the Oklahoma City Museum of Art has the world’s largest collection of Dale Chihuly glass sculpture. They also possess the single largest Chihuly piece ever created. We have seen Chihuly glass all over the world and wanted to see such a concentrated collection of 1,500 unique pieces. If you like his work, the collection is amazing!!

OK City has much to recommend it. The old Brickyard and Stockyard neighbourhoods feature numerous bars, restaurants and clubs; all very tourist friendly. The Oklahoma City National Memorial and its associated museum poignantly detail the tragic explosion of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 but, also portray the lunacy of terrorism. The Oklahoma Land Run Memorial depicts the race by 50,000 people, competing for free land in the U.S. “Unassigned Lands” beginning at high noon on April 22, 1889. There is much to see and do here!

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