A Short Break From The Road In Oklahoma City

Seeing the recovery underway in Joplin, Missouri was an end point to a chapter of my trip. I’d done the Great Lakes, the East Coast, the South and, now, the Midwest. As I drove out of Missouri, the great expanse of the West loomed, a monstrous stretch of America to cover in the less than two weeks that remained in my trip.

I wasn’t looking forward to it. After eight weeks in the car, on the road, sleeping on floors, in tents, in anonymous hotel rooms and cozy bed and breakfasts, I could feel the end of the trip creeping closer, my end goal of Los Angeles in sight, if more than 2,000 miles away by the sinuous route I’d plotted. But first, I’d spend the night in Oklahoma City.

Traveling the American Road – Oklahoma City Baseball

After passing through Tulsa, with a quick stop for lunch at the Dilly Deli and coffee at DoubleShot, it was on to Oklahoma City. Like Atlanta, it’s a place much changed since the ’90s, when Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with a truck bomb at the Murrah Federal Building. A beautiful and contemplative memorial to the dead now marks the site, its reflecting pool shimmering in the scorching August heat.

In the sixteen years since the attack, the downtown neighborhood of Bricktown has developed into the city’s preeminent nightlife and entertainment district. Anchoring it, at least for someone fascinated by baseball as a cultural touchstone, is RedHawks Field at Bricktown, the home of the Houston Astro’s AAA affiliate club. I was determined to see a game despite the triple-digit heat and bought a $15 ticket that would park me right behind the home team’s on-deck circle. I was in the second row.

I didn’t know it at the time, but it would turn out to be the last ballgame of the trip. There was too much road to cover, too much to see in Texas and New Mexico and the vast spaces of the American Southwest. It was a bittersweet game, this last minor league battle, a sign that my trip would soon be over, even if I had thousands of miles yet to go.

Galley Gossip – Miss Oklahoma, Pop Rocks, a ripped skirt & other strange things on planes

Obviously the best thing about being a flight attendant is being able to travel at a moments notice, as long as there’s an open seat available on the flight. The second best thing about being a flight attendant has got to be all those days off! The third best thing about being a flight attendant is that we never know what the day will bring, and being able to leave that day behind as soon as we step off the plane – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Or the not so ugly as was the case on my last trip.

“I’m sorry,” whispered my coworker, cutting his eyes at Taylor Treat, the winner of the Miss Oklahoma pageant this year. “But I’m prettier than her.”

I looked at her, looked at him, looked back at her, and tried not to laugh. Because…well…In his own special way my colleague did indeed give the beauty queen a run for her money, all 200 pounds of him, with flawless coco butter skin, lashes as long as J-Lo, and….wait a minute, was that gloss? His lips were unusually shiny.

“Why Andre…” I handed a passenger a can of Dr. Pepper. “I do believe you’re jealous!”

Snorting, he slapped a beverage napkin down on a tray table and turned to the last row of passengers. “Something to drink?”

Just another day on the job.

It had started out like any other day, only on this particular day when we arrived at the Oklahoma City airport I ripped my skirt leaping out of the crew van like a world class athlete. I don’t know what I was thinking, trying to make that five foot jump to the curb. The sound of fabric splitting caused my entire crew to gasp, which caused me to walk backwards, or sideways, depending on where passengers were located, as I made my way into the airport, through security, and onto the airplane.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that bad things can lead to good things. It’s true! Because if it weren’t for the ripped skirt I would have never met the passenger with the double-sided sticky tape, and if hadn’t met the sticky tape man, I would have never met the beautiful young woman sitting beside him, a woman who will actually be competing for the Miss America title in January. And that’s how I almost – ALMOST – got wear a sparkling crown during the beverage service. Only something tells me if I had worn it, Andre would have snatched it away and placed it on his own bald head.

One of the great things about being a flight attendant is that I meet all kinds of interesting people, flight attendants and passengers alike. Take for instance passenger 3B on our flight the day before. He sat in first class wearing a black polo shirt with the word POP ROCKS plastered across his chest in bright red letters.

“It must be an amazing feeling to walk through an airport terminal and make people smile,” I said eyeing the logo that now had me smiling my own first class smile.

He looked confused. “What do you mean?”

“Your shirt. It’s great. It brings back memories.”

Two seconds later twenty bags of Pop Rocks in the newest flavors were pressed into the palm of my hand. “I came prepared,” he said, and then went on to tell me that Mikey is not dead. In fact, not one kid ever exploded from mixing Pop Rocks with Coca Cola – in case you were wondering. You know you were!

Where are all those bags Pop Rocks now? Tucked away in my tote bag. They’re housed inside an airsick bag that was decorated with flowers, suns, and moons by an adorable five year-old girl named Hania who lives in Pakistan with two boisterous brothers who refused to keep their seat belts fastened and sit in their seats regardless of the illuminated sign or how often Hania and I told them to. I must admit, we became friends near the end of the flight, but I didn’t find the child all that adorable during boarding when she decided to lie down in the middle of the aisle in first class, holding up a long line of passengers who were trying to get to their seats. One would think her parents might try to move her along, but instead they just stood there smiling at me as I tried to coax the child off the floor and to her seat in the last row of coach.

Now back to the exploding candy housed in a bag featuring artwork by Hania. I’ve actually promised to send the Pop Rocks to a couple of people who follow me on Twitter that correctly guessed the number of passengers – nineteen – I had to personally ask to turn off and stow their electronic devices after the aircraft door had been shut and the announcement had been made. And that does not include the guy who sat next to my jumpseat on landing who decided to pull out his blackberry and start texting.

“Excuse me!” I said, eyeing the device.

“Oh,” he said, and turned it off.

Two seonds later a young man seated a row back pulled out his cell phone, the glow of the display illuminating his face in the dark. I could see his fingers dialing. I could also see the twinkling lights down below on the ground. I yelled from my jumpseat, “Can you turn that off and keep it off until we land, please!”

The commuting pilot sitting beside the kid just shook his head. Then he passed me a 4 x 6 photograph of a beautiful chocolate brown horse that lives on a farm in upstate New York. Very soon that horse may find himself saddled up on a couple of green acres in Texas. The pilot and I spent a good ten minutes talking about the benefits of having a horse, and now I’m thinking about taking a western style vacation with the family. The people you meet, the places you want to go…

Eventually we, the crew, as well as the Captain’s electric guitar, made it to our layover hotel in Oklahoma City. Once inside my room, I whipped open the floral print curtains, looked across the bare parking lot, and spotted it – a Cracker Barrel restaurant located directly across a busy street. Honestly, I think everyone should visit a Cracker Barrel at least once in their lives. It’s that good. The following morning I unleashed my inner Brittney (Spears) and dug into a plate of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, and green beans. It was more than worth the calories, and anyway, calories don’t count while traveling! Not when traveling today is like being on an episode of Survivor in that you never know what’s going to happen. You’ve got to be prepared, not just for the worst, but for anything – especially if you’re a flight attendant. Three hours later I ripped my skirt.

Bring your car: America’s 10 least walkable cities

It may come as no surprise that San Francisco ranks as America’s #1 walkable city, but what about the rest of the country? After compiling a list of the “walkability” of 40 American cities, Walk Score gives us a good idea of what cities are pedestrian friendly and which ones require cars. The bottom ten cities on the list give us a few places where pedestrians are far and few between and driving is the name of the game (read: expect to spend a lot of money on gas). So where can you plan on packing away your walking shoes and donning your driving cap?

  1. Jacksonville
  2. Nashville
  3. Charlotte
  4. Indianapolis
  5. Oklahoma City
  6. Memphis
  7. Kansas City
  8. Fort Worth
  9. El Paso
  10. Mesa

The listing of cities does however lay out their most walkable neighborhoods, so if you’re planning a trip to one of these places, give it a look.

[Via Huffington Post Green]

One Night Stand: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Despite all the negative things my overly biased friend and native of Oklahoma City had to say about the place I somehow managed to find more than enough activities to keep me entertained on a one day jaunt through the town. For starters I had to check out the Oklahoma City National Memorial. I was fairly young when the incident happened, but I was very surprised and pleased to find how well the memorial was done.

Next stop was through the popular downtown destination, Bricktown, known for restaurants and a few small shops scattered here and there. Bricktown was a lot like the way my friend described it would be and I could see myself tiring of the scene in a short amount of time, but for one day it rocked my socks off. As luck would have it I was able to catch an outdoor jazz festival and do some dancing at LiT. I know I’m being skimpy with the details, but we’ll say what happens in Oklahoma City stays in Oklahoma City (not that anything scandalous happened). Follow the links for further detail and in short, the OKC is OK by me.

On one last note, is it me or is this a city filled with pretty people?