Miles Traveled: 321; Current Location: Fayetteville, AR

Before I proceed with my next statement, I’d like to go on the record as saying that I’ve never met a person from Oklahoma who I don’t like.  This statistic also includes one of my very best friends in the world as well as the people that I’ve hung out with while visiting her there.  In general, I’m a big fan of Oklahoma.  That being said, driving through the state today was unequivocally the worst leg of the trip thus far, and I caution anyone out there whose travel plans might include a trek through the Sooner State.  Don’t do it.

I know what you’re wondering, and yes, the drive through Oklahoma, for only a couple hundred miles, was worse than spending nine hours in the fields of Texas.  Way worse.  The nice thing about driving through the fields, in retrospect, was that after I bid adieu to the police in New Mexico, nothing whatsoever stood in my way.  There were no other cars, no traffic lights, no distracting billboards reminding me that without Jesus, I might as well get used to living in the hot climate as I prepare for my eternity in hell…there was nothing.  Nothing but blue skies and freedom.  Nothing but the exact opposite of what I experienced today.  For instance, when I initially missed getting a picture of the sign welcoming me to Texas, I simply made a u-turn on the two-laned road and was on my way again.  That would not be case for me in Oklahoma. For Oklahoma, there would be no picture.

I’ve driven across the country a couple of times before, so I knew to be aware of the constant presence of the Oklahoma State Troopers.  I try very hard not to speed as it is, so it didn’t bother me that I would be monitored closely.  What did bother me though, was the realization that the speed limit in Oklahoma changes just about every 100 yards.  It goes from 70 to 55 to 65 to 60 over the course of ten or fifteen minutes.  And then the cycle repeats.  And continues in this pattern throughout the entire state.  Meanwhile, every fifth mile winds through a construction zone with big orange cones and concrete barriers.  Naturally, these areas have an even slower speed limit and an increase in traffic fines.  I saw no fewer than five cars that had been pulled over throughout my drive in Oklahoma – five times the number of cars that I’d seen stopped in four other states and over the course of 2,000 miles… and that’s including my own brush with the law.

Another thing that became instantly clear to me about Oklahoma is that the state is in a bitter battle with Texas for most roadside churches per capita.  Here’s a thought guys…. just go to a church that’s there already!  You don’t need to start your own!  There are plenty to go around!  I saw churches in shopping centers, free standing churches, churches in barns, signs for churches not visible from the highway… churches everywhere.  How can there possibly be enough people to fill each one of these churches?!

Along with the churches, of course, come the billboards offering life-changing information.  “Watch and pray for we don’t know what hour, but the son of God will return.”  I’ll watch the East.  Someone else should grab the West.  We should also probably come up with a code word to call out as an alert to everyone when we see him coming.  Get your neighbors involved.  We’ll make it a community thing.  Another nugget of truth that I enjoyed is that, “a wise child follows his father’s instruction.”  And who, may I ask, wouldn’t like to be wise?  My favorite sign of all though is the one listing the Ten Commandments.  I pulled over so that I could read each one aloud.

Some of you might wonder if I get bored sitting in the car for hours at a time, and before I left, I had the same concern.  Since I had turned down my father’s offer to give me a GPS device, I asked him if I could use that money for a new ipod, one that could hold my itunes library in its entirety.  After he had ignored my request for a couple of days, I got the hint and loaded up my two 8gb ipods with new playlists and podcasts.  I also went through stacks of old CDs and packed my car with a careful selection that I thought I might want to sample on the ride.

As it’s turned out, I could have learned something from Christmas 1996 when I listened to my Deep Blue Something single of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on a constant stream.  The CDs, the thoughts of a new ipod – all completely unnecessary.  In reality, when my songs by The Judds finish, I simply restart the three hour playlist over again.  And again.  And again.  I’m a person who can literally quote entire episodes of Full House, so the good news for this trip is that when I like something, my loyalty runs deep.  There are times when I actually can’t wait to get back in the car so that I can listen to The Judds again. Occasionally though, I will give the duo a break.  Such was the case when I drove through Checotah, Oklahoma and played Carrie Underwood’s, “I Aint in Checotah Anymore.”  Besides seeming appropriate, it was fun for me to drive through Checotah all the while belting out a song that claimed I wasn’t there.  See, this incredibly low threshold that I have for amusement is the reason that I don’t get bored in the car.

I also enjoyed driving through Checotah because there are at least three signs reminding me to “reach for the stars just like our own Carrie Underwood.”  All this fanfare from what Carrie calls, “a single stoplight town.”  Of course, being cursed by Oklahoma, my camera managed to miss each of these signs.  In general though, with the exception of the wiles of Checotah, my time in Oklahoma was not filled with much excitement.  For this reason, I was particularly thankful to have The Judds along with me for this portion of the drive.

When I finally arrived in Arkansas, I instantly understood the meaning behind its nickname as the Natural State.  The trees and rivers are beautiful and a marked contrast to the geography of the other places that I’ve driven through, and I’m very excited to explore the area over the next couple of days.  I hope that everyone is having a great weekend, and I can’t wait to update everyone about my time in Arkansas!  (Hint: We will be checking out the Walmart Museum on Tuesday.  If you love the “people of Walmart,” I can only imagine what the “people of the Walmart Museum” might be like!)

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