Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Route 66 in El Reno OK

4/12/15 Sunday in Concho,OK (Lucky Star Casino-free/FHU)

Bad night for sleeping. No excuses, just a mind that wouldn’t quit. SO tiring. We were up early enough to make 9am Mass. This church has really been through a lot of rough times, a certain indicator of life in Oklahoma, I’d say.

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As soon as we got back to Miss Journey, we went gambling with our promo money. Lesson: cash in your credit paper slip the same day you print it. We didn’t so the money we “won” a couple days ago was now void. Bummer, especially for John. In the end we came away with $25 of casino money. At the rig, worked to get the slides in. The slides on the Driver’s side worked fine. It was still very windy (20mph) so the side where the wind was hitting us directly was pushing the topper in such an arc that when we tried to bring it in, the topper wouldn’t roll in. We had wind predicted for the foreseeable future. As we were struggling (John got up a ladder, trying to hand crank it in), Richard was watching. He noted at one point that the wind and died back some, so we tried again. It came in okay until the wind blew up again, then we caught another break and got the slide in the rest of the way. What a relief: only wind and rain are in the weather predictions. We had some lunch and I got a wee nap in. I didn’t hardly sleep at all last night-terrible wind kept me up. John, fortunately, didn’t hear it, so he slept well enough. His allergy issues didn’t wake him up either, much. We ate a light lunch before taking off. The whole reason we came here (near OK City) was to see their memorial of the bombing of the Alfred R Murrah Federal Building. Richard said he really didn’t like to visit places of such sorrow and Jinhiee was not feeling well, so it was just John and I on this trip. We were smarter this time too and followed my Waze GPS instead of John’s so we got there in just 33 minutes. Another plus: because it was Sunday we could park free on the street nearby-a Catholic Church!! Sheesh, we could have gone to Mass here! Oh well.

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This first area is the Alfred R Murrah Federal Building Plaza, that is built up to look down on the area where the building originally stood. Here you can see the Oklahoma State Flag, so different from the rest. A NPS ranger gave a great talk on what transpired and the symbols in the memorial. I’ll try to relay what I remember. Note that 5th St used to pass through where now you see the reflecting pond. McVeigh drove a Ryder rental truck (loaded with fertilizer and some nitrate) up 5th St, lighting the first fuse about 5 blocks away, then the second fuse about a block away. Then he got caught at a stop light (security camera captured these moments). He pulled in front of the Federal Building, in a delivery truck area, on April 19th at about 9am. He ran off to where he’d parked his getaway car. The bomb went off at 9:02am. The “Gates of Time” at each end of the reflecting pool symbolically note that point in time as an area, between 9:01 and 9:03. Where the world was normal at 9:01 and then the great response that changed everything starting at 9:03. To the right of the 9:01 “Gate” you can see the destruction of a remaining wall. The reflecting pond is only about ¾ inch deep, letting many images reflect there to inspire those who visit. The water falls below into a large tank, then is pumped back into the pool. The Loblolly Pine Trees that line the pool, show where the front of the building stood. They were chosen because at maturity they will be as tall as a 9 story building, just like the Murrah building. The 5th tree from the end you see is where the truck was parked. The other side of the 9:03 “Gate” shows 5th St as it currently runs up to the Gate. There is a lovely quote at the top of this side of that “Gate”.

“We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those who were changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”

On 5th St. are 2 churches that were damaged by the explosion – a Methodist church outside of Gate 9:01 and the Catholic church outside of Gate 9:03. I took a photo of their memorial.

Inside the Gates, the chairs symbolize each person who died that day. They are placed in 9 rows, with each person who was supposed to be on a certain row is placed. Since the children (daycare) were on the second floor, that is where the small chairs are.

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Across the pool/street from the building was a parking lot, where a 100 year old elm tree stood. John is sitting below it. It was burned so badly the responders determined it needed to be cut down but it took so long while attending to more important matters that by the time they got around to it the tree was sending out leaves. So the people petitioned to save it and it became part of the symbols-of the resilience of those affected by this act of violence. Other trees were planted to the right and left of this tree, symbolizing the various responders, from nearby as well as from other nations. I have an image of the building behind the tree that sustained a lot of damage but is now the Museum. Note the concrete missing on the right corner and the missing parts of the fire escape. All of the windows were blown out, some so severely destroyed that they simply bricked them up, for others they replaced the glass. All the former window areas were painted black to symbolize the emptiness this explosion brought.

There is a museum ($12.50/senior) with a gift shop and they will stamp your NPS Passport book. Those last 2 were free, so we were happy stopping there. Besides, we wanted to get back home and relax, getting ready for our trip tomorrow to Texola, OK. On the way we saw Route 66 signs. It goes through El Reno which is near our casino.

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At the Lucky Star we celebrated with an “Indian Taco” everyone raved about at their “REZ” restaurant. Very good (made with Indian fry bread) and filling. We split one serving.

We had a great time visiting with Richard and Jinhiee for the rest of the evening. I asked Jinhiee to speak in Korean a bit. She did after a moment to reorient her thoughts, I think. It’s such a lovely, melodic language.



About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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