This part of the journey is different. It’s personal. It’s about going back to do something. Facing some stuff. Letting go.
But first, Murphy drove the car. Location? Need to know? Some paraphrasing, but here’s the scoop. When I stop to get gas, I usually let Murphy run around and do his thing, get some water, etc., before I pump, or pee or get anything for us to eat. Since it’s hot, and I can keep my car running (with AC blowing) without the key, I will usually leave Murph right in front of the McD’s or Starbucks or gas station while I run in and do what must be done. No one gets within five feet of my car, running or not, without hearing from Murphy. So I’m not worried about someone stealing it.
On this occasion, I was going to use the bathroom last, after Murphy time, and filling up. I pulled forward from the pump into a parking spot, put the car in neutral and pulled the key. AC was good, parking brake on.
Ummm, parking break apparently not on.
So I run into the bathroom, and as I’m coming out, I glance at the window to see the car not in the space. I hear two or three people, mildly shouting, “The dog’s driving the car!” I knew which dog that was. I run out the front door, and parked perfectly in front of the pump, was the Saturn, with a nice man (family watching and laughing at the neighboring pump) holding it in place with his hands.
It seems I didn’t pull the brake up (or did Murphy let it out? Hmmmmmm….) and the car just rolled on its own straight back into – thankfully – the empty pump parking space we had just used. The man saw it happening, saw the dog – IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT – and kept the car from going any further. Murphy was not barking. A little pride on his face. Normally, I would take photos, laugh at length and gather anecdotes, but since a state trooper was in the lot pulling by, etc… I decided to just thank the man sincerely, and…. get the hell out of there. Murphy in the passenger seat.
Helpful for the drive from New Mexico to Auburn, Alabama (with a hotel night of sleep outside of my old OKC home) is the letting go part. A friend (my doctor, actually), recommended a book – suitable for this place in my life. “Letting Go” by David R. Hawkins and I had started it before the trip. With a free audio book coming from an app I have, well, I thought it wouldn’t hurt. It has offered some strong, clear info for the drive.
And letting go isn’t always easy. In the past, I would let go and never look back, but if you do that, you will not only let go of the rough memories, the difficulties or the so-called failures. You will also let go of the good stuff. And in my seven years in Oklahoma and my one year in Alabama, so much more good stuff than sad. I’ll leave some out – probably because it’s mine to save – but I thought of so much of it both coming and going to Auburn to complete my task of gathering personal belongings left behind and let go of some physical stuff I can’t afford, literally, to keep.
The road east from Albuquerque becomes pretty flat across the plains from Texas through Oklahoma. And on this trip – going both directions – included rain. I timed it, watched my radar on the Weather Channel App, and made some good choices. It didn’t slow me down but it kept me focused with two hands on the wheel. Plains rhymes with rain. Welcome to music of the heartland.
People are at the heart of staying strong and forging a valuable path. In Oklahoma City at the Saturn Grill, we met up with our dear friend Brent Gibson, whose family took me under their wing and showed me the beauty of the Sooner people while I lived there. Murphy knew Brent from his first days, and being an Okie by birth, was glad to see his Other Brother Brent. We stayed about a half hour east of OKC near Shawnee, and the nice young man at the Motel 6 remembered me form the days I anchored the Fox 25 Morning News. It was a very kind and uplifting experience to know that, though it has been many years since I left there and worked for the NBA OKC Thunder, that he and his wife watch the show every morning faithfully, and remember me from the beginning.
During that time, I had the chance to tell many, many stories. I would take the camera on weekends (and weeknights, if need be), and attend festivals, museums, events, shows, art shows, high school fundraisers, community events – anything that would help me better connect with the people of my state who I represented on the morning news. (Along with a great group of folks, of course! I didn’t do it alone).
This playlist will take you to some of my favorite stories in the segments I called “Postcards from BWeb”. The upload quality in those days wasn’t so great, but hope you enjoy the writing and storytelling.
Back to the road. I can only say how beautiful it was to be blessed with time I spent on this trip with Dean and Patty (from Tucker High School!), Anna Ruth and her beau, the Fukais, John C. and David, and, for Murphy, Chewacla State Park. Coming back west, we spent time with Ken, another of my lifelong friends from Oklahoma who I worked with at OU, as well as the folks from Gaylord College such as Bob Dickey, John, Ed, Scott, David, and others (where I worked and got my Masters after the Thunder) at an OKC Dodgers (Redhawks?) game, where I got to say hi to the baseball folks including Lisa, Michael and Alex.
Ken’s collection of baseball memorabilia, not to mention his seemingly bottomless tolerance for my self-centered storytelling and silliness, are both amazing. And he loves Murphy almost as much as I do! We missed Billy, of course, and it should be reminded that Billy, unable to make this trip because of his fight against heartworms, is also an Okie by birth.
There were other stories and wonderful moments, but it’s all about the people I am able to say thank you to, now that I have let go of some baggage. Still to come on the westward road: petroglyphs and the Hashknife Pony Express.