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Farther West…

November 19, 2012

Oklahoma – Thursday, November 15

Time to go see the west side of the state! I got out of Oklahoma City and then made a short little detour back into Mustang. I had totally forgotten to get a picture of the church where I made the donation to the food pantry and it was more or less on the way. A bit further along I stopped in the town of El Reno to get a little walking in. I walked through town and into the neighborhoods and down by a school. And then sidewalks ran out. But we got a little over 2 1/2 miles in. I tried following the historic route 66 for a while, but it gets confusing at times when it merges with the highway. And once I was led to believe I was on Route 66, but it was really an elaborate entrance to the highway going in the wrong direction from where I wanted to go…and it’s not always easy to get turned around! And then I couldn’t even really see it on the map at all, so I kind if abandoned that plan. I’d been making slow progress anyway, and needed to move along a bit. The problem with getting into more wide open ranch land and less populated towns means a lack of places to walk. Some of the towns are so tiny they’re not much more than a couple buildings at an intersection, and that’s no place to walk!

Today I was seeing lots and lots of wind turbines. So far I haven’t seen one working windmill, and I thought they’d be all over the place! The wind turbines are certainly efficient, and must be doing a lot of good because they’re out here by the hundreds – all lined up in some sort of order I know nothing about! But some people are opposed to them judging from bumper stickers and signs in yards. It kind of makes me wonder if I owned a ranch, and was in line for a bunch of wind turbines to be built on my property, how much say would I have whether I wanted them or not?? And there’s lots of oil wells – working, working – looking like some prehistoric big birds constantly pecking for seed. I’m glad to be driving through this part of the state when it’s in the 60s – it’s got to be pretty uncomfortable in the summer!

I had several possibilities for donations to a food pantry today, but hadn’t contacted anyone yet, as I waited to see how far I’d get. I came to the town of Weatherford and luckily it was big enough to get out and do some more walking – time was slipping away. And Weatherford was only about 10-12 miles away from the town of Clinton, which had a food pantry that was open til 5. Tula and I got in almost 3 miles of walking, and right when we were about to finish up, I walked by a tiny little storefront that had a Food Pantry sign on the door, and it said they were open on Monday and Thursday afternoons – and it was Thursday afternoon! I was happy I hadn’t called the other place yet. I walked in to see if they would be interested in a donation, and they were busy helping a client, so I waited for them to finish with her. Their food pantry is small, but well organized, and they guide the recipients through, telling them how many things they can choose from each of the categories – that way they get a nice variety of things. When they had finished (and the person seemed very grateful for the groceries), they thought I was next in line for some food! I explained that I would be happy to make a donation, but didn’t know if there would be time for me to shop and get back before they closed. The ladies said they would be able to wait for my return since they had some sorting to do anyway. They were low on breakfast cereal and dish soap, but other than that, they would be happy for anything I might get. So I went shopping and got a bunch of cereal and small bottles of dish soap, and spaghetti and sauce, peanut butter, and an assortment of other non-perishable stuff. I took it back to the food pantry and they had helped 2 other families while I was shopping, even though technically they were closed. The food pantry is called the Weatherford Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry and the church owns thw building. The space is only 17’x23′ but they have it organized, and make it work! Families are allowed to come in once a month, and they serve 85-95 families each month. They also said that the people of western Oklahoma are generous with donating food. As in so many places, hunger is a real problem – when I was doing the river walk a couple days ago, a food truck went over one of the many bridges and the sign on the side said 1 in 4 Oklahoma children struggle with hunger issues.

Aside from my enjoyment with meeting these ladies and helping put some food on the shelves, the visit may have helped me in another way. One of them had lived in Anchorage, Alaska and she was wondering what my timing was as far as getting up there. I told her my dilemma of being tempted to apply for one of the private vehicle passes which allow drivers to drive their own cars across Denali National Park instead of taking the bus. IF I were to be successful (it’s a lottery system), I would have to wait until mid-September to visit Alaska (they open up Denali National Park to private vehicles the weekend after Labor Day) and that could bring about some weather challenges. Her recommendation to me was to not wait until mid-September to go to Alaska – she has seen the snow advancing down the mountains (if you’re reading this, I think you had a pretty phrase for that!) by then, and I think I should probably heed the advice of one who knows!

By this time, the sun was beginning to set, and they told me about some walking paths in a local park so I could finish off the couple of miles I still needed to walk. Their directions were good, and we finished our walking, and then drove northwest for a while – up to Woodward near the panhandle. A couple times along the way, I saw huge rows of flashing red lights extending out into the dark – like an airstrip for some giant outer space vehicle, and couldn’t figure out what they were. The mystery was solved when I checked into my motel – the lights were on the rows of wind turbines! I had really wanted to camp tonight – it had been in the upper 60s today and was still in the low 50s by early evening, so I headed out of Woodward to the Boiling Springs State Park, which I knew was open for camping, but the closer I got, the more the temps kept dropping, and when I was only a couple miles away, it was 37 degrees out. Too cold for me!

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