Trip*Day 2*Part3: Reflection.
You are probably wondering why I chose this title for this post. You see, our day was full of slightly ugly things. Flat, Boring, Mountainless, Nothing-filled things.
The pool water was freezing;
the moment was memorable.
The landscape was lacking;
the wild squash were appreciated.
The news was sad;
the thoughts were peaceful.
The art was kitschy;
that's how we like it.
The fencing was barbed;
it made for the perfect picture.
The souvenirs were disgusting;
we spent very little.
The call was unknown;
a friendship was grown.
The tower was leaning;
making the mundane notable.
The van was infested;
new friends were made.
The supper was wasted;
we're still laughing about it.
The progression was slow:
the mark of enjoyment.
The hour was late;
the last stop was worth it.
We had spent 14 hours on the road already, had no idea where we were staying that night, and still had one last sight to see before turning in.
I let the GPS guide me. I failed to instruct that toll roads were out of the question. I turned onto the toll road, only I didn't know it was a toll road until I was already on it. I took the next exit, hoping to use surface streets. After discovering that there was NO WAY BACK except by toll road, I decided to just get back on in the direction I was supposed to go and hope the nice toll lady at my proper exit really was a nice toll lady and not a toll troll.
After 15 minutes or so, I finally came to my exit. It was nearly 11:00pm. There was no toll lady. The toll booth only accepted change. I had given all of my change to the Ronald McDonald House Charities in a drive-thru a few days earlier. I was calling to the kids: "Who has change? I need two dollars in change!" I was going through cup holders, pockets, purses, camera bags. Finally I had a handful of coins between the four of us and all of Vanbi. I looked it over. $0.27. That's all the change we had, $0.17 of which was pennies. The car behind me was honking. I threw all twenty seven cents into the slot. The green light did not turn on. The car behind me honked some more. There was no change anywhere in Vanbi. I tried to stick a dollar bill into the throat of the coin slot. It gagged and spit it back out. The car behind me honked. I made a decision. The light was red, and I could picture the faces of the drivers, now piling behind me, as being red, too.
I floored it.
A terrible MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHH buzzing bell alerted all present to my utter disregard for my fare. I glanced with apologetic guilt at the camera as I flew out of the gate and onto city streets again. Now I know for whom the bell tolls.
The buzzing bell seemed to never end. It may still be sounding at this very moment, waiting baitedly for my honest streak to boomerang me back to Oklahoma City. Perhaps, I should send an envelope of change to the State of Oklahoma. Afterall, I can't send dollars. Trying to feed those poor machines dollars is like laying a steaming chunk of porkbutt before a bunny and expecting it to eat.
And only Monte Python bunnies would eat that.
Or perhaps I should call and try to pay the fee over the phone. Do you suppose that the toll road has a toll-free number? That would be so unfare.
Anyhow, we were getting close to our destination, and before long, we had found it.
You may think that Meeka was sleeping.
That was not the case.
We all got out of the car together and she just had a FIT over the welcoming committee: 1,735,380,989,435,623 bugs had come out just to greet us! To this moment I am unsure whether I should be grateful to the City of Oklahoma City for preparing a welcoming committee for us, or if that is the subtle punishment awarded to those who do not pay the proper tributes to their toll gods. It is all still so uncertain.
Either way, Meeka wanted no part of an outdoor excursion. She asked to stay in the car. She said, "please." Well, I think that's what she was saying. It was hard to tell between the screaming shrieks when she could get a breath and her anxiety-induced fits of madness. Once in the car, she was quite content to gaze through the window at the view, however.
It was the kids' first time seeing one of the little Temples.
Smaller is not lesser.
The OK City Temple at night, was simply
It was dark;
the Temple was light.
Shane had tried to find us a nice room for the night online at a discount. He had called ahead to one on the South side of the City. We were presently on the NW side. I could have re-entered the toll road.
But I was afraid of that toll road. That toll road didn't like me. And I always thought I was so likeable. *sigh*
I chose to drive surface streets. For 17 miles. Anything but that toll road.
When I finally found the hotel that Shane had found for us, something about it didn't feel right. The kids wanted so badly to stop for the night. It was well past midnight at this point. Of course, I was on their team. I never would have thought that it would take me 15 hours to cover so little distance. But this hotel (a well-known chain, by the way) just felt creepy to me. I parked in the porte-cochere and peeked through my windshield at the nice Indian man at the desk. He seemed alright, but I just couldn't make myself unlock the door and go in. I decided to drive around the building and get a better feel for the place.
Attached. Part of. Single.
Bosom buddies. Pals.
Together. Partners. Whatever.
On one corner of this hotel was a section that looked like it had once been the restaurant. The windows had been painted black, the blackened glass door was open, but no light emitted from the place, despite many cars being parked nearby.
The sign above the door: XXX Girls.
Well, that sealed the deal. I was OUT of there. I quickly locked the already locked doors, and then repeated that motion. The kids were surprised. They had NO idea what I was doing, or why 3 X's before a simple enough word as "girls" was deterrent to me in a hotel characteristic.
I was finished with surface streets. I hopped onto the freeway and was ready to drive all night or until I found something better.
Only a few miles away, an old, run-down, ugly hotel had left it's lights on for me. I drove around the block on both sides of the freeway. I went inside. The sweet lady at the desk was so kind, even though I had undoubtedly woken her.
At 12:45 in the morning we settled into our little basement room. There wasn't even a clock provided for guests.
The beds were uncomfortable;
the beds were safe.
In a very short period of time, we had seen brilliant light in the darkness;
we had seen darkness where there should have been light.
Day two was a day of contrasts;
It was a day of perspectives.
The question came from Nevan, but Mayzie was curious, too.
What does XXX Girls mean? I told him exactly what it meant.
He was more disgusted by that than by the gator heads.
We also talked about the stark differences between the places we had been that day, and the feelings each had invoked. We spoke of the fun (but not terribly meaningful) Cadillac Ranch, the peaceful and beautiful grounds of the Temple, and the uncertain, frightened feelings they had when they saw my reaction to the hotel of ill repute. We determined that all three have a place in the world, but that doesn't mean that all three deserve a place in our lives.
We ended the night (as we always do, but rarely blog about) in prayer. We had so much to be grateful for, so many things to seek the Lord's guidance in, a bounty of rejoicings to offer.
We were far from home, away from our comforts, our tools, our safety net. But with us was our ever-present companion, the Holy Ghost, nudging us away from unclean places, even before we could know why.
It seemed like we were alone;