Southwest 2017:
Day 2 - Texas


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Southwest 2017: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Texas] [Day 3 - New Mexico] [Day 4 - Arizona] [Day 5 - Arizona] [Day 6 - Arizona] [Day 7 - Arizona] [Day 8 - Utah] [Day 9 - Colorado] [Day 10 - Kansas]

Saturday, November 18, 2017: We were on the road before dawn and fortified ourselves with McDonald's for breakfast.
A display of Missouri wine at a gas station was tempting but we were able to resist.
Debbie had come down with a cold the night before, so she dozed in the morning for a couple of hours.
By mid-morning, we were in Oklahoma, ...
... where we drove past the tiny town of Miami.
This is lovely Grand Lake State Park.
Oklahoma has a turnpike. Did you know? We didn't, but now we do.
A turnpike requires the occasional oasis with one of the worst-named businesses ever.
Oklahoma has casinos, including this Hard Rock.
Here's some cool overpass decoration.
We stopped on the outskirts of Tulsa just long enough to ...
... have lunch at Taco Bueno ...
... and pick up cold meds, cough drops, and lots of tissues from Walgreen's.
There's downtown Tulsa in the distance.
The clouds broke as we got closer to Oklahoma City.
Here is the first of many oil pump photos we took in most of the states we visited.
Yay for smokers who treat the world like it is their ashtray. Debbie called 911 to report this brush fire by the side of the road. The person who tossed their lit cigarette was probably miles away by this time.
More cool highway art.
Here's the Oklahoma capitol building ...
... and the Oklahoma City skyline.
It was 1:30 when we arrived at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
It contains a long reflecting pool with large black wall bookends marked 9:01 ...
... and 9:03 - the minutes before and after the bombing of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
This is the Survivor Tree. It survived the bombing somehow, and trees grown from its seeds are planted around the world now.
There's the museum building. We didn't go in because we felt that the surrounding grounds were enough to see in the time we had.
This was a little section where kids could color on concrete with colored chalk.
The truly sobering part of the memorial is the Field of Empty Chairs.
Each chair is engraved on the glass base with the name of one of the 168 people killed in the bombing.
The chairs are arranged in nine rows representing the nine floors of the Murrah building, indicating where each of the victims were when they were killed. Smaller chairs represent the 19 children who were killed.
Here is what remains of the Murrah Building now.
Next, we checked out a map of the downtown area to see where to go next.
This manhole cover features a map of downtown too.
What? Did we just stumble upon a collection of bison statues? I sure hope we spot another one!
Yep, here's another! These were part of Oklahoma City's "Spirit of the Buffalo" statues in 2004.
The downtown map had told us about a cool new bridge sculpture just south of town.
It's called the Skydance Bridge and it is a wonder to behold up close.
We were on our way again when we noticed this sign on the highway for Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford. We had started out earlier than expected and were ahead of schedule for the day, so we had time to stop.
En route to Weatherford, we passed cotton fields in full bloom.
Here's a huge building visible from the highway that is impossible to find on Google Maps, but it has to exist, doesn't it? It can't just be a mirage.
Before 3:30, we had arrived at Stafford Air & Space Museum.
The drive up to the combination museum/airport was impressive.
Tom was thrilled to be able to identify the various aircraft silhouettes that lined the drive. Here's a P-80 Shooting Star.
This one is an F-4 Phantom Jet. It has very distinctive upward angles on its wingtips and downward angles on its tail.
And here's a B-2 Spirit.
The closer we got, the more spacecraft were represented.
Here we are.
Tom had to photograph the boilerplate Apollo command module, of course.
He was Colonel Tom Stafford when he commanded the Apollo 10 mission.
Tom stopped for a minute to look at a display of astronauts from Oklahoma.
There have been astronauts from Oklahoma in every phase of NASA's space program. Quite impressive.
Space underpants. Hopefully not those worn on launch day.
The building lobby serves the museum, the airport, and a conference center.
As soon as you enter the museum, there are display cases filled with General Stafford's memorabilia, as well as interesting displays for projects that he was a part of after he left the astronaut corps.
Being from Dayton, Ohio, Tom is pretty familiar with the Wright Flyer.
This World War I biplane was one of several exhibits that were on loan from the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.  
There was a very nice scale model display of the famous rockets from the dawn of the space age ...
... as well as a companion display showing more recent launch vehicles. Why can't we have one of these in our home?
This F-1 engine bell really is huge. And there were five of them on the Saturn V. Wow.
Bonnie Dunbar flew on five Space Shuttle missions. She was a mission specialist on the first Space Shuttle mission that docked with the Russian space station Mir.
This is the first stage of a Titan II rocket that was the workhorse of the Gemini program.
Everyone should have a huge model of a Space Shuttle. Everyone.
This display was all about the practice known as "Last Man Standing Clubs," or "Tontines." The original astronauts, being members of a high-risk occupation, entered into these agreements where the last member alive would get the bottle and drink a toast to their fallen comrades.
Sure we were in Oklahoma, but Tom swears that he walked on the Moon. He offers this photo as proof.
This is a T-38 Talon trainer aircraft, used by astronauts to maintain flight proficiency, and one of Tom's favorite jets.
As a reward for walking through yet another air and space museum, the gift shop is always waiting.
There is one product that is always guaranteed to be at ever air and space museum in the world: astronaut ice cream. Just this once, Debbie was able to resist its siren call.
Shortly after 4:00, we were back on the road enjoying Oklahoma's windmills.
The sun was going down by the time we made it to the Texas state line.
We got off the highway there and drove through the nearly deserted town of Texola.
The number of abandoned buildings greatly outnumbered the buildings that appear to still be in use.
Our destination here was the Tumbleweed Grill, a throwback to a bygone era when Highway 66 was a major route through here.
We were the only customers in the place, ...
... so we had the small dining room to ourselves.
The proprietor/shop owner/chef cooked up steak, eggs, and hash browns for Debbie, ...
... and a ribeye and veggies (plus a bowl of chili) for Tom. We both got toast that was branded with the Highway 66 sign. It was all very tasty and we had a nice chat with our hostess while we finished our meals.
As soon as we got back on the road, we crossed the state line into Texas.
The stars at night are big and bright (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas. We got out at this rest area briefly to look at the stars, but the lights here were too bright to see much.
We couldn't see the windmills that were all around us, but we could see their red lights blinking on in unison as far as the eye can see.
We passed a gigantic cross in Groom, Texas, which looked identical to the one in Effingham that we had passed the night before. We learned later that the 198-foot-tall Effingham cross was inspired by and based on the plans for the 190-foot-tall Groom cross.

We stopped for the night at Motel 6 in Amarillo.

Day 3 >


Southwest 2017: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Texas] [Day 3 - New Mexico] [Day 4 - Arizona] [Day 5 - Arizona] [Day 6 - Arizona] [Day 7 - Arizona] [Day 8 - Utah] [Day 9 - Colorado] [Day 10 - Kansas]

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