Thursday, April 17, 2014

O = Oklahoma Old Times

O

High winds and  storms were moving into Texas, and Millie and I had a decision to make:  stay perched on the hilltop in Llano, or quickly head north to outrun the front.  I noticed that the strong winds would be coming from the South, and that made the decision much easier —Perfect!  They’ll help blow us north! 

I found a good route that would keep us out of the crosswinds, and soon Millie and I were on our way to Oklahoma.

The skies got dramatically darker as we neared Glen Rose, TX, so I pulled over to check the real-time radar maps on my Weather Channel app   It seems the winds were doing an excellent job of pushing those storms into Dallas and keeping them out of our intended route through downtown Fort Worth!

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Sure enough, when we got to Fort Worth, the black clouds were nowhere to be found.  Now all we had to do was slip the Winnie beneath the big spaghetti pile of highway ramps!

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I pulled into the Ardmore, Oklahoma Flying J with a few minutes of daylight to spare and snagged the last open RV parking spot for the night (and what a bonus, it was level too!).

My cousin Linda and I had made plans months ago to see each other on my drive back to Chicago from Mexico and were really looking forward to seeing each other again after 15 years.  The next morning, I rolled the Winnie up to her house and Millie got to meet her three little doggie cousins while Linda and I started catching up.

Millie made herself right at home in fairly short order-- doing a quick “Hoovering” of the little dogs’ bowls to clean up their leftover food and water, grabbing a few larger toys out of their toy box to play with, and like any certifiably rude and obnoxious houseguest, Millie then jumped up on their living room sofa to stretch out for a nice nap!  Sheesh!

Thankfully, the little dogs were gracious hosts (“Nuestra casa de perros,  es su casa de perros!”), and in the meantime, Linda and I went out to lunch and then to look at nearby camping options for my rolling home for the night.

We found some absolutely fabulous campgrounds at Lake Murray State Park, just a few miles from my cousin’s house, and I rolled into this nice pull-thru site with a good view of the lake about an hour later.

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Linda invited Millie and I back to her house for dinner and we got to meet her partner, Jim, who was now home from work.  He and Millie became fast friends, and by the end of the evening, I was having a very hard time extricating Millie.from the luxurious splendors of her newfound Oklahoma home!  All truth be told, I was quite enjoying those splendors too! 

It was a great dinner and fun evening retelling old funny stories of our dearly departed relatives.  Our grandfather was an executive for the Packard Motor Company back in the day and always had a passion for big, fast cars—even well into his 90’s when he would insist on driving us kids and our parents out to dinner whenever we’d visit.  This meant driving down the middle of a 2-lane country road to his favorite steak house…at no less than 90 miles an hour!   On multiple occasions he would forget to open the garage door before putting his boat-sized 1970s car into reverse…always mystified how someone could have come along and pulled the door down right into his path!  Our grandfather was quite a colorful character, for sure!

His passion for the automotive industry carried over to his children (my dad and Linda’s mom), who had an epiphany in the mid-late 1970s to pool their life savings’ and buy two used car lots in Ardmore.  I was thrilled at the time, as I had just gotten my driver’s license and looked forward to spending the summer with my dad and brother in Ardmore and getting to drive all sorts of fast and fun cars!

The next morning, I took a quick tour around town to see some of these old haunts before leaving Ardmore:

Glen Rabe bought the car dealership from my dad and aunt, and has now successfully run it from that location for over 30 years (apparently proving that the location was just fine; it was the management that needed fixing)!.

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Down the street, the Sonic Drive-In continues to do a booming business.  This was the social epicenter of town for High School teens with fast cars in the 1970s, and apparently, it continues that same role today!

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Downtown Ardmore is still hopping like it used to.  I knew my dad’s old second car lot was around here somewhere…

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and then I saw it!  What is now the Jimmy J’s Dairy Freeze, was the former “Kar Korner”—a once briefly-thriving Mecca of the southern Oklahoma pre-owned automotive world!

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Even the old garage behind the the white “office” was still there—where my brother and I spent some happy summer weeks helping to wash and detail cars!   What a hoot!

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After my brief trip down memory lane, it was time to get the Winnie rolling north again.  I decided to bypass the Oklahoma Turnpike (I-44) and take the leisurely route across eastern Oklahoma through McAlister and Muskogee.

We arrived to our overnight spot at the Checotah, OK Flying J just after a rainstorm and enjoyed seeing our first Spring daffodils while dodging the rain puddles.  Warmer weather can’t be too far behind now!

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