Week 4: Houston to Kansas City!
We had a great week, driving from Texas to Missouri. Our pace slowed down a bit, and we were able to stop and see a few more sites along the way. We actually stuck around in Houston on Monday, just to enjoy the great facilities at Lakeside RV Park. A spectacular pool and spa, and a rec room with a big screen TV, computer room, complimentary snack bar, game tables, sitting areas, gym, and indoor spa kept us busy all morning. Then we headed out that afternoon, bound for Dallas.
Our first stop, just outside Houston, was at the Sam Houston monument in Huntsville. A massive work of art that claims to be the "largest statue of an American Hero" towers over I-45. We stopped to get an up-close look at this former President of Texas! That's Nick with the statue, which was completed the year that Nick was born. (Looks like Nick has some catching up to do!
Having seen the "Statue Delivery" on our trip to New York last season, the kids weren't as impressed as they could have been by the size of Mr. Houston, but they did think it was pretty cool that he has a city named after him!
We arrived in Dallas that night, pulling in after 9:00 to the home of our tailgating friends, the Beaudrys. As soon as we had the Tour Coach parked in their driveway, Bart started cooking! After stuffing us full, he gave us the grand tour of all his cooking and tailgating toys. We stayed up late, talking food and football. And the next morning, woke to fresh waffles and coffee!
From there we drove on up to Oklahoma City, where we spent an hour walking through the memorial to the bombing. It's a breathtakingly quiet place, a quality that reminded us of our visit to ground zero.
But at the same time, it is a place of beauty, and of healing. The rolling lawns and shade trees, the shallow, still reflecting pool, and the striking absence of what was there before... Two massive yet simple stone walls frame the open space between, and they are inscribed with two numbers. One reads 9:01, the other 9:03, marking the exact minutes just before and just after everything changed.
Rows of empty chairs fill one of the lawns, with the name of the victims each inscribed on the base. Most striking are the 19 tiny chairs containing the names of the young children who died that day.
Just outside, a chain link fence still holds mementos and prayers for the victims. And a visitor center next door contains all the photos, stories, and history. Blank chalkboards are embedded in the ground of a courtyard outside, and chalk is provided for children and visitors to leave their messages and prayers. A wall of hand painted tiles nearby expresses the hopes and fears of local schoolchildren. And chapels and shrines surround the spot on every side.
This is clearly a place intended to give solace to the grieving, and the hope of peace to our world. It was moving for us all. And as I struggled to explain to Frankie events I'm sure I will never understand, the irony suddenly struck me. At that moment, I recalled a morning 5 years ago, in a hospital room in Spokane, Washington where we were waiting for the arrival of our third son. On the television in the labor room, throughout the morning, were news reports about the execution of the OK City bomber, Timothy McVeigh.
And now, there I was, standing with Frankie at this place -- as a part of -- this statement that life does, in defiance of all that is ugly and evil, go on.
“We come here to remember
those who were killed, those who survived,
and those changed forever.
May all who leave here know the impact of violence.
May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope, and serenity."