Michael made breakfast while I put together a pot of potato soup for tonight’s dinner. I wanted something easy as we weren’t quite sure of today’s plans. This way the soup was pretty much ready to go and would just need to be turned on a simmered for a little bit this evening.
We made plans to meet more Heartland friends, Rex & Stacy H for lunch at Abuelo’s in Bricktown. Bricktown is Oklahoma City’s ‘happening’ downtown area with lots of restaurants and shops. The convention center and the Redhawks stadium (minor league baseball team for the LA Dodgers) is in this area too.
We had a great time catching up with Rex & Stacy over lunch. They’d driven from Henryetta, about 2 hours east of Oklahoma City to have lunch with us and we were humbled that we rated that high! Both Rex and Stacy are prior military with Rex having retired like Michael so there’s always military talk when we get together. Of course, our lunch was a looooonnnng one…over 2 hours but when you don’t see each other often there’s lots of catching up to do.
Abuelo’s was a great choice for lunch as the food was wonderful and the restaurant itself was gorgeous – spacious and beautifully decorated. Michael and I both ordered enchilada plates – his with 2 enchiladas and mine with 1 enchilada and 1 taco – and we were both very pleased. Stacy ordered carnita tacos and Rex ordered the Grande (one beef, one cheese and one sour cream chicken – a cheese chile relleno, tamale, crispy beef taco and guacamole). I’d never had a chile relleno so Rex was kind enough to let me try his….gooood stuff!
We said our goodbyes with promises of the next time we were in the area we’d let them know and if they were home we’d have a place to park on their farm. We’ll see them next June at the Heartland National Rally in Goshen, Indiana.
We were near the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial so it was just a short drive there. We decided to go through the museum first. With our military IDs entrance was $10 each ($12 without). The museum is housed in the former Journal Record Building which survived the bombing.
The museum walks you through the events of April 19, 1995 and the days, weeks, months and years after the tragic bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. You begin by listening to a recording of a water bureau hearing that began at 9:00 am across the street from the Murrah Building. Two minutes into the hearing you hear a deafening explosion and then the chaos as the people in the hearing flee.
From here you walk through the devastation, debris and personal belongings of those killed as well as those of the survivors. The exhibits and displays make for a very sobering walk.
There is a memorial room that contains pictures of each of the 168 victims with items that their family members donated that represents the lives of their loved ones. Thirty children were orphaned, 219 children lost at least one parent and 8 families lost more than one family member.
Then we start to walk through the collection of evidence and investigation. Throughout the museum there are interactive displays that help you to get a real get a good sense of events before, during and after the explosion.
We are even led through the trial, the verdict and the death of Timothy McVeigh and the trials and sentences of Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier, who received life without parole and 12 years respectively.
In my opinion the museum is not to be missed. Take your time and immerse yourself in the whole experience. The average person takes about 1.5 hours to go through the museum….Michael and I took 2 hours and 51 minutes.
After completing the museum experience we moved outside to the memorial. We viewed each part: the children’s area, the Survivor’s Tree, the reflecting pool, field of empty chairs, Survivor wall, the fence adorned with memorials left behind, even the playground for the daycare.
The field of chairs sits within the footprint of where the Murrah building once stood. The reflecting pool now lies where NW 5th Street used to pass in front of the building and where McVeigh parked the bomb laden Ryder truck. The Survivor Tree was badly damaged but still stood strong within the plaza and today is a reminder of human resilience.
It was a very sobering visit but one that will stay with me forever. The pictures and stories of little Miss Baylee Almon who turned a year old the day before the bombing touched my heart deeply as did those of everyone but it was the children who were killed that touched me more than anything.
We finished off the day with a visit to the Land Run Monument just a short drive away. The monument was erected to commemorate the opening of Indian land in Oklahoma Territory. On April 22nd, 1889 “Oklahoma, Indian Territory” up to homesteading by settlers and there dozens of horses, wagons, soldiers, and cowboys raced to settle the newly opened lands.
The monument had its first bronze sculptures placed in 2003 and by the time the monument is complete in 2015 there is supposed to be a total of 45 figures frozen in time as they race to claim new homesteads. When completed, the monument will be one of the largest freestanding bronze sculptures in the world.
It was a good way to end the day…with a little ‘fun’ to break up the very somber mood we’d experienced for several hours prior.
Our recliners were calling us by the time we got home (after 7:00 pm) and thankfully that pot of soup was just waiting to be heated up.