I haven't posted for a while because last month we took a road trip to see our family in the wild west, and we're finally home again.
We saw lots of cool things along the way, including a gas station that looked like a huge red barn with tons of collectibles. It was like a museum that also sold gas and chips. There were even rocking chairs out front where you could sit and contemplate the absurd price of gas.
There definitely should be more gas stations like that in this world.
I have to admit to being a bit prejudiced about the south (and Alabama in particular) before I moved there.
One day before our trip Chris said, "I didn't apply for school in Alabama (where one of the top schools in his field happens to be located) because you said you'd never live there." I didn't remember saying anything like that. Ever. But it was how I felt deep down inside (or maybe not so deep down inside). For whatever reason, I never wanted to set foot in Alabama.
But...surprise! Things aren't always the way you think they should be. Alabama was stunningly beautiful.
The southern state that surprised me most was Tennessee (both times we've driven through -- both sides of the state). I pictured it to be more glamorous than it was. I mean, really. They have Nashville. And Elvis. So we drove by Graceland and waved, then kept on driving.
This sweet face was one of my favorite things about the trip. Josh would be silent for a long time, and I'd turn around to find him with his face pressed against the window, watching the road fly by beneath him. He did this a lot.
We were lucky enough to stop in Oklahoma for a few days to hang out with Chris's sister and her family. Her husband works in the tallest building in OK city. He said he'd be waving at us from the Tower of Sauron (aka Devon Tower) when we neared the city. And it was true. We rounded the bend to OK city, and I think we all said, "Wow. What is that building?"
I didn't get a picture of the outside of The Tower of Devon, but we went to check out the inside and got the grand tour. Look at the shadow it casts over the city! It goes all the way to the river. It think we were on the 50th floor here. Or somewhere close to it. It's quite the site in such a flat place.
The inside is beautiful. Here's looking up at the 50 floors above.
And when you stand in the very center of this circle, you can hear yourself whisper. It feels like it echoes all over the entire building so everyone can hear you, but they can't. Ethan loved standing in that circle, looking up through the windows, and whispering to himself.
Then he turned to me and asked, "Can everyone in the building hear me?"
I had to laugh and tell him no.
Our brother-in-law can see the Oklahoma City National Memorial from his office window. So after the tour of his office building, we went to check it out. It was touching and beautiful.
Inside, there's a reflecting pool. The wall we're looking at says, "9:01" and the one right behind me that isn't in the picture says, "9:03" and symbolizes how much the world can change in one minute. There are also 168 chairs silently lined up to represent the men, women, and children who lost their lives that day.
The kids loved seeing cousins, and wore themselves out swimming, having a slumber party, and running through the sprinklers. We loved spending time with all of them, and will be back again someday. Except not when there's a tornado, according to Ashley, who was terrified at the thought of driving through OK, not to mention actually stopping and sleeping there. But she loved it, too.
We had to say good bye to our OK cousins, and headed out toward Wyoming. Where we couldn't find a hotel for miles and miles. Then finally found one. Then had our tire explode and couldn't find a place who could fix it for miles and miles. I've never been so happy to see a Walmart in my entire life. And that's saying a lot, coming from me -- I'd generally rather get a filling put in my tooth than go to Walmart. But it was like an oasis in the desert that day.