Route 66 (Part II)

Thursday, I went home sick from work.  Some kind of stomach bug had taken hold of me and, although I was trying to get things accomplished at the office, everyone was like, 'Dude, go home.'  So I did...and I rested.  Friday I still didn't feel great, so I stayed home.  I hate missing work, but I'm glad I didn't push myself.  I milled about the house and rested.  By the time Saturday morning arrived, I was feeling better; I was also feeling stir-crazy.  I needed to get out of the house and DO something.  So I went to breakfast.

I sat and ate my traditional bacon and egg breakfast at Brookside by Day and wondered what I was going to do with my Saturday.  It was a beautiful morning and the day was wide open.  When I finished eating, I got into the car and took off down Route 66, not really sure how far I was going to go.  I started by heading over to the Route 66 Pavilion off of Riverside, the place I stopped when I drove 66 from Miami, OK.  Heading down Southwest Blvd, I first passed the Route 66 Village.  The 'village' is a small area which consists of a restored steam engine locomotive, a few train cars, and an oil derrick nearly 200 feet tall to symbolize Tulsa's first oil strike back in 1901.

Driving farther down the road, the old highway runs right through Sapulpa.  I'm not very familiar with this suburb of Tulsa; I never find a reason to come out here.  But I did know they had a restored trolley car somewhere in town, and sure enough, right along the highway was a restored, sheltered trolley car left over from the times when rail ferried passengers to and from Tulsa.  It was a short visit, as the actual area the trolley was kept was closed, so I decided to keep driving.  As I was exiting the city limits, I saw a great old steel truss bridge; a weakness of mine.  I pulled over and explored the bridge for a few minutes, noting the old brick pavement beneath my feet.  It had been closed earlier in 2013 for safety reasons, so I had it to myself.  I wonder how long it'll be before it, too, is only a memory.

The landscape of Old 66 is peppered with towns I've heard my entire life in weather reports on the local news, and I saw many of them for the first time.  Kellyville, Bristow, Depew, Stroud, and others.  Although this stretch of highway wasn't as dynamic as it was between Miami and Tulsa, each community did their best to grab their piece of Route 66 nostalgia and make it special.  Depew, a town of less than 500 people, sat with the most deserted downtown I've seen in a long time, but still had some signage signifying their pride in the town's heritage.  Stroud is home to the Rock Cafe, a historic restaurant whose owner was an inspiration for the Pixar film 'Cars'.  Davenport's downtown is entirely brick paved and hosts many beautiful murals.  Arcadia has a famous round barn and Pops, a gas station/gift shop built around hundreds of soda flavors.

Once I realized I'd driven all the way to Oklahoma City, my focus moved to lunch.  I made a list a few months back of burgers in Oklahoma I needed to try and figured, since I'd come this far, I might as well go a little further.  An hour and a half later, I found myself at the foothills of the Wichita Mountains near Lawton, Oklahoma at a little place called Meers.  Recognized as one of the best burgers in the country, their burgers are made from Longhorn cattle raised by the same family that owns the restaurant.  They're served in a pie tin and are extremely lean; I was pleased with my meal, to be sure.  They even serve R.C. Cola in mason jars!

Satisfied with my unexpected day trip, I drove back home along I-44.  Now that I've driven the two stretches of Route 66 that extend from Tulsa, I want to keep going.  Maybe one of these days I'll make a weekend of it and go through Missouri, or perhaps back down through Texas and New Mexico.  I've been watching so much Breaking Bad lately I'd really like to explore more of Albuquerque...and I hear Santa Fe is an amazing place to visit.


Emotional Ramblings

I've been going to counseling regularly since January.  As I got closer to the second anniversary of Dad's death, I didn't feel as advanced in my grief as I felt I should be.  In addition to that, I had noticed a disturbing trend of getting close to women in dating situations, then backing away like they were on fire.  I had an emotional wall that would go up like a blast door on a space ship.  Sometimes it went up brick-by-brick, other times it appeared suddenly and fully.  I know it was frustrating for the people it affected; it was frustrating for me, to be sure.

Today I went to my appointment and felt pretty good about it.  I talked about my experiences at Dragon*Con with my friends, which were universally good.  I talked about a dinner I had with my ex-wife several weeks ago, which was a goodbye of sorts as she was moving out of state.  It was a non-event emotionally, which is progress.  I helped Mom through her back surgery, which she is recovering nicely from.  I talked about my brother's divorce, now final, and his subsequent adjustment to divorced life...which he is handling completely different than I have.  I talked about work; our software conversion is finally starting to calm down and life is getting less stressful there.  I talked about how I felt stable emotionally through all of this.

I talked about how Brewburger closed last week and how that was one of the last places Dad and I ate together and that the closing was a sad event for me.  Not crying upset, but still sad.  I talked about the march of time and how both of the last restaurants Dad and I went to were now gone and I had less and less to remember him by.  I have many things, sure, but every loss is felt because there's no replacing it with anything else.  She suggested I find a new ritual for him; something I did have control over.  That's a good idea...I'm going to have to think about what that is going to be.

I also talked about my relationship issues.  Although I have greater stability, I'm not sure how much of that is true and how much is just keeping busy.  I spent the last two days pretty much non-stop watching Breaking Bad with a friend; now that the house is empty I'm not sure how I feel about it.  My friends that went to the Con with me talk about Post-Con Depression, as do many other attendees on Facebook and other social outlets.  I haven't suffered that in the past; I am sorry that Dragon*Con has to end, sure, but I'm also happy to return to regular life.

I have the rest of this week off and will be taking another trip this weekend, this time to Guthrie to camp and see a few concerts.  I'm eager to see these bands and spend some time with a friend I haven't been able to hang with in a while.  Fun?  Yes.  Helpful to my emotional well-being?  Yes...but is it just temporary?  Will my return home be met with me looking for some other event to fill the space?  I wonder about sustainability.  I worry about the shadows returning to my mind.  The doubt, the self-loathing.  The incessant over-analysis of everything in my life.  It's been quiet for a while, but I can never believe it's gone.  It's just part of who I am.  But...I can't shake the feeling that I'm hiding from something.