TOWB: Day 5, OKC to NOLA
I know, I'm later than I normally post; I'm giving myself a break, considering NOLA my "weekend" of the trip. In truth it's more like thursday seeing as this days travel was the halfway section of the trip. Around 22 hours of driving lay on either side of this 10 hour leg of the trip, and that's what today was mostly about.
We started the day off with a temperature of 24 degrees and finding the car covered in ice, and my car has no ice scraper because, you know, Los Angeles. So after sitting in the car with the defroster blasting for a few minutes we had obtained sufficient visibility to venture forth.
Our first and only sightseeing stop of the day was at the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum. Situated in downtown OKC(as the locals call it apparently) the Museum occupies the former Journal Record Building which was across the street from the Murrah building. It was two floors of incredibly well done exhibits detailing every stage of the bombing, from the moments before to the eventual conviction of both suspects. I haven't been to a ton of museums, but this one easily had the best incorporation of multimedia I've ever seen. Lots of the video presentations were done with multiple monitors collaged together, there were a few interactive maps that showed you the layout of the site as well as before and after views, and there were a few shelves of objects found in the rubble behind transparent LCDs with fire and smoke videos playing that would occasionally have quotes appear.
There was also one very moving exhibit that acted as a gateway between the before section of the museum and the after. It was a mostly empty room featuring a bench on one wall and on the opposite wall a meeting table partially buried in the wall. On that table is a tape recorder and microphone to simulate the scene in a Water Board meeting that took place on the day of the bombing. Once you enter the room, a set of automatic doors close behind you and the way forward is blocked as well. The lights in the room dim and a spotlight is turned on the tape recorder which begins playing. As the tape of that meeting plays, you hear people going about their lives just like it's any other day at 9:00am and then at 9:02 you hear the bomb go off and the spotlight goes out and a wall full of backlit pictures of the victims lights up. Then the doors open and you're presented with aftermath. It's a museum you go to, knowing that you're going to cry, but not knowing how much, or how much you'll learn. If you're ever even remotely in the area, I recommend planning a visit.
As we left we couldn't help but notice how empty the downtown OKC area was, like almost a complete ghost town. Then we started our largest portion of driving of the whole trip, ten and a half hours to New Orleans. The first few hours were the easiest as always and we took our first meal of the day just south of Dallas at the last In-N-Out of the trip. It was actually in a small town just south of dallas called Lancaster, which was just cruel but we picked that one because the coincidence was just too good.
Then the long drive putting the foot of our car into the boot that is Louisiana. We were initially very worried about finding a hotel anywhere near the French Quarter since we were going to be there for New Years, but we put out a few calls to the few remaining hotels with vacancies. One called back and said they had a studio with only one bed and while I was asking of they would be okay with us using an air mattress they said realized they had a cancellation on a two bed, two bath with a balcony on Esplanade. Booked, done! Well, upon arriving we realized how lucky we were. This place is amazing, I've sent our resident photographer out to take some pictures of the rooms. It is apparently featured on a ghost tour though, so that's fun.
Also a good time to mention that this marks the low point of the trip, in that it's the lowest elevation being right at sea level, a big change from our high of 7501 feet.
It's really nice to know that we have the whole day to spend here and don't have to do any driving at all. Also we will be having our first special guest today, so look forward to those pictures tomorrow. We've got a full day of touring, eating and carousing ahead of us but tomorrow is a little undecided. We were initially planning on driving to Nashville next and having a full day there the next day, but we are starting to think about driving to Memphis on the first which should take around five hours and then drive to nashville the next day in three hours. Basically breaking up the eight hour drive into two sections. Our problem is that other than eating good barbecue in both cities we don't really have anything to do. If you've got anything that you think we might like to do in either city give me a shout in the comments on Facebook.