We started the day off by stopping at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma. I figured it would be a tourist trap that was designed to only suck your money away. I was wrong. It was an adorable, yet small, museum dedicated to preserving the history of Route 66. The displays included quite a few authentic photographs, props and even cars of the time. I am really glad we stopped as it was informative and fun.
While driving in the west, one cannot help but notice all the casinos along the way. I totally understand that those casinos bring tourist dollars into the community, provide decent wages to local people and they allow people to better themselves. I get it, I really do. But when you look around and you see big, bright and shiny casinos surrounded by broken down cars, trailers in desperate need of repair and other obvious signs of economic blight, it becomes hard not to look at the casino as, at least, a partial reason for the problems.
We stopped in one, since I have only been in a casino once in Niagara Falls. I decided to try my luck at the penny slots. I took a seat by a slot machine that showed brightly colored cupcakes (how bad could it be…they were cupcakes and party hats) and tried my luck. I was up to $40 from my original $20 and feeling pretty good, when Lady Luck decided to leave the room. In no time, all the money was gone and I was left with nothing. As I looked around the room, I saw the same look I had on many of the faces there and I hoped they had not come here looking to make enough money to pay the rent or buy groceries. It may happen for a few, but for the majority winning is not a option.
I have been so down that I have resorted to playing the Lottery in hopes of getting some relieve. I understand the concept, but never once have I won. You only end up losing what little you had to begin with. Everyone knows that the casinos are in business to make money, but human nature, no matter how down and out, still has that one glimmer of hope that says today will be the day. It just hardly ever is that day. I am not sure what point I wanted to make other than I saw the sadness and hope that I can help somehow, someday. I am not anti-casino, in fact for the most part I never give them a thought, but the “lure of easy money has a very strong appeal.” (words by Glenn Frey)
I do not know how I keep getting off on these negative notes. I do not mean to, but you cannot close your eyes to the lives around you. This trip is about self-awareness and awareness in general, so I guess it is only right that these things stand out to me. It is making me realize that the world is truly much bigger than what I see in my everyday life and that many people are hurting (some of it is self-induced, I get that too).
(Removing myself from the soapbox again.) On a lighter note, I have learned a few lessons so far from this trip and I thought I would share them:
- I have gone two weeks without any television and I have not died! I cannot believe how freeing it is not to be hooked to the television. I may be a little out of touch with news and such, but it feels good to have cut that cord a bit.
- I can shower in a public shower as long as there is a door. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I could ever do that. You get to a point and have no choice and you do what you have to do.
- No matter how much I try (and I have), I am just not an outdoorsy-kinda gal. I can appreciate nature and its beauty from inside the air conditioned car. I still rather sit inside with a good book and an iced tea. I tried….I really did!
- Seems most Western drivers like to go really fast. I am a slow poke driver who has to work at keeping up with the speed limits out here. Cruise control, on the open road not in town, is my friend.
- Diner food is the absolutely best! I love the atmosphere and the food. We need more diners!!
- I can exist on one meal day (and a few snacks). I was eating way too much and that is not necessarily a good thing.
- I can sleep in a tent. Yes, I can. I may not be particularly fond of the notion, but I can now do it and am even somewhat helpful in the putting up and taking down of it. NEVER in a million years!
I know it is not a terribly noteworthy list, but I am getting there. I am doing things I never dreamed I could do. Thank you for listening. I appreciate all of you out “there.”