Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…


Was that a house that just went sailing by? A witch on a bicycle? A girl and her little dog?

Tornado Alley is not my locale of choice. All the news stations are filled with “dangerous weather” reports – and justifiably – but it makes my head itch (as a friend’s mother used to tell her). Thursday afternoon and evening in parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas were tragic. A massive, severe storm system swept through the region, setting off violent tornadoes, ripping trees, houses, and other buildings to shreds, and leaving at least nine people dead.

While I don’t mean to make light of it with my intro, I also need a little gallows humor to help me wrap my mind and heart around the tragedy of it all. We are safe. We are dry and warm. We don’t live in a region where these severe storms are a part of our every spring. Give me snow, ice, sleet, and freezing rain any time over violent tornadoes and powerful winds. Our weather is more slow-moving, giving us a chance to prepare, to decide to stay home, or to risk going out in it prepared to drive defensively.

I’ve watched the Weather Channel, and all the local TV stations to get a sense of where to head next and whether or not we will be following the storm and not driving into it. The good news for us Tumbleweeds is that the storm is well out ahead of us to the east. We will have clear skies and smooth driving from here to the coast. The bad news, is the system continues to wreak havoc as it progresses to the east.

Today, I was grateful to be driving along roads that were bordered by green trees and fields, with rivers and watering holes that actually had water in them! While it wasn’t sunny, we didn’t encounter any rain all day. The wind was pushing hard from the northwest – 25-30 mph with stronger gusts (according to all those extreme weather reporters).

Along the way from Oklahoma City to here, I spotted a sign for the “National Shrine to the Infant Jesus of Prague, Exit 200.” My late mother-in-law was a devoted Catholic all her life, and she held a special place in her heart for this little Infant of Prague, so I decided to go and see it in her honor. When Exit 200 came up, the sign said the shrine was 7 miles north (in Prague, Oklahoma of all places!) and off we went.

I’m not religious, but decided to light a candle for our safe journey all the way home…

On the way back to the car, I smiled thinking that my mother-in-law would appreciate my visit to the shrine…

Our plan is this: tonight we are in Fort Smith, Arkansas (another state briefly under our belt). Tomorrow, I want to get an early start and get to Beale Street, Memphis, by lunchtime. Sunday: Birmingham, AL. Monday: Macon, GA. Tuesday: Savannah! At long last – city of my heart’s desire…

Except for Memphis, the other cities are mere waypoints on our journey to Savannah. I’m hoping to spend two nights in Savannah, and really get to explore the city.

This afternoon, after checking in at our hotel, I took Max downtown trying to find a park where we could play ball. Me: throwing. Him: off-leash. No dice. The lovely park I found was geared for people and kids, but not for off-leash dogs.

I spotted a fenced cemetery up on a hill near the park – AHA! That would do… But signs at the gate indicated dogs MUST be on leash at all times.

To steal a term from my niece, I was getting snarlish…

Max wasn’t snarlish at all. He had faith in my ability to find a playground for us. Just downhill from the cemetery was a softball field, with large fenced parking lot, and large grassy hill. The gate to the parking lot was open. There was not a sign to say dogs weren’t welcome. And there was no one else there.

I drove in. I parked. I got the chuckit from the car. I got the dog from the car (NO leash). He started jumping around me trying to steal the ball from the jaw of the chuckit…

…and we spent a wonderful hour on the grass. Me throwing. Max fetching. Me laughing. Max grinning a big old doggy grin. It was a great antidote to scary weather, and long hours in the car.

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About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in Arkansas, Eating out on a road trip, Oklahoma, Puppy antics, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…

  1. Diana Richardson says:

    Love the excitement of your adventures and the counterpoint of pleasurable recreation. Yay, Mozella-Bella.

  2. hank says:

    wow. that was a great read, momo.

  3. Lynne Magee says:

    I probably sbouldn’t say this, since I’ve lived here 20 years, but you were wise not to use a lot of your time in Oklahoma. Although it has its merits, you didn’t miss a lot. My next big stop would be Memphis, too. Met my sister, Ellie Adams there in ’05, and we had a really fun time. But Maine will always be home! Safe wishes to the three tumbleweeds.

  4. Lynne Magee says:

    After 20 years here (That long? Wow!), I can honestly say that you were wise to scoot through Oklahoma. It has its merits and places to see, but you really didn’t miss much. My next big stop would be Memphis, too. Met my sister, Ellie Adams there in ’05 and had a great time. But Maine will always be home. Safe and fun travels to the three tumbleweeds!

  5. Lynne Magee says:

    Sorry about the two posts the first indicated that it didn’ t go through.

  6. Gandalf says:

    Not yet seven AM here, you post at 11:40 PM the night before, and already you’ve got 5 responses. Doesn’t anybody sleep anymore????

    I’m with you, Mo, on chosen geography. Some of the scariest moments of my 27 years in Cincinnati were the tornados. So unpredictable, huddling in the southeast corner of the basement late at night, seeing the damage two blocks away, or two miles, or twenty — real recipes for deep-seated anxiety. There’s a lot to be said for New England’s storms that you have time to prepare for, isn’t there?

    We’re waiting for you, Mo Mo. Drive safe! I’ve got pictures to show YOU!

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Hendrik – they all sleep in shifts so they can be sure to roll those comments in! The sun just poked its head above the horizon here – we’re eating breakfast and then we’re Memphis-bound…

  7. sarah doremus says:

    Oh how I do enjoy these

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Sarah – I am so glad you do! Today, I wish I could click my heels together three times, saying “there’s no place like home…” and presto! I’d be there!

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