“If only we had more time…”

The internet in here is awful, and it’s late, and I’m tired (nothing new). So this’ll be quick.

We bid goodbye to Norman this morning; it was actually raining just before we left, which was strange, because it’s almost always been sunny and dry while we’ve been here. But it cleared up before we got in the car. We stopped by the OU campus one last time so Jade could exchange an ill-fitting T-shirt, tried and failed to see the reading rooms in the library (which are full of Indian art), explored an OU logowear store near the OU Campus Corner (Norman has so much Sooner pride – it’s fun but a little overwhelming). That last visit really impressed upon me how charming Norman is as a college town; the houses are small (and super affordable), the people are friendly, and there are enough trees that I’m almost satisfied. I think OU wouldn’t be half bad for graduate school.

After less than 2 hours on the road we reached Lawton, where we visited the Museum of the Great Plains, had lunch (more delicious Mexican food), and got to touch a real mammoth femur in the archaeological research room! And that wasn’t completely unrelated to Native Americans, because there was a clear butchering indentation that shows that the mammoth bone was scraped by a human tool to get the meat off. We also saw prairie dogs. They. Are. Adorable. And apparently if you give them pork they go crazy – but we didn’t try that.

Next we paid a visit to Fort Sill, also in Lawton, which is an active artillery training base, but was also the fort where the captured Kiowa prisoners of war were kept in the 1870s before being train-transported to Fort Marion in Florida (which to you might sound like a lovely place to vacation, but was a nightmare to people who had only ever seen the plains). Other tribes, like the Comanches and some of the Apaches (including Geronimo’s band!) were imprisoned there, and we visited the Apache graveyard, which is very separated from the busy bustling of the base, out near open fields. That was very sad to see. Geronimo’s grave was easy to find because it was so prominent. I looked for Quanah Parker’s grave (he was a Comanche leader), because my aunt tells a story about how one of our ancestors was one of only 27 people to survive a Comanche attack lead by Parker, but I couldn’t find him.

Our last stop before beginning the long trek to Dallas was the Wichita Mountains, where we observed a buffalo from very close by (he paid us no attention and wouldn’t stop eating long enough to get a good picture). We also drove to the top of Mount Scott, the highest point in southwestern Oklahoma, and clambered all over the giant red rocks. We could see all around us for miles and miles; we were convinced we could see into Texas from there, but since we didn’t know what direction it was in, or what landmarks to look for, there was no way to be sure.

After that we drove. And drove. And drove. Lawton had been slightly out of the way, and the mountains even more so, so it took us more than 4 hours to get here to Dallas. Along the way we played the geography game, the state capitals game, all kinds of games. There was also plenty of napping and country music. I know all this sounds very un-research-like, but you have to understand – we’re all fairly drained. But tomorrow at the airport I can promise you I’ll be leafing through our thick pile of photocopied documents, underlining key quotes and mentally planning my writing. So don’t worry. I know what needs to get done.

Now it’s late, and we’re taking the shuttle to the airport at 8 a.m. My flight leaves just after 11, so the end of this trip is very near. It’s been fabulous, beyond all my imaginations. I just really wish, like we must have said every day at least once, that we had a little more time to see and do just a little more.

PHOTO GALLERY, PART V:

Prairie dog!

Buffalo!

View from the top of Mount Scott, in the Wichita Mountains.

About Rachel Isadore Steinberg

I'm Rachel. I'm a writer, a reader, a tea drinker, a tree climber, a dog lover, a journaler, a wonderer, a wanderer, an advocate, a believer, and a baker.
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