TL;DR | We walked in awe around the OKC Bombing Memorial, looked at apartment furnishings, applied to jobs, and watched the first Presidential Debate as we began our return to the real world. Also, Emily got a job!
We had originally planned to spend two nights in Dallas to see the Texas State Fair (we misread the dates and unfortunately missed this much-anticipated activity), but after extending our stay in Austin only had one night to enjoy the city. We stayed a little outside Dallas in a hotel with a good TV on which we were able to watch the debate. We bought greasy fried catfish and wings and watched the horror show that was Hillary and The Donald's attempt to answer questions. Our drinking game words were “security” for Stephen and “community” for Emily. Emily’s word was definitely the winner because, you know, she’s a winner, not a loser (can you guess who wrote this one?).
We seized the opportunity to stop in Waco, TX, and bask in the glory of Magnolia and the homey plaza created by Chip and Joanna Gaines and featured in the HGTV staple Fixer Upper. For some reason both Emily and Stephen went through a phase where this was on literally every night and watched a shocking number of episodes.
Our half day in Dallas led us to the Bishop Arts District, which was pretty cool. We got some good coffee, ate some really excellent pecan bourbon pie, and admired a $5000 espresso machine we'll never buy. We also stopped at Uncle Uber’s Sammich Shop, which lived up to the expectations Emily’s weird fixation on visiting had cast upon it. After this lunch we headed to Oklahoma City, where we spent the night at Cheever’s Café eating steak to celebrate Emily securing a job for when we return (as welcome as this news is, it does signal the impending end of the trip, which is a sad thing). As the number of cows we passed on the way into town would indicate, OKC is beef country and the steak certainly proved the region’s mastery of this protein.
Our main activity was a visit to the 1995 Bombing memorial. There is an outdoor space with a reflecting pool and two gates at either end indicating the minute before and after the bombing (9:01 and 9:03am respectively). There is also a metal chair for each person who died on the lawn adjacent to the pool. Facing these chairs is a museum, which primarily showcases the extraordinary efforts of the rescue workers and community members who helped in the chaos following the bombing. It was a striking exhibit and a powerful thing to see, especially considering we were very young when this tragedy occurred and, in the wake of many more recent terrorist attacks, have spent little time reflecting on this particular incident.
Oklahoma City began a stretch of the trip focused largely on Civil Rights Movement history and heavy yet delicious food, neither of which sits in our stomachs particularly well. Coming from New England, this is a side of the country neither of us have any intimate experience with, and we feel both lucky and overdue to get a sense of how challenging life was and frankly continues to be for many along the Southern Route.