Saturday, September 22, 2012

On the road to Alamogordo, Day 1: Faith and Fury

Joplin tornado mural, 20th and Main, Missouri

First day on my relocation drive to Alamagordo.

There are a couple of routes I could have taken, but I wanted to stop in Joplin, Missouri, so that ruled out Highway 54, a route that charms me because I can take it from my home base all the way to Alamogordo.

So the plan was to take Interstate 44 and then 40 - the Mother Road - the old Route 66 that some people like to say is dead and not worth riding. (Another iteration of the song, "There's nothing to see there!"?)

I had a stroke of luck that lunchtime coincided with my proximity to Hood's truck stop restaurant off of Exit 61 in Bois D'Arc, Missouri, about 20 miles west of Springfield. Hood's is a dive-y sort of restaurant that has never failed to cheer me with good flavors, good prices, and good service.

Hood's Restaurant, Bois D'Arc, Missouri


Joplin, Missouri

I wanted to stop in Joplin to see two things: 
  1. The mosque that was burned
  2. Wildcat Glades Audubon Center, which I only discovered after learning about the (now complete) Exit the Highway campaign

Mosque. It is so disturbing that throughout the world, after millenia of such violations, we still destroy others' places of worship. It must be a visceral thing. When someone wants to do real damage to another, they go for the core of the other's identity or personal space, like rape.

I wanted to see the burned mosque, to look at the devastation wrought by a human, designed to violate the essence of others.

(Note: This was the second fire at the Joplin mosque in the space of about a month. Investigators did confirm that the damaging July fire was a result of arson (the FBI is now offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction); the investigation continues for the August fire that destroyed the mosque.) 

The mosque fire in Joplin was especially poignant, as the city had already suffered deeply from the tornado in May 2011.  After the tornado, the Muslim congregation, like congregations of other faiths in Joplins, had offered its facility as a shelter for relief workers and also made donations to survivors.  

After the fire, the Joplin faith community embraced the Muslim congregation with tangible and intangible support.

It saddens me when I hear Americans emphasize Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein, as a sneering insult or accept, without any examination whatsoever, the calculated lie that President Obama is a "secret Muslim." As if being Muslim were something malevolent.  Former Secretary Colin Powell (Republican) expressed my feeling perfectly in 2008, when he said:
"I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said. Such things as 'Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well the correct answer is 'He is not a Muslim, he's a Christian, he's always been a Christian.' But the really right answer is 'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer is 'No. That's not America.' Is there something wrong with some 7-year old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she can be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
Source: Washington Post article, Powell Rejects Islamophobia


Remains of Joplin's burned mosque



Tornado mural. After leaving the mosque site, I worked my way back to Main Street (Highway 43) and saw, by chance, a colorful mural on the side of a commercial building, next to the Conoco station on the corner (20th Street and Main). The artwork expressed the hopes and self-reassurances for recovery and memorials for the irretrievable loss of family and friends. Only a mile or so away from the burned mosque, the beauty of the mural underlined the creator/destroyer dimensions of the human animal. 



The tornado. Nothing hit me in a more physical way about the tornado than this video of people taking shelter in a c-store storage room before the tornado approached, as it arrived, raged overhead, and departed.




Wildcat Glades Audubon Center. Pretty. Took a short walk. Then took the same walk again when I couldn't find my reading glasses, which I subsequently put on a leash, the damn things. The visitor center exterior is pretty cool, a sort of earthworks construction with lines, seam-like, engraved into the walls. There are quite a number of short trails to choose from. Alas, the trail signage completely sucks, and the trail map is of little use (with no signs to complement it), so it's a crap shoot if you get or stay on the trail you want. (But I'm directionally-impaired, so that is also a factor.) There was a very large and friendly rabbit inside the visitor center. The center is so close to Interstate 44 that it's a worthwhile place to stop to stretch your legs, use the bathroom, and take in a little nature education.  

Wildcat Glades Audubon Center, Joplin, Missouri

A slide show: 




Chandler, Oklahoma

"Oklahoma," a Cherokee word that means "do not drive into smoke,"  said translation frequently announced on the the state's highways.

Credit: Albertelli. Note: I made it black and white for more clarity.

My mother and I stopped in Tulsa and Oklahoma City on a road trip awhile back, so I felt no need to do so today. As I passed Tulsa, though, I remembered the art museum we visited, where absolutely no photos were permitted. That's my only take-away from that museum. A pity. If I had photos (without flash, of course), I could revisit that museum in a sense, and share what I saw with others, who might then be moved to visit the museum for themselves. Fortunately, I do have this, and can now remember that it was the Gilcrease Museum, and the lone photo I posted was from the National Gallery of Art and not the Gilcrease.

OK, I digress with what is evidently a grudge against the Gilcrease bureacrats, and move on to Chandler. Stopped here for the night after an abortive stop earlier at a Super 8 that wanted something like $70 for a single room. Are you kidding me? So I pulled into Chandler, where I knew from highway signage there was an Econolodge and a Lincoln Motel. The Econolodge had a worn exterior and the receptionist inside, well, did not inspire confidence in the room quality, but nevertheless, she wanted about 70 bucks as well. Ridiculous. So I politely said I'd check out the other motel in town. It took awhile to find it, as Chandler's street layout is the most peculiar I've ever seen, but then I saw it. A Route 66 gem.




Loved it. Went into the lobby. Price = $45 and with tax, $50. Honey, I'm home!

Two middle-aged men sat outside on a bench smoking what must have been the longest cigars I've ever seen. Another two men, also of a certain age, bikers, were guests, as well. The Mother Road had called them, I'm sure.

OK, the exterior is magnificent. The interior ... needs a little work. Here's what was good: Clean sheets, clean towels, clean bathroom, a mini-fridge, a microwave, free wifi (secured), air conditioning, television. Not so good: The walls and switch plates were dirty. Maybe the carpet, too. And late in the evening, I saw this really gigantic (gigantic) flying insect - like a 1950s radioactive thing - that fluttered quietly on my sweatshirt that draped on a chair.  I had no killing weapon other than a hand towel from the bathroom that I intended to wield if it got rude and attempted to invade my space. Otherwise, I just tried to ignore it and hoped it did likewise. And it did. In the morning it was gone, but you can be sure I checked every bit of my belongings the next morning to make sure it didn't suddenly fly out while I was driving on the interstate.

The next morning, I told the manager what I liked about the place - and there was a lot! - and what I didn't. Would I stay there again? Probably, though I'd see if there were a room with cleaner walls.

A note, again, to hoteliers (and Caucasus Georgian train employees) everywhere: I don't care if your furniture and decor are dated. I know it costs money to replace these things, and I'll trade au courant decor for low prices any day. But it costs virtually nothing to clean your switch plates, telephones, remote controls, and walls. And if you're the manager or owner and you've got to do this your own damn self, then just do it. 

So ended my first day driving to my new home base.

2 comments:

Jen2010 said...

The motel buildings are so 1950s America - or as we Brits would imagine he he

Mzuri said...

Your imagination is correct!