We took a wrong turn as we entered Oklahoma City because Adam failed to listen to Annie’s directions. Google recalculated and brought us through the hood of OKC. It was a slight uphill mental battle after that because we didn’t feel safe from the get-go. While we actually really enjoyed our stay here, we may not be back particularly soon.
Outside of a metalworking shop, a man was pounding iron with a large sledgehammer. As we walked by, he invited Annie to give it a try. She said, "Sure, I'll give it a go." Annie was shocked at how heavy the hammer was. She had to hold it in two hands, while he had only held it in one. The metal was burning bright red and each pound reshaped the iron just a little bit. Annie wasn’t particularly good at pounding the metal... in fact, she was below average, so the man took over and made a small Oklahoma-shaped trinket for her before we left. He bore a hole in it so that she could wear it as a necklace. We can conclusively rule out blacksmith as one of Annie's future professions.
Back Alley Graffiti
Our host showed us a hidden gem in her neighborhood. We were a little nervous when we turned a corner and started walking in a back alley behind some shops. It was dark, quiet, and there were two grungy-looking men back there. But our Airbnb host wasn’t worried and she encouraged us to move a little faster, “C’mon, they’re back here.” Within seconds, we were walking by at least 20 different spray-painted murals. Artists are selected annually to re-invent these walls and they were almost finished with this year’s creations. Their graffiti art was really well done and we never would have found this place without our host.
We have vague memories of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, but we both knew that we didn’t want to leave this city without visiting the memorial dedicated to those killed and affected by the attack. We were 7 years old when it happened, and we didn’t understand the magnitude of the bombing, which remains the most destructive act of domestic terrorism in US history. A long dark rectangular pool is at the center of the memorial – it’s a thin layer of water that covers black granite. A clock at one end symbolizes the peace of the city that existed the minute prior to the explosion. The clock on the other side symbolizes the minute after the bomb went off. Fire from the enormous explosion spread across 4 blocks in all directions. 168 people were killed and hundreds more were injured. There is a field of empty stone chairs on a grassy lawn beside the pool – they are inscribed with the names of the victims. We spent an hour here and learned a lot about how much suffering this city has endured.