October 24, 1999

Happy Trails

The day dawned, bright and clear and we lounged abed, plotting and planning for the day, yawning hugely. At last we got ourselves moving and headed for The Green Onion for brunch, a restaurant listed as having "the best brunch in town" in the hotel brochure. I was much more wary of that brochure after the fiasco of the previous night, but we were hungry and eager to get our hands on "the best brunch in town."

Happily, the place turned out to be just what we'd hoped it would be. The spread of food was truly impressive, though the cream puffs that I sampled left much to be desired, since they were filled with overly sweetened, flavored whipped cream instead of crème anglaise. However, the Eggs Benedict were yummy, the biscuits and gravy, delectable and the rhubarb-strawberry-apple pie was to die for. I also had one sausage link, a slice of bacon and some fruit, but Sabs topped me, filling his plate at least three times.

We virtually rolled out of the place, feeling very satisfied with this meal at least, and headed for the downtown area to park the car at the Expo Center and catch the shuttle bus to the Oktoberfest.

I had very high hopes for the Oktoberfest, expecting something with at least a passing resemblance to a trie German Oktoberfest: meaning that there would be good beer there and in ample quantities.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. The Oktoberfest in Tulsa seems to be more about gouging people by selling "German" crafts and clothing, doing the chicken dance a lot and playing really a lot of loud oompah music while downing pitchers of Bud Light or Michelob in "a responsible fashion."

There were large signs everywhere prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors and you had to check in at a booth at the entrance to get a wristband so that one could easily be identified as being of age. Unfortunately, while we were eager to sample good beer, nary a good beer was to be found. The best the Oktoberfest organizers seemed to be able to come up with was some Killian's Red.

We retreated from the festival after sampling some drastically overpriced food -- sausages for Sabs and a funnel cake for me and I succumbed to the far too charming man at the front booth and bought two chicken dance hats for my brothers. They'd better wear them and laugh a lot. Very very funny hats in the shape of chickens, white with red and orange accents. Heh heh heh.

Feeling vaguely let down, we packed onto the next shuttle last to the expo and went off in search of the restaurant that we wanted to have dinner at, while keeping our eyes peeled for a movie theater, since just about everything else was closed on Sundays.

We found the restaurant without too much difficulty after taking in some truly breath-taking scenery around Tulsa. It too was closed so we couldn't make a reservation for that evening and there was no movie theater in sight so we asked a convenient passerby for directions and then ambled off thattaway.

A half hour later after a detour through the mall and the theater across the street from it, we were happily ensconced in the StarPlanet theaters multiplex watching American Beauty.

Absolutely amazing. Best film I've seen all year, except maybe for Elizabeth. If it doesn't get an Oscar nod, I'll eat my hat.

At any rate, we were both profoundly affected by the movie and the message that we got out of it -- something akin to the all too pat Make It Count of Titanic, but deeper.

That's probably a very large motivating factor in what happened next.


As we drove last towards the restaurant, thinking now about dinner, Sabs turned to me and said,

"Y'know, I really don't want to take that flight tomorrow. I've got this terrible feeling like I've used up all my good flights and if we get on it, then we'll crash."

"Y'know, " says I, "me too."

"How about we drive home?"

"Okay!"

A few frantic calls later and we'd arranged to turn in the rental that we'd been driving since Friday night and for pick up of another vehicle that we could drive halfway across the country in 24 hours. We had to drop off and pick up by 7pm and it was now almost 6:30 so we booked last to the hotel.

Sabs checked us out while I tossed all of our stuff into the suitcase and did a room check, then we were driving last to the Tulsa Airport as if the hounds of hell were after us.

At 7:30 we were tooling North on Interstate 44 towards St. Louis, Missouri.

It's a shame it was already dark out as we drove through the rolling hills of the Ozarks. I've always wanted to see that area of the country, ever since I read the Little House books, in which Laura and Almanzo eventually settle down in the Ozarks. But I did get a sense of the vastness of the land there, as I did around Tulsa and the stars pulsed brightly above as the temperature dropped and the frost crept up the window panes.

We hit St. Louis at around 1am and Sabs felt that he couldn't go any further, so we sacked out for a few hours at a Holiday Inn Express just outside of the city on Interstate 64.

The sight of the St. Louis arch, all lit up at 1am is not one that I'll soon forget.

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