In the 1970s, George Salter of the Atlanta Journal began a trek that would evolve into his blip on the radar of American History. He would pick any small town in the state of Georgia, travel there and begin to ask around. Eventually, he would find a story worth telling. And then he’d tell it. I wasn’t even aware of this work when I began to mull over traveling around our great state this past summer and taking roads not well traveled. I wanted to meet the people at the very ends of the trails…those who had lived lives I would never experience unless I somehow came in touch with them. It was then that one of my friends commented to me during our discourse, “Yeah, like the Georgia Rambler!” After researching his work, I thought to myself… “Yeah, like the Georgia Rambler. Exactly.”
But this is 2011, and my state is Oklahoma, and I’m a girl who was born some time after the Georgia Rambler so it can’t be ‘exactly.’ It might not even be ‘nearly.’ And, to begin this series I had targeted areas I wanted to learn about (as opposed to randomly just beginning to look around) – as well as wishing for a traveling companion the first time out. Perhaps I should tell you about both of those wishes before I begin to share about the people we met and places we visited over a period of about 40 hours last week.
First…my companion: I had as my ride-along none other than our Homestead and Garden writer, Julie at the Ranch. A back story about her and I includes the fact that we are third cousins who never got to know each other until this past year, and that’s only because of the social networking phenomenon we now take for granted. Julie packed her bags, loaded up her vehicle and headed toward Oklahoma last Monday morning. Her first stop was Collinsville to see friends from her college days at OSU. Monday night they greeted, ate, laughed and got caught up from the time they saw each other last. The next morning, she headed to Edmond and by 10:00 we were on the road driving toward Norman. Our agenda was loose, flexible and neither of us were highly committed to any of the ideas we were bandying about betwixt us. In the end, however, a journey was made. People were met. Things were learned. And somewhere along the way Julie and I found out just how connected our lives had been while growing up even though we never formerly spent time together.
Second…what we learned: She and I learned that navigating the back roads of northwestern Oklahoma is relatively easy when you have a little “map pin” pinging you along the way on an iPhone. We learned that if you want to see every star humanly possible and rid yourself of light pollution at night, three miles west of Jet, Oklahoma is a great place to start. We learned that the farmers in Oklahoma are networked, highly articulate and purposeful in what they do. We learned that people fly to Burlington, Oklahoma to eat “the best steak in Oklahoma,” but really it’s probably to get connected to their humanity again. And, we learned that if you ever wanted to spend your life “Red Dirt Rambling,” it would be a noble existence…interacting with what I feel are some of the most genuine and special people on this earth.
So, with this little introduction now under your proverbial belt, it’s time to dig in and meet some of those people…and the places…I mentioned in the paragraph above. I invite you to ride along with Julie and I, and I look forward to sharing our journey with you. Look for our first entry on Monday afternoon. We’ll file them under “Red Dirt Rambler” in our Categories box.
All the very best,
[kelly] along with [julie]
Read all the Red Dirt Rambler entries here.