Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oklahoma Road Trip Nov 2015

Road Trip

Since our last Tuziblog posting from Houston in July, we have been at home in Cedar Crest in recovery mode.  In November Susie started post-surgery bi-weekly chemo treatments here in Albuquerque.  It happened that daughter-in-law Suzy Hinkle, who helped us so much in Houston, was coming here to visit her two sons -- helping to plan another wedding, too, just after the NY wedding of her daughter, Kaci, that we attended in September.  Suzy could stay with Susie, provide aid and comfort, and accompany her to an infusion session (fluids, not chemo).  This relief provided me an opportunity to take a weeklong trip to Oklahoma (Nov 6-13) to see family and friends and Susie said, "Go for it."  With an opportunity also to see the OSU-TCU battle of unbeaten football teams, I went.

Friday, Nov. 6

I loaded our little red pick-up with snacks, soft drinks, CDs, recorded books, and a suitcase and left at 5 am.  Right away, Willie's Roadhouse, channel 59 on SiriusXM, hit the right notes with Making Believe, by Emmylou Harris, He Stopped Loving Her Today, George Jones, and Faded Love, Willie Nelson and Ray Price.  What a start!  So much sadness in just three songs! That's what country music is all about.

I stopped for breakfast at a Love's in Santa Rosa, NM (son Jeff Hinkle is now in training in Albuquerque to become a manager of a TBD Love's, so that will be our preferred travel stop from now on), and then picked right up with Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Hank Williams.  Tried a recorded book, but soon switched back to satellite radio and CDs, played loudly. Any time I didn't particularly like Willie's selection, I switched to channel 61, Bluegrass: Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Seldom Scene, etc.

I made a stop west of Amarillo to inspect the Cadillac Ranch work of art.  Have driven by here often in the 48 years I've lived in Albuquerque, but only stopped once or twice.  Initially the cars were handsome tail-finned Cadillacs, but they evolved, via vandalism, as planned (according to the link), to spray-painted, mostly de-finned hulks.  Cool, huh.

I texted this picture with the caption, Amarillo!!, to family members and got back "by morning" from Jeff Easterling.  Gave me new respect for his music tastes.

Had lunch in Erick, OK, home of Roger Miller AND Sheb Wooley.  (Don't worry.  I'm not going to give a mile by mile, meal by meal report.  My early start gave me a chance for some side trips on this day.)

At Clinton, OK, I branched off of I-40 to the north in order to take some state highways to Guthrie, my destination.  Decided to stop at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton.  Some pictures:

Several nice exhibits and movies here, so if you're ever through Clinton, OK, stop at the Route 66 Museum.

The plan in Guthrie was to meet my sister, Verla, in downtown where we would take a guided ghost walk.  Guthrie was the first state capital of OK and is loaded with historic buildings - see the link to Guthrie for some examples.  Here's one and strange things still happen over there.

The tales of our ghost walk guide were interesting, so I won't reveal any of what I heard.  But, if you're ever in Guthrie on a Friday evening, ... .

Saturday, Nov. 7

Game Day.  OSU.  Verla and I walked around the campus some, checked out the Student Union, then went to Eskimo Joe's, the renowned campus hangout, for lunch.  It was standing room only, noise at uproar level.  We never did snag a table, but did manage to place an order with a waitress.  When it came, we took it out front to eat it.  Was a perfect day - clear and just a little cool.  Then we followed ritual - watched and listened to the drum corps, then the band, then paraded to the stadium, that's T. Boone Pickens Stadium, thank you very much Mr. Pickens.

The school color of orange is called "a brighter orange."  Several years ago OSU had a display in the Love Field airport in Dallas.  The invitation was to attend school at OSU,  for a brighter orange.  That's as opposed to the burnt orange of a certain Texas university.  I always got a chuckle about that, wondered if many Texans got the point.

But, I digress.  All this was topped off by a big (yuge) win, 49-29, over TCU (a purple horned frog, of all things).  AWESOME!  Almost made up for the last game I saw there - two years ago when we lost to OU on a last-minute score, on a day when the temperature was in single digits, Fahrenheit.  My toes are still numb.

After the game we drove home by way of the small town of Perkins, where we stopped at a pizza place.  Via the magic of iPhones, Verla found that some friends were nearby and they stopped in to visit.  (Verla is very involved in the country and bluegrass music scene in and around Guthrie - she jams with Byron Berline, who is a nationally-known fiddle player.  Here's a sample of him and his band. )  The couple who stopped in (Jim and Doris Garling; cowboyjimgarling.com) are part of that community.  At any rate, Jim invited us to come to a Cowboy Church in Perkins Sunday morning, so we did.

Sunday, Nov 8

As we entered the Rockin' M Cowboy Church (M for Mission) Jim asked Verla if she'd sing a song.  She said she would, borrowed his guitar, and did: the song being Where I'm Going by Marijohn Wilkin.  Click on the link to hear a great song with lots of meaning.  Click on Show More to read the lyrics.  A feature of Cowboy Churches: lots of good ole' gospel singing, led at the Rockin' M by Cowboy Jim.

Sunday afternoon we drove down to Edmond to my sister, Connie's, house.  Here are we three siblings:

Still wearin' my brighter orange.  Sibling # 4 is our brother, Lael, about whom more below.

Connie and husband, Tom, raised and home-schooled six boys.  The youngest is a sophomore in college and the only one still living at home - nothing wrong with that.  The other five are married and busy generating grandchildren.  Here's Peter and Aunt Verla.

Monday, Nov 9

I stayed Sunday and Monday nights at Connie's.  Monday noon I had arranged to meet four classmates, that's Tonkawa HS, class of 1960, for lunch: Tana, Marilyn, Karen, and Mary Lynn.  They've lived most of their post-Tonkawa lives in Edmond and, even though I've been in Edmond many times in the intervening 55 years, I had only seen them at occasional class reunions in Tonkawa.  We had a nice lunch and visit and resolved to do this again some time.  Oops, no pictures.  None of us has changed a bit.

Tuesday, Nov 10
Back to Stillwater.  I dedicated my recently published book, Fundamentals of Statistical Experimental Design and Analysis (you may have heard about it -- available at Wiley.com and Amazon.com) to two of my OSU professors and to my boss for most of my Sandia career.  One professor has died and I knew from my visit a year ago that the other was sliding into dementia, but I wanted to take him a copy of my book so that he and his family could know how much I valued his teaching.  Just a few days before I left home I learned that he was now in an assisted living facility in another town, but I still planned to visit his wife, Shirley, and leave the book for her and their family.  Then, I learned that over the weekend Dave had had some complications so Shirley would be with him on Tuesday.  She said, Just leave the book inside the back door, which I did.  Here's my note.

To: Dave Weeks and Family

As my thesis advisor, teacher, and friend, you taught me to think about data and how statistics can help us understand and learn about life – and to have fun along the way.  I think this book reflects that approach – e.g., pp. 92-94, 104-105. 

One small thing that stuck with me: One day in class you told us how you knew that you had “made it,” financially, when you could buy a pair of binoculars and not have to think about how much it cost.  So, after starting work at Sandia, and having a few paychecks in the bank, I bought a pair of binoculars. 

 Thanks for your teaching and the example you set for so many students,

Bob Easterling 

A second reason for going to Stillwater was to meet with the Statistics Dept. Chairman.  We had a good visit and lunch with a couple of other department members.  Several years ago I had told the previous chairman that I would be interested in teaching a semester at OSU.  The present chairman asked if I was interested in doing that now.  I said maybe, but not likely.

From Stillwater I drove north to Tonkawa.  I had an appointment on Wednesday at Northern Oklahoma College.  Spent the night with classmate, Joe Brining, at his combination house and insurance agency.  Went to dinner with Joe and two other classmates (Lloyd and Deana) at an Italian restaurant in nearby Ponca City.  Next morning went with Joe, his brother, Bill, and another classmate (Lee) to nearby Blackwell for breakfast.  Good visits all around - sort of a slow motion, low turnout 55th reunion.

Wednesday, Nov 11 

NOC is a two-year college.  Back in the 50s and 60s my Dad was its president.  A few years ago I set up a scholarship in honor of my parents.  It's given to a sophomore majoring in social studies who has shown a strong interest and ability in this area as a freshman.  Its model is my Dad, from rural Oklahoma, who majored in history, taught and coached in small-town high schools (which is how he met my Mom, but that's another story - he coached the girls' basketball team in Selman, OK), served in the Navy in WWII, then returned to earn graduate degrees, was on the History Dept. faculty at Kansas State U, then back to Oklahoma -- Tonkawa to be specific.

Anyhow, each year I try to go to Tonkawa to meet the scholarship recipient (selected by the social studies department).  This year the recipient was a nice young lady from Ponca City - a 26-year-old single mother with two children.  She had been in an abusive relationship.  When she managed to get out of that she decided she needed to go to college and pursue a career - to support her family and to help people avoid what she had been through.  So, she's taking psychology and behavioral science courses and planning to continue her studies in a four-year college and maybe beyond.  She hopes to become a marriage and family counselor.  She talked movingly about how she identifies with what she's now learning about dysfunctional relationships in her present classes because she experienced it first-hand.  I'm glad to be able to help her pursue her goals and wish her all the best.

After visiting with the recipient and Social Studies chairman, the NOC Foundation Director, Sheri Snyder, and another member of that staff gave me a tour of the campus and took me to lunch.  The college has just built a new dorm and is in the process of renovating various buildings, including Easterling Hall, a girl's dorm - it looks to be doing well.  In addition to Tonkawa, NOC now has campuses in Enid and Stillwater.

The subject of Tonkawa HS came up.  Sheri said, Have you seen the high school's new special events center?  We'll show you that.  It's a large metal building suitable for basketball, music programs, graduation ceremonies, ... .  Very nice.

In the lobby of the building I saw a display of THS graduates who had served in Vietnam.  I knew that at last fall's Homecoming (2014) they had honored this group, including my brother, Lael, Class of 1964, who served in the Navy over there.  I saw his caption, name and Class, but then realized that it wasn't his picture; it was my senior picture!  The Principal, who had let us in the building, said he'd get that fixed right away.  Don't know how that happened.  I emailed Lael, who is in Australia now, and he replied that the mixup was pretty "hilarious."  We Easterlings don't really all look alike.  I'll check the display next year and let you know if it's been fixed.

After Tonkawa, I headed back to Edmond (about 80 miles).  This was a change of plans because I had just found out Tuesday that there would be a joint concert featuring two of Oklahoma's finest musicians, Kyle Dillingham, fiddle player, and Edgar Cruz, guitarist.  Kyle leads a folk/ country/bluegrass group called Horseshoe Road.  Verla has been a big fan for several years.  Here's his bio from the Oklahoma Arts Council:

Kyle Dillingham, of Oklahoma City, started playing the violin when he was nine and received his bachelor's degree in instrumental music performance from Oklahoma City University. He is an Oklahoma Creativity Ambassador and was a 2009 recipient of the OK Governor's Art's Award. Kyle also works as the "Ambassador in Residence" at the University of Central Oklahoma, using his "musical diplomacy" to help develop and strengthen new overseas relationships for the university.

While still in high school, Kyle was featured twice on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. He has performed for the King of Malaysia, the Princess of Thailand, Singapore's National Day Celebration, and his performance at the Beijing Central Conservatory was broadcast on Chinese national television. A frequent visitor to Washington D.C, he has performed for the Japanese, Thai and Saudi Arabian Ambassadors, to name a few. He has also performed several times with Roy Clarke and Hank Thompson. He has been soloist with the Amici New York Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Enid Symphony Orchestra, the UCO Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra and the Oklahoma Community Orchestra. Kyle has taken his music to over 30 countries earning him the title of "Oklahoma's Musical Ambassador."

Here's Kyle's rendition of The Orange Blossom Special

Edgar Cruz is also an OCU graduate in music.  The two didn't overlap, but had some of the same instructors.  I think an instructor is the person who suggested they do a joint concert.  Cruz, it happened, had just played three sold-out performances in Albuquerque, so he's obviously a big-time musician, too.  Here he plays the William Tell Overture.

This promo for their Veteran's Day concert says that OK music fans have been requesting a joint concert for years, so this promised to be a special night.  And it was.  Two hours of incredible duets and solos.  They both have lots of music on youtube, if you're inclined to check it out.

Thursday, Nov 12

Next day I headed west, to see my cousin, Ross, and wife, Marsha, in Laverne, OK, which is in the last county before you get to the panhandle.  Some scenes along the way:

Got to Laverne (home of Miss America 1967, Jane Ann Jayroe) in time for lunch at the local soda shop.  The special of the day by the Japanese-American cook was "peppered" beef, rice, and an egg roll!  Only in America!  After nearly a week in OK I had maxed out on the state meal, chicken-fried steak with french fries and cream gravy, so I went for the special, we all did - a very good choice.

Just over a year ago, October, 2014, Ross and Marsha had come to NM to see us.  We did the Balloon Fiesta and a day in Santa Fe and had a great time.  You can see more pictures and stories by going back to Tuzigoot postings of that period.

Ross hates to leave his cattle, so I had asked him, as I planned this trip, to see his cattle.  I got the full tour.  As I told Marsha afterwards, I saw every piece of land settled by every member of the Pile clan.  Also saw what's left of the little nearby town of May.  E.g., saw the vacant lot where the post office once stood.  Or, was it the general store?  Saw the home place where Ross grew up and where I loved to visit.  Ross's dad was a pilot, so I may have gotten a plane ride there back in the day, or at least got to see him take off.

The cattle were generally off in distant corners, but unfortunately I didn't get a picture when I could have.  

Finished the day with a slice of Marsha's freshly home-made coconut cream pie.  Yum yum.

Friday, Nov. 13.

Homeward bound.  Friday the 13th, but all went well.

Down the road, in Shattuck, OK, is a nice collection of windmills I've visited before. 

Got to Amarillo and stopped to visit our long-time friends, Roy and Sue Sooter, and had lunch with them.

Just to get a break from I-40, I got off and drove through Santa Rosa, NM on Historic Route 66.  I've done this many times, but this time I caught a glimpse, a block away, of this historic county courthouse that I had never seen.  Live and learn.  Or, drive and learn

Made one more pit stop at the new and expanded Clines Corners emporium.  Got home to Susie and Suzy about 4 pm.  They had had a good week, too.

That's all, folks.


As this report is finished, Tuesday morning, we have 4-6 inches of snow on the ground and a howling wind.  We had been scheduled to have some of our old, drafty windows replaced this morning, but that obviously got postponed.  Our next travel planned is to Highlands Ranch, CO, for Thanksgiving with Jeff, Valerie, Malia, Macy, and Buddy.