This has been a strange, sad, and yet incredibly beautiful week. A dear aunt of mine died, almost a year after another much loved aunt. The latter taught me to savor life, living it with a great sense of humor; the former taught me quiet, intelligent, love. Both had taught teenage me the fun and wonder of hiking the Oklahoma hills, looking for arrowheads. My large family reunited for the funeral this week, and we shared our deep loss, celebrated my aunt’s life, and reaffirmed our family’s closeness. Especially incredible was the memorial hike we took afterwards at the favorite hiking spot of both aunts.
Afterwards, I did something I have wanted to do for a while – drive out through the Oklahoma panhandle and see the countryside. I thought about renting a car, and having a nice quiet day of driving, but I convinced my dad to take a detour on his way to see an ill brother in the Texas panhandle, so we both could experience it. One of my aunts had called it beautiful countryside, but some of my cousins just called it flat. But we decided to go see. Our drive became the “Day of the Panhandles.” This day also included a short stint to go see Liberal, Kansas, conveniently located just north of the Oklahoma state line. I mean, how can one not stop by a place called Liberal in Kansas? But more on that below.
So this post is mostly photos, beginning with three more photos to provide context as to my starting point – the type of country my family had grown up in and still lives in, and thus the kind of remoteness that I was expecting during this drive.
From where we had our memorial hike, everything west was new to me, but beautiful, and peaceful – when I wasn’t asking Dad to stop the truck so I could take pictures.
After we got out of the panhandle, things became greener. There were many more pictures I wish I had taken (but then it would have taken three days to get home, instead of two), but only one do I really regret missing, and that was of an oil field with 20+ rigs, just west of Wichita Falls. That was not beautiful, but it was admittedly interesting.
But once I started seeing green trees – though short and shrubby, I began to realize how “desolate” the western country had been. We drove through northern Texas…
…to reach our final destination of east Texas, the land of the Piney Woods.
What varied landscapes. I love the fact that my New Year’s resolution encouraged me to do this, and that this one especially was inspired by my aunt’s love of the outdoors and of travel.