Sunday’s are usually my day to sleep in and catch up on household chores. I usually put the chores part of my day off until it’s absolutely necessary to start them and then I stay up extremely late finishing them. This Sunday however,
I strayed from my routine and participated in the Edmond Road Rally which is part of the week long LibertyFest. This summer I’m aiming to not only learn more in the newsroom but learn more about the community by being an active participant in the areas events.
According to the Liberty Fest website the “Road Rally is designed as a fun family event and really easy to participate in. It is just like a scavenger hunt on wheels.” While I agree that it was fun, I beg to differ with the easy description. Most of the questions were like an I Spy book, requiring participants to find answers to cryptic riddles along the trail you were driving for example a bright food – Daylight Donuts. The difficult part was finding the answers and refraining from being a traffic hazard. But crowds were not deterred by the difficulties. Mike Moore the Road Rally event chair said 48 cars participated this year. Prior to the event Moore said that despite rising gas prices in recent years the event has never seen a downturn in participation. While I waited for my teammates to arrive I spoke with a few of the volunteers and even met a group who was returning for their tenth Road Rally competition.
Where are we?
Two participants minimum per car were required for registration. I and two other interns participated for a total of three in my car. After paying our $10 registration fee we set off. One person navigated, I drove and we all looked for
clues (though I probably should’ve focused on driving). Despite the rough conditions (see footnote) we were able to find most of the answers out of about 140 questions… until we got lost. Most of the trail was a big circle and, though I’m not from Edmond, I know my way around fairly well. The issue was the directions were in riddle form. We had been traveling down Memorial for what seemed like forever before we realized we were lost. Later we reflected on our route and how we came to be lost but none of us could quite remember how or when it occurred.
Once was lost but now we’re found
After eventually meandering our way back to the starting area, I realized we’d been out for nearly three hours. We arrived with just enough time to make it to the awards ceremony. Hot, sweaty, a little disoriented and sure that we hadn’t won anything, I decided to attend the awards ceremony though my teammates had to leave. I was really surprised by the large crowd and how diverse the groups were in both age and size. Teams answer sheets were scored. These scores were a combination of answers correct and the time and mileage it took to return to the starting area, also the finish line. Places one through ten were given a trophy. The top three winners also received a cash prize of various amounts. An eleventh trophy was awarded to the last place “winner,” the person with the lowest score. I thought we were definitely in the running for the eleventh trophy but we finished nearly fifty points ahead of last place.
At the end of the day I was happy I participated, though I wasn’t looking forward to filling up my gas tank. I plan on participating in the future as long as I’m around Oklahoma. I do however think it may be a good idea for future Road Rally organizers to consider making a shorter trail for bicycling participants.
*Let me just issue a statement about my car however: It is a piece of junk. A tree fell on it a little over a year ago and though the windshield has been replaced and most of the glass fragments removed my car has yet to get over that experience. Doors do not open and air conditioning is non-existent. To the two that came along – Thanks for not complaining about my car.
Today, I worked from Norman, Oklahoma. I chose to do some reporting on the Vietnam Memorial that is currently set up in Norman (a replica of the one from D.C.). I went in with my professional demeanor, and left a human being.
I interviewed three individuals who were willing to tell me a little bit about themselves. They were willing to open themselves up to a complete stranger, and I am grateful for that. The first individual I talked to was vitising the site because he and his wife knew two people who had died in the war. The second individual was a volunteer for the war, and the third individual is someone that changed my life forever, and I changed his.
This guy had never talked to anyone about his time in Vietnam, but he opened up to me! At first, I tried to get the gentleman on camera. I asked him what were his emotions and what he thought about this special memorial. He stared into the camera, at a loss of words for nearly 30 seconds. He then shook his head and said he couldn’t do it, but “thanks.”
So we chatted “off the record.” He said I could use his information for a piece, but he just did not want to be on camera. He told me the hardest thing for him was to come back to the “world” (the world is what veterans refer to as the U.S.), and having people spit on him and call him a “baby-killer.” He said he never expected to get anything in return for serving his country, but he definately did not expect the reception he and his friends received from fellow Americans.
He cannot celebrate the 4th because the fireworks and the loud cracks remind him of the front lines. He told me he thought he was “the toughest son of a….. in the world,” but he didn’t know that some 40 years later he would be emotionally distraught from the war.
He is now having night terrors and panic attacks for the first time in his life.
He told me he was grateful for people like me, that generally cared (we talked off-camera for almost 30 minutes) about soldiers. He paused for a while, turned away from me, shed a couple of tears, and told me he was going to shake my hand and give me a hug.
I told him, “of course!” Really I was at a loss of words, but it felt good to help someone who was in trouble. He needed someone to talk to, and he felt I was the person. After we hugged, he showed me a little something he wrote down in a notebook/scrap book for the veterans to vent. Again, he hugged me. I told him, “stay strong” and the last thing I saw was him tapping his chest twice with his fist, a universal sign of strength and perseverance, and waving goodbye.
Two men changed forever.