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Girls Road Trip from Dallas to American Fork – a journey between a mother and her daughter


Taking a picture of myself in a reflection pool.

“Keep love in your heart.

A life without it is like a sunless garden

when the flowers are dead.”    – Oscar Wilde


How did I get here?

Standing in front of a reflection pool, looking down at my own reflection, I pondered the significance of this moment.

I am looking at my own reflection in a place that is built to remember the past, in the exact place that took one hundred and sixty eight lives, some of them innocent children.

A simple road trip.  A tradition that many parents experience with their children every year.  The semester has ended, the children come home.

Some children never come home.

Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma City Memorial gate.

Flying into Dallas to pick up ‘the package’ – as my husband and I lovingly refer to our darling daughter, was like going home.  I moved around a lot as a child and as an adult but I lived in Texas for twenty years so Texas always felt like home.

It was a normal Tuesday afternoon.  After Bianca’s last final exam, she picked me up at the airport.  The mission: drive her, all of her worldly possessions and her car back to Utah for the Summer.

We weren’t in a super hurry, we wanted to take our time and explore the parts of the country we have never seen.

What does the rest of America eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?  What is Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado most proud of?  What is a Jackalope?   Hot burning questions we needed to find the answers to.

We found answers, and more questions.

We didn’t have a pre-planned itinerary.  Bianca and I have learned that some of our best experiences were spontaneous so we purposely didn’t look up anything except our route before our trip.

A quick look up on Trip Advisor for Oklahoma City pointed us toward the memorial.

“There was a bombing in Oklamona City?”, Bianca asked.

“How did you NOT know that?”, I countered.

In disbelief, we both realized that the history taught in school is not adequate.  The bombing happened only a year before she was born but surely she should have learned it in school.  In our home, it never came up in a context she was privy to.  We didn’t realize we were adding to her ignorance.

I have a new, urgent mission.  This Summer, we need to teach her everything we can to help her be the responsible World citizen she wants to be.  I thought we were doing a good job as she was growing up.  I was wrong.

A young woman with her back to the camera.


There was no question.  We had to go to the memorial, so that we won’t forget.


The Oklahoma City Memorial Chairs.


As I stare at my own daughter, I become transfixed.

Visions of small children checking into that daycare, in that building, at that time.

I can’t help but feel.  Pain, sadness, guilt.  My child is living, their child is not.


A stuffed animal on a chainlink fence.


“Let us remember:  One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

Bianca is the child that is learning to be the teacher.  She can change the world.  Yes, she can.  And you can too.  Remember.



That poignant beginning of the journey set the tone for the rest of the trip.

A quest to find the good, the interesting and the soul of small America.  The towns off the beaten path.  Easy enough on any road trip.  I have the secret to exploring ‘off the beaten path’.

Get off of the Interstate.

It’s not efficient, but it is better.  It is only then that you will experience this:

A sign on the side of the building that states "Welcome to Crescent - population 1500 with 3 or 4 old grouches."

A hay field in Kansas.

Bianca taking a nap in the passenger seat.

A table full of Kansas BBQ.

Kansas storm on the horizon.

A plate of baked manicotti.

Baked manicotti with a fork.


T-Rex skeleton.


“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;

for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise,

walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”    – Audrey Hepburn



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