Thursday, October 13, 2016

Oklahoma Travel - Part 2

TRIVIA BONUS: Try to guess the name of the one musical I ever participated in in high school. (Jeopardy music plays softly as the clock ticks down…) You’re right! OKLAHOMA!!! My trip would not have been complete without me singing my rendition of the title song for my daughter and grandson’s benefit. “OooooooOK-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain. Where the wavin’ wheat, can sure smell sweet, when the wind comes right behind the raaaain. OooooooOK-lahoma, every night my honey lamb and I, sit alone and talk, and watch a hawk, makin’ lazy circles in the skyyyy…. (and so on and so forth) 

Megan thanked me for that of course, and said, “That’s good, Mom…”  (wink) 
Hi! Welcome back to “Katie’s View,” where I’m blogging about my experiences of traveling to Oklahoma by myself, to visit my daughter and grandson for a few days while my son-in-law was out of town. If you missed Part 1, I’m providing the link for your convenience, so that you can catch up:

My flight arrived a few minutes early, and as I exited the plane, I received a text message from Megan that said she was waiting for me in her car. Wow! Each piece of my travel puzzle had fallen into place beautifully. Not to mention that from what I’d glimpsed from the Tulsa airport windows, the weather outside looked flawless. Rumor had it that Milwaukee’s temps were dipping into the 40’s and lots of rain was expected. Looked like I’d chosen a perfect week to escape – oops, I mean visit!

The airport is quite a bit smaller than Chicago, and didn’t seem at all scary to me. I think it has only two concourses, so there seemed to be very little chance of me getting lost. Plus, it was very very clean. I did not feel at all scared to come back in a few days for my return.

I made my way outside and spotted Megan’s vehicle down the road. I was getting so excited to see her and Jake. When she saw me, she hopped out of the car and came around to give me a big hug. Jakey was smiling at me from his carseat. Oh man, what a FACE!  “Hi Jakey! How are you today???” (This is said in a high-pitched baby voice, the kind adults reserve for talking to babies and pets.) After I kissed his hair and he acted bashful, Megan placed my suitcase in the car and we left the airport.

Just one quick thought: I truly believe that Face Time and Skype technology has linked us with Jake more than you might think. I 100% swear that he knows who I am and recognizes my face and voice from the computer. So if you are an out-of-town family, like we are, use these tools to stay connected. It’s really working well over here!

Since it was noon, Megan asked if I’d like to have lunch at a place she’d been wanting to try, located on the bank of the Arkansas River. “Absolutely, yes please!” It was the first time that day I truly felt as though I was on vacation. Clear blue skies, temps around 80 degrees, heading to a restaurant with my daughter and grandson. So far, so good.

We talked as she drove and it felt so good to be together again. She and I have a nice give-and-take type of conversation style. I must say how impressed I was/am with how well she can get around in their brand new area since she’s only lived there for a month! She and Joe have adjusted to new cities and surroundings several times already in their marriage, and this time was no different. She is doing great!

The restaurant had a large outdoor patio, and the river (true to her promise) flowed right past us. The food was delish and we had a great time! A quick stop at a grocery store for us to pick up a few necessities for the week, and we were finally on our way to their new house. I was pretty excited to see it, and I believe she was pretty excited to show it to me.

Many of the subdivisions in the Tulsa area have extraordinary features. For example, theirs has a catch-and-release pond (with a sidewalk/trail on which to walk around), a playground, a pool, and a splashpad. All of the items I just listed are within a block of their new home. There’s also another playground and splashpad located near the middle of the neighborhood too, so depending on how far she wants to walk, she has choices! 

One funny thing is that their subdivision is large - many streets and many homes. But directly across the road from its entrance is a huge farm. When the wind blew from the east, we could hear the cows moo’ing very loudly. One night we took Jakey out for a walk in his stroller and he was so taken with the cows! He completely connected that the noise he heard was coming from those silly animals across the road. It was quite adorable. I also want to say that he is now officially saying, “Moo!” as well as “Meow!” Yup, that’s right, “Moo!” and “Meow!” He’s brilliant, I tell ya – BRILLiant!  

Anyway, as we pulled up to the kids’ new home and stepped out of the car, my eyes welled up with tears. It’s just lovely. We entered and she gave me the grand tour: spacious living areas and kitchen, plenty of bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and a fenced-in back yard for the pooch. I’m so glad that I now have that visual in my mind, and that they all seem happy to be there.  


I will admit that when they said they were thinking about moving to Oklahoma, I voiced a concern about the state’s reputation for bad weather. They did do their homework, and asked many questions of what people do when big storms brew. Megan showed me their plan (the bathroom under the stairs) and explained what they’d do should they ever need to take cover. Wouldn’t you know that the weekend after they moved, they woke Saturday morning to a rumbling/shaking. They’d felt the latest earthquake that their part of the country had just experienced. See? After all the focus on storms, and what happens if this/that/or-the-other-thing happens –  something else happened entirely. One can never predict… Never!
One of the days, the three of us went to the Tulsa Zoo. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect since The Milwaukee Zoo, the one I’ve experienced my whole life, is really nice. But one of the neatest aspects of our day at this smaller zoo, was how ‘active’ the animals were. First of all, we were there in the afternoon, which is usually (I think) when animals are the most hungry, so therefore most active. They were all on the move. The elephant came up really close to us, the monkeys were chattering and acting crazy, the meerkats were busy watching and digging, and the female lion actually walked all the way down the large slope in her enclosure. There was a tall overlook where we were equal in height to the giraffes, and you could basically look them right in the eyes. We were there at the exact time that they served ‘deceased rabbits’ to the hyenas, and were able to watch (and listen to) them eat, which in equal measure made me say “Eeeeew!” as well as “Wooooow!” But I think that Jake’s favorite display was the sea lions. The zoo had a large glass wall where the two sea lions alternated swimming past us. He sat in his stroller staring at them as though in a trance. I bet we stayed there with him watching for at least 20 or 30 minutes - and he’s only 14 months old!!! I think he may become a zookeeper someday. Just remember, you heard it hear first!
 Zookeeper Jake surveying the sea lions

We also took a couple of hours one day to visit a pumpkin farm. The area surrounding it was very flat, exactly the way I’d always envisioned Oklahoma to look. The first things that greeted us there were two large camels. There were sheep, goats, chickens/roosters, mama pigs and piglets, as well as a baby water buffalo they fed with a HUGE baby bottle. Everyone who worked there was so friendly too. I think the way of life for Megan’s family is about to take a 180. Before we left, we ducked in to the shop, and looked at crafts and snacks. Of course I had to buy some candy for later. Oh, and a pumpkin flashlight for Jake too!   

Which brings me to a huge “Ah ha!” moment of my visit... The last time we saw Jake it was over his first birthday. Now, just two-plus months later, he’s so much more active, as well as interactive. He’s walking everywhere, and he seems to understand a lot of what’s being said to him. There’s even a good chance that when you talk with him, he’ll mimic back a word or two. My favorite times though, are when he will quiet down and sit on my lap. I like to whisper secrets in his ear and tell him I love him. For me, I find all of these new developments so entertaining and so much fun! I’m excited for the future and all that it holds for life as a grandma!

It was a joy to be with my daughter – talking, listening, drinking coffee with her in the mornings and wine with her at night after the baby fell asleep. I loved watching her in her new surroundings as she parented, worked in her new kitchen, and navigated around her brand new town. The whole scene is more than this mom could wish for her child. It was priceless to see that Megan, Joe and Jake aren’t just “okay,” they’re doing great! There’s a lot of love in their home and it shows. 

I wasn’t anywhere near as nervous to fly back home as I’d been to fly the first time. I had mixed feelings though – I felt good to be going back home to see Todd, but I knew I’d miss the kids. At the airport, Megan and I hugged a long hug and said our “I love you’s.” I planted one more kiss on Jakey’s head, and received one more sweet smile. “Bye, Buddy! See you soon…” Then I turned and walked into the airport. Megan texted me later and said that when I walked away he started to cry. Wow! I hadn’t been expecting that. It made me feel good to know that he seemed to really like me and didn’t want me to leave. Maybe some day we’ll all live a bit closer. For now, we will all do what we can…   

Mostly, I’m now really excited to take Todd back so that he can see everything first-hand. We’re presently planning our next trip, and I think he’s really going to like what he sees and experiences too!  If he’s lucky, and if he plays his cards right, I may even sing him the next verse of “OooooooOK-lahoma…” If you know Todd, you know exactly how much he’ll love that…!  

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of two books: “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference,” and “Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff.” Both are available through Amazon as either an electronic or paperback version. For more information, please visit her website at: 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Oklahoma Travel - Part 1

Well hello there!    

How’s everybody doing on this lovely autumn day? Here, in Waukesha, Wis., we’ve got temperatures in the 60’s and partly cloudy skies – an excellent weekend so far, if I must say so myself. 

I’ve realized that there’s been a lot going on over here at “Katie’s View,” (the name of my blog, in case you’re new here and didn’t know) and I decided to take this opportunity to write a bit - fill everyone in on what’s been a-happenin’ ‘round these parts. It’s all good, so this should be fun!  

As many of you know, my daughter’s family (Megan, Joe, and now Jakey too) have lived in Connecticut for the past five years or so. Last spring, they began entertaining the idea of moving elsewhere for the purpose of Joe’s work. There are a handful of states in which his company does business, but the one the kids decided to move to is… (Drum roll please)… Oklahoma!!!  

Their summer became insanely busy as they flew back and forth a couple of times to Tulsa. The first trip was to make sure the area was a good fit for their family, and the second was to house hunt – yes, with a year-old baby in tow. After scouting neighborhoods and looking at quite a few homes (probably 20-ish?) they put in an offer on a lovely place, and the rest, as they say, is now history. Factor in that they also needed to ready and sell their present home, which as anyone who’s ever sold a home knows, is no small feat.  

Their home sold quickly and everything fell into place, so the three made their cross-country journey at the end of August. Movers came and packed up their house and (get this!) over the course of a couple of days, Joe, Megan, one-year-old Jakey, their dog (Macie, who gets carsick), and two active cats, drove from New Milford, CT to Tulsa Oklahoma. Haha – can you say, “Scheinkoenig Zoo?” Whew! But Megan (27) and Joe (29) really do have youth in their favor, along with wide-eyed wanderlust for adventure. Very long story short, they arrived unscathed, closed on their new house September 1, and took occupancy that same day. 

Joe had committed to a business trip prior to their move, so he was scheduled to work in Canada for two weeks, starting September 19. Megan asked if Todd and I might like to come down during that time, and keep her and Jakey company. Todd’s own work schedule was going to be quite hectic at that time, so… the idea was formed that I would go to Tulsa by myself, and visit the kids and see the new house/neighborhood/state.  

Okay now, for some of you, those who travel a lot and are used to airports, bus stations, etc. this does not seem like a big deal. But it was for me! I do not come from a family where my mom flew around by herself. The first time she ever flew was for her and my dad’s 25th wedding anniversary (1974). My dad had been in the military, so he’d traveled more than that, but certainly not on a whim. Why, Todd and I were both in our 20’s the first time we ever flew in a plane, so I guess that for me, it still feels like a big deal. Also, I can probably count on one hand the amount of times Todd and I have been apart due to overnight travel. Come to think of it, we may be up to six or seven times, but when you take into consideration we’ve been married for 35 years, well… it’s just strange, you know?  

Once Todd realized he couldn’t go, he was quite encouraging to me that I should. I wanted to be a good sport because I knew what a great opportunity this was, and knew that Megan, Jake and I would have a great time together once I arrived. I knew that I somehow needed to put away whatever silly fear thing I was facing, and focus on the positive – keep my eye on the prize!  

I’ve been using a daily devotional called, “Jesus Calling.” In it, the author writes as if God is talking directly to the reader. I really love each day’s short message, and have been putting much of what it suggests into practice – sort of a “If God is for us, who can be against us…?” type of message. I knew that being afraid of traveling alone was sort of irrational since it was unlikely that I’d have a weather delay at this time of the year, or that I’d encounter anything insurmountable. I’m intelligent! I can do this! I am woman, hear me roar…! 

I’ve flown enough times to understand the procedures and everything, but even with “Jesus Calling,” and even with understanding the procedures, I still felt so apprehensive. I always do feel that way before flying, but this time (going it alone) everything felt magnified. (I know, I know, some of you are shaking your heads right now at how silly this sounds, but keep reading!)   

I’m proud to say that I did everything myself. I made my flight reservations by considering lighter travel days. Since we’ve had a bad experience in the past with connecting flights from Milwaukee to Chicago, I decided to take a bus to O’Hare to minimize any sort of last-minute scramble scenario. From there I’d have a direct flight to Tulsa, which would be less than two hours in length. I booked my bus reservation, and after that, all I had to do was pack and wait.

I needed to be at my bus at 5:00 a.m. You know how that is when you have an early-morning departure, right? You barely sleep the night before because there are last-minute arrangements to consider, and you hope you don’t sleep through the alarm. All went well. We left the house with five minutes to spare. But wouldn’t you know that that bus was late!!?? Right out of the gate I wondered if I’d done something wrong or read something incorrectly. But Todd waited with me, and after about 15 minutes, the bus came over the hill. We shared a quick hug and kiss, and I was on my way to Chicago. Piece of cake!

The bus stopped at five pick-up points before heading directly to the airport. I noticed that as each new passenger boarded, they seemed so calm and collected. Some paid for their trip right there on the bus. I did not know that was an option – good to know! Many of them closed their eyes and caught those few extra missed ZZZZ’s, but not me! Instead I thought of my son’s wise words of travel wisdom when he was assisting me in feeling better about solo travel. “Mom, take pictures of everything, and keep a journal so that you can blog about your experiences later.” Hmmm… that advice sounds oddly familiar, probably because I tell him those things all of the time. Funny how I didn’t think to take my own advice until the words came bounding back at me. Nonetheless, in true Tony/Katie Memmel style, I watched from the bus window as the sun rose in the east, and even snapped a selfie for you, just to prove it’s all true.  


We arrived at O’Hare with plenty of time to spare, which is exactly the way I like to do things. When I travel with Todd, he’s much more loosey-goosey with time, and we often find ourselves much more hurried than relaxed. I navigated through Security without any trouble. I also had kind of a weird thought about airports. The hub and shared areas are much like the palm of a hand, and the concourses jut out like fingers. Some airports are obviously much larger than others, but it kind of shrunk the idea of what I was doing that day, down to a more manageable vision. I don’t know - the thought felt good to me. Is that silly?   

I found my gate, but they did change the gate location twice while I waited. Though I love to read books, and love to look at Facebook, that day as my activity I opted for people-watching. Oh, it is so interesting, isn’t it!!??  This wouldn't be complete without mentioning the delicious coffee and cranberry scone I scored for myself as I waited. A-may-zing!!! The time arrived and we boarded without incident. My plane had two-seat rows on the left, with single seats on the right. I had decided to book a single seat because I was single that day, and I like for friends and couples to be able to sit together. It worked well for me, plus I had my very own window! I’ve sat by the window once or twice, but usually Todd sits there and I sit on the aisle. He’s not like “Glen” in the “Wedding Singer” though – I usually sit on the aisle because I (almost always) have to get up to use the bathroom - not this time, but usually!

It was a perfect day for flight! The sky was bright blue and as we headed southwest, I could see the ground so clearly. It surprised me just how much I loved looking out of the plane’s window. I’ve flown over water, sand, cities, and mountains, but that day I was overcome with the beauty of the vast Midwest farming lands. It was funny because as I looked down from my 30,000-foot perch, America’s Heartland resembled the bricks on our patio – beige, deep red, gray, and brown. Every so often, clusters of trees or shrubs would wind around the “bricks” and resembled the moss that often grows in between. I told Megan about my patio thoughts and she said, "Very artistic, Mom" It really was so cool!  
Since I wasn’t sleeping, and in fact, wasn’t even tired, I took out my brand new notebook and made a few notes about my thoughts. I felt excited on a number of levels – to see my daughter and grandson, who since we saw him last, is now walking up a storm! I’m excited to witness the many changes that have happened in their lives over the past several months, to see their new home (which we’ve seen only in pictures) and which seems to be making them very happy. As grateful as I am for Face Time and its video technology, nothing would trump the live show I knew I'd witness once I landed.  

Well dear friends, I’m pleasantly pleased and even proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone long enough to not only endure, but to actually enjoy my new solo travel experience. I asked a few friends to pray for me, and trusted God by putting both my petty fears, as well as my overwhelming emotions, into His hands. Not only was the morning tolerable, it was actually quite enjoyable! Wait until I tell Todd that he has a competitor for the coveted airplane window seat from now on. 

I’m going to stop here, and write another entry very soon about how wonderful my visit with Megan and Jake turned out. Stay tuned!!! Until then... 

Your Friend in Travel,


Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference,” and “Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff.” Both books are available as either electronic or paperback versions. For more information, visit her website: