Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 6 - Bison's my best friend

Bartlesville, Oklahoma:

Originally I only wanted to go to Oklahoma because Bartlesville has the only FLW skyscraper anywhere. I was browsing through my research and came upon Tallgrass Prairie Preserve thirty miles from my destination. I read about thousands of bison and birds and an impulse came over me. I went to the town of Pawhuska, but on the way there I realized that I never knew what backcountry driving was all about. One-lane roads, signless turns, folks who thought I was Cherokee, folks who mistook me for Kiowa.

Finally my GPS gave up. Couldn't find the way to the Preserve, so I dropped by the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce. A lady with exaggerated cotton candy hair said, "You're gonna have to turn left where that drugstore is then keep going." When I asked how long, she smiled. "Until it looks like no civilization anymore."

I drove that road over twenty miles until I realized I was offroading on dirt and gravel. I closed my eyes and prayed my little Scion wheels wouldn't burst. But my little Clive made it, thank goodness. I knew I was at the right place when a dozen bison barred my way like they were gangsta. One looked me in the eye sideways and I stared back without blinking. When he gave way, the rest gave way. I have to say that seeing bison in the wild gave me the good chills. It was such a great magical feeling that I get the tinglies just writing about it.

Tall prairie grass parted the dirt road. When I'm manic, I feel happy - but it's not really happiness. It's something less. But being at the reserve brought such pure joy - something that we experience mostly in childhood. I thought of my sister and my brother with whom I've shared the most joyous moments in my life - like our Nagcarlan vacation, the impromptu party they threw me when I was six, and watching episodes of Little House on the Prairie and loving every minute of it. I am so grateful to have persevered and visited this place. I know now that every experience makes me stronger and the memories conjured while driving endless miles cure my busy mind a little.

After the Preserve I drove to Bartlesville to look for FLW's concrete and copper Price Tower. It was absolutely great. I was humbled to see it. But it didn't hold a candle to super bison that nodded to me. I love them so.

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