My mother says I’m crazy
My baby calls me lazy
Cause you know I ain’t no fool
I don’t need no more damn schoolin’
Livin’ on Tulsa time
Performed by Don Williams (1978) and Eric Clapton (1978)
Written by Danny Flowers
It was back to Dallas and Love Field in the second week of August. It was a nice day for flying from an Omaha perspective, just a few clouds and not much wind. I settled into my window seat, already focused on the weekend to come. Before the southwest Airlines 737 was wheels up, I had my nose in the July issue of the National Magazine of Texas, Texas Monthly. The cover story was about Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show who turned 80 this year. He is a fellow University of North Texas alumnus, which over the years has given me extra reason to follow his writings. And, yes, I have made the trek to Archer City, population 1,675, McMurtry’s home town and the model for Anarene, the setting for the Last Picture Show. The article did not disappoint, and I wondered if it was time for another road trip to Archer City. Perhaps I would meet McMurtry, who lives there part time, or Archer City’s current mayor, Kelvin Green, who is only 20 years old.
After the normal taxi dance and mad dash down the runway, we were headed south for an on time arrival in the Big D. I drifted from the story about McMurtry to one about Simone Biles, a new American heroin and another Texan. At the time the article was written, she had not yet won all of those Olympic medals, so part of the focus of the story was on how she might fare on the Olympic stage. We now know the answer. As I continued reading, THAT voice of the pilot, the low baritone sound that carries bad news, came on the speaker to tell us that because of a severe thunderstorm hanging out over Love Field (he did not use this exact language) we were going into a holding pattern until the storm passed. By now you have figured out where I am going with this. After performing numerous figure eights and barrel rolls, just kidding, we received the dreaded news, in an even deeper voice, we were getting low on gas and the flight was being diverted, to Tulsa.
Thunderstorms with a lot of rain were forcing us to land in Tulsa, Oklahoma, home of Oral Roberts when he was alive. My mind began to wander in two directions: what caused those storms and how many songs with the word rain could I name. I am easily distracted. The answer to the first question was simple. It got very hot in Dallas that day, 107 degrees with humidity factored in, and a touch of cooler air set the whole thing off. The result was a lot of rain, more than two inches over a short period of time in some locations, lightening, and wind, a bad combination for landing anything. The answer to the second question is that I could not name that many songs. But, in case you care, I looked on a website (there are web sites for everything) for well-known songs with the word “rain” and found:
- Singing in the Rain
- A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall
- Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain
- I Think it’s Going to Rain Today
- Have You Ever Seen Rain
- Rainy Night in Georgia
- Here Comes the Rain
- Purple Rain
- Rainy Day Women, No. 12 and 35
Too bad Riders on the Storm does not have rain in the title. The back drop of falling rain in that song is very cool.
There is not much to report about Tulsa International Airport. It has 22 gates and is shaped like a “U”. The restaurants are all closed by 7 pm on Friday night, even when your flight has been diverted. The U provides a nice walking course, but after two laps I was too bored to go again. The folks on our flight were generally in good spirits, but there were rumblings about missed connections and such.
It was a long while before we were airborne again. The delays at Love Field and DFW combined (the airports are only about 10 miles apart as the crow flies—do crows fly in a straight line?) had a rolling effect on the volume of traffic. Aircraft already in the air were given priority, as should be the case, with respect to the landing queue. Since we were on the ground, we could wait. So…wait we did. We were wheels up at just before 9 pm and finally on our way to Dallas—about a 45 minute flight from Tulsa. But, one more surprise awaited us. Once we were wheels down and we were rolling toward the Love Field terminal we discovered:
- There was no gate for us (imagine that), so we had to wait for a gate re-assignment
- There is no clear protocol for passing a disabled plane once on the ground—we got behind an aircraft that was being towed and we had to stop, for about ten minutes
- When we got to the gate, yes you guessed correctly, no ground crew was in sight
From wheels down to gate and deplaning, 25 minutes. Altogether, I was nearly five hours late, just like the last time I flew to Dallas.
I moved quickly, no running, out past the jet way and through the concourse past Whataburger (mmm). The scene outside the airport as I waited for my sister to collect me was like a mad house, with cars parked at all angles, speeding away dangerously after their drivers had snagged their tardy passengers, fingers and arms signaling to fellow drivers how happy they were to be there. And, it had started to rain again, making the scene anything but boring. As we sped away (my sister is pretty good at speeding away) I noticed the shot up windows outside the baggage claim area at Love Field had been replaced. There is no more evidence of that strange exchange back in June between a guy and his girlfriend that resulted in him stoning her car and getting hit by three bullets fired by the airport police (remember, they shot at him nine times).
One more thing. I went on one of my now all-time favorite bicycle rides on this trip. I rode the White Rock Creek Trail, starting at the 635, AKA, LBJ Freeway, south and east to White Rock Lake, around the lake and back (with a few side trips) – about 25 miles in total. Wow, the ride along the creek bends gently, sometimes sharply, mirroring the direction of the creek which is always in site. Much of the ride is in the shade of a very thick canopy of trees, almost like riding in the woods until all of a sudden the backside of businesses, apartments, or condos come into view. The shade keeps the temperature in check, a good thing on a hot Texas summer day. Elevation changes, not too steep, make the ride even more interesting, especially when 15 or 20 feet above the creek. The ride around the lake is about nine miles. The lake is always in view. Sharp turns and hills and great views of the lake make the ride even more enjoyable. There are many residential neighborhoods not far from the shoreline (none of the homes are on the shoreline), built mostly between the 1920s and 1970s. Those homes have unblocked views of the lake, except for the trees. There are boat houses on the lake, for sailboats. No motorized vessels are allowed.
On the way back to my starting point I encountered a Pokémon fool. Some big dude stoked with limited judgement and bad manners stopped abruptly in the middle of the trail, face down in his cell phone. Those who passed him encouraged him to get off the trail, sometimes with a polite suggestion other times with harsh language. He responded to no one and stood his ground, seeming to be proud to a Pokémon hazard. Oh, the joys of the 21st century.