July 03, 2021

Yesterday Melisa and I got back out on the road as travelers for the first time since last September.  Even then it was a solitary trip to the White River where we were joined by friends for one day and a fishing guide for another.  We saw few additional people, but if you recall, the “girls” (the neighbor’s two dogs) kept us entertained throughout the week.  This time we decided to go north to see mom again.  While we try to get to Wichita several times during the year, it has been 19 months since our last visit due to the pandemic and the travelers shutdown.  We had tried to go up over Mother’s Day but got sidetracked and went to Melissa’s surgery instead.  This time we made it.

We were not surprised by the State Troopers and County Sheriffs we saw between the Arkansas boarder and Tulsa.  This weekend is predicted to have 47.7 million travelers, the most since pre-pandemic days.  Melissa heard on the news that the worst times be car travelers were 3 pm Friday (when we took off) and 3-6 pm Monday (when we come home).  What did surprise me was we did not see a patrol car of any type from outside of Tulsa all the way to Wichita.  I began to wonder if they were just trying to crack down on the crazy travelers from Arkansas. 

As we got off 412 to drive north into Kansas, we were passed by a constant stream of travelers driving north from Texas and Oklahoma.  Oklahoma had raised the speed limit since the last time we were travelers on this stretch and Melissa was happy to take the extra 5 mph.  Apparently, that was not enough for the cars who seemed to pass in caravans coming from the south.  We were amazed to see cars zip past and then weave in and out of traffic.  Each driver seemed to think it was their right to pass and then cut off the car that had just passed them.  Every car that passed us for 90 miles had either an Oklahoma or Texas license plate.  I was glad Melissa did not get caught up in this passive-aggressive game of these travelers. 

Thoughts:  The Red River Showdown, more commonly called the Red River Shootout, is an American college football rivalry.  The game matches the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Texas Longhorns.   In October, both teams are travelers to a neutral site at the Cotton Bowl.  The name is derived from the Red River that forms part of the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma that has caused conflict between the two states in the past, most notably the Red River Bridge War in 1931.  Both teams see the rivalry as bitterly emotional and territorial in nature.  This stems from the states’ proximity, past border disputes, and economic and cultural differences.  As we drove, I wondered aloud if the rivalry had not spilled into the travelers on the road.   During the pandemic, the cases of homicide and road rage dropped dramatically across the US in part due to restrictions on travelers.  We are now seeing those rates again rise dramatically.  Hatred and uncontrolled rage are a choice.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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