Anyone who has been following my blog Bloom for Life for some time knows I love to share pictures and stories from my travels. The need to express and share, I suppose, began when I first left home at the age of 17 and didn’t stop traveling until age 23. The most recent trip my partner, Aaron, and I went on was to Sulphur, Oklahoma, for a friend’s wedding. And goodness, it was an experience.
The trip began one early Tuesday morning in mid March. Aaron and I got a jumpstart on the day, loaded our belongings into our Ford Edge, and stopped by Red Frog coffee in Longmont, Colorado, before we hit the road.
Though it was raining and just 7 am, we knew we needed to get going to miss the cyclone blizzard — you know, the “worst blizzard of the decade.” Spoiler alert: we wouldn’t be leaving Colorado that day. Or the next.
After grabbing coffee from Red Frog Coffee and snacks from Lucky’s Market, we buckled up and took off. Five hours later, we hadn’t traveled but 87 miles. We made it to several small towns on the eastern side of Colorado. After being denied entrance to I-70, we were guided by the GPS to try some back road routes, or travel South. Click here to see Instagram stories from the day.
At this point, conditions were near zero visibility. I was hunched over the steering wheel, desperate and determined to get past the worst of the blizzard. This feisty nature is oftentimes my downfall. In fact, this was revealed to me (once again, shan’t be the last time) during a poignant moment before we decided to try a lesser-traveled road near Elizabeth, Colorado.
I slowed the car, then thought aloud: “We should really press ‘save’ in the game.”
Aaron turned and looked at me. “What?” he simply exclaimed.
“You know, like in a video game, before you take off. I just have a feeling we’ll want to return to this point.”
He gave me a look of disbelief but said, ‘It’s up to you, if you feel comfortable driving it, I trust you.”
In hindsight, he probably shouldn’t have trusted me. Not even three minutes after turning onto the county road, I lost all visibility and the tires lost traction for what felt like two minutes, but was probably just five seconds. “Phump!” The next thing I knew, we were tilted sideways and stuck in a bank.
Normally, I’m really good in stressful situations. But, it had been 6 hours of driving in shitty, shitty conditions, and I had just gotten us stuck in a snowbank during one of the worst blizzards of the decade. To make matters worse, there was a snowplow ban. I threw my hands up in the air and started muttering about the situation when Aaron wrapped his arms around me and helped calm me down. We were both okay, the vehicle wasn’t damaged. Things could be worse.
We called our insurance and the local police department. They advised we wait it out (twas not pleased by this suggestion). And then, a miracle happened. Two men, locals by their appearance, drove up in a Dodge Ram truck that definitely had 4 x 4. They immediately offered to help us, though at first it didn’t seem like we had a hitch in the back to be helped. But, alas, we were aided by Spirit, our angels, and these kind folks.
After being freed, we handed them some cash. They promised to follow us back into town. Back in Elizabeth, CO, we learned there are NO motels or hotels. At the time, there were no available Air BnB’s, either. So, with the last ounce of determination we felt like spending on the day, we drove to the Safeway in the town and bunkered down.
It actually wasn’t that bad. I had the foresight to bring yoga mats and plenty of blankets, and the Ford Edge’s back seat can be transformed into a comfortable resting space. Sleeping on the flat surface is not fun, but beggars can’t be choosers — especially when they’re not resting in the side of a ditch.
We took turns proposing new conversation topics, watching Netflix with free WiFi from Safeway, munching on snacks, and taking walks around the store. Eventually, we decided to get some sleep…
The next day, we were sore AF. There’s no denying it. But, we were determined to get to Oklahoma, so we washed up in the Safeway bathrooms and joined the line to get back on the interstate. No such luck. At the blockade, a police officer informed us that the interstates wouldn’t be open for 6-8 hours. So, what did we do? We turned around and drove the 1 1/2 hours back to our house in Longmont, Colorado.
Our friend Bee was watching our pets, as well as moving on that particular day, so it oddly worked out well. We were able to help with some of the moving, as well as get showers, food, and rest a little bit. Then, we took off. That night, we stayed in a motel near the Kansas border.
Oh, Kansas. You surprised me.
Aaron and I learned that many of the views across Kansas are of stretching fields, some of which are littered with wind turbines. It was beautiful in a way Aaron nor I expected.
Once we reached Kansas City, Aaron and I found a little veggie restaurant (Lotus Leaf Cafe) to try out. We both ordered smoothies, and I added on grilled vegetables and a kale salad. It was 3/5 taste-wise, but it definitely gave me energy to keep going. So, it was great.
Around 11 pm that evening, we decided to pull off at a motel. It was so relaxing and we had much better sleep than the previous night.
We finally made it to Oklahoma! And, literally just on time to help set the church up for Seth and Melody’s wedding. This day was spent getting to know people… and it left a very positive impression.
Later that evening, I joined the family and friends for an authentic Oklahoma cookout. There were probably more meat options than anything, but also a moonshine coffee cake (very tasty) and various side options.
That night, Aaron (the best man) directed the bachelor party and I got some much. needed. rest. I love sleep so fucking much.
What I Ate While Traveling:
While I was in Oklahoma (and whenever I’m on the road), I typically fend for myself by cooking my own meals (hey, WalMart has produce) and stocking up on snacks that get me by. I also rely on chia seeds and Garden of Life (sprouted, vegan) protein powder to provide energy. Fruit is also perfect for traveling.
This was my favorite day of the trip, I think. I woke up with the sun, around 7 am. Some of the family members were already awake, sipping on coffee and conversing about the day ahead. I wasted no time — I put on my running clothes, brushed my teeth, drank some water, and took off on foot to explore the local area.
Following are some photos from my first run, I believe 2 miles or so.
The rest of the day is better shared in pictures.
Day 6 — and the takeaway.
The next day, Aaron and I packed up and prepared to head back to Colorado. I did go on one more run and bathed in the sunshine to bid a farewell to the southern state. Here are some of my reflections:
The people in Oklahoma are slightly different than the ones I’m used to interacting with in South Dakota (psychoanalyzing people is kind of a hobby). Many do reflect stereotypes that exist in our culture, but I found one key difference: most everyone was very different from me in thoughts, beliefs, lifestyle, etc… However, every one was very open to talking and sharing ideas; then, at the end, they simply stated, “Well, that’s what you believe, and this is what I believe.” And then we continued on our conversation in a civil way.
It should be no surprise that Boulder/Longmont, Colorado, haven for hipster millennials, is an area where one has to tread more carefully in conversation… but this really opened my eyes to the authenticity of people in the south, for instance, compared to the “spiritual” culture which is so prevalent (and heavily misguided) in this area.
Anyway, the main takeaway is that the people are very honest (some people might think too honest, but I love it) and that is something to be treasured. Oklahoma may not be the prettiest state or the state with the greatest reputation, but it has a lot of heart and a lot of faith, and that adds up to an incredible amount of love.
Throughout the entire trip, we were followed by synchronicities. I mean, meeting people who had a feeling they were going to meet people like us, as well as number sequences (111, 222, 333, you get it) appearing everywhere. I think this is why I really wasn’t scared about driving through the cyclone blizzard. We are so protected, and that affirmation is ALWAYS evident to me. I just wanted to share this, because it did add magic to the trip.
Thank you for reading my story. I love to write about the topics of nature, health, sustainability, positive news, and travel. If you are interested in any of these, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter (which has many perks!). You can also reach out with any questions or concerns here.
You deserve to live a life you love,