OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — A whole year is a long stretch of highway, 365 mile markers for days.
I put a pin in the map for the old Carmen Oddfellows home, which still stands at the north end of town.
I placed a hook to go with the morning I stopped at Big Al’s Bait Shop in Enid.
I placed a ‘miscellaneous’ beside Bill Draper’s many collections near Guymon.
But one of my ‘Top 4′ for the year has to be the road itself, a stretch running through the Panhandle of the longest and straightest highway in the U.S.
We clocked it in March with people who drive those stretches every day.
We rode the Rock-A-Bye with Rick Boyd and his wife Lori Young.
We climbed ice with Aaron Gibson at Rocktown.
We flew with Lesser Prairie Chickens, and we tried to fly with Garret Ebersole in Perry.
His home-made machine had its first and last flight at ‘Flugtag’ in Dallas.
Garrett, thankfully, escaped serious injury, but another mode of transportation made for the second on our ‘Top 4′ in Carrier, Oklahoma.
English farmers Seven and Kevin Clarke vacation there during the wheat harvest.
This year they restored a piece of history, one of the first 10 Massey-Ferguson 760 model combines ever built.
Good harvest this year.
Stuff we recommended in 2013 included a cold beer at the Galvanized Palace in Okeene, and the Black-Gun Special at Missy Husted’s cafe in Agra.
Bullets and fries cost extra.
We liked the Shorty’s special sauce in Cordell now that Shorty’s Cafe is back open.
We also sought out a drink of sugar-water at Sonny House’s place in Caddo County.
Elbowing for room with hundreds of hummingbirds made for the third of our ‘Top 4′ stories.
On a lovely evening in August, we sat for hours watching, and never got a drop.
Of course it’s people who make for the main ingredient in ‘Great State’ stories.
I will remember little Gunner McCann, who wouldn’t have been born at all if his Aunt Lori hadn’t carried him inside her for 9 of his first months.
I will remember Cassandra Oaks, both blind and deaf, and the message she had for a gym full of Oklahoma City students.
“Never Give Up,” she repeated over and over.
I will remember the feel of ice on Nesbin Carillo’s hands.
I will remember a wet spring day with Roy Neere.
And for the final place in the ‘Top 4′, I place horse trainer Walter Hannibal, one of many who lost everything to May storms, but who picked himself up and who started over with one horse on a losing streak of his own.
Together they found clearing skies.
They found the strength to move on past the storms that made the long stretch of ‘Oklahoma Highway 2013′ a year to remember.