OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Let’s face it. No one really knew what kind of ill wind might blow when 2020 started, certainly not Belva Shelton as she continued her back road journeys by posting daily windmill photos on social media.
“I don’t want to miss anything because I might not be on that road again,” she told us in January.
The back roads seemed safest in retrospect, less traveled ‘sidewalk highways’ like the Route 66 Ribbon Road near Miami, or the quiet neighborhood streets that allowed room for the Sullivans to run a combined 168 miles over the weekend of April 19th.
“It really brought a poignant sense to our run,” said Cathy Sullivan in April.
But alas, not even the country roads could escape the year’s biggest story.
The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled or altered events like the MidSouth Gravel Road Bike Race (which did take place under the wire in late March, 2020).
“We are an internationally known, recognized brand,” said organizer Bobbie Wintle.
The year saw parades substitute for parties all over the state.
“We’re glad he’s still here,” his daughters told us in May.
J.D. Jackson’s 90th birthday proved one successful example among many thousands.
But our number 4 story was a safe stop in the past, back to the mid-1970s when another ‘Tiger King and Tiger Queen’ fought animals escapes and the courts to establish a Tiger Safari near Mangum.
The story, much like the most recent version, proved more popular than the attraction itself.
We looked for success stories in our 2020 journeys.
Our series on small town grocers was a hit just when we needed them the most.
“I think it’s very important for our community,” insisted Ronnie Ridling in Sentinel, Okla.
We looked at life-saving inventions like Tether Tech and business survivors like Bootroxx.
We shined a light on projects like Doug Jackson’s home-made ship in Tulsa.
But most roads in this difficult year took us on trips through the heart.
At number 3, Bobbie Bohnsack’s successful search for his father’s old Dodge Challenger.
Bob Sr. died tragically when his son was eight years old.
Finding, driving and owning the same car was special.
“It’s pretty cool,” agreed Bobbie.
Every story is a journey to somewhere.
Ours took us to a silo home in Corn, Okla., to the Corona-baked goods giveaways at the DeQuaise’s house in Yukon, to a steaming bowl of ‘Spy-get’ at Ike’s Chili and to a quiet neighborhood in Stillwater.
That’s where we celebrated the heartwarming friendship that saw Andre Edge get a big birthday wish, a new stereo system for his motorized wheelchair thanks to friend and neighbor Josh Fletcher.
Fletcher told us in August that “Andre used to cruise around listening to music on his phone, which sounded awful, but he liked it.”
Andre’s smile alone earned this story a spot at number 2 on our list.
Edge said, “Me and Josh are getting closer by the minute.”
Friendships may have been harder to establish in our year of socially distancing, but still possible.
Just ask Zulema Ann Klein who made friends all over Norman by giving away tiny, painted rocks.
Bixby the Beaver formed a lasting attachment to a Sequoyah State Park naturalist, and, finally, there was Cupcake and Bo.
“I never saw two animals take to each other like that,” said Tim Meyer.
Cupcake is a calf born in the spring with crooked front legs.
Bo is the protective cattle dog who wouldn’t leave her side.
“It’s very loving,” said Genia Kay Meyer.
The pictures Genia took over the summer told us all we needed to know about the importance of togetherness, love and close companionship.
These two took our number 1 spot because of how much we missed those things in 2020.
They’re still there, of course, Cupcake and Bo too.
Someday, hopefully soon, we’ll all connect again through paths that are easier to find.
Great State is sponsored by WEOKIE
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