We were up early. The thermometer hovered around 27F and it wasn’t forecast to warm up much more during the day. We donned our long underwear, layered up, made a stop at Lowe’s for supplies and headed along US-60W to Nowata. US-60 is an old cross-country road like US-66, that stretches from California to Virginia. It’s 2-lane, rough in spots and travels in a circuitous path through lots of little towns and cities.
Nowata is one of those little US-60 towns in the heartland of America. It looks tired and worn-down. We drove down its wide main street. There are a couple of banks, a doughnut shop which seems to do a land-office business, a ubiquitous Dollar General, a couple of loan shops, a pharmacy that looks like it dates from the 1940s and a few vacant storefronts. This is not a vacation destination.
We found Karen’s house and after the hugs and greetings, the men began the job they’d come to do. The tools including Paul’s big miter saw were unloaded and set up. David had estimated most of the pressure-treated lumber needs and ordered it in advance from the local lumberyard which delivered promptly. After a quick survey, some real measurements and a plan review, stakes were driven in to mark the local of the platforms and ramps and the work commenced in earnest.
There was much to be considered to meet ADA recommendations: the slope of the ramp, the location, size and placement of platforms, ledger boards, height of handrails, etc. If they were going to do the job, it was going to be done right. Despite the cold, Day 1 proved to be quite productive.
At the end of each day, the tools were packed up and loaded back into Blue. The saw and some larger miscellaneous tools like a post hole digger and spade shovel were stowed in a backyard shed. We traveled the 17 miles back to Bartlesville, stopped at Lowes for supplies, WalMart for food, then headed back to our hotel for hot showers, a glass of wine and a makeshift dinner.
Bartlesville, by the way, has an interesting history … which, of course, you’d feel gypped if I didn’t share with you. Jake Bartles arrived in the area in the 1870s and operated a flour mill and general store on the banks of the Caney River to service the local fur traders. Hence the town name … Bartlesville. When the ‘Nellie Johnstone’ oil well came in a gusher in 1897, the town changed dramatically. A railroad (AT&SF) depot was built and lots of entrepreneurs and speculators like the Gettys were attracted to the town.
In 1904, Frank Phillips, a banker and a barber (odd career combo) came to town and started Citizen Bank & Trust and also began drilling for oil … quite successfully. Frank Phillips’ endeavor is now known as Conoco Phillips and Phillips 66 and Bartlesville is the global service center for both corporations. Wow!
In 1956, Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper was built for the Price Company, a pipeline construction firm in downtown Bartlesville. It’s only 19 stories high, but for the time and the location, it was pretty special. It now serves as a cultural center with a swanky, boutique hotel and restaurant.
We were too busy to visit (and we missed out on the Tom Mix Museum in nearby Dewey, OK, too), but I did get a pic as we whizzed by in the van one day.
Back to the business at hand … Day 2 greeted us with a morning temp of a very brisk 15F. Brrrr! This beat the all-time record for low temp on this day. Impressive, huh? We donned all those layers once again and headed back to Nowata.
I’m not sure if it was the cold or their determination, but the progress made on Day 2 was awesome.
By the end of Day 3, they called the job done. Karen came out to give it a try and rated it excellent.
The guys were satisfied that they’d done a good job, Karen was happy and we’d be home in plenty of time for Thanksgiving. Karen had a few odd jobs she was hoping would get done, but it was all minor stuff that we figured would only take a few hours. The pressure was off now … until Mary called. The water heater in the Las Vegas house ‘failed’. The garage and several parts of the house were flooded. Oh, my!
Mary handled the on-site logistics in Las Vegas while we handled the insurance issues from afar. Karen’s final chores were accomplished in record time. I might note here that now that all the tasks were performed indoors, the temperature outdoors had returned to normal in the 40s. We said our goodbyes and began the long trip home.
It seems no matter which direction you travel in Oklahoma and Texas, there’s always a strong headwind and it fought us all the way. We left Nowata by noon and spent the first night in Shamrock, Texas, the second in Gallup, New Mexico and we were home in Las Vegas by 1 pm on the third day … plenty of time to stop at Lowe’s to order a new hot water heater and arrange installation. The prospect of dealing with the insurance adjuster and contractors for water damage repairs weighed heavily on our minds.
And then we thought of the folks in California at the moment, dealing with loss of lives, homes and everything they own. A little flooding, a water heater replacement … really, that’s nothing comparatively speaking. We’re pretty lucky and oh, so, thankful.