Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I am an island

I've been on the road again - The weekend was spent in Cherokee. Right in the middle of the historic Cherokee Strip, it's a part of Oklahoma I hadn't seen, other than flying through on northbound I-35 on the way to Kansas. You definitely have to go to Cherokee on purpose. You don't get there for any other reason.

So I have a confession. I'm just not a people person. Stop snorting, my loved ones. You were waiting for something really juicy. You already knew that and you still love me. Then why do I feel guilty about it? Being surrounded by people 24-7 is an energy drain to me. Being by myself with my computer or a good book - major energy gain. So when I am out with the dental van, I often find myself RUNNING for the hotel after a full day of volunteers and patients and staff. Chatty chat chat. Smile and be perky. Act like you care. Ugh.

The truth is, I've made some amazing friends along the way. I'm not sure where the wall comes from. Well, actually I know where some of it comes from, given that my adult life has been something of a rollercoaster, but that's for another time. Mostly I just think it's nature more than nurture and I should get over it.

For the trip to Cherokee I knew I was going to be in close quarters with folks for a full 48 hours, so I prayed and pepped-talked before going. And actually, it was rewarding. People in Cherokee were sweet and friendly and genuinely glad to see us there. The staff was great! I was a little concerned because the dentist with me was an African American in rural Oklahoma. She got some looks and some attitude here and there, but for the most part, people behaved themselves.

It helped that Karen Hawkins, Chair of the Board for Great Salt Plains Health Center, where we were serving, was welcoming and gracious. A politician to the bone, she was once the town mayor, knows everyone in town, and now owns the Cherokee Inn and neighboring restaurant, Cherokee Station.

If you go, I'd recommend starting the day at Ms. Dottie's Cafe for breakfast. All the local folks go there for good reason. Then take a trip to nearby Great Salt Plains State Park. For dinner, head to the Cherokee Station. The steaks are great - raised by Lon and Karen Hawkins of course.

Thought I'd share some pics taken by Marsha Price from Woodward. Thanks Marsha! Wish I had a fraction of your energy!

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