Oklahoma City to Baxter Springs, KS…

We spent nearly 3 weeks in Oklahoma City hoping to help with disaster relief volunteering; for the time that we were there, we stayed at the fairgrounds in Norman.  It was just a parking lot, but it was only $120 a week, with full 50amp hookups, and no extra kid fees.  We had really wanted to stay somewhere where the kids could swim, and closer to the Adventure District in OKC, where all the destinations we were visiting were, but they either did not reply to my inquiries (common when trying to make reses with 9 kids! lol! ), or were charging outrageous kid fees ($5 x 7 kids/night) that weren’t mentioned on their websites.

DSC_0041_001While we were in OKC, we decided to take a drive around Moore and see how far the rebuilding had come. In some areas of the city, neighborhoods were nearly completely rebuilt, and except for an empty lot here and there, you would never have guessed that a tornado had decimated the area less than a year ago.  But there were still scars…DSC_1095_132 places where people either did not have insurance, or they took the insurance money and left for somewhere else.  Anywhere that was not tornado country.  For some homeowners, this was their second or third loss.DSC_1098_135 The square metal thing on the garage slab below is the entrance to a storm shelter. It has a lid that slides over the top, and it is basically a box down in the ground.  Tornado shelters are not like prepper shelters; they are not very big, and most people do not store supplies in them – they are simply a safe place to ride out the storm, and for very short term use (minutes, hours at the most, not days).  In the backdrop of the foundation is where the Plaza Towers Elementary School was (the one that was completely destroyed and 7 students lost their lives).  It is being rebuilt, and will be completed by the time that school begins again in the fall…DSC_1101_138

We were in OKC hoping to get in on the rebuilding, but were only able to work for the last week, and then it was just Vaughn.  They would have liked to have volunteered more there, but we do this as a family (very much FOR the kids), and when Vaughn poured concrete with a cold crew, and wasn’t allowed to take his right hand man/finisher,  Jake to help, then we knew that we needed to find somewhere else where we would be of more help

Last year, even though we were here for 3 weeks also, we didn’t check out much of OKC; the bigs were volunteering with SP, and the rest of us had the opportunity to volunteer in the church distribution center.  This year, we had tons of time to explore, and we found many fun, family-friendly things to do, like going to a OKC Barons hockey game.  OKC is really, really, into their sports.  They even have a NBA team, the OKC Thunder, who they are really proud of.  There were street flags, billboards, and even catwalks cheering them on…  🙂DSC_0141_141 They have a great downtown area.  One day we visited an artwalk that was going on. DSC_0312_312 There were tons of fabulous crafts, from paintings to pottery to wooden kitchen tools.  Beth would have loved this booth…DSC_0317_317While we were still in Oklahoma City, after the tornadoes went through NE, KS, AR, AL, and GA, we really wanted to go help out with the cleanup efforts.  While we started volunteering by working on rebuilding after the devastation, it seems that our time is morphing more towards cleanups.  We initially thought that we would head to Arkansas, but then we found out that Samaritan’s Purse would be sending a Disaster Relief unit to Kansas, and we were asked to respond to that site as they needed more site management help (and we were glad as it was closer, so less fuel money! 🙂 ).
Vaughn went into the SP office in OKC right before we left, and one of the ladies there said that SP works with a church in Baxter Springs (where we would be heading) on the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.  She offered to call the church as she thought they had an RV site.  She called them, then gave Vaughn the pastor’s name and number.  They talked, and later that week, as we pulled in to Baxter Springs, KS, we had a full hookup site waiting for us!
DSC_0103_103eWe stayed at Fellowship Baptist in Baxter Springs for the 2 weeks we were there.  Pastor Jim was such a blessing to our family.

While we were there, the bigs put in lots of hours hauling tree limbs and trunks, after they were cut, to the curb for waste management to haul off.
The rest of us got to get lots of schoolwork done and spent some time playing


(where they really, really enjoyed the grass and lots of room to run wild after 3 weeks in a paved parking lot. lol.)
DSC_0088_048And we still got to hang out together on Sundays (Jake is our official popcorn maker – it takes a specially trained person to know just how MUCH butter to put on it).
Living in an RV, we don’t have room for a Stir-Crazy popcorn popper like we have had ever since we were married, so now we make it over the stove, in a heavy bottomed pan.  The best popcorn is popped using coconut oil and flavored with real butter and sea salt.  😉  Jake’s a pro (Greg taught him well!)
(and obviously, it was very hot out as Jake is pouring the coconut oil into the pan instead of scooping it)

DSC_0092_052While we were in Baxter Springs, we got to see some of our very favorite people!!!  I’m beginning to think that maybe we are disaster relief junkies or something.
But if we are, we’re not the only ones!
As we first drove our rig through Baxter Springs, on our way to the church’s rv site, we found ourselves saying, “Look!  There’s so&so!” and honking.  and “oh, look!  There’s ___!” and honking again.
And as we passed the First Assembly church in town, we saw a familiar and very dear-to-us RV – that of our Road Grands!!!  We actually knew they were there (they pulled in several days before us), and we tried to keep it under wraps that we were coming in, to surprise them, but someone spilled, and they found out the day before. LOL! The RV wasn’t even set up before we backtracked down to them for lots of laughter and hugs!  Loved our time with them even though it was much too short!
DSC_0078_038We love our gypsy life and all the incredible opportunities that we have through traveling!

Lilla Rose

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  1. I am so bummed that we missed meeting y’all while here in Norman. We live just down the street from the fairgrounds however will be calling it home come next week when we become FT ourselves. Since we have plans of volunteering with SPECIAL as well I’m sure we will meet very soon.

    • Dumb spell check…
      “Special” is supposed to be SP.

    • Dana Ticknor says

      That’s fabulous Katie! Both the fulltiming and the volunteering!
      We really enjoyed our time in Norman – you have a fabulous city (the whole OKC area) with so many family-friendly things to do!

      Keep us posted when you are going to volunteer, and hopefully we can meet up!

  2. Hello Dana,
    We’ve started following your blog recently as we plan to head off on a similar adventure in the next year. We currently live in Germany and selling and moving directly into an RV when returning home makes the most sense. Especially since we’ve already become more accustomed to the smaller dwellings (and very small kitchens) that are typical of Europe. It seems the USofA seems to be one of the few countries that makes everything bigger! I was Skyping with Chad Swinford today and he speaks very highly of your little tribe. He mentioned catching up with a wonderful family and once he started describing you I said “The Ticknors” and he was surprised that I’m also a fan. With a crew the size of yours living fulltime in a 5’er it does not take much of a description to know who others are speaking of.

    You have an excellent blog! Thanks for the many interesting post.

    Kind regards,
    – Dana & Lora

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