When you’re on the road, always seeking out new vistas over new horizons, you’re bound to run into the unexpected. We’ve encountered this several times in our RVing days, and I’ll tell you, there’s never a logical explanation.
The most memorable instance began when we pulled our travel trailer into the lot by the office of Ken, Monique’s favorite massage therapist in Mt. Ida, Arkansas. It was at the end of her massage that the word “tankawa” formed in her mind. After asking Ken to write down the word, her eyes swelled with tears for some unknown reason.
We climbed back in the truck and hauled our RV westward into Oklahoma, planning to stop for the night in neighboring Kansas. I suggested a stop at the tourism office for free coffee and an up-to-date Oklahoma map. When we went in, I headed for the information desk.
Where was Monique? She had walked into the information center, turned to her right and was instantly drawn to a poster reading “TONKAWA TRIBE.”
She showed me the poster. Gasp! At the information desk we found out little. The ladies behind the desk could only point us to a town called Tonkawa, but that was all they knew.
We took off westward for a 200-mile drive to Tonkawa, arriving just as the sun was setting and with no place to park in sight. We took a chance on staying hitched up in a public park. I noticed outlets on the power poles, obviously there for RVs. Just as we stopped, a red pickup truck pulled up next to us. “That one doesn’t work,” the pony-tailed Native American man named Travis told us. “Try the next pole.”
It didn’t work either – no big deal. We had expected to dry-camp anyway. That’s when Travis tested the circuit and decided it needed replacement. He drove to the city’s utilities office, returning in a heavy-duty utility truck to make the repair.
He had been on his way home from work when he saw us turn in. Not a Tonkawa, he was an Osage-Ponca who knew little about the Tonkawa tribe, except they had a casino and tribal office in town.
At the office the next day, we wanted to tell someone of Monique’s Tonkawa revelation. We met with several very congenial people, including the tribe’s president, all very willing to fill us in on the history of the Tonkawas. They even gave each of us a sweatshirt and mug with the tribal logo. No one ever asked why we were there, and I’m still not sure we have an answer to that question anyway.
It was a little side trip that cost us two days out of our unscheduled trip toward the Northwest. Rather than being just another day on the road, it turned into two with significance.
As we look back on this and other adventures during our days roaming North America, we give thanks that we are able, not only to participate in these experiences, but also to appreciate how they add to the richness of our lives.