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An Ode to I-44

4:15 AM EDT on March 13, 2012

It's the artery that connects Tulsa to Oklahoma City. The pathway to the Shrine of the Infant Jesus. The highway to Hiland Dairy. The road to Joplin, and subsequently Branson if you come from a family as moderately redneck as mine. The Boulevard of Broken Arrow construction equipment.

To the tender tollway that bisects Tulsey Town and still confuses native-born 918ers, this one's for you:

As a South Tulsa native, I really didn't frequent I-44 growing up. That is, unless it was to a) visit Harmon Science Center, b) weekend at Grand Lake, c) go to OKC for a trip to Frontier City, or d) a visit to Branson's Silver Dollar City. Yes, my parents were very much so the Griswald types. We even played the alphabet game in the car, and sang along to the Beach Boy's Greatest Hits album. How cute!

This left me extremely ill-prepared when I got my driver's license and suddenly wanted to spend every weekend of the better part of my high school years with the cute hippies that went to Booker T. Washington or Bishop Kelley. A wee 16-year old girl trying to navigate I-44's service roads is akin to a Korean War veteran trying to set up a Facebook account: obvious to some, but others are painstakingly blinded by the subtle complexity. Have you ever tried to get to that Best Buy between Sheridan and Yale off of I-44? Without an updated Garmin GPS or prior spatial knowledge of the area, it's nearly impossible.

Further complicating Skelly Drive is the abundant amount of construction going on near, around, and on I-44 itself. There's construction happening on exit ramps. There are cones and barrels obstructing apparent entrances. There are so many detours, you might as well just stay on the service road (that is, if you aren't already doing so by mistake). And while you're on that service road, you might as well stock up on your household goods, because you won't ever be able to locate that Bed, Bath and Beyond on purpose.

Although I-44 is flawed in many ways, it is blessed with one thing we can all appreciate: McDonald's. Sure, there's that one near Stroud, which marks the exact threshold of how far Tulsa's Gen-X radio station will reach, but I'm talking about a greater one. Located on the Will Roger's portion of I-44, this Mickey D's is touted as the largest McD's in the world, and it's located in our very own state. How fitting.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xCawoodstock

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