Flying Through the Plains
Oprah says her room was so moldy that she had trouble breathing. Gayle says she could see the indentation in the sheets left by the person who was sleeping in her bed the night before. "This is what I learned on this road trip and this is good information," Oprah says. "Always go to the center of the bed, because most people sleep on one end or another. The center of the bed is the least slept-in and has fewer cooties."
Oprah was ready to abandon the motel entirely. "I would rather sleep on the ground with the rabbits and the coyotes than be in a grungy, moldy, stinky motel," she said. Against her wishes the Big Adventure team stayed the night.
In the morning, Oprah heard details much more shocking than a motel room's dubious cleanliness. On the previous day after the team checked in, Roosevelt, her makeup artist, had witnessed someone at a nearby bar refer to Oprah using shockingly racist and sexist terms. And Chris, Oprah's trainer, found two .22-caliber shotgun shells outside his room.
By morning, it was time to leave in a hurry.
The Sunflower State meant more than just The Wizard of Oz. It also marked the halfway point of the cross-country journey. "When you look on the map, you see Kansas right in the middle," Gayle said. "So don't you feel that New York is in striking distance?"
"I feel like it's still a long way to go," Oprah said.
"One of the reasons I wanted to do this trip was to experience America and Americans in a way that you don't get to do sitting in a studio," Oprah says.
Oprah and Gayle even learned a valuable lesson from the Marunzaks...how to properly pack food for a road trip. "This is our treat box—the 'yum yum' box," Mrs. Marunzak said. She had snacks, water and diet soda. Oprah even scored a couple of pretzels from the yum yum box.
"Their stuff looked really good in that cooler," Oprah said. "I wanted to take their drinks, but I think that's rude. But they did it right. We didn't do it right."
When they convinced the riders to pull over, Oprah and Gayle found out that their new "biker buddies" were also on a cross-country trip, traveling through seven states in a week. Unlike Oprah and Gayle, these bikers are true road veterans. They've been traveling by motorcycle for the last 20 years.
"How great that you can be enjoying the world and riding on the back of a motorcycle holding onto your hubby?" Oprah said. "Very sensual riding on a man's back the whole time. You've got that engine behind you and your woman on your back—Wooo!"
Oprah offered smart—but not particularly nurturing—advice to her best friend. "Do not throw up in this car. You'd better hold it," she said. "You're going to pass that in a mile or so. Throw up you smell for the next six days."
And just as he was upset about Oprah's Dairy Queen detour, Oprah's trainer, Chris, was less than thrilled about this midday snack. "There are tons of health food stores all over the country," Chris said. "I mean, we stop at everything else but those."
Oprah was not going to be deterred from this opportunity to try some old-fashioned soda shop favorites. "Mr. Trainer Man, they were worth every sip," she said.
Gayle entered the restaurant first, sending the owner, Shelby, into a fit of excitement. What would happen when Oprah arrived? Shelby burst into a full-on scream. "I look at all those people that do that [on your show]—just what I just did—and say, 'How stupid is that?' What are you doing here?"
After Shelby settled down, Oprah and Gayle enjoyed a delicious lunch. Then, as the road beckoned, Shelby and her sisters serenaded everyone with a classic cowboy tune, "Don't Fence Me In."
Ming is nearly 7 feet, 9 inches tall, weighs more than 350 pounds, and wears size 19 shoes!
Gayle had her own moment of seething road rage when they ran into some rush hour traffic later in the day near Wichita. As Oprah was saying how thankful she was that this was their first brush with a rush hour, Gayle was in the middle of a slow boil. "I hate sitting in traffic," she said. "I'd just like to know how far down we have to go."
Toby, a DJ on The Heart, sent out a dedication to Oprah and Gayle in honor of their location..."Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell.
"I love that song!" Gayle—herself a host on XM's Oprah Radio—gushed.
"I wanted to hug the bellman, but when I went to hug him, he looked afraid," Gayle says.
Oprah even broke out into the "happy hotel dance" in the lobby! "After our experience in the motel the night before, that Hyatt was a welcome oasis," Oprah says. "What a difference a day makes!"
The ladies left their pillows and blankets in the car and bedded down for the night in beautiful suites. Oprah says she doesn't mind if hotel rooms aren't as fancy as the ones at the Hyatt...she just wants a room that's fresh and clean.
Bingo, a favorite national pastime, is played by more than 11 million Americans, and although Oprah was a rookie, she was excited to learn from the pros. "One of the most interesting things for me was having the chance to see how other people live and entertain themselves in America," she says.
Gayle and Oprah arrived at Bingo Casino and got down to business. Their new bingo buddies—Tillie, Gladys, Mary, Tenesha, and her friend Tenesha—showed the newbies the best way to win serious cash. Tillie, a hardcore bingo player, said she plays at least five nights a week!
With microphone in hand, Oprah even got comfortable calling a few numbers. "I could have had a whole other career and I didn't know it," she said.
The three Roberts brothers sang an a cappella version of "You Blessed Me Still."
"I was very touched by the song that they chose to sing," Gayle says.
"Hallelujah!" Oprah said. "Thank you for the blessing."
The travelers hopped into their Chevy and followed the signs to a neighborhood in Wichita where a yard sale was in full swing. Tables were piled with toys and racks were packed with clothes. After a little digging, Oprah found two black dolls at a bargain price—only $1 each!
The family hosting the yard sale didn't seem fazed by the camera crew on their front lawn. In fact, Gayle says they never even asked who they were or what they were doing there!
"I love that musical," Oprah says. "I loved knowing that we were in the state of Oklahoma, so I thought I'd join in and sing."
"The singing got on [Oprah's] nerves, but she sang 'Oklahoma' with gusto!" Gayle says.
After Oprah and Gayle's duet, they went solo. Oprah checked out the Oklahoma Welcome Center, while Gayle chatted with fellow travelers in the parking lot. At the welcome center, Oprah found out that Oklahoma has 50 state parks and the largest herd of buffalo!
When Gayle spotted men on horseback, Oprah decided to drop in for an unexpected visit. "It's not every day that six car loads of strangers pull into your driveway to say howdy to your wife," Oprah says.
Cody, the cowboy in question, rode up to the fence with his lasso in hand...just in case. "He was serious because he had no idea who we were," Gayle says. "It really was like something out of a movie where the guy comes galloping over to rescue his woman."
Oprah and Gayle climbed up on a fence to admire Cody and his friend Justus as they roped calves and practiced their rodeo ridin'. "A guy who can ride a horse well, to me it's extremely masculine," Gayle says.
"There's something about a man on a horse," Oprah says. "A man who knows how to handle a horse is a really cool, sexy thing."
"We heard [my wife] from the arena when you guys pulled in," Cody says. "You guys got out of the car and she recognized you and we heard her say, 'Oh, my God.' I was, like, 'Oh, boy.' ... It could have been good or it could have been bad."
From the looks on Oprah and Gayle's faces, meeting Cody and Justus was definitely a highlight of their trip through Oklahoma.
See what really happened when they waltzed into two Oklahoma wedding receptions!