The Home Stretch
While traveling through the South, Oprah indulged in gas station grub and a buffet fit for the King. Chris Robinson, Oprah's trainer and core coach, couldn't keep her away from Dairy Queen ice cream and malted milkshakes, but he did help her reach her goal weight once the road trip was over!
Fitness guru Bob Greene introduced Oprah to Chris, a Pilates expert who specializes in strengthening the body's core, and the rest is history! Tabloids have reported that Oprah crash dieted over the summer, but she says she got down to 154 pounds the old-fashioned way...exercise!
Strengthen your core with exercise tips from Chris!
Although Gayle hasn't reached her goal weight, she truly enjoyed her training sessions with Chris during the road trip. "I think he's adorable," Gayle said. "He's very sexy. He has a beautiful smile ... have you seen him without a shirt?"
Once they figured out the route to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Oprah and Gayle decided to refuel in Nashville and have lunch with Oprah's dad, Vernon Winfrey, and his wife, Barbara.
Oprah and Gayle left the restaurant refreshed, but their trusty Chevy still looked like it needed some tender loving care. Road grime coated the exterior of the Impala and there was only one solution—the "ultimate" car wash! "A clean car is a happy car," Gayle said.
For the past week, Oprah, Gayle and their production crew had driven almost 3,000 miles without any incidents. Then, while en route to Cincinnati, Ohio, a Kentucky state patrolman stopped the lead car in their caravan. "The rest of us pulled over, too, because we had a pact—stick together, no matter what," Oprah says. "But, the patrolman didn't know that."
"I didn't pull you over," the patrolman yelled at Oprah and Gayle. "Get off of my highway!"
"We're with The Oprah Show doing a shoot," Gayle said.
"Oh, my goodness," he said as he leaned into their car. "Hi, my name is Buddy Carey. It's very nice to meet you. ... I've got Oprah Winfrey and 35 cameras. This is not what happens every day, folks. That's for sure."
"We'd gotten a complaint about [a crew member's] driving and the fact that he was videotaping out the back window, and it was distracting people," Buddy says.
When Buddy pulled the first car in Oprah's caravan over and others followed, he says it became a safety concern. "Any time someone stops behind my cruiser, I don't want them to because I don't know what's going to go on," he says. "I figure if it's trouble, I at least want it in front of me where I can see it."
Buddy may have been tough, but he treated these highway bandits with respect—even when he didn't know who they were. "You were so great, because even though you were stern, you never swore at us," Gayle says. "You were very professional the whole time, and I thought that was really nice."
"Thank you for being so gracious," Oprah says to Buddy.
Oprah: When we get to Cincinnati, can you get me a helmet? I'm not kidding.
Security: Can you say that one more time, ma'am? You want us to pick you up a what?
Oprah: Can you buy me a football helmet, please?
Security: Yes, ma'am. Which team would you like?
Oprah: No, it's just a helmet so I don't have to listen to this God blessed music anymore. I'm not kidding. I would like a football helmet. I've got earplugs. I've got earphones. I'm going to put on plugs and a helmet. That's the only thing that can help me.
Security: 10-4. I'll pick you up one.
Thankfully, it was almost time for a lunch break. Oprah and Gayle used their car's OnStar system to find the closest Cracker Barrel restaurant and chowed down with the crew before hitting the road again.
After five attempts, Oprah finally got Quincy on the phone. Quincy could barely hear them through the bad connection, so after yelling out a few words, they had to say goodbye.
"It took us 30 minutes just to have a 30-second conversation, but we were that much closer to Cincinnati and that much closer to the end of this trip," Oprah says.
Once they arrived, Oprah and Gayle were welcomed into the home of a traditional Amish family. "The Amish are very private people who rarely give television interviews and almost never allow their faces to be seen on camera," Oprah says. "So for us, it was an honor when we were invited to spend the day with them."
"It's more a way of life [than a religion]," David said. "It's the simplicity. It's a separation from the world—from the things of the world. Not necessarily [about rejecting modern] facilities, it's just the way we live."
They're not completely cut off from what's happening in the wider world, though. "We read a lot," David said. David and Emily said they recognized Oprah immediately...and they also know the faces of celebrities like P. Diddy, Jay-Z and 50 Cent! They know about popular culture from reading magazines like Time and O, The Oprah Magazine.
Emily's father, David Kline, a writer and farmer, explained that the intention of the Amish lifestyle is not denial for its own sake. Rather, the purpose of the simple life is to preserve those things they value most. "We are not against technology," he said. "We just hope to not allow the technology to be masters of us. That's liberty—to slow down and to enjoy life, visit with friends and have the family at home."
David Kline suggested that many people in modern society are searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places. "It seems as though people almost have a void they want to fill and they go to the store and are consumed by that urge to buy more and more," he said. "This material stuff just doesn't satisfy in the long run."
"To live in such simplicity, without modern conveniences, shows you don't need a lot," Oprah says.
"I just am in full admiration of people who can find not just joy but contentment with such great simplicity," Oprah says. "I've never seen or felt such a sense of peace and satisfaction"
"My grandmother had one of those!" Oprah said.
The tour continued with a stop in the dairy barn, and a lunch of freshly baked bread, green salad from the garden, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. "That's one thing that most Amish women know—how to cook—I'll tell you," David said.
Recently The Oprah Winfrey Show contacted David Kline, Emily's father, and asked him to share his thoughts on the tragic incident. "He wanted us all to know that the Amish people around this country have been deeply affected by this tragedy," Oprah says. "They have never experienced anything like this before, and they're all still trying to make sense of it. They're looking to each other, he says, and to God for strength."
After a last roadside meal together, the entire Big Adventure piled back in their cars just in time to get one more song dedication from their friends at XM Radio—Frank Sinatra's New York, New York.
On the George Washington Bridge into New York City—250 feet above the Hudson River—Gayle, behind the wheel, told Oprah something no passenger should ever hear. "I'm going to have to pull over because I need to put on my glasses."
After wearing her contact lenses for the entire day, Gayle's eyes had grown tired and itchy, and her vision was blurring. With no shoulder on the bridge, Gayle's only choice was to keep driving—half-blind, nervously sweating and hugging the white lines in the road—the only thing she could clearly see.
"Our nail-biting drive across the bridge only took about two minutes, but it felt like an hour," Oprah says.
When they reached Times Square, Oprah and Gayle's picture flashed on the ABC television network's marquee.
"In those final moments, Gayle and I couldn't help but reflect on our 11 days across the country," Oprah says. "Just seeing people live their lives to the best of their ability—the cowboys in Oklahoma and the weddings that we were able to crash. I loved seeing how America really lives. I love the country, and what I realized is it doesn't matter where you live, it doesn't matter how you live—we are all one heart."
"Your co-worker Becky wrote to us," Oprah says. "Dear Oprah: I want to tell you about a wonderful friend and co-worker of mine. She is the most generous, caring woman I've ever met. She lives her life every day for the sake of others. Reola is a mental health technician and is also the mother of four wonderful children. Reola has a son with cerebral palsy. He lives in an independent facility for disabled individuals. Because she does not have a car, she has to rely on friends and family to take her to visit him. She needs a ride to and from work every day, but that doesn't stop her from putting in double shifts at the hospital. When Reola's not working, she gives her all to help taking care of her son and her ailing father. Not having a car has made Reola's life extremely difficult. Everyone here considers Reola a real-life angel. We would like nothing more than to make her life a little easier. I just think she has an absolutely wonderful heart. She just has harder obstacles than some of us have in our own lives to deal with. I never would have written in had I not truly felt in my heart that she 100 percent deserved it."
Don't worry, Reola. "We cleaned all of our Mini-Wheats out of the back," Oprah assures her.
"Thank you," a shocked Reola says. "I thought I was just in the audience!"