Tuesday, August 31, 2010

100 Things To Do In Oklahoma

Saying goodbye to Oklahoma is really hard!  As my last day here approaches I can't help but reflect on what a great experience I have had here.

The other day I went to lunch with some friends and mentioned that my time here was running out and there were still so many Oklahoma things I wanted to do.  Next thing you know, my awesome friend Jenelle gave me the coolest gift...a set of beautiful cards "100 Things To Do In Oklahoma".

I love them and want to show some of them to you because these are Oklahoma things you should do!

I was pleased at how many of the things I had actually been able to do in the last almost six years.

Here are a few highlights.

Oklahoma has some truly amazing, world-class museums and I am hard-pressed to pick a favorite.  The Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, Fred Jones Museum, Philbrook Museum of Art, Gilcrease Museum, National Cowboy & Heritage Museum, Jazz Hall of Fame, Science Museum Oklahoma, Jasmine Moran Children's Museum...all house amazing art, culture, artifacts, and history.

I have a soft spot for the Gene Autry Museum in Gene Autry, Oklahoma.  Dad and I spent a great day there enjoying The Riders in the Sky.  It's a special memory I will always treasure.

Oklahoma has so many natural offerings.  Two of my favorites are the Quartz Mountain Lake and Resort near Altus and the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge not too far from Lawton.  Really impressive buffalo and longhorn cattle herds, a vineyard, the infamous Meers restaurant and beautiful scenery.

Gotta give a shout out to the zoos - I like both the Oklahoma City and the Tulsa Zoos.

I really like Tulsa.  It has such a different feel from Oklahoma City.  A bit more cosmopolitan, I guess.  Some of my favorite Tulsa sites to see are the Blue Dome District with great entertainment options (love, love, love live-music venue Cain's Ballroom) and the amazing art deco architecture seen throughout the city.  But because Oklahoma City will always be nearest and dearest to my heart I've included in this pic two fun things you should do when here...have dinner at the legendary Cattleman's Steakhouse in the Stockyards and then make your way to Bricktown for some downtown fun.

I'm not a gambler and that is too bad because Oklahoma is thick with casinos.  But they just aren't my thing.  With that said, I have had a few outings to Riverwind Casino and had a blast.  Okay, I mainly had a blast because I was with my Nigerian friend Gbadabo Shola (aka "Sam") Adoeye and he was the hit of the casino.  Talk about one of my favorite Oklahoma attractions....meeting Sam was an amazing experience.  I've written about him here before (but fair warning...that post was from the early days of the Dotopotamus when I used to write rambling novel length posts that went on FOREVER and this one involves not only Sam but a dating experience gone horribly wrong!)

You know my love of small towns.  Oklahoma's got a lot of 'em!  A couple of my favorite small town stops were Guthrie (lots of Oklahoma early statehood history and good antique stores) and Pauls Valley where I did stop at the Toy and Action Figure Museum one time on my way back from Texas.  That place was so funny and so weird that it was a little bit trippy!

And roadside attractions?  You gotta love them.  I really enjoyed seeing the many retro sights along Route 66 including the Blue Whale in Catoosa and Pops in Arcadia.  Dad and I spent some time picking out Frosty Rootbeer and Grape Nehis!

And if you can, you really need to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum honoring those who were killed in the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.  It is a moving experience.

Of course there are so many things I regret not doing when I had the time.  Almost all of the things I wish I had done are visiting different parks and lakes.  I'd like to see Beaver Bend State Park, Talimena National Scenic Byway, Robbers Cave State Park, Tallgrass Prairie, Grand Lake of the Cherokees and Turner Falls.  Please go visit these places and send me some pictures!

I have to say that I agreed that these 100 Things To Do In Oklahoma were great suggestions.  Okay, actually  I thought 99 of them were great suggestions.  I hate to say it, but I'd have to be pretty desperate for a day trip before driving the American Wind Power Trail would sound like a good idea!

Thanks again for the cards, Jenelle.  They provide great memories of the good times I've had in Oklahoma and a to do list for when we come back to visit!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Go Boomers!

Randy's high school reunion in Toledo, Oregon was a fun weekend.  The best part was the alumni football game!  Go Boomers!

The old guys (at least 10 years since graduation) versus the young guys (graduated in the last 10 years).

Randy was ready.  Ankles taped?  Check.  Shoestring found to lace up the football pants?  Check.  Helmet big enough to protect the perfect bald head?  Check. 

Randy's mom was brilliant because she thought to bring blankets.  When I left Oklahoma City two days before it was 103 degrees so suffice it to say I wouldn't have thought to bring blankets to the game.  But let me just say that I was fully covered by said blankets by the end!

Friends arrived.  Beautiful Pamela and Barb and awesome (and beautiful!) Mike.  These guys all go way back.

Warm ups and general bantering (smack talking?) got underway.

And then we were ready for some football! 

But DANG I didn't get one single picture of the game! 

That's because with the introductions I became the videographer and I got everything captured on video.  Because I didn't want to miss a single play, run, pass, tackle, trick, or touchdown I kept the video camera going the whole time and didn't get any still pics to post.  Randy has possession of the tape so I can't even offer up a clip.  So just imagine a lot of action...there were good plays and bad plays and passes and receptions and interceptions and touchdowns. 

And in the end?  The Golden Oldie Boomers won!  18-8!  Go old guys!  That is pretty awesome.  And Randy did a great job.

After the game the celebration began and the three bars in Toledo were packed with alumni having fun tripping down memory lane. 

Here's a little Toledo school days memory for you. 

I learned that the middle school that these guys attended burned down.  Like to the ground!  During a school day!  Randy was in music class when it happened.  The fire started in the boiler room and actually burned through the ceiling of that room and burst through the stage that was in the gym (?)/cafeteria (?).   And there were classes in there eating lunch.   Can you imagine?  You're sitting there eating you pb&j and all of the sudden flames burst out and right in front of you!  Apparently the old school was a tinder box and it started burning like crazy really quickly, but luckily everyone got out, however there were some burns and injuries on some adults who stayed behind making sure all the kids were out.  That is wild.  I remember having so many fire drills during school but never did I ever think I would actually experience a real fire.  Well these guys did! 

So it was good to learn a little bit more about Randy and his life growing up.  And it was fun getting to watch him play football.  He's come a long way since his number 35 (basketball!) days here...

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

Last weekend Randy and I went to his all-school high school reunion in Toledo, Oregon.  Toledo was hopping with activity, including the annual Wooden Boat Show held in the little port area of town.

I've always lived in land-locked places, so the whole coastal, sea, ocean, fishing, boating, shrimping, crabbing, thing is new to me.  It's going to be fun getting to know that whole culture. 

First stop, the Wooden Boat Show in Toledo, Oregon.

There was a lot going on.

The potato canon was a big draw.  You aimed for the signs in the water, or that red jacket wearing pirate in that little dingy.  Randy came the closest to hitting the target...missed it by that much!  The red jacket wearing pirate in the little dingy shot potatoes back at you, so you had to keep your head up or you would get nailed by a flying spud.

There were different boat races throughout the day.  You can see some of the boats warming up behind me.

There were wooden boats of all kinds on display along the various docks along the slough.

I liked the Wahoo.  Good name.

Although the Wahoo was a little rough in places...

There were cute, funky little wooden boats.

And there were pirate boats!

Back up on land - the boardwalk area above the docks - there was a cute street fair going on.  Lots of beautifully handcrafted wooden boats were on display.  The amount of time and elbow grease these took to make is impressive.

You could make your own wooden boat

Little kids could make their own wooden boats, too.

There were many booths with cool things on display.  Things like...

Fish art...


Cute things for your dog.  And there were dozens of dogs milling about...

Funky, handmade hats.  You can't really see my new funky, handmade hat, but trust me, it's cute!

There were stringed instruments and people who knew how to play lilty Irish fiddle tunes...

There were antiques for sale, and you could buy your very own vintage Roman gladiator...because everyone needs one!  We plan on putting this one in our garden.

There was a silent auction and Randy couldn't resist bidding on things.  He was the high bidder on the big reel in the picture.  He said he was getting it for me...because I need a reel for all of the deep sea fishing I'm going to do.  (Now where on the keybaord is that face icon with the rolling eyes?).

I really liked the band because I'm always drawn to the live music!   These guys were good.  Come on, chances are that any band with an accordion player is going to be good.

And the best news?  Randy and I were crowned King and Queen of the Wooden Boat Show!  Okay, maybe not.  Because these guys totally had us beat...

But there is always next year!

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