Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Long Live The King

Gloss Mountain State Park, Oklahoma

Upon leaving Oklahoma we kept seeing these awesome rock formations. I kept wanting to stop and photograph them, however there were no opportunities, until, FINALLY, there was a spot to pull over! Not only was it just a spot, it had a longer drive off of it, and turns out it was a random state park for the Gloss Mountains! We hiked up to the top, and got a great view of the surrounding landscape, and some close-ups of vultures or some other type of bird of prey. It was a gorgeous start to the day!

Gloss Mountain State Park, Oklahoma.

We stopped for lunch at this awesome place called Kumback Lunch in Perry, Oklahoma where I had a chicken fried steak sandwich. One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. Better than a hamburger!

Kumback Lunch, Perry, Oklahoma

We continued driving and ended up on the western border of Arkansas, in Siloam Springs. It was a lovely little place, but just a one-night stopover. Unfortunately I left a ring there the next morning, and didn’t realize until we’d driven for 40 minutes, so we got to drive back and forth for about a while. The upside, we decided to grab lunch to go and it was amazing! We stopped at AQ Chicken House in Springdale, Arkansas. It is a favorite of Bill Clinton, and now is a favorite of mine!

AQ Chicken House, Arkansas.

Amazing fried chicken sandwich from AQ Chicken House, Arkansas

We drove to Bull Shoals/White River State Park in Arkansas. It was gorgeous, however we had some issues. It rained intermittently throughout our drive, but luckily stopped right as we arrived. Unfortunately, the sun came out, and it was HOT HOT HOT. We did, however, enjoy our sandwiches.

Bull Shoals/White River State Park, Arkansas

We tried to go on a couple of nature walks, but both failed. The lower lake loop wasn’t a loop, because a bunch of fallen trees cut the trail off. And there were a ton of mosquitoes. And, thanks to the humidity, which we hadn’t missed in New Mexico or Oklahoma, we were sweating up a storm. We also tried to go on the ‘wildflower walk’, but it was seriously lacking in flowers. The one included here is one of the maybe 5 that we saw. Despite these shortcomings, it was a nice break from driving.

Bull Shoals Reservoir, Arkansas.

Little Black Eyed Susan (I think), seen on the wildflower walk.

We spent the night in Jonesboro, Arkansas, which was a great college town. However, unbeknownst to us, it was a dry county! That’s right, no booze! And it was Sunday, so even if it wasn’t dry, the Blue Laws would have prevented us from procuring any spirits. Luckily, mom travels with her own box of wine. Phew!

Started off this morning and headed for GRACELAND! That’s right, Elvis Lives! Or at least, his memory lives on. I thought it was pretty cool, because his house was preserved as it was when he lived, shag carpeting and all. And some of the out buildings had been converted into trophy buildings. I knew he was popular, but I had no idea how acclaimed he had been! So many gold records! So many awards! So much charity work! It was a pretty neat trip…even as someone who isn’t a super Elvis fan.

Graceland Mansion, Memphis, Tennessee.

Tickets to Graceland!

Creepy monkey thing, Graceland Mansion.

Movie screening room. Back then 3 tvs was a big deal. Heck, 1 tv was a big deal!

Model of the home Elvis grew up in.

Charity check to 'Crippled Children's Hospital'. He was a big philanthropist (all joking aside).

One of Elvis' Vegas costumes. Shiny!

Floor to ceiling awards. And this is just a small piece of the pie. He was very accomplished.

So, after Graceland we headed to Nashville. We are currently staying at the nicest Day’s Inn. Or at least it’s the nicest we’ve seen! Seven floors and an exercise room! We’re living the life of luxury. We had dinner at Kayne Prime, which was a splurge, and one of the best dinners we’ve had this trip! Now I’m going to head into a food coma, before we head off to Kentucky tomorrow. Yum yum!

Oh yeah, the license plate game! It’s much slower going on the return trip. We haven’t progressed nearly as far. Got a bunch in Graceland today, but I haven’t updated it. Here’s the map so far, and the notes.

License plate game, after 4 days on the return trip. We had it pretty much completed on the way to Crested Butte by this point.

License plate notes. Any same-day doubles?

Advertisements

From Mice to Volcanoes to Rodeos

View from the car leaving Colorado, before I took a nap.

As I mentioned before, we head out of Crested Butte on a beautiful day. I, however, was exhausted, because stupid sisterpants has a cough that she can sleep through, but I can’t. I was up half the night, and nothing I did would shut her up. So, I took a nice little nap as mom drove the treacherous roads over the continental divide.

We ended up heading south, to New Mexico, and stayed in the Town of Raton. They happened to have a great information center, complete with a self-guided walking tour of the downtown historic district. I jumped at the chance to stretch my legs after the long drive.

El Raton. The Mouse, in Spanish.

The tour was only a few blocks. The town is pretty dead today, but it was neat imagining how it was back when it was a major stop for trains because of mining and it’s location near a major mountain pass. Originally it was a raucous place, with saloons, hotels, and debauchery. Today it’s a quiet place, with dust and heat and empty storefronts.

Marchiondo Building. Originally a dry goods, grocery, and liquor store.

From Raton we headed out early towards Oklahoma, by way of Texas (got to keep the state count up!). On our way we saw the Capulin Volcano. That’s right, a volcano in New Mexico. Hasn’t erupted in the last 60,000 years though, so we figured it’d be safe to visit. We headed over and just had to pay $5 to drive up (no walking trails…and I don’t think mom would have walked up anyway).

Entrance to The Capulin Volcano, in New Mexico.

So, as I said, we drove up to the top where they had some informative rangers. One gave a talk about the pyroclastic debris that gets shot out of the volcano. He said it’s a strata volcano, and showed us examples of the bombs it shot out. I took a picture (with my sunglasses for scale) of the various bombs. Mom and I also walked down into the crater, and took a picture of where the vent is, and a lot of the debris. Then we walked up and started around the rim. Mom made it about a quarter, and I turned back after about a third because I thought she was waiting for me. Turns out I could have gone all the way around! Oh well, next time. The view from the top was breathtaking, and it was about the same altitude as Crested Butte, and since I am still somewhat acclimated, the hike wasn’t too strenuous (it was steeper than most of the walks we did in Crested Butte).

Some pyroclastic debris. From left: bread loaf bomb, football/pig skin bomb, cow dung/cow flop bomb.

View of New Mexico into Colorado from the top of the Volcano.

I think this is a view from the parking area across to the other side. The darker stones in the middle are actually where the vent would be.

Here's me and the volcano! It's from the rim looking across/down at the volcano. The dark area to the right of my shoulder is down in the crater.

Capulin Volcano from drive to the base. Capulin, New Mexico. You can see the road we drove up it.

We ate lunch at Hodies Bar-B-Q in Dalhart, Texas. I had one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. It was smoked pork loin, and it was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Served on a seedless hamburger roll that was perfectly toasted, with bbq sauce. Don’t know why, but the combo was perfect, and it was heavenly. Left the camera in the car though, so no pictures to make you drool (at least those omnivores out there).

From Texas we headed towards Oklahoma. We realized that we weren’t going to make it to Tulsa at a reasonable hour, so we changed our plans and headed towards Woodward, Oklahoma. What’s so special about Woodward? Well, they are fast becoming one of Oklahoma’s most sustainable cities, powering the majority of their grid with wind turbines. We saw one of the blades while refilling our water at a gas station.

Wind turbine blade. They are HUGE!

Once we got into town we searched out our favorite motel: the Super 8! While on the hunt my mom spied a sign for the local rodeo, and (just our luck!), it was in town while we are here! We rented our room and immediately set out to find the rodeo, just to see what it was about. We got to the grounds about 6:15 and I sent mom to do a little recon. She came back with 2 free tickets, and the information that they were currently serving free hamburgers to ticket holders! I guess one of the sheriffs had extra tickets, and just handed them over when she asked how much a ticket was, and where to buy them! Lucky us!

We headed back to the motel to freshen up and unpack the car, and then got back in the car to get our free hamburger dinner. It was deeeelish, like any free grilled hamburger and bag of chips can be! I got a beer and mom got a water and we headed for the stands. Although I am a bit torn about the whole idea of a rodeo (much as I am about zoos), because of the whole issue of using animals purely for entertainment, it was quite a pleasant experience. A guy parachuted right into the ring as some girl was singing America the Beautiful to start the night off. Then they had the kids run to the ring to wrangle some calves, and after that they brought in a herd of longhorns while they sang the National Anthem. As cheesy as it was, it was also kind of moving. Really brought out the patriotism in the audience. Mom felt at home with all the republicans.

Huge American Flag as you walk into the fairground. Look at the truck below for scale.

Parachuting into the ring.There were Boy Scouts to catch the flag before it hit the ground, and to fold it properly.

Longhorns for The National Anthem. Unfortunately my camera doesn't capture the awesomeness of it. Check out the video I linked for a better idea.

The first event was little kids trying to ride sheep. It was really cute. Other events, that I can remember, were: bareback bronco riding, saddle bronco riding, calf wrestling, calf roping, team calf roping, barrel racing, and bull riding. My favorites were barrel racing and bull riding. Despite the fact that for the bull riding a lot of the energy was kind of like nascar racing (people waiting for an accident). The one ride I videoed actually was probably the roughest one of the night. Here’s a video of the longhorns before the anthem, and here’s a video of someone taking down a calf, and here’s the one of the bull ride on the feisty bull. The bull dumps the rider, hits one clown in a barrel, and then another one on foot. It’s crazy and scary what these animals can do. As usual, camera quality isn’t great. Some of the pictures I had to zoom in rather far as well, so they look blurry.

A cowboy wrestling a calf down.

Cowboy bringing down a calf (left side of picture).

Cowboy on bucking bronco. Poor broncos. They tie a strap around their flanks to agitate them into bucking (that's the part I don't like). The bulls get it around their testicles.

So, that about wraps up our adventure day. I’ve been wanting to get a cowboy hat and boots all day, but I think I’ll refrain. Although I do want to figure out how it is they can walk around in jeans, boots, long sleeve shirts, and a hat in this sweltering heat! Teach me how to survive back in the NYC in August!