Every Stop has a Story
So, where to next?
It's a question that we ask often.
And it is pondered carefully. One part of us excitedly looks at the roadmap laid before us and sees unlimited opportunities. And it's a feeling of unimaginable freedom.
But then the more cautious side of my brain slaps the other side across its cortex and reminds it that: "It's getting cold outside!" You see, warm weather has been the "invisible hand" guiding us along this journey.
Being October , the air has begun to take on an edge. The warm evenings try to deceive us into thinking we still have lots of time to get south, but winter's true intentions can be discerned in the frosty breath of morning. We know our time is limited. We want to winter in the southern Texas but the exact plot points between here and there are still TBD.
Looking at the map we see we are not far from the state of Oklahoma, which works out great because we have a niece living in Oklahoma City and it will also allow us to put another "state" on our travel map. So we donned our sunglasses, straightened our ties, gassed up the truck and said:
"It's 350 miles to OKC, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.. Hit it!"
First stop, Tulsa!
After a three and a half hour drive, we rolled into Warrior RV Park. It's just outside of the city and a good half way point for us.
It was a very nice park with level pads and clean surroundings. There was no pool or playground, but a great place to stop if you're passing through.
And we had a completely unexpected experience while staying here, but more on that in a minute.
After setting up, we decided to take a quick drive through Tulsa for a look around. It was a lovely Sunday evening.
The first thing that caught our eye was the Prairie Schooner sculpture in the center of the city.
I was at first taken aback at the sight of these mangled, twisted heaps looking so out of place in the middle of the industrialized downtown area. Looking like something a beaver might have constructed, these objects required further investigation, and contemplation.
Words really can't describe my visceral reactions to this artwork. The child in me flashed back to my halcyon days of tree climbing or playing hide-and-seek in the woods behind my boyhood home. But the adult in me was reminded of all the times I had to laboriously rake up fallen branches and leaves after a summer storm had pummeled my yard. Its hard to decide.
These structures, seven in all, are woven from sticks and branches that volunteers collected from along the nearby Arkansas River and they look like something a storybook wolf could blow down.
We learned it was created by world renown artist Patrick Dougherty. It's design pays homage to the city's past, representing the covered-wagons that brought settlers through the tall grasses of the open plains, and to its future, set against Tulsa's rising skyline.
Personally, I think it represents the tornadoes that occasionally sweep across these plains like giant windshield wipers, clearing the land of anything in a vertical position. I thought they looked like homes being viciously twisted off their foundations and about to be lofted skyward.. but that's just me.
After searching Google I found some other examples of Patrick Dougherty's interactive environmental art:
Judging by the length of time we spent investigating these structures, I'd have to say, this man is very, very creative.
While staying at Warrior RV we traveled into Tulsa many times and as you walk the downtown streets, you get a glimpse into its gloried past when it was hailed as "Oil Capital of the World". Back in the twenties, when large oil fields were discovered along the Arkansas river refineries sprang up, fortunes grew, and so did the city along with it. Each new building reflected the design motif of the time: Art Deco.
If Art Deco is your thing, it can be found throughout the city. Here are a few pictures of the beautiful buildings that were built during this era:
Like a giant Easter egg hunt, we spent an enjoyable afternoon trying to find these gems hidden throughout Tulsa's skyline.
AN INTERESTING DELAWARE CONNECTION!:
One evening there came a knock at our RV's door. When I opened it, I was greeted by a traveler who happened to be from our home state. She saw our license plate and stopped by to greet a fellow Delawarean. After chatting a bit we invited her and her hubby over for happy-hour later that evening. Given that Delaware is such a small state, we knew that if we peeled back the layers, we were bound to know someone in common.
So that evening Sue and Lee came over and we began chatting about our lives and travels. We learned they live downstate and are traveling out to California in a Class A motorhome. But things really got interesting when we began to connect the dots of who we knew in common. When it came to discussing the high schools we attended, turns out we went to the same high school. He graduated a few years ahead of me and knew my older brother. What a coincidence, I thought! But then Sue said, "I went to Dickinson High School as well!" Thinking she was younger than I, I was surprised to learn we graduated the same year! We ran in different circles, but as soon as she told me her maiden name, I remembered exactly who she was. Hard to believe that forty years after graduating and 1,300 miles from home, I run into a fellow alumni! GO RAMS!
OTHER DISCOVERIES WE MADE WHILE STAYING IN TULSA:
There are only a few places along our pathway that invoked such a level of wonderment as this place. Even years later, we speak of it with the same awe as the day we saw it. If you can't find a reason to smile here, then your heart is made of stone!
Gathering Place is a FREE world-class entertainment park with something for people of all ages. There are ladders, ropes, swings, slides, musical instruments and mirrors. Kids of all ages can swirl, soar, slide, skate and most importantly: laugh. It's a park like none other we have seen. Spread out over 100 acres, this dynamic interactive environment allows people to explore, learn, and play.
Below are some pictures we took of the various activities within the park.
And there is even a skate park!
And after spending an afternoon here and you need a break, check out their cafe where you can go for a cup of coffee and a sandwich.
At $465 million, the Gathering Place is the largest private gift of a community park in U.S. history. It was built and funded primarily by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. George Kaiser, an oil man, said it was his way of giving back to a community that had given him so much. And my feeling is, Tulsa will benefit (on so many levels) from this for generations to come.
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church
In downtown Tulsa is a stunning church designed in Art Deco/Neo-gothic style. Looking like a church lobby that has an office building growing out of it, this building was designed by a local art teacher, Adah Robinson, who took her concepts to Bruce Goff, one of the few American architects who was considered by Frank Lloyd Wright to be "truly creative".
While the tower carries your eyes skyward, the entrance way pulls you inward. And the inside is beautiful. Below are some of the pictures we took of the interior:
It is a beautiful structure and worth visiting if you're in the area.
We found the Center of the Universe!
In downtown Tulsa there is a small concrete circle sitting in the middle of a larger circle of bricks. If you didn't know what you were looking for, you'd walk right past it. But some consider it an acoustic miracle. It is said, If you stand in the middle of the circle and make a noise, the sound is echoed back several times louder like some sort of amplified echo-chamber.
As much as we tried, facing in different directions and uttering noises at different volumes, nothing of consequence was echoed back. I think it's just designed to make tourists --who stand in the circle making various noises-- look foolish, and we fell right into their trap!
I'm going to conclude my blog post here but there is still much to tell about what we discovered in and around this unique city. We learned about a horrible scar on Tulsa's history and even took a long, fruitless trip to see bison. Thanks for reading and hopefully we'll see you down the road!