All last week, the local weather stations have been warning Tulsa residents that a potentially crippling ice storm would arrive this weekend. The big question mark revolved around the actual temperature: in every weather model, Tulsa sat RIGHT on the freezing mark. So it could be a big mess or it could be no big deal at all. Turns out…it was no big deal. Although we had some ice buildup on tree branches and other elevated surfaces, the roads were fine. That meant I could do a little driving!
Friday night I stayed in town, going to a few places that I thought might look cool with a slight glaze of ice. Although I didn’t find any place that really showcased the winter weather, the slight fog gave a nice noir quality to the neon lights:
In the last few weeks, the downtown skyline has had a few (old) new lights turn on after a long absence. The spire on the National Bank of Tulsa Building, commonly known as the 320 Boston Building, has had its lighting restored. From 1964-1973, the lighting was used to alert Tulsans to weather conditions. If it was green, weather was good. If it was red, storms were coming. I’m not sure what the blinking signifies, but, it was cool to see:
A block away, more rooftop lighting has been restored. The pinnacle of the Philtower, shaped somewhat like a lantern, once again shines brightly with multi-colored neon. I had no idea those lights were even up there! I’m eager to get some good shots of it up close, but for now my zoom lens will have to do:
On Saturday, more ice had built up on the trees and power lines. I decided to take a short drive north to see what I could see. As I left Tulsa city limits, a destination came to mind. There was an old truss bridge north of Dewey that sits right on the edge of a hill, surrounded by trees. That would look GREAT surrounded by icy branches! Perhaps even the bridge itself would be visibly iced. I turned the music up and set my destination, sixty miles away. As I crossed into Washington County, the countryside turned into this beautiful crystalline landscape. It started raining a bit but the roads were still not slick at all. I thought for sure my idea would pan out.
When I entered Bartlesville and drove through Dewey, I noticed something disheartening. The ice was diminishing. By the time I turned onto the county road that lead to the Mission Creek Bridge, there was very little evidence that it had even been cold enough for ice. It just looked damp. Alas, the bridge itself just looked drab among the dormant treeline:
I headed home, disappointed. I’m very hard on myself in these situations; I could feel the seed of anger in my stomach, a harbinger of negative self-talk that usually comes when I miss a photographic opportunity or make what I feel is a poor decision (even when I didn’t really have control over the situation.) However, it’s a new year. I’m committed to stopping that nonsense and treating myself with more respect. My trip didn’t pan out? That’s fine. I gave it a shot. It was not the end of the world. I made a decision to smile instead and enjoy the drive.
When I returned to the frosted fields south of Bartlesville, my imagination stirred to life again. Because I wasn’t stuck in a loop of self-depreciating muttering, another location surfaced in my memory. After crossing back into Tulsa County, I turned off on another county road. A few miles later, I was rewarded with a beautiful sight.
Built in 1912, this old through-truss bridge spans Bird Creek near the town of Sperry. It was bypassed years ago but is still easily accessible on foot. The overgrowth surrounding the truss was delightfully icy, as was the steel construction itself. The rural silence was only broken by the crunch of ice beneath my feet when I stepped on encased patches of grass. I stood for a while and marveled at the frozen steel lattice, barely noticing the cold. It was well worth the trip.
Sometimes, things work out. Other times, though, they don’t. And that’s okay. Over the last year, I’ve been beating myself up something fierce any time I miss a beautiful sunset or make a decision that I end up perceiving as a “waste of time.” No more; that’s no way to treat myself. Even if I hadn’t come across the second bridge yesterday, it was a beautiful drive in search of creative expression. As my Route 66 friends say, it’s about the journey…not the destination.