This is Part II of our early May weekend trip to Oklahoma City. If you missed Part I, it’s here.
After enjoying an excellent breakfast at the Sunnyside Diner near our motel on Sunday morning, Samantha and I checked out and headed to the Britton District to visit with the owner of Brew Brother Coffee.
The previous day, a vintage gas pump outside the business had been stolen. Seems that someone knocked it over with a truck and dragged it off, presumably to sell for scrap. Elijah, the owner, did a great job staying optimistic and was hopeful that the terrible event could turn into something positive. I hope so; he’s done a great job with that little space and it’s part of the overall rejuvenation of the entire district.
We went for another walk that morning, this time through the Will Rogers Gardens. Until very recently, I didn’t even know this place existed. It’s easily one of the most beautiful, thoughtfully-designed parks I’ve ever visited. It dates back to the 1930s and was one of the foundational parks for the city. There is a dedicated Iris Garden, an arboretum, a conservatory, and more. Every old stump was decorated to look like a gnome house. The WPA-era stonework was carefully designed. I felt transported out of time and place; what a remarkable spot!
Our big-ticket destination for Sunday opened at noon and we got there right as the doors were unlocked. I hadn’t visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (still the Cowboy Hall of Fame in my mind) since I was a little boy and Sam had never been. I remembered it being a great museum but I didn’t quite remember how absolutely vast the place is. It feels as expansive as the prairie itself! Art, artifacts, memorabilia, replicas, firearms, tools of the trade — just about anything you can think of related to the World of Cowboys is represented. We spent two-and-a-half hours wandering the various rooms and it wasn’t enough time. We didn’t even explore the grounds! But alas, we had to drive back home and I was worn out.
That doesn’t mean we drove STRAIGHT home on the interstate, though. I try to always take the opportunity to drive Route 66 and “check in” on the driving experience. We stopped at the Round Barn where I visited with one of the volunteers for a few minutes and again to see the new National Register of Historic Places markers on a stretch of original pavement in Arcadia. As old as the road is and how slowly things change in many of these communities, it’s amazing how there’s always something new to see!
Our final stop held one more surprise. Near Stroud, there’s an original concrete obelisk that once marked the Ozark Trail highway. It’s on a dirt road in the country and gets tagged with graffiti now and again; the last time I’d driven through I noted some new paint and was planning an Oklahoma Route 66 Association workday around repainting the obelisk back to flat white. However, it seems that someone in the community is actively maintaining the obelisk! The newer graffiti had been painted over and the obelisk was in good shape. A pleasant surprise, to be sure! My hope is that we can get some stencils made to re-add the city names and mileage markers that once adorned this obelisk so that it better represents its original purpose.
But that’s a project for another day. The weekend was good; the travel was rejuvenating. I’m already starting to plan my next trip!