Let’s face it: Oklahoma City is not the first place that comes to mind when planning a trip. However, since we live in Dallas and it’s only a three-hour drive, we thought it would be interesting to visit the capital of our neighboring state to the north.
I’ll share the interesting places and things we saw in Oklahoma City.
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
It was raining hard on the first morning of our road trip so outdoor activities were out of the question. Why not visit a museum? So we headed to the Cowboy Museum. I particularly liked the Madonnas of the Prairie – Depictions of Women in the American West temporary exhibition. It was fascinating and gut-wrenching to see what these strong, brave ladies went through. The permanent collections are very interesting too. We learned about the American Indian culture, the different styles of cowboys and their everyday activities, the US Army and life in the frontier forts, the rodeo, and the cowboy in Hollywood: a collection of costumes and props used in Westerns.
(Fun fact: the word buckaroo derives from the Spanish word vaquero)
1700 NE 63rd St, Oklahoma City, OK 73111, (405) 478-2250
For some reason, I find stockyards appealing, even when the smells get overwhelming. The stockyards and the activities that take place in them embody a whole lifestyle and provide a window to a world different to my urban life. A visit to Oklahoma Stockyards was a must and it tied in with the Western theme after visiting the Cowboy Museum. Since auctions take place on Mondays and Tuesdays, it was quiet on a Saturday. However, we heard deep mooing coming from some distant corrals (another Spanish word) and the rumble of cattle trucks. We watched the skilled drivers maneuver the trucks into position. I darted to the catwalk to watch the heads of cattle getting off the truck. They looked scared and bit lost and huddled together for comfort. I felt a little bit sorry for them, for the fate that awaits them.
Agnew Exit, South of I-40 to Exchange Ave.
The Centennial Land Run Memorial (Bricktown district)
This massive memorial (life and one-half size) recreates the Land Run of 1889 that gave rise to Oklahoma City among other cities. There are 24 horses and riders, two wagons, a buggy, a sulky, dogs straddling a canal of the Oklahoma River. A soldier is firing cannon to signal the start of the run. The details and movement of the bronze statues are amazing.
I find the history of this land run very interesting. In 1889, President Harrison proclaimed more than 2 million acres in Indian Territory open to settlement. On April 22, 50,000 people lined up around the edges of the unassigned land. The cannon fired at noon and they raced to claim homesteads or town sites. This land run, or a similar one, is depicted in the 1992 film Far and Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
Sometimes you take the wrong turn and get lost. Sometimes you take the wrong turn and come across a wonderful place. While trying to find the Stockyards, we turn left a few blocks too soon and ended up outside a Spanish looking old building. It turned out to be an antiques market –or, rather, a flea market-. We rummaged around a bit and came out with a hundred-year-old clock very similar to one my in-laws had when my husband was a child.
The Milk Bottle Building
This peculiar landmark sits on a segment of the historic Route 66 at 2426 North Classen Boulevard. The triangular building dates from 1930 and has housed different businesses over the decades. The milk bottle on top, however, was built around 1948 as an advertising device for the dairy industry. We spotted it the first night on our way to dinner and I insisted we come back the next day, under driving rain, to snap a few pictures. Where else will you see something like this?
Nodding donkeys (the metal kind)
I knew Oklahoma is rich in oil and gas but I didn’t think I’d see so many oil pumps in every imaginable place, even in a mall’s rear parking lot. As it turns out, under Oklahoma law, the surface owner may or may not hold an ownership interest in the gas and oil under his land. If they do, they are allowed to extract them for profit (http://www.ogs.ou.edu/oilgasfaq.php)
Bricktown is the entertainment district located east of downtown. Its centerpiece is the Bricktown Canal. Its a lovely, shaded place to walk, and you can reach most restaurants on foot. Water taxis sail lazily along the canal too. Bars, restaurants and nightclubs make up the nightlife offering. There are hotels family-friendly restaurants as well. I like the turn-of-the-century industrial look of the brick buildings, which date from the late 1800s and early 1900s.