I took Holly to a concert at Tulsa’s historic Brady Theater on Tuesday as her Christmas present (it still counts even if I also really wanted to go). The lineup: sunny, Californian rock/folk ensemble Delta Spirit and Southern roots/prog rock group My Morning Jacket. Both excellent in their own ways.
By getting there early enough we were able to snag a couple of standing positions in the second row, giving me some good opportunities to film a couple of songs. There were still one large Andre the Giant and one sexy-dancing, arm-waving girl who would sometimes get in my way, but they’re still pretty decent videos that manage to capture the spectacle that is MMJ.
I can only describe Delta Spirit as a rock group from California – always sunny, always happy. They bang on trashcan lids and huge bass drums. Their guitar crescendoes have you jumping. Their album is called “Ode to Sunshine”, for cryin’ out loud. But my favorite song of theirs is probably their most quiet, yet their most lyrically moving – their version of a protest song. Check it out below, followed by their Take Away Show version. I could listen to/watch that video all day, every day.
See all my pictures from this trip here.
I’ve seen the Wichita Mountains from afar, when driving through Lawton, Oklahoma. I’ve also been on the outskirts of this southwestern Oklahoma mountain range, like Quartz Mountain State Park. But this was my first venture into the depths of the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, and it was like I’d suddenly left Oklahoma completely.
I’ve seen Oklahoma’s flat plains, and spent lots of time in the state’s woodsy and hilly east. Due to my experience with other parts of Oklahoma’s west, I thought I knew what to expect when turning off I-44 to head into the Refuge – that is, much of the same.
But, instead, I found myself not in Oklahoma. I was in Arizona, or New Mexico or Utah – some other state where rock formations and mesas are the norm. It was definitely strange. We had driven only two hours but it felt much farther. It was very unexpected.
The next unexpected thing was suddenly being confronted by grazing buffalo almost immediately after entering the Refuge. I mean, I guess I should have known, this being a wildlife refuge and all, but it still caught me off guard. As we drove through on our way to our trailhead, we saw many more buffalo as well as longhorns, sometimes blocking the road.
A couple of weeks ago I did a post called “My Top 6 Oklahoma Experiences”, relating my favorite places I’ve been to around Oklahoma but not including the Oklahoma City metro. This fills in those gaps.
1. Oklahoma State Fair
It’s impossible to not have fun here, even though most all the attractions are hokey/lame/cringe-inducing. When you’re in that intoxicating atmosphere of neon and grease, you throw inhibitions aside. Deep-fried Oreo? Why not? Creaky version of an only somewhat legitimate ride? Let’s do it! Has-been bands performing? There is no other place I would ever dream of watching Boyz II Men, Hanson, or (this year’s main act) the Village People, and actually love it while it’s happening.
This year’s fair is going on now until September 25, and tickets are cheap. If you haven’t experienced this, um, experience, make sure to do so this year. Also, for a different take on the State Fair, check out this obscure, local social blog.
View all my pictures from this trip here.
A couple of months ago, I bought this book: Oklahoma Hiking Trails. I bought it as a way to get more exercise, to take part in an activity that I love but have previously only undertaken in places like Colorado or other countries, and to see more of my state. It was a foolproof plan.
Then came the summer from Hell. No way was I going to venture out into consistently 100+ degree weather. So the book just sat on the shelf all summer, until last week’s beautiful 80-degrees allowed me to finally dust it off on Saturday. I recruited two friends, chose one of the few trails within two hours of Oklahoma City and set off early in the morning.
Roman Nose State Park, named after a Native American chief, is in the northwestern part of the state just outside of Watonga. It’s an interesting area, geologically. It’s not as far west as the flat dusty plains of western Oklahoma, the kind of landscape you’d also see in the Texas Panhandle. That’s why it’s surprising to be suddenly confronted with trees, mesas and canyons rising out of regular farmland. There’s nothing like it anywhere around it. It’s very beautiful, in a rugged way.
I’ve been inspired by this article, brought to my attention by obscure, local social blog The Lost Ogle. In case you’re too lazy to click, it’s a Lonely Planet article by a native Oklahoman (Robert Reid, the U.S. Travel editor) about his favorite Oklahoma experiences.
I’ve done my fair share of intra-state traveling, mainly due to my two years as part of a college drama group that traveled every summer to church camps and youth rallies scattered all over the Midwest. Without these summer-long road trips, I never would have experienced anything in the western part of our state, and likely very little in the southeast. That said, while I’ve covered most of Oklahoma and seen everything from its plains to its deserts to its mountains, I’ve actually done very little like what’s described in the Lonely Planet article. Very few random museums, very few POIs (Points Of Interest) outside of Oklahoma City. So that article, obviously written by an Oklahoma lover, has motivated me to go do more in this state that I now call home. I plan on taking some weekends this fall to delve more fully into the Sooner State, including checking off some of the items on Reid’s list.
In the meantime, I still have a list of favorite Oklahoma experiences, and I share it with you now. Note this is just throughout the greater state and does not include Oklahoma City experiences. That’s for another post.
1. Quartz Mountain State Park
One of the camps my drama group visited frequently was near Quartz Mountain State Park, one of the most beautiful places in Oklahoma, in my opinion as a lover of mountains. There’s just something majestic about these craggly rock formations – parts of the Wichita Mountains – rising from otherwise flat plains. It’s a lot like landscapes I’ve seen in Arizona/New Mexico.
Climbing them is not hard and doesn’t take long, and the view is spectacular. Many hiking trails snake through the park, and the drive is only a couple of hours from Oklahoma City. I even plan on returning here in a couple of weeks.