My Apologies Oklahoma

When we began this road trip I was determined to find some hidden gems in the Midwest and perhaps change misguided opinions along the way, particularly in the state of Oklahoma. In the spirit of full disclosure, Oklahoma is one of those states that has been difficult to wrap my head and arms around, mainly because of their weather. Sorry Oklahomans, but I do try to be honest.

A view of the Tulsa skyline at dusk.

Some fun “weather facts” about Oklahoma:

“Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain…”

  • Oklahoma is besieged with an average of 54 tornadoes annually and 15 of those are significant.
  • On 11/11/11, Oklahoma City reported both a record high temp of 83° and a low of 17°.
  • The nation’s first tornado warning was issued on March 25, 1948, when a tornado touched down at Tinker Air Force Base, with no injuries thankfully.

In early November, 2011, my husband experienced his first earthquake while sitting in our RV near Oklahoma City, a 5.7 magnitude, nothing to scoff at. At the same time he felt the shock so did the meteorologist we were watching on television. The look on each of their faces was interesting. This earthquake was followed by two rather significant after-shocks and after a day filled with hail storms, flash floods and several tornadoes reported in the area. So, perhaps there is a reason for my inability to fully embrace Oklahoma life.

Since we have children and grandchildren in Oklahoma, visits to this midwestern state are necessary, and during this visit we decided to do a housesit in Tulsa, allowing us more time in a relaxed environment to enjoy family. Our housesit was in a desirable area, right next to the bike path, which we had read had been expanded upon in recent years.

It was a trip filled with home-cooked meals and relaxing conversation, long bike rides, walks through local parks, a hike with Terry’s youngest son Keith, and a visit to a lovely historic site, the Philbrook Museum, which features lovely statues and framed artwork, as well as beautiful gardens reminiscent of a scaled-down Versailles in France.

And a few unusual Oklahoma facts:

  • Because of so many sightings, an annual ‘Big Foot Festival’ is still celebrated in eastern Oklahoma.
  • The World Championship Cow Chip Throw is held each April in Beaver, Oklahoma. No shortage of cow chips here I’m guessing, as Oklahoma is the 4th-largest cattle producing state in the US.
  • There are 200 man-made lakes in the state and a rule on the books that whaling is illegal in all of them…hmmm.

My opinion of Tulsa has been raised considerably with this visit, but not so much that I would want to make it my home. There is still that crazy, unpredictable weather to consider. 😉

Three generations L-R: son Keith, granddaughter Alyssa, and father Terry.

“We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand
And when we say
Yeow! A-YIP-I-O-EE-AY
We’re only say-in “you’re doing fine Oklahoma,
Oklahoma OK.”  ~  Oscar Hammerstein

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Final Thoughts on Oklahoma

Here are a few final thoughts on Oklahoma, forwarded to me by my friend Carol.  This about sums up our time there!

Today’s weather report has a number of safety precautions you should take note of:
*Tornados are coming  seek shelter in the interior of your house.
*Earthquakes are coming  avoid the interior of your home.
*There’s lightning outside  avoid high ground…
*There’s a flash flood warning  avoid low ground…
*Hail is present  avoid open areas.
*Parts of the state have received over 5″ of rain in three hours.
*However  we have a burn ban.
Welcome to Wednesday in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Visit with Family

Despite the earthquakes and super cell storms that absorbed most of our time in Oklahoma, we did get a little time to visit kids and grandkids.  Terry’s youngest son Keith and our granddaughter Alyssa live in Tulsa  so we decided to spend an afternoon at the Oklahoma Aquarium.  This is a great family-oriented environment with several interactive aquatic displays and the largest bull shark grouping in the country, housed in a one-of-a-kind walk-though clear tunnel tank.

The unusual creatures to be found under the sea have always fascinated me, so I thought I would share some of my favorites.

The graceful jellyfish
The moray eel, the reason I have no desire to scuba dive!
Under the sea beauty

Tulsa has done an admirable job of expanding upon their riverwalk, complete with sitting areas and plantings.  It was a great way for us to grab some exercise on the one sunny day that we had while in the city.

Since Terry lived in Tulsa many years ago, he wanted to see how the downtown area had changed so we also took some time to drive around, with Keith and Alyssa as our tour guides.

The BOK Center ( Bank of Oklahoma), is a multi-purpose arena in Tulsa, used for sporting events as well as music venues.  It was designed by César Pelli, the architect of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and is the flagship project of Tulsa’s Vision 2025 long-range development initiative.

Terry, Alyssa & Keith

Alyssa is a very talented 12-year old, learning to play the guitar by ear and is asking for a ukulele for Christmas and has an interest in learning to play the violin.  She loves classical music, sings beautifully, and wants to be a marine biologist or veterinarian and loves nature.

Oklahoma City is where we experienced all the crazy weather and where Terry’s oldest son, wife, and our two grandsons live.  We opted for an indoor activity and decided upon the National Cowboy Museum, a wonderful depiction of all things western:  paintings, bronzes, rodeo history, western performers and a great display of saddles from the 1700’s through present-day.  Beautiful fountains and gardens rounded out the presentation.  Unfortunately photography was not allowed in many of the viewing rooms.

End of the Trail by James Earle Fraser
Western Performers

The two grandsons are into sports, playing basketball and football.   Given that the oldest grandson, Brandon, is only 14 and is already 6’1″ and wears a size 16 shoe, and the youngest, Matthew, has had a big growth spurt, football may be in their future, at least mom and dad hope so.

Amanda, Matthew, Brandon & Chad

Time to head south!

Wild, Wacky Oklahoma Weather

Monday, and most of today was spent in front of the television watching news reporters track a super cell of storms racing towards Oklahoma City, where we have come to spend a couple of days with Terry’s oldest son, wife, and our two grandsons.  We can bearly believe the weather that we are seeing here right now, truly wild!  A number of tornadoes have touched down in outlying areas; strong winds of 70-80 mph have been reported; and large hail and heavy rain is occurring throughout several counties.  All of this is certainly enough to keep anyone on edge, particularly those of us sitting in RV’s!

If this weren’t enough, at 8:45 pm we felt what we thought was a strong wind gust, but oh no, what we felt was another earthquake! This quake struck in the same area as the last one, about 50 miles from here and registered a magnitude 4.7.  You just can’t make this stuff up!  It is now 9:30 pm and we have thunderstorm warnings and a tornado watch until 4:00 am tomorrow morning.  It is going to be a long night!

At some point I will write a post about time spent with family, really I will, as soon as Mother Nature finishes having her way with Oklahoma.

Earthquake!

Who would have thought that we would come to Tulsa, OK and experience an earthquake?!  I have always thought that OK has a mixed bag of weather in not the most pleasant sense; i.e. hot and humid, bitter cold and damp, droughts, floods, fires, tornadoes, and earthquakes.  I did not think in my wildest dreams that we would be sitting here in our rig when an earthquake hit.

Yesterday morning at 2:12 am we learned that an earthquake measuring 4.7 occurred in Prague, OK, about 50 miles from Tulsa.  It was reported as the second strongest quake in Oklahoma’s history, behind a 5.5 in El Reno that struck in 1952.  We slept right through that one but at 10:53 pm last night, as we were watching a local news reporter discuss the earthquake that occurred in the wee morning hours, the floor of our rig began to vibrate and a startled look came across the reporter’s face.  Yep, an aftershock and the first earthquake that Terry had ever felt.  What we soon learned was that this tremor registered a 5.6, the largest in OK history, occurring 4 miles east of the town of Sparks.  So my question is, when the aftershock registers higher than the original earthquake, is it still considered an aftershock or is it officially an earthquake, particularly when it sets a state record?!