I tacked onto a business trip to Oklahoma three new things I had never done before – despite having visited dear family members in Oklahoma numerous times. I grew up in north Texas, but my dad is from western Oklahoma, up near the panhandle. Over many trips, including a couple of former business trips, I have gotten to know the Oklahoma west of Oklahoma City very well. By the way, that consists of beautiful countryside, including prairies, mesas, canyons, and rivers – and lots of ranches and farms.
But have I ever actually stopped in Oklahoma City? No. Have I ever driven in eastern Oklahoma, especially on the famous Route 66? Not in memory. Have I ever seen (or heard of) the Blue Whale of Catoosa? Well, of course not, but once I found out about a giant rebar and concrete blue whale in a pond, how could I not try to see it?
So first, with an added day added to my trip, I went to visit my lovely cousin Carol, her husband Bill and daughter Jill, and my Aunt Eva Lou, who at 95 had just fallen and broken her hip and was in the hospital. Although it was a terrible situation, and so hard to see Eva Lou in pain, I am still so grateful that I could see her, hear her chuckle at old memories, and visit with everyone.
After that, it was a road trip to Stillwater for two added business meetings through lovely, if still brown, countryside.
Something New #1. After my meetings, I deservedly drove along Route 66 to find one of the largest soda pop collections in North America, by “pure coincidence” in a place called “Pop’s.” Founded in retro 2006, Pop’s combines a the equivalent of a giant 7-Eleven, a semi-old fashioned diner employing almost every teenager within a 20-mile radius, and a gas station under a sweet overhang. But the soda pop collection rocked. I had no idea the variety that exists once you explore past the Coca-cola and Pepsi-cola collections.
I felt like beer lover discovering that there are such things as microbrews, but as I am not a beer lover, I had never had that epiphany until now.
I had a Canadian cherry soda, called the PoP shoppe’s black cherry.
I wanted to take home more in the handy wooden six-pack cases they sell, but I would have no opportunity to take them on the plane.
Overall, Pop’s was too clean and updated to have the Route 66 appeal I had looked for, but it was fun nonetheless. Luckily for my waistline, it is now 1293 miles away.
Something Sad. This one was a necessary reflection. I visited the memorial for the Oklahoma City bombing victims, who died because of deliberate hate.
Something Bizarre. In the midst of my intensive business meetings, one of which was back up in northeast Oklahoma in Tulsa, three of my colleagues and I had a short lunch window, and I asked them to take a chance and go see the Blue Whale of Catoosa. These willing participants and I reveled in the quest, and drove 15 minutes up Route 66. And there it was, right off the road like a roadside attraction built by a man because his wife loved whales should be.
Awesomeness, followed by a picnic supplied by the Molly’s Tamales stand in the parking lot. A great day, and a wonderful trip.