Thursday, September 6, 2018

Labor Day Weekend In Oklahoma Part 1

In my quest to visit all 50 states before I'm 50, I tend to talk my family into road trips for these long weekends. Some of our previous Labor Day getaways include Minneapolis and Hot Spring, AR (my  favorite Labor Day road trip). This Labor Day found us in Oklahoma. I had a few ideas about what I'd like to do, but for the most part we took off for central Oklahoma with no clear plans other than spending the day at Turner Falls on Sunday. That wound up being our best decision yet, as we had a very fun and unexpected Saturday touring OKC and Route 66.

Oklahoma has such amazing history that it instantly captured the minis attention. They had so many questions about the Oklahoma land rush, Route 66, and the federal building bombing (we went to the Memorial) as we drove across the plains. We set out for the Sooner State Friday afternoon (another reason I'm happy Des Moines schools let out at 2 p.m.). It was an 8 1/2 hour drive with stops (and there were plenty) through Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. The minis slept most of the car ride since they were tired from their first full week of school.

Our usual leaving-on-a-road-trip-selfie. This time in a Ford Expedition from Enterprise. We all loved the roominess of this vehicle, although it was massive to drive! It felt like driving a bus at times, but the drive was very smooth.

Several weeks ago, the day I booked our Oklahoma trip, I ordered Chinese food for dinner for Hubs and myself. After our eventful Arkansas trip two years ago, he wasn't exactly looking forward to another Labor Day road trip. I laughed when I opened up my fortune and it revealed the above. I laughed even harder when Hubs got THE SAME FORTUNE! So, we were pretty much destined to have a good weekend.

Typical hotel sleeping arrangements: Max and Elizabeth in a bed, Harrison on a blow up mattress on the floor. Surprisingly, everyone sleeps really well.

We managed to get an awesome weekend rate for one of our favorite hotels, Country Inn and Suites. Not only are the rooms always clean and the hotel feels more homey, but they have a great breakfast buffet that's free (with your stay). This particular location featured a make-your-own waffle bar, oatmeal bar, yogurt bar, eggs, potatoes, bacon or sausage, cereals, toast, bagels, muffins, and a juice and coffee bar. Everyone was happy and very filled after breakfasts each day!

We took our time getting ready and out of the hotel. Our first stop (after some GPS confusion thanks to quite a bit of road construction) was to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. This was a completely sober place. We honestly felt a bit bad as we explained the events of the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing to the minis. They had some good questions, but they couldn't seem to grasp why everyone was completely quiet. You could hear a pin drop from the other end of the Memorial. It was a very interesting experience.

We only did the Memorial. We chose to skip the Museum, as we weren't sure the minis would completely understand it, as Matt and I do. This Memorial was a big reason I wanted to come to Oklahoma in the first place.

The original walls of the Federal Building

The Memorial was done to perfection. So many little details, such as the survivor wall that's the original walls of the Federal Building and the 9 rows of chairs correlates to the floor each victim was on when the bomb went off. There were also smaller chairs that signify the children (in the building's daycare center) who died that day. Hubs and I spoke a lot about how this bombing was a significant turning point in our childhoods and how things (for the country) changed during this time. 

We walked around a bit downtown (okay, so it was to and from our vehicle, but it totally counts). Max instantly noticed the sewer lids had maps of OKC on them. Kind of a fun way to make something simple interesting.

After the Memorial, our original first choice was to go to the Oklahoma City Zoo. However, we were not anticipating how dreadfully HOT that OK sun can be. 92 degrees felt a lot hotter! That's when our idea to do some things on Route 66 came to fruition. We sat in a Waffle House (the kid's and Hubs request) in Yukon, OK (hometown to Garth Brooks, fyi) and came up with our plan for the afternoon. Our next stop was the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, OK. Only an hour drive from OKC, it was an easy drive across the plains on I40.

Our music for the afternoon.

The red soil instantly caught the attention of the entire car. It should surprise no one that I made Matt pull over so I could feel it (he refused to let me bring any home).

The minis were already on board with learning about Route 66, but this peaked their interest even more. This museum was awesome! Interactive and simple enough to keep kids more than occupied, but a lot of little things that can keep adults busy for hours. 

Elizabeth: "O.M.G. Mom! Look at this car! I want this car someday when I start driving, okay?"

The boys spent a good amount of time deciding what they would take with them on their road trip (you were only allowed so many items, including the musts).

"Mom, what is THIS???" They were taken with an old telephone booth.

This video of Harrison "talking" on the telephone is my favorite!

 "Look mom! An old age Snoopy cartoon!" Yep, old age....

Harrison and Elizabeth's favorite part of the museum was the 50's diner. They got to play behind the counter and pretend to serve food. Plus, there was some really good music on the jukebox.

 Look at those prices!!

At this point in the tour, we had to explain car seat laws to the minis. They were mind blown that people were able to "just sleep laying down in the car!" This part truly shocked them.

It was at this point in the tour that we decided what our next stop would be, even though it was in the opposite direction we had just traveled.

Our next stop took us to the town of Arcadia, OK, about an hour east of OKC. The thing is, we had just traveled an hour west to the museum. So we had a two hour drive to Pops! Luckily, the drive was pretty, the minis napped, and Matt and I chatted about our future road trip plans. The minis are phenomenal road trippers now, so we've got some amazing trips planned out!

As soon as we heard about Pops we had to go. The minis were overjoyed that we gave them permission to drink a bottle of pop for dessert! We had a blast looking at the wide varieties from around the world. Our choices included: pineapple, apple beer (nonalcoholic), orange, grape, Cheer Wine (again, nonalcoholic), and good ole fashioned cream soda. The minis got to experience a filling station, plus we then drove on the actual Route 66 for several miles. 

The town of Arcadia

After our visit to Arcadia (and drive back to OKC), it was nearing dinner time, but we decided we could fit in one last adventure for the day. We had to find our way through the hip Bricktown (an area we didn't spend a lot of time in) to get to the Centennial Land Run Monument. If you'd like to visit, here's a tip: it's in the Bass Pro Shop parking lot. Drive through the parking lot to the south end and you'll find it. It's also within easy walking distance, thanks to newer pathways, to the Boathouse District and connect the Boathouse to Bricktown District.

I love the history these captured. They made it easy to explain the Oklahoma land rush of 1893 to them (they began with a cannon being shot off).

And of course, other visitors paid no attention to these signs ALL AROUND the small park.

As we were walking through the park, we saw this building, appropriately named Climb Up. It's an old warehouse turned into climbing walls! It looked really fun!

Riversport Adventures looked awesome! There was even a course for kids that we thought about doing earlier in the day (one of the things discussed after our visit to the Memorial, but was thrown out due to the heat).

And....bathroom break. Half of our vacations are spent taking minis to the bathroom. There's our moment of real life traveling insight.

After a long day, we picked up Whataburger and had a hotel room picnic while watching Disney Channel. That's a big deal to the minis considering we don't have cable and I'm pretty restrictive about what they watch.

Bean and cheese burrito and nacho fries. I have very few options on our road trips that are vegetarian (I pretty much give up eating vegan during road trips), unless I'm super prepared with meals in a cooler. I did manage to keep protein bars, hummus, and guacamole on hand throughout the trip.

Our dessert of sodas from Pops!

Oh my gosh, how I love this girl!

Day 1 in Oklahome was great! We made sure to get to bed at a decent hour because we had a big day 2 ahead of us: a day at Turner Falls!