Category Archives: Our World Tuesday

Our World – Rainman in Oklahoma

Cogar, Oklahoma Rainman

Last week while traveling to south central Oklahoma to pick up the kid from college for a three day weekend I took a little detour to the town of Cogar. Cogar is nothing now, just a crossroads. It probably never was much of anything.

Cogar, Oklahoma Rainman

Back in the late 1980’s though (30 to 40 years ago!!) Hollywood came to Cogar to shoot a brief scene from the movie Rainman, the major Oscar winning movie that year starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman won an Oscar, the movie was Best Movie, and it got several other Oscars as well. It was the top grossing movie of 1988.

Cogar, Oklahoma Rainman

In the scene at Cogar, Cruise’s and Hoffman’s character stop and both step into a phone booth so that Cruise could make a business call. It’s kind of funny. Cruise and Hoffman play brothers who didn’t know each other existed until their dad dies and leaves it all to Hoffman, who has autism. All Cruise gets is a nice classic car and some rose bushes. For some reason they have to go on a cross country trip together and it makes for some funny scenes.

Cogar, Oklahoma Rainman

These days, there is no phone booth at the station in Cogar and the paint is a little more peeled. Other than that, not much has happened.

When I worked in the natural gas field of western Oklahoma I must have passed this place a thousand times without recognizing it from the movie. Now, I think was the last instagrammed in Oklahoma to venture to Cogar to capture the gas station.

Have you ever been to a site that was made part of a movie?

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Our World – Walking in Memphis

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I’m in Memphis this week, Sunday I went for a short walk. Memphis seems to have walking-biking-running-whatever trails everywhere. Nice ones with trees, and not very many hills.

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A beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon.

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Despite the signs warning not too, I kind of veered off the trails and bushwhacked for a short while.

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I was hunting a geocache and I found it. It was actually laying on the ground and I put it up where I thought it was supposed to be.

My thirty minute walk was nice. And I found a song for you. Memphis is a music city.

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Day of the Dead Altars

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I bet this person was either a farmer or John Deere Mechanic, and enjoyed drinking Coors and eating snacks. Note also the Mexican blanket, and marigolds. The different levels often symbolize heaven, earth, and purgatory.

I missed Tulsa’s Day of the Dead celebration at Living Arts Tulsa this year but luckily for me Living Arts keeps the Altars or Ofrendas on display almost up through Thanksgiving.

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Somebody after my own heart, Tanqueray Gin and Tonic is my favorite mixed drink (“tank and tonic”).

The Day of the Dead, known in Mexico as Día de los Muertos. Is on November first and second every year and is the days where deceased family members make their way home to spend with the living. The altars or Ofrandas are how the dead make their way home.

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A baseball and Budweiser fan.

The ofrendas follow a general pattern. Photographs, foods, flowers, religious items, all play a role. Check this link out for more information.

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Some people took great pride in their jobs.

The ofrendas at Living Arts are beautiful and they have meaning. They honor actual people who died and are put together by friends and family members.

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A fellow Dallas Cowboys fan. If somebody make an ofrenda for me in the future and they don’t include my photo of myself with a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader in each arm, I’m going to be doing some haunting!

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It’s not just long lived grandfathers and grandmothers who have ofrendas. Many of the honored deceased were heartbreakingly young.

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I find the Day of the Dead very comforting. I love the idea of honoring deceased family members.

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Our World – Hike to Yellowstone’s Fairy Falls and Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook

On our trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming a couple weeks ago Heather and I decided to make a quick run up to Yellowstone because a storm was coming and we feared that the roads we closed.

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So we made our “quick run” to just past the Old Faithful Geyser to the trail head of the Fairy Falls trail. It took us about three hours on this quick run. Lots to look at so we were okay but ready to hit the trail. It was very cold and the wind was a gale.

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So, on the way, we took the little bypass to the overlook for the Grand Prismatic Spring. It’s a wonder of nature and no photographs I have took or edited shows it quite like it looks. So you get this unedited version of the Spring along with my wife Heather. She doesn’t need any editing in my opinion.

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The gale winds quit once we got in the woods. We saw this guy, the second of the Bison we encountered. We gave them wide berth. They seem benign but they can close on you in a hurry if they are riled up. We had our bear spray which is supposed to work on Bison but I didn’t want to have to worry about it. Especially if it is windy. The theory is that you create a cloud of spray for them to run through. No clouds though when the wind is blowing!!

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There is a definite boundary between the dead zone caused by the hot springs and the forests.

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Lots of old dead wood laying around from an older forest fire, I think back in the 80’s. My sister Ellen took me on this same hike in August 2018. She knew all about it, but I forgot.

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And here is Fairy Falls. They falls are 220 feet tall and are the highest “front country falls” in the park. Heather and I had the Falls to ourselves for quite a while. That is the thing about hiking this time of year. There is not near the crowds that you get in the summer.

Fairy Falls and log jumble October 2019

Here’s another view, obviously you can tell I edited it.

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And a closeup. A very nice and peaceful place.

I don’t have many photos of our return hike to the trailhead. It had gotten colder and the wind increased and we faced it heading back so we just hiked out with our heads on a swivel looking for bears and bison.

We had planned to see other sites during out time in Yellowstone but we got off to a late start leaving Jackson so we plugged and abandoned the other plans and just headed back. On the side of the road we saw mule deer (with tracking collars), a herd of elk, and another bison. The smartest bison in the world who stopped on the side of the road and looked both ways, waited for traffic to come to a stop and then walked across, with a brief stop in the middle. Heather saw a momma bear and two cubs crossing a gravelly stream and we violated all the rules, stopped the car and walked back to the bridge to see them and they were gone.

We got back to our condo very tired but happy. The storm came in that night and although we had a little bit in Jackson, they had enough in Yellowstone to where almost all the roads were closed.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday.

Our World – Turkey Mountain Cleanup

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The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition sponsored a Trail Cleanup Day on Turkey Mountain Saturday, early Saturday morning, like really early, like eight am, I got there about 8:40. I brought my loppers so I took off down the Red Trail to go do some lopping.

Abandoned Bicycle Jumps on Turkey Mountain

I turned off the Red Trail and headed down the Fro-Flow mountain bike trail.

More Abandoned Bicycle Jumps on Turkey Mountain

The Fro-Flow trail was all the rage just a few years ago. Somebody went and built this incredible collection of jumps and obstacles to ride their bikes on. It made for some great watching.

Here is a three year old youtube video of somebody doing the ride.

People still ride the trail. Four came by while I was lopping limbs to help clear the way. They just bypass the obstacles. It is a little more exciting than I would want to try.

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I found me a big ole rock with all sorts of swirly patterns in it.

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I also found this fall across the trail. So you can either hop over the thing, or take the steps, or just bypass the whole thing. You got options here. I am in the natural gas business. Everybody in the business, from producers to end markets want optionality.

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Here is a relic of Turkey Mountain’s oilfield past. Turkey Mountain was a thriving oilfield at one time, it also had farms and small settlements and outlaws. The Tulsa area used to have lots of outlaws.

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While I was lopping I was picking up stuff. Lots and lots of beer cans, water bottles, and a shoe, and some cheap hair dye. Don’t ask me cuz I don’t know.

Too big to lop. If there were some guys with me (or even gals) we could have probably moved this. By myelf, nope.

So I lopped limbs on about 2 miles of trails, picked up a lot of trash. There were about a half dozen other people, plus a Girl Scout Troop, a couple of policemen, and a mom and her son looking for volunteer hours. We got a lot done in just a few hours.

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Our World – In the Woods

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

This past weekend I lucked out and got to for two short hikes into some woods. The first hike was at Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. I go there frequently and Saturday I loved it. It was overcast although warm. I love dark and moody. That doesn’t mean that I am a dark and moody person. At least I don’t think it does.

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

I was actually kind of happy. I had just been asked to join the Advisory Board of the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition and had accepted. TUWC are the group of people that got together when Simon Malls wanted to build an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain (of all places!!!!) and got the community outraged and ended up convincing Simon to go build their stupid outlet mall somewhere else. Talk about a David and Goliath situation.

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

Anyway, they are not a militant environment organization and are into positive things so I am honored to be part of the organization. The Advisory Board of course is mainly honorary but I plan on redoubling the volunteering and advocacy that I have been doing.

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

Turkey Mountain isn’t much of a mountain and it isn’t that big, about two miles by one mile, but it is special.

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Broken Arrow Sports Park

On Sunday, I went geocaching at some soccer fields at the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow. Little known fact is that many soccer fields are bordered by woods that separate them from surrounding neighborhoods. These are forgotten pieces of woods by everybody little neighborhood kids and geocachers. The going is a little rough because there are no trails and lots of nettles, stickers, and thorns.

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Tree with a frog face mocking me for not finding a nearby geocache.
Broken Arrow Sports Park

I only found one of the three geocaches I was looking for. One appeared to be beyond the park boundary behind a tall metal fence. A quick check on my iphone showed that it looked to be part of a private estate. I love geocaching and outlaw hikes but out and out trespassing on somebody’s home place? Count me out! So that was a big did not find on that one.

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So I looked for three and found only this one. It is kind of like fishing though. If you caught fish every time you cast your line they wouldn’t call it fishing, they would call it catching! To me, finding caches is fun but the major fun is the looking. (If you want to know what geocaching is check this video.) Be assured there are two types of people in this world, those who are on fire about geocaching, and those who don’t get it.

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#SufferingForMyArt – don’t pity me, totally self inflicted.

Those edge pieces of woods are pretty neglected. I soaked my legs and shorts with DEET and was wearing a treated shirt but the thorns did a number on my legs. You know something, I don’t feel the cuts when they happen. I call it “suffering for my art.”

So I am chilled out this past week, two times in the woods. How was your weekend?

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Our World – American Beauty Berries

During our hike in southeast Oklahoma’s Beavers Bend State Park last week, we saw some beautiful purple colored berries. Consulting my iNaturlists App later on it looked like they were American Beauty Berries. They are native to the area and apparently everybody but me knew all about them.

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Callicarpa americana

They are also known as the French Mulberry. Deer eat the leaves, birds eat the fruit. Humans can eat the berries which appear in late Summer or early Fall. A few my instagram and facebook followers report they have made jam and jelly with the berries. They reportedly have a slight medicinal taste. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center reports that Native Americans made tea out of the berries, foliage, and roots to treat various ailments. The Foraging Texas web site has other information about the plant and its berries including a recipe to make jelly out of them. (If you are going to do that, please do not pick your berries at a State Park or any other similar place.)

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I doubt that I will be eating any but I love the soft purple color. I think I have seen them on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. They stand out among the various shades of green.

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Labor Day 2019

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Labor Day is here, the historical end of Summer. We went down to Chickasha and picked the kid up from college. He was in good spirits and his room wasn’t as messy as what we were anticipating. But then again he had only been in it a week and a half. I’m sure given time he’ll get it as messy as anybody else.

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Labor Day of course is a holiday to celebrate labor. We celebrate it by taking the day off and not working. Labor has a big history in this country. Labor Unions used to be a big deal but not so much any longer. For some reason they have a negative connotation in many people’s minds. In my career I was never a union member but I worked with all sorts of union contractors and crafts unions. I never had one issue with them. Unions have changed though. Above is a photo of a union protest of a renovation project downtown some years ago. Are they union members? Heck no, they are homeless people that the union hired to protest on their behalf. Where were the actual union members? Working I guess, I don’t know. I thought the whole situation was hilarious.

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Speaking of protestors and hilarity, here are my wife and son protesting at City Hall here in Tulsa about a move that was going to shut down a community theater. My son is an excellent protester with his loud booming voice.

We are not protesting this year at Labor Day. We have been going to movies and enjoying our son’s company until we take him back to school early Monday afternoon. When we come back I’ll celebrate by mowing our yard. It has been a couple weeks and I might need to hire a haying crew to come out and cut and bale it.

Have a great holiday, if you are celebrating it. I found a few quotes about labor on Al Gore’s interwebs that he invented.

  • My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.
    Indira Gandhi
  • No labor, however humble, is dishonoring.
    The Talmud
  • All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
    Martin Luther King Jr.

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Our World – Cruising Split Rock Creek in search of Jesse James

On our recent family reunion in South Dakota, a cousin arranged for us to go on a Jesse James Pontoon Boat Tour on Split Rock Creek at a park of the same name near Garretson, South Dakota. It didn’t cost very much and it didn’t take very long but it was a load of fun.

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We were about twenty or so people on this “Norwegian Cruise Lines” vessel. The guide and pilot is Norwegian by ancestry and was a total hoot. He gave everybody a nickname. His regular job is teaching Native American History and Language at a local high school. He knew his stuff.

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As we poked along in the boat he told us about the Lakota Native Americans and a little about their culture. He talked about the flora and fauna, he showed us flint tools and talked about what they were for. All the while asking us questions and making fun of us. He engaged the kids a lot, and didn’t make fun of them. I bet he is a great teacher.

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He grew up in the area and he knew my cousin very well. He also pointed out that the land on both sides of the creek was privately owned. The fine for trespassing is $105 per person. I don’t think he was joking about that.

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He showed us where Jesse James hid out for a while in a cave high up from the creek. He talked about how in years past the landowner let people go look at it. He’s been there apparently the cave is extensive and has ten foot high ceilings. No tours any more, no trespassing, stay away!!

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We got to the end of the creek’s dammed up portion and he pointed out the nice cottage. That looks perfect to me.

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On the way back he hailed the kayakers. Everybody was a target for this guy. Totally good natured and fun. The tour only lasts a half hour or so but he packs a lot of fun into it.

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Here’s the dam across the creek. Built by the WPA way back when. It’s amazing how much the WPA and the CCC built that is still being used today. What a legacy all these years later.

Here’s a link to the Jesse James Tour facebook page.

And here is some more information about Jesse James and the Split Rock Creek. And yet even more information about this beautiful creek in southeast South Dakota.

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Sioux Valley Baptist Church

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Earlier this month I drove up to southeast South Dakota for the annual family reunion on my father’s side of the family. It was fun, connecting with my cousin and his family and an aunt and uncle and met many other relatives. The day of the reunion it is tradition to attend the services at Sioux Valley Baptist Church, a small country church on a dirt road on land donated by my great great grandfather, Nels Norgaard, back in 1888.

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It usually has about six or seven people attend but on Norgaard Sunday it was full. Quite a testament to the church and its people that they have kept it going for 131 years.

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My uncle said that the interior is just like it was when he was a kid, the furnishings, paintings on the wall, and the decorations and he is in his 80’s now.

Sioux Valley Baptist Church family # Church #southdakota
Photo from 2013

The high point of the service has always been the singing. There was a family member who was really talented but he passed away. It was hard to replace him on piano but hey youtube was at the ready and so we sang “It is Well with my Soul”, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”, and everybody’s favorite “The King is Coming” a great song about redemption. It starts out slow and builds to a climax. The lyrics include:

"Happy faces line the hallways
Those whose lives have been redeemed
Broken homes that He has mended
Those from prison He has freed
Little children and the aged
Hand in hand stand all aglow
Who were crippled, broken, ruined
Clad in garments white as snow"

Every stanza ends with, “Praise God, He is coming for me!”

I don’t care whether you are believer or not, the idea and the imagery is wonderful!!

Later on we had a picnic in Del Rapids with everybody. Here is a photo of some of us. Can you spot me? Or at least the top of my head?

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