This past weekend son Logan and I decided to take a walk around Tulsa’s Lafortune Park. Lafortune Park has a big playground, picnic areas, tennis courts, a high school, baseball parks, and two golf courses with a walking path about 3 miles long winding around it all.
I didn’t bring my camera, just my cell phone. Luckily there were some pretty decent skies.
Part of the trail was a little muddy. In the 26 years we have lived in Tulsa I bet that I have either walked or run around Lafortune hundreds of times.
I love pedestrian bridges. Logan is now 20, when he was about 3 he liked to go hide under this bridge and pretend he was a troll. The kid used to drive me crazy!! Perfectly good playground 100 feet away. Oh well.
There he is. He lags a little behind but it works out because I take pictures and study on things and eventually he catches up to me.
Saturday, September 8 was a big day in Tulsa. A Gathering Place, our new $465 million privately financed public park opened up. Seven years in the making, over three years of construction, including shutting down a one mile stretch of one of Tulsa’s busiest streets, Riverside Drive, came to an end (kind of they still have a some final touches to do.) And they took down the barricades and told everybody to come on down and check out your new park and despite the sometimes misty weather people did.
The Architect who designed it is Michael Van Valkenburgh. He and his firm have designed other parks and he came well recommended. He spent a lot of time just listening to the people who were financing the park about what they wanted and he came to Tulsa and looked at the city and the surrounding region and tried to capture the soul of the city.
One article I read talked about his visit to Chandler Park and how struck he was with the “lost city section” with the stone making seeming streets and alleys and he incorporated that concept into the park.
The place is full of details. I think they spent a fortune on landscaping, including many wildflowers.
And stuff to do? My gosh their is a lot to do there. Especially if you have kids. I think this log course above might be something I could try.
They have a lot of areas for relaxing and will have several restaurants. This a nice area that is well shaded. I love the wood furniture.
This is view from the the previous area down to a bridge across a pond.
And this is from the bridge back up to the eating area. This is the ONEOK Boathouse. My employer paid for it. (I’m so proud, really, I am.) What a legacy. (And yes ONEOK is all caps, you pronounced it One Oak.)
The heart of the park is a huge playground for kids of all ages. Oh man, for the first time since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a little kid. This looks fun.
And so does this. I would settle for having an eight year old again. Son Logan was with me, but he is 20 years old and 6’3″ tall.
Kids were having a blast. Talk about a bunch of places to climb into, climb across, slide down. It is the ultimate “do touch” place. And yes, it is all free. There is no charge. In addition to the $400 million is money for security and maintenance. What a gift to the city.
The concept of A Gathering Place is that is a place for the whole city to come and reconnect from each other. I think we need it. A little known secret is that Tulsa is home of the worse race riot in US history, the Tulsa Race Riot, now increasingly known as the Tulsa Race Massacre. Read about it here.
In my opinion, the city has never recovered from that and the wounds still exist. There are still survivors of the riot alive in Tulsa today. Anyway, the New York Times has a pretty good, if a little more than slightly condescending article on the park, and the riot. Read it here.
Read the comments also. I know us Okies get a bad rap and my favorite comment was from a New Yorker who said she would never visit the state because she hates us Okies because of the hate we have in our heart. (Huh).
Be that as it may, the park is fun, and great. And I expect to spend a lot of time there especially when the hubub dies down a little bit. It is only a couple miles from downtown where I work. I figure during the day the kids will be at school, so I can come and try out the banana slide for myself.
Pooh!! I know it is probably not officially a Pooh bear, who could afford the licensing fees. It has a nook inside just right for several kids and an adult reading a story.
There was a steel drum band playing. I love steel drum bands.
My favorite place is probably the Williams Lodge. It is like a ski lodge in the Rockies. The woodwork is superb.
I loved the ceiling!!
The guy behind the park is a Tulsa Oilman billionaire philanthropist named George Kaiser, who over the years has been very generous to Tulsa through his George Kaiser Family Foundation. He is in the oil business and obviously has done very well. I know several people who have worked for and with him and they credit him as being a very good but tough boss and also thinks very out of the box. I get the impression that he is playing chess when everybody else is trying to figure out checkers. He has several hundred million dollars invested in the park and was able to convince lots of other companies to contribute as well.
The fireplace is a favorite.
The designer of the place had to contend with something. Most of the land was on one side of Riverside Drive and the Arkansas River was on the other side. He wanted to integrate the park with the river so he used “land bridges” to link the park with the river. There are two of them and they are genius.
I am just glad the running/biking trail is back in business. It is all new. For three years we have contended with the one mile gap, now we don’t any longer. And the trail integrates well with the park.
Sports is a big thing in America and Tulsa and the park has tons of sports courts of all kinds. Logan and I sat down and watched the ladies play 3 on 3 basketball. They were very very good. The park plans on having lots of sports programming.
It has been hot lately but Sunday it cooled down quite a bit and we had overcast skies. Heather went to have some girl time with her friends and Logan went to his job, so I loaded up my camera and an extra lens and went north the Oxley Nature Center on the north side of Tulsa next to the airport. I don’t know what it was but the deer were out big time. I saw scads of them. I am going to spare you photos of all of them but I will show you this guy. He was a little slow on the uptake but once he noticed me he sure gave me the hawkeye.
And he gave a high pitched snort and took off.
He might have lost a little face. The ladies never moved. We had a face off for a while and then I ducked back into the woods so they could resume their salad munching and visiting.
And I came upon this deer. I was walking along the trail one way, a woman with a camera was coming my way, and this jumped out about 15 feet away but didn’t run very far. We had another stare off, until I let him win and walked away.
I eventually made my way to the boardwalk and went across. I bet have a hundred photos of this. I just love boardwalks.
I came across these two. I don’t know a thing about birds but I am going to guess the dark one is a great blue heron, and the white one is a white heron. Please correct the ID if I am wrong. I just want to get it right.
And I resumed my trek on the trails. I walked about four miles according to my step counter. Slow miles but I was on my feet so it counts right?
Just toward the end I came across this fawn. I hung with me for quite a while but then he bolted.
So it was time to get back to the car to make an instagram post (If you don’t instagram an activity then it didn’t happen, right?), and then fetch the kid from work. I was worn out and happy.
I went bicycling through a blighted neighborhood in west Tulsa just south of one of the refineries. You would think I was in a rural area instead of five miles from downtown Tulsa. Note the storm building up to the east. We have lots of storms in Oklahoma. Everybody is a meteorologist. And we have lots of earthquakes now so we are now all seismologists. We feel one and it is like, that’s a 3.8, others go no, no way that high, more like 3.5. Thanks to twitter we get confirmation of our guesses within minutes. Practice makes perfect!
I went across a pedestrian bridge earlier Note the faint shadows from the chain link fence.
On the same ride later on a trail that used to be a railroad, through Tulsa’s swanky Maple Ridge subdivision. This is a great place to go walk, run, or ride during the heat of the summer.
I started my fourth of July with a walk around Tulsa’s Lafortune Park. It is a little over 3 miles in length and is just the right size for a walk or run. The trail goes around two golf courses including a par three circuit that is under renovation. Despite it being a holiday, the construction crews were busy working under the already hot sun despite being early in the day.
Later on, I passed Saint Francis Hospital. Their landscaping crews were also out working. So what is up? I am the only guy not working on the fourth?
I finished my walk and Heather and I dropped Logan off at his job at the Neighborhood Walmart and then went to Nana’s house. She and friends had been out shopping so all the women had matching July 4th tshirts. I didn’t have a tshirt, but I had a camera so I was assigned the task of documenting the occasion.
And then we moved to the pool. That felt good on such a hot day.
And my lovely wife, and me in the reflection of here glasses.
And a shot from underwater to me above the water.
And then more people showed up and I was assigned grill duty. I love grilling with a full grill. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, and ears of corn, plus a lot of other food.
And then fireworks. I had VIP tickets to the big Tulsa fireworks show but we were all chilled out in at the house and didn’t feel the need to jump in the car and drive like mad.
Some of the neighbors put on their own show. Not the big show close to downtown but nice enough.
Sunday morning the family got up and Logan had breakfast and we dropped him off at his job at the Neighborhood Walmart and Heather and I went to have breakfast. Afterward we headed out to Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art to check out their newest exhibit “Innovative Expressions” which turned out to be very academic but interesting. It showcased the printmaking art of Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro. I learned some things that I didn’t know before. I didn’t take any photos though. Check it out if you are in town. It is open until September 9.
After the exhibit we toured the three levels of galleries. It doesn’t take us long as we have been there many times before so seeing the art is like meeting old friends. Philbrook does a good job of swapping things out and so we always see things we hadn’t seen before. I love Thomas Moran’s “Grand Canyon” (above).
And this one is a favorite of mine. I am from New Mexico and too me nothing beats snow on adobe like this, “Tesuque (Dark Houses)” by Theordore Van Soelen. It is also special because when I was born my family was living the Tesuque Ranger Station.
This is one that I don’t remember seeing but Heather told me that it has been on display before. So meet my new friend, “Bridge over the Stour” by Childe Hassam. I love it.
Next we went to the gardens of the museum. It had been raining earlier but then settled into a very light sprinkle. The tempietto in the background may be the most photographed item in Tulsa. I think it is beautiful. I’m always trying to think of something new so here I focused on the flowers which caused the tempietto to soften. You can tell there is a person on the other side of the pond who is way out of focus.
It is my lovely wife, Heather. The gardens at Philbrook are especially lush this time of year. Their gardening staff really works hard keeping things tidy and green.
I spotted a purple coneflower.
Another area of the gardens that I liked.
We had a great leisurely couple of hours at Philbrook. It is a great place to get away from it all for a short time. If you plan on visiting check their web site for all sorts of information for days and hours of operation, special exhibits, events and all sorts of other information.
Tulsa has a big street party every year on a hill near the River Parks called “Crybaby Hill.”
In amongst (amongst is a word in Oklahoma by the way) the party a bike race breaks out. It is Tulsa Tough. A three days series of bike rides and races for everybody from Sunday cruisers like me to top professionals around the world.
They have it in early June every year and it is generally sweltering. Tulsa Tough is sponsored by Saint Francis Hospital, a local Catholic Hospital Medical System.
The last day of the race is the most popular. The races all criterium style which means that they go round and around the same short course multiple times. The last day’s though is brutal. You start by the river and climb up a very steep hill then you come down off the hill and at the bottom you have to make a very sharp 120 degree turn and most of these guys/gals don’t appear to use their brakes at all so there are some spectacular bike crashes.
So down on the river is where the races start, and the top is where the party is. It appears to get a little bigger and a little wilder every year. Couple that with no parking, very few sidewalks and the crowd and the races get very close to each other. They have painted the race lanes in bright colors and there is an army of volunteers who are constantly yelling, “mind the gap.” The race lane area.
So I went out and made a lap of the course with my camera, walking and with the heat it about killed me. I cannot imagine riding the course up to nine times or so.
I love the contrast, the party with people getting drunk, and laughing and having a good time, and a high stakes race in the brutal heat and humidity.
Kind of a mishmash this week for Skywatch Friday. This is the last full moon that we have. I love all the names Full Corn Growing Moon for example, I like Milk Moon the best.
Last Sunday I was in my first bicycle race ride. It was a grueling 24 miles over roads in hot weather and I loved every minute of it. I learned that hills are what makes rides interesting for me. They are never as bad when you are climbing them as it looks when you get close. I think that I am addicted. Help me to figure out how to sell the idea of a new bicycle to Heather.
I went on a flat as a pancake run on an old railroad bed that cut through ranchlands and oil fields and we had a great sky.
And a visit back to the magical Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch.
Hey everybody, what are you doing about the European General Data Protection Regulation? I am considering getting out of blogging because of it. You can see I have no ads. I don’t sell email addresses or any other information you guys/gals share with me. I just want to publish photos and look at your photos and exchange emails about my thoughts. I am a big believer in privacy but not a believer in regulations. Anyway let me know your thoughts.
Saturday morning I participated in my first ever bicycling event, The Tulsa Tour de Cure , a fund raiser for the the American Diabetes Association. It is a ride, not a race and so the vibe was friendly and loose. I’m okay with friendly and loose.
So no race, means no timing. The announcer said lets go and everybody kind of moseyed out. I waited and moseyed out pretty close to last.
There they go! We had a police escort the first six or seven miles which was handy. We were on two lane city and county roads with lots of stop lights and the police waved us through the lights.
About eight miles in we came to the first rest stop. And did I need it. The weather was hot and sticky so I downed a bottle of water and several cups of gatorade and a half of a banana and off I went again.
The ride was hilly and windy. It took me a while to get used to riding on the road and having cars and trucks passing me. The drivers were cautious and there was only one that I thought got a little close for my comfort. I pretty much do all my riding on trails which is great but after a while you want different routes. If I decide to ride roads I’m going to get me some front and rear led safety lights. Many of the riders had them and it really made them stand out a long ways away in broad daylight.
I finished and had another bottle of water and a snack and then a couple of cold beers. Lunch was catered by Naples Flatbread and it was great. I had a turkey guac wrap and it was good. The finish came just in time. I have never cramped during a foot race but I felt it coming on during this event along with a general just feeling zapped. And my butt hurt big time. I’ve had biking shorts before and they don’t seem to help.
And here is the shirt. I used a cartoon app that opens up in selfie mode. For some reason it does a mirror image. Oh well.
So this place hit all the buttons for a great event.
Great cause – check
Multiple events – check – they had various bike rides and a run and a walk. Something for everybody.
Support – check – the Broken Arrow police were plentiful and very helpful. Their were several trucks patrolling the course and I noticed that they hauled several riders in who were having problems with the heat.
Facilities – check – lots of tents for shade and portapotties
Rest stops – two of them with water, gatorade, snacks.
Friendliness – lots of gabbing going on.
Beer – check!
Food – check
Extras – check – they had a guy who could really sing perform the National Anthem and the Muskogee Creek Tribe provided a color guard. That was very cool.
So a great event. Thanks to the American Diabetes Association, the volunteers, the fellow riders, sponsors, and everybody else associated with the event.
Here is a relive trace of the run. Relive is very flattering because their videos are designed to meet the one minute Instagram video limit so it makes one look like he was hauling butt the whole way and doesn’t reflect the struggle into the winds up the hills. I love relive.