We drove home last Saturday from our vacation on the Gulf Coast. My wife and I shared the driving duties and so she drove the middle third of the distance, much of it in the delta country of Mississippi and Arkansas. There was lots of weather during much of the drive especially early on in Alabama. The rest of the time we dodged the rain and got see some great clouds.
So Heather drove and I snapped pics of the sky and country. The above two are in Mississippi.
I snapped this as we crossed the Mississippi River.
And this was in Arkansas.
And so was this. I am not sure just where but I really liked it. And no, we didn’t drive into that storm. I’m not sure where it went.
And this is Oklahoma. I was driving and I confess I took the photo while driving. Lock me up officer, throw away the key!!!
Anyway we got back safe and sound from a great vacation.
I hope that everybody is being safe, while also enjoying life. Please find that balance.
Saturday afternoon, Heather and I ventured downtown to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center and watched “Escape to Margaritaville” a touring Broadway production featuring the music of Jimmy Buffett in a musical with a romantic comedy production. It was a lot of fun listening the tunes. It turns out that other people can sing Buffett tunes besides Jimmy.
It was a lot of fun. Here is the schedule. They are going all over the country. Sioux Falls, South Dakota is next.
The Performing Arts Center in Tulsa required all attendees to wear masks and it looked to me like everybody was complying.
We had some nice skies for part of the week. I think they were offshoots of Hurricane Ida. The victims of the storm are in my thoughts. So many people had to leave their homes. It’s going to be a long time before they get the electricity turned on. The storm continued up to the east coast causing flooding and tornadoes. What a miserable storm Ida was.
I went looking for a geocache. The spoiler is that I didn’t find it but I found something else. I was looking at the these cottonwood trees and it looked kind of funny.
It’s hard to see it in this photo but there is a trail that starts out and goes down to the Arkansas River. I was checking it out and a guy with a fishing rod came by and we chatted a bit. Apparently you walk down the trail to the river, wade across part of the river and climb up on a sandbar and right there is a big hole that he says is full of catfish. You learn something new every day. I tried explaining geocaching to him and I could kind of tell the young man was worried about me. He was wondering if I was right in my head.
I wasn’t fishing, I was geocaching and the cache was hidden in the rip rap. I clambered around looking in all the nooks and crannies and couldn’t find it. Apparently nobody else could either. I got an email from the owners who said that they checked and it was missing and they are going to replace it soon.
On the way out I passed a tube bending company in an industrial area. They built this thing to show off their craft. Tube bending is useful in making chemical and refinery processing equipment, especially heaters and such. Tulsa has a lot of oilfield manufacturing companies and expertise.
The next day I went on a bike ride on the RiverParks trails along the Arkansas River here in Tulsa. I stopped to check out the construction of the new low water dam and pedestrian bridge. I think that it is going to be another two years or so before they are done. I’m looking forward to it. Click here for a look at the conceptual design.
And finished up at what I call the Bear Fountain near where I parked my care. The temp was in the low 90’s F but the heat index was about a 105 F. Time to go get cooled off. I was going to go geocaching again but didn’t want to get back out in the heat.
One day earlier this month my friend Tom asked if I wanted to go see Union Pacific’s Big Boy locomotive. It was on a ten state tour and was going through Oklahoma on August 12. So the next day Tom and I went up to the little town of Vinita where the Big Boy was scheduled to appear.
Turns out about half the population of Oklahoma was there as well. Train fans of all ages were there. It’s nice to see that people still get all excited about trains.
The locomotive pulling this train is special. It is the biggest and most powerful operating steam locomotive in the world. With its tender, it weighs 1,951,000 pounds, it is 133 feet long and over sixteen feet tall. Twenty five of these monsters were built during World War II to pull freight trains over the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.
They were in service up until 1959 when they were replaced by cheaper to run diesel locomotives. There are only eight left. Seven are static displays in museums. The one we saw, number 4014 is the only one operational. Union Pacific reacquired it in 2019 and brought it back to working condition. The originals burned coal, 4014 is converted to burning used motor oil. It is used for promotional purposes by UP now.
It is very impressive and very loud and everybody was excited to see it including me.
It is still on tour, so you can still see it if you wish. They are touring ten states and it ends September 7 at UP’s station in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Check here for details on the schedule and stops.
Hey everybody else was getting a selfie why not me?
It stayed in Vinita for an hour or so while the crews fussed over the locomotive adjusting this and that and asking hundreds of questions.
The crew and the other UP employees were obviously proud of the engine. I was proud also. I worked for an oil and gas subsidiary of UP back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. They didn’t let me near a train but I still get their yearly train calendar.
And then it came time for it to go to the next stop.
There goes almost two million pounds of steel.
Tom and I got a few miles ahead of it so we could capture some motion. Locomotives are all about motion.
And so that was a good day back earlier this month.
I have a mish-mash this week. Many of the photos are from my Go Pro Clone so the quality is not that great. I set it to take a photo every ten seconds during my bike rides so I get hundreds of photos and keep only a few per ride.
I went riding on the Arkansas River Trails her in Tulsa. They have this huge flag at 61st street and I love it when the breeze makes it fly full. That happens a lot here in Oklahoma. Are you familiar with the musical Oklahoma! you may remember:
“where thewind comes sweepin’ down the plain. And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet. When the wind comes right behind the rain.”
The wind blows here all the time, rain or no rain, wheat or no wheat.
School is starting and so not very many people on the trails except old retired guys and moms with their babies.
I always feel like I am in a cage going across this bridge. If I see somebody coming I stop and let them come across. After my head on bike collision last year, I know the unthinkable can happen.
Went past one of the two Holly Frontier refineries here in Tulsa. I’m a chemical engineer by training and so I love the TST’s and LRO’s. (Tall Shiny Things and Large Round Objects). So you are now a chemical engineer also!!
Hey, here is a decent photo. I went on another trail south of Tulsa the other day. Only about 10 miles round trip but that is a decent length for me.
The same trail went across a revamped pedestrian bridge. It was so cool and up to date. I read that “Love Locks” are a pain for many places but here they have designed a couple Love Lock stations. I love responsive stuff like that.
They had seating and covered areas and built in musical instruments for kids. I thought the whole thing was marvelous.
Later I went to Mad Dog Liquors in east Tulsa. In addition to being a liquor store it is a graffiti permission zone. The liquor store part of it seems to be closed (again) but that doesn’t stop the taggers. I love this work. If you look closely you can see it has a pipeline motif. I am trained as a chemical engineer but I spent a bunch of my career designing, building, operating, and doing commercial things with natural gas pipelines. You know what they say, “Nothing finer than a pipeliner.” Actually only pipeliners say that. That doesn’t mean its not true though, right?
And so time to end this mish mash mess. I’m linking it up with Skywatch Friday
Big News out today in Tulsa for those of us who love the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. The RiverParks Authority has announced that it is beginning the first phase of the Turkey Mountain Master Plan. Construction on thirteen miles of trail will begin this Fall. The trails are being designed by Progressive Trail Design who designs and build trails all over the country.
This is huge news for Tulsa. Six years ago a company announced plans to build an outlet mall on the mountain. It seemed like an unstoppable force but a small group of citizens (the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition) organized opposition to the outlet mall and guess what, the mall decided to go somewhere else in town. And further, that somewhere else, the company scraped off a bunch of dirt and started construction and then quit (they say only temporarily) leaving kind of a big muddy mess. (Thank goodness they didn’t do that on Turkey Mountain is what I say.)
Two years ago the RiverParks Authority got funding to develop a master plan. As part of the process input was provided by thousands of Tulsans on what they wanted Turkey Mountain to look like. What they came up with was wonderful. Check it out here. A great plan but an unfunded plan.
So now they have enough funding for the design and construction of thirteen miles of trail. Professionally designed trail rather than overgrown deer trails.
The existing trails on Turkey, although we love them were not designed. They just kind of happened. We have trails that go straight up hillsides and those trails are eroded rocky boulder fields now. The trails are not sustainable and get very muddy after rains where the water puddles up.
The new trails will be more accessible to a wider population segment. I’m pretty comfortable on Turkey Mountain now but it took me years to get that way. I know which trails are almost impossible to traverse. As new trails are built, many of the older trails are going to blocked off and retired to let the land rest. All this is exciting news.
Want to learn more? Listen to the Official Turkey Mountain podcast. Ryan Howell of the RiverParks Authority talks about the problems with the existing trails and the promise of the new. He also talked about restoring the bulk of Turkey Mountain to an Oak Savanna via the use of prescribed burns and removal of non-native species. He also discusses the history of Turkey Mountain including tales of buried gold and Viking explorers.
Consider joining the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition. It’s a nominal cost and you will find out about work days, which are a lot of fun. TUWC’s scope is all the urban wilderness spaces in Tulsa, not just Turkey Mountain. They have become a resource for other organizations in the Tulsa area. (Full disclosure, I am am member, and all opinions on this blog are my own.) Check out and like their facebook page.
If you are on instagram follow the Turkey Mountain account. (more full disclosure, I post photos to that account once or twice a week.)
Monday morning, I drove 43 miles south of Tulsa to the little burg of Okmulgee, Oklahoma in order to pursue my geocaching hobby. First up on the list is an Adventure Lab geocache at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology. Adventure Lab caches don’t involve finding a physical object, instead you have to navigate to various places and then answer questions about what you find. You use an app on your phone to navigate and it has technology that makes sure you are physically there where you say you are. It discourages “armchair geocachers.”
So it had me go all over the campus finding information. I learned that the campus started out as an Army Hospital during World War II and then later a hospital for German POWs. After the war the USA sold the campus to what is now Oklahoma State University for a dollar.
It is an applied technology school. You don’t go here to think the big thoughts. You go here to learn nursing, engine repair, cooking and a bunch of other fields. It has a 100% placement rate for their graduates.
This is a solar pond that helps reduce the campus heating and cooling costs. The water is circulated through a heat pump is how it works.
This is OSU’s mascot, Pistol Pete. He’s based on a real person, Frank Eaton. At eight years old, he witnessed his father’s murder by six vigilantes. Young Frank practiced shooting until he was fifteen years old and then spent the next six years hunting down and killing his father’s murderers. He later served as a US Marshall for Oklahoma under the Hanging Judge, Isaac Parker. He became the mascot for OSU after he died in 1958. You can’t make this stuff up!! I love stories like this.
Nothing to do with the cache but this is the Natural Gas Compression Technology building. I spent about 40 years messing with natural gas compressors in various capacities. Compressors are what is used to move the natural gas all the way from the wellhead to industrial and home use. It is hard to get into this program. For years all of the graduates have had jobs before they graduate.
And then shifting gears to downtown Okmulgee. It was an oilfield boom town way back when and then went into a long slow decline as the production in the area waned. There is a new spirit in town. People are moving in buying and renovating the many beautiful old buildings that were decaying. They are also commissioning murals such as the one above by famed Native American Muralist, Yatika Starr Fields. The mural above may be the most beautiful mural I have ever seen, (and I have seen a lot of them.)
Even OSU Tech got in on the action converting the above building to an off campus dorm.
So with this cache I went to a lot different murals. It was fun.
With a Where I Go geocache, you eventually have to find a physical object and I did. I don’t want to spoil it for anybody but it is a nanocache which makes it tiny. Lots smaller than the tip of my pinkie fingers.
Anyway, a good morning. It took me a little more than an hour to log both caches and then headed home.
Tuesday, I didn’t have anything going on and son, Logan, didn’t have school or work so we decided to head up to the little city of Pawhuska in Osage County about an hour northwest of Tulsa.
Martin Scorsese is filming “Killers of the Flower Moon” in Pawhuska. We were able to get some glimpses of the set. They have taken a big part of downtown and transformed it back to the early 20th century by putting dirt down on top of the asphalt and redoing the fronts of many buildings. The movie people have taken over the whole town with all their trailers and equipment. It is very interesting. The movie is being directed by Martin Scorsese and is starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.
The movie is based on a non-fiction book that describes how Osage Indians were systematically murdered in the early twentieth century for their money. It was the first case that the newly created FBI worked on. It is a great read.
After checking out the movie guys and gals, Logan and I went to Pawhuska’s swinging bridge across bird creek. It is pretty bouncy but I felt safe on it. It bounces more than it swings.
And great photos of the sky over the muddy Bird Creek.
And then we decided to head out of town to check out Blue Stem Falls. I had to stop and get photos on the way. Osage County is beautiful.
But just short of our destination the road was overrun with water. Turn around, don’t drown is my motto. So we’ll check it out next time.
And I saw this sign. I asked Logan if he had news for me and his mother.
We went back to Tulsa via Bartlesville. Home of the Price Tower. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the only high rise he designed that actually got built. The 19 floors are cantilevered from a central core which gave Wright the opportunity to use lots of glass on the exterior walls since they had no structural function. The structure now houses a hotel, restaurant, and an arts center. I think it is the coolest high rise in Oklahoma.
And Route 66 doesn’t go through Bartlesville but it is home to Phillips 66 who has this big 66 just waiting for me to use it in honor of me being 66 years old this year.
And then after some barbecue in Bartlesville we headed home. Still had big skies but the threatened rain didn’t happen.
And that evening we had a pretty cool sunset which I captured with my drone.
And so we had a pretty cool time. I’m linking to Skywatch Friday. Check it out. I’m also linking with Skyview!
The other day I went for a hike on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. Last time I was out I followed trails on the east side overlooking the Arkansas River. This time I took the west side trails.
I checked out the new trail segment that I helped build in early April along with a bunch of other people.
I got down close to the YMCA and turned back. I got along a segment paralleling 61st street thinking that that was the place to see deer. I looked up and there were two of them. I hardly ever see them in broad daylight.
We stayed there looking at each other for a couple minutes and they had enough and went on. Seeing deer on Turkey Mountain is a rare thing since the area became popular after a dipweed shopping center developer proposed an outlet mall on the mountain. (They dropped the project after overwhelming community opposition.)
One of the huge sports events in Tulsa is Tulsa Tough. A series of bicycle rides and races over three days that includes everything from a “Townie Ride” of a few miles to long distance rides and everybody’s favorite the Criterium Races which are short races on a closed loop of multiple laps. The criterium races attract professional riders from all over the world. Most of the riders though are talented amateurs.
Last Year’s Tulsa Tough was cancelled as were all sorts of other events all over the world. This year it was back bigger than ever.
I participated in the the shortest distant event two years ago at about 30 miles and got my butt thoroughly kicked. I didn’t even finish. We were going by where my car was parked and I was like, I am cutting this agony short. I hope you are not too shocked by my cowardly craven decision. If you are, that is kind of your problem (just kidding folks.)
So Sunday it was hot and I went out to the Criterium Course, officially something like the RiverParks Criterium but everybody calls it CryBaby Hill. It is a short course that starts on the Riverside Drive and then climbs up a steep hill and then comes down the hill and turns back on to Riverside a turn well sharper than 90 degrees. Do this about 14 times and you have the race. Sunday it was done in 90 degree temperatures.
These guys and gals are very tough and very fit. I walked one loop Sunday and I was done. I left well before noon before it got hot.
So you got a race going on but you also have a big party that has approached legendary proportions. I’ve always left over the years before the legendary part.
I’ve never spent too much time on Crybaby Hill. For one thing it is in residential neighborhood with no sidewalks so it is kind of crowded. Plus I don’t do well when I’m hot. I’m told the party really gets crazy after 3 pm.. Well Sunday I was gone before noon. So sorry, I missed it.
I think everybody is really glad to get back to normal. I just hope that we are not doing it too soon. I don’t feel too threatened since I am vaccinated and try to stick with outdoor events. Our world has forever changed though. But for these last three days Tulsa celebrated a return to normalcy.