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On September 13, the City of Broken Arrow, OK celebrated their Voyage Solar System Walkway installation. The Walkway is a model of our solar system at a one to 10 billion scale. The scale involves both the distance between the sun and planets but also the size of bodies.
So the sun is the size of a large grapefruit. Earth is a small dot just a few feet away. Pluto, is 2000 feet down the street.
The installation is designed to help people understand just how vast our solar system is by bringing it down to human scale. Voyage was designed by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. The first installation was on the main mall in Washington, D.C. Other installations are in Kansas City, Missouri, Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, Palo Alto, Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, Ocala, Florida, and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
It was interesting hearing about the efforts of many people over the years to get the Walkway installed. Money was raised by local businesses, individuals, and a go fund me page. The city helped out with construction, It was a community effort.
I love that it stretches from the front of an elementary school to the local high school. A ready made model for learning just steps away.
Here’s a video the City of Broken Arrow put out that explains it a lot better than I can.
I was geocaching at a clinic’s gardens in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma when I came upon this sculpture. I thought, “interesting” and snapped the pic and moved on with my task.
I found what I was looking for and noticed the walkway circling the sculpture and saw roman numeral numbers, then the light went on in my head! The sculpture is a giant sundial and is keeping almost perfect time. Eureka. I love figuring out stuff like that.
I went hiking earlier this week on Turkey Mountain here in Tulsa. I came across this tiny frog traversing the trail.
I also went for a bike ride and took my camera with me again. As I was going down the trail I spotted a bald eagle flying high over me but headed down to the river. So I pulled out and spotted this guy fishing. That’s two weeks in a row I’ve seen a bald eagle in approximately the same location. Sorry for the fuzzy photo. I was at the far end of the range of my Canon Superzoom.
I also found this egret, or white heron or something several miles north of the Eagle out in the river looking for lunch.
And white pelicans on a sandbar.
And a log with two pairs of turtles. I didn’t know that momma turtles gave baby turtles piggy back (turtle back?) rides.
And a great blue heron. Again at pretty good range. They are skittish!!
The archive consists of over 100,000 items. Everything from clothes, to piano frames, to manuscripts, art works, music recordings, diaries, all sorts of records. Dylan was some sort of pack rat it appears and now his collection is in a place where it can be cataloged, preserved, and put on display.
The center starts with Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota and goes on from there through all his various personal permutations and tribulations.
One of the supercool features of the center are these Ipods that are activated at dozens of touchpoints throughout the facility. You can hear interviews, music footage, reviews and all sorts of stuff. I thought these were very nice and worked lots better than similar things I have used at other museums. And it is covered under your admission price.
I’ll have to admit that I was never much of a Dylan fan. He was about half a generation ahead of me and so he and I never synched up except for a few songs.
What I learned about Dylan though was that he was all about the music and not so much about sales. He morphed several times in his career, folk music to rock, to country, to gospel. Sometimes his fans didn’t really want to go with him, he didn’t care, he did what he had to do.
The center picked out several songs and displays in detail the painstaking process that Dylan went through writing and rewriting the songs, sometimes it would take years. The guy put everything he had into his music.
He kept his scribblings as he worked things over and over and changed the songs over time.
They also have many of the costumes he wore over the years in his concerts.
There is a gigantic virtual juke box machine curated by Elvis Costello containing almost every song he ever did, or wrote, or collaborated with somebody else on. Turns out he wrote lots of songs for other performers.
I was there for a couple hours and went over everything twice and listened on the ipod to at list a little bit of dozens of songs and interviews. It was overwhelming. I told me wife about it. She is all about music and now she is all excited about going, so I get to go again!!
He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 for his body of work. Reading his thoughts about it, it took him a while to understand that. He just couldn’t figure out why a songwriter was deserving of the honor. He accepted it though.
I strongly recommend the center. I loved it. And right down the block is the Woody Guthrie Center. Go check it out. I did a few years ago.
Here is a musical interlude. I told you that I wasn’t much of a fan but I loved Hurricane from 1975’s Blood on the Tracks album.
I went on on another bike ride the other day on Tulsa’s RiverParks trails along the Arkansas River. I took my Canon Superzoom Camera with me. I stopped again at The Gathering Place to check on the new pedestrian bridge and new dam being constructed. Not much progress so I focused on the construction equipment being used.
In the bed of the river they had this huge concrete pump putting concrete around boulders on the riverbed. So it looks like in addition to the bridge and dam maybe they are shaping the river for other purposes. I’ll have to check into that.
There were lots of tracked backhoes at work (I call them track hoes.) This one was actually on the west side of the river doing something not related to the bridge or dam.
Here are several more on the riverbed. The contractors have constructed a huge cofferdam to divert the river flow to the west side of its banks to make room for construction.
And another trackhoe
And yet another. Not too many of them were being operated the day of my ride. I have no idea why. The weather was great.
And this one had a jackhammer type attachment.
As you can tell, I love construction equipment and checking out construction and trying to figure out what they are doing and how they are going about it.
I’m linking with Skywatch Friday. Come check it out.
This past weekend I attended the Route 66 Roadfest in Tulsa. It was an event sponsored by AAA to celebrate all things Route 66. They had a similar event in Oklahoma City the previous weekend.
The event features cars (lots of cars!), music (which I missed).
They had a section on vintage travel trailers.
When I was a kid our family had a similar trailer, a little bit bigger. We went all over the place in the thing in our family of five. Soon, my brother and I got kicked out into a tent on our own, which was fine with us.
The thing I wasn’t expecting and enjoyed the most is the “pods” they had set up showing the history of the Route 66 by decade and highlights of the culture of that time. The above diner was in the 1950’s pod. They had hosts in costume who would show you around. (Who knew that women in poodle skirts could be so fetching?) So each pod was like a time capsule.
Also, in the 1950’s pod was a display of photographs by Charles and Irene Custer who got married in 1950 and took off on Route 66 supporting themselves with photography. Fast forward to recently when somebody found almost 90 negatives in a barn made with a medium format camera. They processed the photos, digitized them and put them on internet. They are incredible. Check out the site here. (I am not displaying any because they are copyrighted so check out the link.) They are incredible visions of an all but forgotten world.
The above was in the 60’s pod showing a wall on school safety. When I was in grade school in Price, UT I was so jealous of the crossings guards. I wanted to be one but I was not a cool kid.
Remember window decals. So many families plastered their cars with travel decals. There were two types of families back then, window decal families, and people who wouldn’t be caught dead with them (that was us.) It was fun looking at all the old stuff and talking with the people there. I loved the pods and had no idea they would be part of the show.
The best part though I just stumbled onto. Michael Wallis, the writer and historian, who wrote “Route 66: The Mother Road” among 20 or so other books, participated in a conversation about the history and culture of the road. His book is credited with a resurgence in interest of Route 66. He did most of the talking. And he is a great talker with a wonderful voice. “He was the voice of the Sheriff in the animated movies Cars.” Some of the high points of what he said were:
He looks at the road, stretching from Chicago to Santa Monica, as a one big community traversing eight states. He said it is Blue on either end and red in the middle but the road itself is purple with very little rancor like you see in the rest of country. He is hoping that the road will help bring the country together as it approaches its centennial in 2026.
He talked about how we cannot romanticize history. We have to be on a continual search for the truth. He said for example people get upset when he brings up the fact that the businesses on the road were just as racist as any place in the deep south and there were a bunch of sundown towns where people of color were not allowed to be after sundown. He said the racisim ebbed away after the Civil Rights laws of the 60’s were enacted. He said history is never set, it is like an onion that has many different layers and one cannot be afraid of you will find out.
He said the road is for travelers not tourists. It is for people who are not in a big hurry and like to stop and look at things and try out local restaurants and independent motels instead of the chains.
He also told a bunch of stories. One of my favorites concerned a snake pit in the Texas panhandle where a business had a pit holding dozens of rattlesnakes. He said at 4 pm every day a friendly grandmotherly lady would come out with a basket little chicks in it and dump them into the pit. He said that was a big hit. He had a bunch of other funny stories to tell.
He finished by saying, “Remember, life begins at the off-ramp.”
His 45 minutes flew by. It was the best part of the show.
I think they are going to have this show yearly leading up to the centennial of the road in 2026. I’ll be back!! (And I’ll take in the music next time!!)
Late last week I met up with my old friends from Texas, Bill and Sharon. We had lunch and caught up with the goings on of our families. We then headed to just south of downtown Oklahoma City to see the brand new First Americans Museum. The museum was first conceived in 1989 and has been through a lot of ups and downs and reconfiguring and finally opened up in 2021. Yep, this museum took 32 years to come into being. It’s worth the wait. The story is here. (Sorry that it is behind a pay wall.)
I didn’t know what to expect but when I hear “museum” I think of art so I brought my camera but this isn’t that kind of museum. There is lots of art on display but the art is used to help tell the story of the 39 Native American tribes in Oklahoma. And what a story it is.
A story of a population of millions in the Americas before contact with Europeans and to just a few hundred thousand by the start of the 20th century due to enslavement, decimation, neglect, assimilation, and removal. The tribes and their people suffered tremendously. The museum tells that story in a straightforward and plainspoken manner.
The rest of the story is about their resurgence as a resilient people and a culture and their fight for their rights. Today they are thriving but are still fighting hard for their rights and their culture is flourishing. There is so much information presented that my meagre little brain got overloaded, so I’ll have to go back.
So this museum is more about culture, history, and education than about the objects. I recommend it highly if you are in the area. I think my friends Bill and Sharon enjoyed the museum.
Monday morning I used my trusty stubhub app to purchase a deeply discounted grounds pass to the day’s practice round at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills here in Tulsa.
This is the third major championship I have seen at the club. My first major was the 1994 PGA and then the 2007 US Open that Tiger Woods won. I also volunteered for several rounds in 2007 as a marshall.
I generally avoid the practice events, but I changed my mind this year. The crowds are a lot less than during the competition phase and you can take photos which they don’t really want you doing during competition. (And I’m a rule follower on such things.
So Monday I just took off on a tour of the course. As a side note that everybody has forgotten. A Trump owned course, Bedminster was slated to host the 2022 PGA but the PGA pulled it from the club after the January 6, 2021 riot at our nations capitol. This year’s tournament is Southern Hills fifth PGA championship. The most of any golf course in the country.
With the actual tournament it is easy to know who you are looking at on the course. They have somebody carrying a signboard with the group and there are event apps and leaderboards. During practice it seems like the players team up informally and go at their own pace. They may hit several balls and when they get on the green they will putt from various locations on the green and try chipping from different places as well. It’s booorrrring.
In this pic you see a glimpse of what drives the PGA and really all professional sports. See the white buildings in the back. Those are the hospitality chalets paid for by various companies and organizations to host their customers. Those chalets are all over the course. Back when I worked my employer would have one and I would take my customers there for refreshments and food and maybe some merchandise. Lots of fun, but a lot of work as well.
I call this tree “dog leg left.” Lots of big, huge, beautiful trees on the course.
The players of course have perfect form. The tournament invites the best of the best golfers and some distinguished older golfers. In 1994 I saw Arnold Palmer play at the course. He wasn’t competitive any longer but the fans loved him.
There are lots of big houses fronting the course.
The course is about 7500 yards in length or about four miles. I ended up walking about 4 miles. The course is built on the side of a hills so there is lots of up and down.
On the practice rounds all sorts of people walk with the golfers like their wives. (I like to think they are the wives!!)
Somebody built this gigantic building right on the course. I don’t know if it is a club facility or a private house but it sure is nice.
And a parting shot before I headed to the shuttle bus.
I got a solid four mile walk in. I don’t know yet if I’m going back for the tournament.