Sunday, June 23, 2013
OUR OKLAHOMA STAYCATION: VACATION #2
June 22, 2013
Technically our next staycation date wasn’t scheduled to be for another week, and the budget wasn’t looking good for that. Nor had I done any real research on where we might go and what we could do when we got there. The prospects were looking pretty glum.
I had reconciled myself to saying our visit to Claremore last weekend to Dave’s RV for their annual open house would have to be the staycation for this month. We’d had a good time, played some games, won some prizes, consumed free refreshments, brought home two free t-shirts for our usual souvenirs and counted our blessings for the fifth wheel we already had after we toured several. It had been a relaxing day for us that had only cost the fuel money to get there and back and we’d actually done errands in that round trip, so zero extra dollars had been spent.
Just as I was going to bed last night I decided to check my daily calendar on my computer. Generally I check it first thing in the morning, but the day had got away from me and I hadn’t done that yet.
The first thing that popped up was the Muscogee Creek Nation Festival at Okmulgee, OK was going on this weekend. I made a mental note of it and decided to check it out more in the morning.
When I mentioned it to Gary this morning he mentioned that nearly the same distance the other direction from our home Glenpool was having their Black Gold Days. Both events were more or less free. Hmmmm, what could there be at these events we would be interested enough in to endure the heat?
After morning chores I pulled up the websites for both events. Both had artisans displaying their wares, both had a carnival going on(with of course a fee for the rides), both were having races and tournaments of various sorts and both were having concerts FOR FREE.
Okie Dokie, that is my type of price, free is always good. Since neither of us is big into carnival rides that wasn't an expense we needed to consider. We only had chores/repairs scheduled for today, so maybe we could change the schedule and do a staycation day instead.
I made the suggestion to Gary and he liked it. Especially when he saw that the performers for Okmulgee tonight were Smokey Robinson and Natalie Cole! Our type of music.
The only conflicts we had was the Glenpool Black Gold Days was also having a concert of country western music, including a fellow that had been on American Idol for awhile, Josh Woods. We love Country/Western music too. Then there was the fact back at the Okmulgee Creek Nation Festival there was a rodeo, which dh and I both enjoy. Decisions, decisions.
So then we told Sean what we were thinking about doing the rest of the day and he told us he would like a day alone to do things by himself. Okay, if we went to one or the other for the rest of the day it would give him his time alone, just as it does when we travel without him for regular vacations and us a day away, but which event.
Looking over the entire calendar of events for both, which were amazingly enough quite similar even down to the time each event was we finally decided on going to the Creek Nation Festival, it was about 6 miles closer and had some mid afternoon events we were interested in that Glenpool Black Gold Days didn’t have.
We quickly changed from chore clothes to “vacation” clothes, packed an ice chest full of food, filled our Brita water bottles with cold water and headed to the event that was just 10 miles away.
A word about the Brita water bottles here. No I am not a representative for them or do I get any kick back from them. I am, however, a big fan of them when traveling/vacationing.
We were first introduced to them by firstname.lastname@example.org . As much as I love Walt Disney World I absolutely hate the taste of their water. I cannot gag it down at all straight from a water fountain or faucet and I drink a lot of water every day, especially when traveling. So when it was suggested by the great folks on the mouse list I immediately purchased one for each of us, I later purchased a back-up for each of us so we had two bottles each. They have well proven their value to our family. These handy little bottles are a sports bottle that has a replacable water filter built into it. Because I am sensitive to certain “ingredients” in some waters being able to filter the water before I drink it is a great thing for me.
While Okmulgee is only about 10 miles from my home it is on an entirely different water district. Using the Brita water bottle with water from home and then refilling it as I need to is far cheaper than purchasing pre-bottled waters. In fact many of those pre-bottled waters have minerals in them I do not care for the taste of. Like I said I love the Brita water bottles.
Now end of the Brita commercial and back to our staycation day.
Our first stop was at the “Mound” as we call it in this household. It's actual the Creek Nation Superior Court building, but that's a mouthful, so we call it the Mound due to it's shape. They were having a traditional archery cornstalk competition. We wanted to watch it for a while. I’m not certain what I expected, but I was soon very bored, as in watching drying paint is more exciting bored. Dh referred to it as watching a golf game of sorts.
We are both certain that had we known some of the competitors it would have been far more interesting. I had packed our camera along hoping for some good photos.
Because we did historical re-enactments for so many years we both expected the competitors to at least be dressed in traditional clothing since this was billed as a traditional competition. Not unless the Creek Indians of old wore t-shirts and shorts.
Next stop was the Creek Nation Superior court building there on the same grounds. We’d never been in it, despite living so close so we thought we would sneak a peek. It was a typical government building, with a nice diorama in the front lobby. It took us all of 5 minutes to study that and decide to leave there to go to the original Creek Council House Museum that is on 6th street in Okmulgee.
We have visited this museum on various occasions so our disappointment that they had already closed it up for the day was minor. If you have never been to the museum I recommend it. There is no fee for the museum and it has many Native American items worth looking at.
There were suppose to be several Native American artisans with booths of items for sale there until after 4:00pm. We arrived at the museum at about 2:30pm and nearly all the artisans had either already packed their wares and left or were in the process of doing so. There were only four booths still open, but they had nice items, mainly Native American pottery and art work when we arrived. We took our time to look at each of the four booths and then went in search of the music we could hear playing.
There is a small park just down from the courthouse and there was a free concert going on there. We listened from our truck for a few minutes and then remembered there was suppose to be a gospel sing going on back by the Mound so we headed back that way. We had no luck in finding it and decided that must have broken up early as well.
In all fairness to everyone it was in the mid 90’s and the events were scattered out all over Okmulgee, which cut down the flow of visitors easily from one place to another. I also understand that different venues require different locations.
Besides the events we were trying to attend there was a horseshoe tournament, a basketball competition, a mid-day segment of the rodeo, which we didn’t know about when were driving around mid day. There were a lot of different venues, plus the carnival that was going on all day as well.
Well more than all day, this is actually a four day event and next year we will be trying to hit more of the events now that what we know what to expect.
Because we had not studied the calendar of events well before leaving home, and we were unable to get a proper smart phone signal to check the schedule we found ourselves sitting in the truck trying to figure out what to do around 3:30 pm.
We were parked some distance from the Omniplex and had no idea what was scheduled to go on in that area at that time. Despite the decent breeze that was blowing neither of us relished walking in the 93 degree temperatures through the large crowd at the carnival rides to see what MIGHT be going on. Then to walk back to the truck, have dinner from our ice chest and then walk over to the rodeo that was scheduled to start at 6 pm.
I suggested we eat an early dinner to avoid the walk back to just eat. Gary said he was definitely hungry so we ate our sandwiches and set in the air conditioned comfort of the truck for awhile.
I then mentioned that Burger King was running ice cream cones for $.50 each and that we were less than ¼ mile from a Burger King. You guessed it we got ice cream, and took advantage of their facilities while we were there.
Maybe we just weren’t observant enough, but in the entire time we were at the festival we can remember only a handful of available port-a-johns scattered about all the different locations. While we are not above using “hooters” as they are called at Rendezvous we were not anxious to use them with the long lines that were at every single unit we saw. So we were both most thankful for Burger King.
The B.K. is next to the rodeo arena so it was simply out of the B.K. parking lot and into the arena parking lot to get parked for the evening. This put us a lot closer to all the events we knew we wanted to attend than we’d been previously parked.
Note to self: Next year take our stadium seats. We entered the arena at about 5:30 pm and were there until about 8:30 pm. The seating in the open air arena is metal bleachers with no back. To say my fat back was tired by the time we left there is an understatement. But it definitely was worth it. The rodeo was a good one, not to mention it was FREE—there’s my favorite word again.
Even better, we got another free souvenir t-shirt. They periodically threw t-shirts into the stands and dh caught one in my size for me.
We knew the rodeo was going to be a good one when it started out with a horse mounted drill squad riding to the song “Oklahoma Rising” The sight of the four US flags later joined by the Oklahoma flag was a moving ceremony.
The opening ceremony also included a version of “If Our FlagCould Talk” spoken by the Master of Ceremony while “Golden Dream” played in the back ground (the link is to a utube video of how I first became famiiar with this song at Walt Disneyworld in their World Showcase at te American Adventure The video is not mine, but it gives you a good sense of the theme of the entire show leading up to the song Golden Dream that is played at the end of the second video. We are very proud of our country here in Oklahoma!
Despite the minor discomfort of no back support we truly enjoyed the rodeo. The main rodeo clown was great entertainment. Many of his jokes were old ones, or predictable, but still funny none the less.
Once the rodeo was over we hiked back to the truck to change out water bottles and put up the t-shirt. We found our truck was totally surrounded by other vehicles, it was a good thing we hadn’t planned on leaving at that point.
Instead we grabbed fresh water bottles and headed toward the open air stage we now realized was where the concerts were to be performed. Since it was nearly 9:00 pm by this time we had missed the free concert by Natalie Cole, but we were told it had been very good.
We noticed many people walking the same direction as us were carrying lawn chairs. We soon realized why. There was no stadium seating at this venue. It was bring your own chair or blanket. Neither of us thought to grab the throw out of the truck so we found ourselves standing for the entire Smokey Robinson concert. It was definitely worth it though.
His voice is still clear and good, he told many funny stories and the songs brought back all sorts of memories from our teen years. It was Motown at its finest.
We were told that these free concerts are part of this annual festival. Last year the two main headliners had been Gladys Knight and the Temptations.
We are anxious to see who they book for next year. We definitely plan on visiting all four days of the 40th annual festival next June.
By the time we left the concert we were tired, but quite pleased with our one day staycation that had cost us about 1 gallon of diesel and $1 for ice cream.
Not a bad price for a full day worth of entertainment that included a good finals rodeo and live concerts. Not to mention another free t-shirt.
Jan who finised typing this up on Sunday and is still tired from ehr long day of walking around, but very glad she went to the Muscogee Creek Nation 39th Annual Festival in OK