Friday, 1 August 2008

Day Twelve - Wednesday, 2 July

The first order of this day was shopping at Quail Springs Mall. Jane wanted to pick up some clothes for their new granddaughter, Nelly Joy, at BabyGap. I like walking around in a Mall where you can window-shop: look at the merchandise instead of dodge prams, wheelchairs and charvers. We needed to have some cinnamon rolls. And to sit in a pink car.

Then we all met up and went to the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

I remember several school trips to the place and it's one of the last outings I took Mom on, pushing her around in a wheelchair they supplied. It has changed greatly since Bill and I were last here.

An older woman wearing lots of Indian jewelry gave us an introduction to the place. She recommended the small theatre with the movie about Western movies narrated by the lovely Sam Elliott, who she said was a good friend of the museum. I was the only one of the group who knew who he was. If I'm honest, listening to Sam Elliott's voice may well have been my favourite part of this visit. I really do like his voice -- and the rest of the package isn't bad either.

The museum was very upmarket and looks to me about half gallery and half museum now. There was an art exhibit with lots of guards, a whole section of paintings and sculptures. Bill liked a painting of a girl having a picnic on a white patchwork quilt that seemed to glow against the black background. I liked the detailed bronze statue of a man racing on horseback, titled ‘Boomer’. As always, Bob liked the cat, which he was able to photograph, in part due to its situation at the end of the gallery.

There was the western town I took lots of pictures of, none of which excite me now; the gallery of board members (yawn), the statue of Lincoln who signed the homestead act that led to the Land Run that opened Oklahoma lands to white settlers.

As always there was the beautiful white statute commemorating the Trail of Tears (at the top). There were galleries of cowboy gear and a rodeo section (RO-dee-o, not ro-DAY-o) with videos of the various events scattered amongs the corrals and fences typical of a rodeo.

Then there were the big gardens

with statutes

and water features

and several graves of beloved horses

and even of a rodeo bull named Tornado.

There was more to see than one could appreciate on tired legs, but everyone did seem to enjoy it. The time we spent in Oklahoma is probably the closest the tour came to being what Bill originally had in mind: having his family together.

As we were leaving, I spotted a car tag that commemorated the bombing, which I thought was sweet.

The evening’s big event was dinner at Cattlemen’s Restaurant in packing town. I was reminded that, having complained about the way streets in the UK change names on a whim, OKC does in fact change road names as well: Villa on the North side of town becomes Agnew on the South side.

After catching lift from the parking lot to the front door -

about 200 yards the long way around -

we all filed in about 7:30pm – they don’t take reservations, not even for 11 people. We got put into a small room partitioned off from the rest, which I thought was a bit of a shame as one didn’t get the full ambience of the place, but I guess that’s what we get for being such a big party. It was about the only place that didn’t actually add 15% gratuity for the big group. Fortunately, Simon snapped the main area.

There were two seats left for Pat, who was driving down from Lamont, and for Jack, one at each end. I sat separately from Bill in order that Jack could sit next to him and Pat could be next to me, so that they would be next to people they knew.

When Pat came in he started regaling us with some sort of tale from his youth. Back then, he told us, he had long curly hair. He looked straight at Chris, a bald gentleman whom he has never met before, and said “You remember hair?”

I will long remember Chris’s still, blank expression. Think deer caught by headlights.

Chris loves to startle people by making unexpected comments that hover on either side of the normal boundary for acceptable remarks; that’s Chris’s trademark. Pat does much the same, only louder and faster, whereas Chris has a quiet mumbling voice and he sort of leads up to the punch. I wasn’t certain how Chris was going to take Pat, but it appeared that they decided to get along, which was a relief, as we were going to go up and stay at Pat’s a day or two.

Everyone but Rhiannon got the requisite steaks. Being vegetarian, she had French fries and salad. Chris & Jane shared a t-bone, but for some reason I decided to have one by myself. It wasn’t possible to finish of course and the waiter volunteered to give me a doggie bag when everyone but me was finished eating. I was slightly disappointed in the quality of my steak, finding it a bit on the tough side. Mind, I’d had extremely high expectations of Cattlemen’s and perhaps that was unrealistic. I will go back, but hopefully will remember to go for the smaller, hopefully better quality filet mignon.

I would have sworn I'd taken pictures, but apparently not. Bill and Pat both captured the occasion on video, but I wouldn't even attempt to attach that here. I was going to say some things are possibly just best left to the imagination, but Simon saved us again.

We walked around looking at the shops nearby - places like Langston's Western Wear and Little Joe's Boots. They were all closed of course, but we were wanting to talk a bit longer and, particularly in my case, stand upright for a while to let the food settle. I was so full I thought I might need to sleep standing up, but that didn’t turn out to be necessary…

Thanks to Simon for the latter pictures.

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