Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sulphur, OK and Oklahoma City

After leaving Fort Worth, we headed north to Sulphur, OK. I love the area around Sulphur. Years ago it was Platt National Park, but in the late 1960s they created Arbuckle Lake, and in 1976 merged the Lake with Platt National Park and it is now Chickasaw National Recreation Area. We camped at Rock Creek Campground in the Platt Historic District area. But there are also other things to see in the region as well. We headed south one day to Gene Autry (yes, it is a town). And of course there is a museum dedicated to the namesake of the town.
Here I am standing in front of a replica of Gene Autry's horse and that is his actual saddle. Athough Gene Autry was born in Texas, he was raised in this area. After his fame in the movies as a singing cowboy, he returned to Oklahoma and bought a ranch. But he went to war (WWII) and upon his return, sold the ranch and lived in California and Arizona. But the area he was raised and where he had his ranch honored in by changing the name of their town to Gene Autry.
It was a good museum, covering not only Gene Autry, but all of the singing cowboys and their sidekicks and other cowboy movie stars of this era.

Platt Historic District is located in the town of Sulphur. The town grew up in the late 1800s and early 1900s because of the many mineral springs located in this area. It was a real resort area at one time with 12 trains arriving daily and home to several resort hotels. There are now six of the original springs left, but over the years there have been times with they go dry. Back during the dust bowl (1930s) they went dry for 7 years. Three of the springs are currently dry, having dried up this past January. With a lot of rain this spring they say they may start up again. Above is Buffalo Springs as it is today.

This is how Buffalo Springs should look.

This is Antelope Springs as it should look.

This is how is looks today.

There is a bridge, Lincoln Bridge, which celebrated its 100th birthday this year. It was built so that 4 horses drawing a carriage or cart could cross.

Another one of the springs which is not completely dry.

This is Rock Creek and one of the many falls and how it should look.

This is how the creek looks today.

Another area close by is Turner Falls. Along Honey Creek they have created a few small dams and this is one of the premier natural swimming holes. Managed by the town of Davis, OK, this place is packed during the summer with people coming out to swim, hike and camp.

The area has several caves like this one above, many hiking trails and .....

the "Castle". Built in the 1930s by a professor it was the main house for his ranch. Although it has not been in use for many years, it is fun to climb through. There are actually about 4 different buildings. Maybe he had several guest homes as well, or maybe they were for his ranch hands. It even looks like one building might have been a garage.

These stairs go up 3 flights. They are so narrow, you have to turn sideways to get in and out of them.

This is the turrent which house the stairs.

A natural arch.

After leaving Sulphur we headed to Oklahoma City. We stayed at the Elks in Midwest City, next to Tinker AFB. We were located at the end of their runway. But we ventured into downtown OKC to Bricktown, OKCs version of San Antonio's Riverwalk. Here is one of the decorated Buffalo located in the area.

Part of the canal running in front of Toby Keith's. We had lunch their on the patio. They have live music every Friday and Saturday and Toby Keith is known for dropping by.

North of OKC on Route 66 is this Round Barn. It is the only round barn found along Rt. 66. The original barn was falling down and even burnt, and was supposed to be torn down when local residents decided to save it. It was rebuilt in 1988.

The downstairs is a museum and gift shop and the upstairs is rented out for parties, dances, etc. They say the acoustics are so good you can stand on one side and whisper and can be heard across the barn. See how high the ceiling is?

Just a few blocks away is a place called Pops. When I grew up in this area and even my kids remember this place being a dumpy gas station and bait shop. It has been rebuilt and is now a gas station and restaurant serving over 500 flavors of pop.

The walls are glass and lined with shelves displaying the 500 varieties. I had a cream soda, my son had a root beer, but Max had some type of bug juice. It was green, looked nasty and in my opinion, tasted as nasty as it looked. It guess he liked it because he drank it all.

We had planes flying directly over us all day long and some evenings.

AWACs is headquarted at Tinker AFB, and so is a large naval contingent. Plus the air reserve fly out of Tinker and they manage and repair the KC-135s, A-10s and A-7s.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ft. Worth/Dallas and the Stockyards

I'm a little behind in updating my blog since I was at the Stockyards over a week ago. But I guess, better late than never.

On the way to Oklahoma we stopped at Ft. Worth. Although I grew up within 3-4 hours of the city, I had never spent any time exploring the Ft. Worth/Dallas area. I had been there several times to visit friends or relatives even, but had never been to the stockyards. A group from the SI dance rally were heading here, but timing was such I couldn't go at the same time they were going. They were going to stay down at the Stockyards. $50 for 6 nights. Couldn't beat that deal. It was parking in a parking lot next to Billie Bob's and behind the rodeo grounds. I called and asked if you had to be in a group to stay and the guy said no, anyone could stay. At the time I called I forgot to ask the price. But I figured if he was letting them stay 6 nights for $50, it couldn 't be too bad. Well, I called back the day we arrived to get directions. I also asked about the cost. Wow! They wanted $35 a night for boondocking in the parking lot. I mentioned my friends (and he knew the lady who arranged for the group rate) and their price and he said it was $50 regardless of how long. We were only going to be there 2 nights, hoping he might counter offer with a lower price because I had told him I wouldn't pay that much. He said he hoped I found somewhere else to stay and hung up. We found an Elks Lodge only 3 miles away and it had hookups. It would have been fun to stay down at the stockyards, but not at the price they wanted.
They run the bulls every day at 11am and 4pm. The bulls are used to the routine and just look like they want to get it overwith so they can go back to their corral.

The Rodeo. Claims to be the first indoor rodeo arena in Texas.

Dancing under the lights at Billie Bob's, the largest Honky Tonk in the world. It was a Friday night and at 8am was almost deserted. They house band started and it picked up some. We went over to the bull riding (yes, inside Billie Bob's) at 9am and when we returned to the dance floor, it was crowded. This town doesn't seem to come to life until after 9pm.

The bullriding ring in Billie Bob's

Line dancing the Cupid Shuffle (I learned this line dance at the Bandera dance rally)

We went to the rodeo on Saturday night. Here is some of the action.

Being so close we also visited the site where John F. Kennedy was shot. They have marked the street with an X to show where his limo was when he was shot. This is the spot where the first shot hit him. A short distance further is a second X in the street showing where the second shot hit him.
Up on the 6th floor of this building is where the gunman was supposed to have been hiding and shooting from.

This is now a Museum, but was once a courthouse in downtown Dallas. It is across from the area John F. Kennedy was shot.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bandera, TX

I did not get to attend the Bandera Dance Rally last year, but heard about it and saw photos and videos. I knew I did not want to miss it this year. Sponsered by SI (Singles International), the singles chapter of FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association), it brings together 170 singles for 10 days of dance instructions, dancing and just good old fun. As you will see from the pictures, we all like to play and dress up, just like when we were kids.

Some line dancing.

And of course, regular swing dancing. We had a dance every evening except for Sunday, and then there was square dancing. The first week we had Ronnie Furr, a one man band, who was very good. This was his 3rd year to play for the rally. The last week we had a local band, the Lone Star Pickerz.

But we also did some sightseeing as well. One day we went over to Luckenbach, TX, made famous by Willie Nelson. It now consists of the post office above,

the dance hall, and one home. But they play live music every night and jam sessions all throughout the day.

Then on to Fredericksburg, TX. Settled by German immigrants, this was one of the first buildings built and was used as the church and community hall (this is a reproduction as the original building was destroyed).

But the museum was my main reason to check out Fredericksburg. Over 20 years ago my fathers picture was in the museum from his days in WWII. I did not find it, as they change out the exhibits regularly. They have over 41,000 WWII photos and they all cannot be displayed at once. It was a great museum on WWII and would recommend it to everyone.

And of course we couldn't miss San Antonio since it was only about 45 miles away. Here we are in front of the Alamo.

And here we are at the Buckhorn Saloon, which claims to be the oldest such establishment in San Antonio. Notice all the animal heads on the walls. The entire place was filled with stuffed animals.

Here is just a small portion of the riverwalk. We walked the entire riverwalk and then treated ourselves to ice cream at the end.

The oldest church in San Antonio. Here is where they have inturred the remains of Davy Crockett and others who fought and died at the Alamo.

Our first activity of the dance rally was a welcome BBQ called "Down on the Farm With Andy". The theme was Lil' Abner. Above is Mamie Hoackum I presume.

And here is our version of Lil' Abner and Daisy Mae. They even brought in gunfighters for a western show and Bagpipe Bob played his bagpipe for us too.

One evening we had a Roaring 20s theme. Here are some of us ladies posing for the camera.

And here were a few of the guys in their Roaring 20s garb.

Even those taking the pictures were dressed up as you can see.

But I think one the real highlights of the rally is the social times. We met every day for a full hot breakfast, then again at 4pm for social time. There were always snacks for social. When you registered at the rally you were assigned a color, thereby placing you on a team with others with your same color. Each day it was one color teams responsibility to cook breakfast, clean up, and do social hour.

Most teams put on skits and dressed up for their day as well.

This was happy hour at someone rig, which usually followed social time.

We usually met outside under this group of trees for our daily social time.

I was in the purple group and our skit was done the song "Purple People Eater".

On Saturday night we had formal glitz night.

Do you like Max's Tuxedo T-shirt?

The guys dressed up real nice too.

Bandera, TX, is known as the Cowboy Capital of the World. This is the Silver Bullet, the oldest bar in Bandera. They even put sawdust down on the dance floor.

Dance lessons were held in 2 buildings, one for beginners, the other intermediate. They were both morning and afternoon. If you went to them all you were too tired to dance every night, so most people went part time. The basic dances taught were the 2-step, waltz and swing. Some cha, cha, cajun and zydeco were also taught. The intermediate class was mainly learning fancy turns and moves to the basic steps.

One day at lunch a Tacky Fashion Show was held. Remember we all live and travel in our RVs. I can't believe what some people keep in their rigs.

But the real highlight was Wednesday evening when everyone when into town to the Cowboy Bar. They would only reserve us 70 seats, so we all went early and we all wore our rally shirts. We took up most of the bar that night. Wednesdays has live music and a 'burn your own' dinner. You bring your own meat and cook it on their large BBQ grills and they provide the plates and all the sides for only $4. What a deal.

The band invited us ladies to come on stage and help them out. Our nickname "The Irritations."

It truly is a cowboy town, someone even showed up on horseback.

Just one of 6 large grills.

And of course the dancing. I actually got to go to the Cowboy Bar 3 times while in Bandera.

We were informed the Today Show was going to interview a local man and his family about their hot dog stand. Some of us decided to put on our rally shirts and head to town, hoping to get on the Today Show. The segment aired on Saturday morning. The segment can be seen on the today show website. Many of us did get in the segment too.

Another day some of us took of to visit Stonehenge, not the one in England, but Stonehenge II, just west of Kerrsville. This is a 2/3 size replica.

Easter Island was even represented.

While out sightseeing we ran across the town of Utopia. How would you like to live in Utopia? I can truthfully say that I have been to Utopia.

We had lunch at the Lost Maples Cafe in Utopia.
Looking back at all the pictures and remembering how much fun it was, I can't believe we did all this in just 2 weeks. Yet, I can't wait until next year to do it all again!