Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Deep, Heartfelt Apology

Well, I spent a week in Tulsa and before I left I spent a day appreciating Tulsa.  This is something I rarely do.  I travel to different cities because they host a horse show, work like a crazy thing, and leave without ever seeing the city.  Years ago I went to the Tulsa horse show and found it the city to be… undesirable.  I wrote a blog entry likening the feel of the city to the baleful stare of a refugee.  The first six days I was in Tulsa did nothing to change my mind.  The final day, however, made me realize that I owed this city an apology.

Real life Mater seen on a street in Austin
My long run on Friday took me down Historic rt. 66, which is lined with junkyards, pawn shops, and buy here-pay here lots.  I did not see any members of the cast of "Cars", though 'Mater may have a cousin or two residing in this vicinity.  As a ran, crunching along on broken glass, navigating the curb most of the time because there was neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder to speak of, I lost all interest in the historic qualities of the route.  Most of my remaining runs were in a tiny park near the campground.  It was two large sink holes with a gravel path along their edges.  It wasn't scenic and the path was only about .3 mi, but at least it was free of traffic and broken glass.

The last day, however, I ventured outside of my 2.5 mile radius and discovered something.  There is a beautiful city with a lot of great offerings waiting for anyone who wishes to simply cross the river!! Since I couldn't get a camper spot at the park in Austin where I had my reservation until Tuesday, I did my long ride in Tulsa and then went exploring a little bit.  I didn't get pictures of some areas but did stop at one point for photo ops.

I discovered a few things.

1.) Oklahoma?  NOT FLAT!!  1145 ft of elevation gain in my little 40 mile ride from exactly three hills.  Not the Alps, but seriously?  NOT FLAT!  I was whizzing down one of the hills at one point when I felt the back of the bike go all wobbly.  Flat tire… at 36 mph.  Awesome.  I got nearly to the top of the next rise on that flat since I didn't relish the idea of climbing that thing from a standstill before I had to stop to change it.  I recently upgraded my tires and this was my first flat on them.  I must have struggled with it for 20 minutes before I finally wrestled it off the rim.  Apparently the key is to use all three tire levers together and scream obscenities at the top of your lungs!  I ended up having to cut the ride short since I didn't have the time (or the water and nutrition) to be out for an extra half hour.
And I thought "Oh, how cute!  A little hill in OK!"  

2.)  Oklahoma?  Not bland.  The road was, at worst, completely useful and at it's best, totally beautiful.  Lush greenery and blooming trees made it easy on the eyes and tough on the sinuses.  There were parks everywhere with stunning landscaping, natural areas that were lush and emerald green, a fabulous paved bike path that wound along the river and offered a perfectly civilized place to get some mileage, though speed was reduced to accommodate tight turns and short, steep climbs, the worst of which was at the end of the trail right before it turned to dirt for the mountain bikers.

3.)  Oklahoma?  Not all apple pie.  The architecture of the city was fabulous.  There was a great deal of obvious European influence.  Many of the apartment buildings had stucco exteriors with cast iron balconies, decorated with flowering plants, giving the impression of the streets of Italy.  The houses were interesting and diverse, many of which looked like they could have been plucked from the streets of Amsterdam or an English countryside.  Of course for every adorable Tudor, there was a noble old Colonial to remind you that you are in the heart of the United States.  I am afraid I did not get any good pictures of this.

4.)  Oklahoma?  Not a refugee.  But the sadness that I picked up on the first time was still there.  The heavy presence of Native American history and heritage is both proud and poignant.  Make no mistake, time does not heal all wounds.

Here is a day in Tulsa, OK in pictures:

Rose Garden

Gardens and Mansion

He let me crawl up to him and snap his pic!

"Do you mind some hills?" the LBS guy says...

Cool rocks

Bench... in case you get tired.

Love this 

On another note, I have posted about the scale free lifestyle, as have a number of others whose blogs I follow.  Here is another person weighing in on the subject.

When I was almost back to Austin, I stopped at a rest area and was reminded why I LOVE this city...

 So concludes the trip to Tulsa, OK.  Tulsa, you have my deepest apologies.

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