This is the ninth post about our family's visit to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. I suggest starting with the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth posts from the trip. Because I blog about educational travel, some of the places mentioned below gave me free admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits. Other locations we toured are free for everyone. We paid full price for the rest. None of that has any bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I recommend without hesitation. If there are gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, hotel, or restaurant enough to recommend it, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
We started Thursday 4/13, our last full day in Oklahoma, in Stockyards City.
This business district, southwest of downtown, started in 1910 with the opening of the Oklahoma National Stockyards.
You can book a free tour on their website, which I did. I had to answer some questions about our agricultural experience (essentially none) and our recent visits to places where we might be tracking in harmful cow diseases (also none), then I received a confirmation. At the designated time, we arrived here.
We were alone. Not a tour guide, fellow tourist, car, or even a cow in sight. I double-checked my confirmation and my watch. I popped into this building to see if someone was expecting us, and if yes, where we should be.
I found a random man, who led us to a random woman, who recognized the name of the woman on my tour confirmation form. That woman told us to hang tight while she found someone to give us a tour. We waited about ten minutes, during which time I perused the Stockyard City Times and Beef Bulletin.
The woman came back with Bo, a supervisor and in his 43rd year working at the Stockyards. Bo took us onto the elevated walkway and showed us all around.
Cattle pens in all directions, almost as far as the eye can see.
The Oklahoma National Stockyards is the largest in the world and has been since 1973.
Sales days are Mondays and Tuesdays. This was a Thursday, so there weren't any cattle except this batch waiting to get picked up.
They do maintenance on non-market days. Cattle can do a lot of damage to fences and gates.
Our next stop was the building where the auction takes place.
Buyers spend all day sitting in these stadium seats, bidding on the cattle that pass by in lots. Each lot has a lot (haha!) of cattle in it.
It was very interesting seeing the paperwork involved and how it is organized.
Bo is a really interesting guy and passionate about the Stockyards. I'm glad we got to tour with him. I'd encourage you to take a tour; hopefully, someone will be expecting you when you get there. I wish I'd called the day before to confirm.
Our next destination, First Americans Museum, could not have been more different than the Stockyards. They're both large and they're both interesting, but the similarities end there.
First Americans Museum opened in 2021 with the goal of sharing the collective histories of the 39 First American Nations in Oklahoma.
Exhibits look at the cultural diversity and contributions of these tribes.
The museum is stunningly beautiful and incorporates a lot of technology into the exhibits.
There is a lot to see and do at First Americans Museum. Fortunately, I knew this ahead of time and blocked out 3 hours for our visit, plus time for lunch in their restaurant.
This exhibit about misrepresentation is very interesting. I am very much in favor of changing place names, mascots, and other offensive or insensitive representations.
I mentioned lunch at the FAM, but it deserves far more than a mere mention. Thirty Nine is a fantastic, upscale restaurant that serves modern indigenous cuisine. I had the Three Sisters and Grains bowl that was fantastic - squash, beans, corn, quinoa, rice, amaranth, and sage pinon pesto. It was so good!
Trevor had a bison burger. And a bunch of my grain bowl. It doesn't look that big in the photo, but my bowl was enormous.
Trevor ordered a blue corn pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. It came with three spoons and was delicious.
In addition to the museum galleries and the restaurant, FAM also has an outdoor exhibit called 21st Century Mound Builders. It's an outdoor interpretative walk, 0.8 miles round trip. It honors Mound Builder cultures.
The path up the 90-foot Mound has a gentle incline with interpretative signs along the way.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at FAM. And it was so nice not to have to rush!
Our next stop was at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame / Gaylord-Pickens Museum.
We enjoyed looking through the exhibits. It was especially interesting learning the stories of the Oklahomans honored in the Hall of Fame.
Steve's and Trevor's "souvenirs" from the museum were cans of OKC Soda. All six thumbs up from the deRosiers!
We dropped the car off at the hotel, then walked to our next destination. But rather than walk on the streets, we walked through the Underground. This series of tunnels is a mile long, covers more than 20 square blocks, and connects many downtown buildings and parking lots.
Some of the hallways have hanging art.
Others have art painted directly on the walls.
On this beautiful spring day we saw exactly one other person in the entire Underground, and she was headed to a parking garage. I'm guessing that a lot more people use it when it's really hot, or raining, or snowing, or otherwise less than perfect outside.
When we popped out to ground level, we were greeted by a bed of tulips. So pretty!
Our destination was the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. But we weren't just going to the museum. We were there for a special event held after hours.
Art in Bloom is a 3-day annual event that the museum hosts. It runs from Friday to Sunday each April. Local florists are assigned an artwork in the museum to inspire a large floral arrangement. Art + flowers + museum = yes, please!
When I first learned about it, I was really disappointed. We would be leaving OKC early on Friday and couldn't attend. But then I discovered that they have a special Thursday night event where you can come and watch the florists constructing their designs. Perfect!
We made one pass through the museum, getting a lay of the land. Some of the florists had completed their works off-site and just dropped them off, like this one inspired by the Chihuly artwork you see on the left.
Other florists did everything right there in the gallery. It was so neat to watch them start from nothing and create something so pretty.
Then we made a second pass through the museum so that we could see the progress. In theory, we could have stayed there until 9:00 pm watching them work, but we'd had a long day and would have an early morning, so we headed back to the hotel. Fortunately, I was able to find photos of all the completed flower arrangements on the museum's Facebook page. Gorgeous!
Tomorrow I'll tell you about the next place we went in Oklahoma. It was incredible.