Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Brother's Visit

I've been really, really lucky. Not only has Mark come to visit, but my brother came to Oklahoma to visit as well. I really appreciate it since he's at a new job and coming to visit meant taking two vacation days. I was (and am) really touched.

We packed in our weekend, seeing the sites, traveling, and moving from city to city and hotel to hotel. We are both training for events--his closest is the Hyannis Triathlon in September in Boston and mine is the New York City Marathon in November...and we're running the Philadelphia Marathon together just before Thanksgiving. I say all of that to say that we did some running this weekend too--on treadmills, sans heat.

As I was expressing to several people, we did so much that I was just not sure how to go about writing this entry. To my fellow bloggers, maybe you feel this way sometimes? There is just so much to write about that it becomes debilitating...and then no writing happens even though you have this great story to tell! I've found myself in this situation several times this summer. Anyway, in discussing this issue with my brother last night and lamenting that I still hadn't done the blog entry he suggested that I do a photo montage. I love the idea and decided that that's what I'm going with!

Jon arrived on Thursday into Dallas, rented a car, and arrived here in Sulphur around 2:30 pm. I introduced him to everyone here and showed him around the Nature Center a bit. Impressively, he remembered his NPS Passport book and so he stamped his book here at the Nature Center, he stamped his Heartland Flyer Rails and Trails stamp at Lauren's desk (more to come on that) and he stamped his Passport at the Junior Ranger Station---three Passport stamps and one "special" stamp: a buffalo.

We took a quick driving tour around the Platt portion of the park after work. We did get out at Pavilion Sprigs and Jon tried the water there. This photo doesn't document his dismay with the taste of the mineral filled water.

That night we traveled to Ada to spend the night. My little apartment is great, but I didn't have a place for my brother to sleep so we took this opportunity to stay in hotels. There seem to be a lot of new hotels in the area which was fun because the towels were still fluffy, the bed were immaculate, and the pillows and duvets were the type you just melted into....We spent our first time in Ada at a Holiday Inn Express and did a few miles on the treadmill there. Jon had never been on one before so it was a fun, new experience for him! Followed by dinner at Chili's.....we crashed hard that night and woke up ready to go the next morning!

Friday we headed back to Sulphur to do more exploring of the park. We spent some time along Travertine Creek and walked out to Buffalo and Antelope springs.

A few hours and a few hundred pictures later we decided it was lunch time. We headed back to my apartment after our Subway lunch, packed up new stuff for tonight, and then headed out to Norman.

But there was one VERY important stop to make before going.....

We stopped at Sonic! Living in Boston, Jon has seen the commercials for Sonic on almost a daily basis, but there are no Sonics in Boston...or the suburbs of Boston....or for several hundred miles of Boston. When Jon first learned early in the summer that Sulphur has a Sonic he made that his one request for his visit.

It did not disappoint.

After spending an insanely long time deciding what we wanted, we placed our order...Jon: a mango drink; Amy: an orange creme slush.

As we waited Jon took pictures of everything Sonic. He even got out of the car which I'm pretty sure is a Sonic no-no.

He caused such a scene that one of the women came out to see what he was taking pictures of. Jon explained that he is from Boston, the Sonic commercials there and his enthusiasm for just finally BEING at a Sonic. She got a big kick out of this....

And came out a few minutes later with her manager and a gift for Jon---his very own Sonic tshirt and bill holder--just like the ones that the workers there use! This just made Jon's experience!

Before we left, Jon actually ordered another drink (he wasn't so fond of the mango chunks in his mango drink) and drove off with his Java Chiller in hand---loving every second of his Sonic experience....

So, we drove to Norman and checked into my favorite hotel there--the Marriott Courtyard on Copperfield Drive. Yay! Jon agreed that the hotel is much more swanky that he thought it would be. We changed and headed to the workout room to get our run in.

Post run we cleaned up, and drove 20 minutes to Oklahoma City's Bricktown. It was a super night to be out and there were a lot of other people with our same idea. I should mention here that while I have been enduring blistering heat (heat indices over 110 degrees), it was only around 90 degrees each of the days my brother was in town. I'm glad the heat finally broke but I do feel like my brother didn't quiet get the whole Oklahoma experience without the heat.

We ate at Chelino's--a recommendation from Lynn--that was awesome! We had a table that overlooked this little canal and watched the ducks feast on the tortillas the workers there were chucking over the edge. I had a delicious enchilada meal with a sour cream topping---YUMMY! We were both pretty hungry.

From there, we drove over to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. While I had just visited a few weeks before, I was excited to see it at night because I'd heard how spectacular it is all lit up. Jon and I walked around for about a half hour and then we joined Nathan's evening program. We both really enjoyed the program and our time at the Memorial.

We stayed until the evening lights came on and illuminated the field of empty was beautiful.

We decided to drive through OU's campus--Jon really wanted to see the football stadium. We found it and we spent almost a half hour there taking photos since the gate to the stadium was open and we could get in.

That capped off our Saturday experience. After a fantastic night of sleep we got up and headed out (early!) to Pauls Valley which is south of OKC but north of Sulphur. It is here that we caught the Amtrak train. But since we got there early we walked down the street to the Action Figure Museum....this has been on my list since I first got here. While it was closed because it was so early, we did have a good time window shopping and of course, posing in front of it.

The National Park Service has a partnership program with Amtrak called Trails and Rails. For sections of the ride, the NPS provides trained guides to speak over the intercom about the landscape we're seeing. It's a nice program and a wonderful way to learn about the geography we were traversing.

Our train was bound for Ft. Worth, Texas. It was a 3.5 hour train ride, crossing the Washita River (see below), climbing the Arbuckle Mountains, and see a lot of terrain in between. Our destination in Ft. Worth were the Stockyards.

While a bit touristy, the Stockyards were pretty cool. To these two tourists, it was a perfect way to spend our four hours in Ft. Worth. The Stockyards tell the story of Ft. Worth's selling and buying of stock. It was even said that during World War I horses were needed by Europeans and buyers were sent to Ft. Worth to choose their stock. Amazing.

We reveled in the cowboy paraphernalia. I love this picture of Jon sporting a cowboy hat.

After walking around a bit, we took the advice of our cab driver and tried Risckey's BBQ. We got a great seat outside, right along the road where we could watch the other tourists. I had a phenomenal baked potato and these Texas Fries---seasoned french fries with grilled jalapenos and onion. YUM! Jon had this great brisket looking sandwich and coleslaw.

After lunch, Jon took a ride on the kiddie pony....

and Amy had a longhorn balloon hat made.

We walked across the street to the Longhorn corral.

And spent a great amount of time here. I was soooooooo excited to see the longhorns. Their horns are long...and just cool! Oh, did we take pictures!

We were walking around a lot, waiting for 4 pm when the cattle drive through the streets would happen. While walking we met a cowboy who I took my picture with---even his horse smiled for the picture!

And then.....4 pm. People started to line up on the streets at 3:45 pm. Jon and I were amazed that the cars remained and that people were only asked to remain on the curb. The liability! Jon documented it on the camera and I video taped it.

After watching the video you might be able to tell that the longhorns looked like they were out for their afternoon walk. I don't think the liability was so great after all. It was neat to see though and we were definitely enjoying our tourist experience.

We stopped for ice cream and then had to catch a cab back to the train station to catch our train. We drove from Pauls Valley to Sulphur for dinner (Roma) and then to pick up my uniform at home for the next day.

We were staying in Ardmore so that Jon could be a little closer to Dallas and I would be near work.

We met up with Lauren and Chris that morning for a coffee at Starbucks and a quick recap of our respective weekends.

Then it was time for goodbyes and Jon and I drove our separate ways. :(

It was an awesome weekend. I'm so glad he came to visit! We had excellent a new place (OKLAHOMA!) and spent a most terrific brother and sister weekend together. Thanks Jon!

(Yeah, and so after all of that is said, you can see that the weekend in photos alone did not happen! Maybe next time! Just too much good stuff to report on!)


Susen said...

Next time you want to visit the Toy & Action Figure Museum, email me first and I will see you get in free.
Our hours are Tuesday thru Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 1-5 yer round.
I have a google-alert for anything about the Action Figure Museum. It was fun to read about your "adventure" with your brother.
Susen Foster
Public & Media Relations
Toy & Action Figure Museum