Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Today was our third and final National Park visit in Oklahoma. But we didn't start the day at a National Park. We actually started with a tour of the University of Oklahoma (OU).

We arrived and were greeted by our tour guide John Paul. He is from Elk City which we passed yesterday on our way to Washita. John Paul gave us a great tour....even showing the boys the famous football field!

He was lively and kept the boys moving. I think their favorite part was walking down the center of campus as students got out of class.

OU has 20,000 students (undergrad and grad) on that campus and it seemed so big compared to where we've been the last few days! As one of the boys said, "Campus seems like a mini DC!"

After our tour we went to the Oklahoma Alliance for Geography Education office on campus to see Eugene again. This summer I met Eugene while I worked at the Park and since I've seen him two other times--at the NCSS conference in Atlanta and in DC when he came for an alliance meeting about a month ago. Eugene and Gary have been able to connect with Lauren and had a really successful spring conference at Chickasaw National Recreation Area last weekend and are hosting a week long teacher workshop this summer about the National Parks. As a member of the DC Geographic Alliance and a National Park enthusiast it's great to see all of it coming together!

Eugene met the boys when we first arrived (thank you for the parking pass Eugene!) and greeted them warmly and gave them OKAGE hats and shirts! It was so wonderful! We returned to visit with him for a few minutes.

After our visit we had a little time to kill before lunch so we stopped at two stores that sold OU paraphernalia---one of them being the OU bookstore.

Our lunch was a real treat--for two big reasons! First, lunch was at Which 'Wich? A personal fave of mine. I think the boys really liked it too. We ate outside under a tree with a warm breeze and the temperature in the mid 80s.

But the real excitement? Kiera Grant and Najah Musa, two of my former 8th graders who now attend OU, joined us for lunch!!!! Leg kick! Leg kick! It was very exciting!!!! Our visit wasn't very long, but it was super! What a cool thing! :)

We were next off to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial.

The boys were not alive when the bombing took place so this was a new piece of history for them as well.

We arrived and looked around on the grounds and then sat to hear Ranger Nathan give an interpretive talk about the site. I think it was pretty informative for the boys.

We then went inside to the museum and spent almost an hour looking at the artifacts and hearing the oral histories of survivors. It was really powerful for all of us.

Of course, we got our Passport stamp as well.

We were pretty fried by this point--emotionally and physically--it was near 90. So, I decided to switch up our itinerary bit and we made a Sonic stop at the headquarters. We all got something refreshing to drink and then headed out to the Land Run Monument.

I think it's such a cool monument. The boys seemed content to look at it from a distance, but were impressed by the size and scope of it.

We headed to Chileno's for dinner and even put our name on the wait list (which I was shocked they even had) but decided to nix it. There' s a Taylor Swift concert a few blocks away tonight and there were Taylor Swift groupies EVERYWHERE! I don't think the guys knew what to make of it.

We got stuck by a train so I decided to go back and try to get on the interstate another way---and was unsuccessful. But I was successful in showing the boys the state capitol building. They were amazed how we could drive right up to it and leave the car there while we shot a picture. (Jen, we thought of you!)

So, we decided to come home and blog first and now we're headed to dinner, with free time to follow. Another great day.


Pamela said...

What a day! Ups and downs and ups again. I'll bet the guys felt really grown up wandering the campus with John Paul.

And the Memorial, very intense. It was a great idea to provide another "up" after that to allow them to move out of the deep feeling that a place like the Memorial can cause.

I'm amazed at how lucky the boys have been to be able to make this trip with you. The amount of work that it took to organize all of the activities is awe inspiring. Thank you!!

Pamela said...

WAY TO GO, Ranger Amy!

The boys sound like they're not quite ready to come home. That means you've done a fantastic job.

Thanks for taking them out into the bypaths to travel and explore. And for helping them tell the world the glories of their journey. John Hope Franklin would be proud of you!