My heart grew very fond of Oklahoma, very quickly.
My first visit took place in September of 2012. I flew to Tulsa to drive to Stillwater, then to Edmond, then to Norman. My second visit was in January, I flew into Wichita, Kansas to drive to Norman, then to Suwannee, quick stop in Edmond then back to Wichita. So as you can tell, I saw a lot of land and when you are surrounded by that much it's hard not to appreciate every piece of brown and green and every shine of light, even if it is red and blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror. That's right, not more than 30 minutes in the state of Oklahoma I got pulled over. Luckily, the officer was smitten enough with my rhyme and reason that he let me go with a warning for driving 70 in a 45. When I told him I lived in Atlanta and I was not used to an open road, he told me to carry on and to please drive safe. Thank you officer, I promise to not take pictures and drive anymore too.
So my first school was Oklahoma State University. It was a warm and sunny day. I had lunch at the infamous Eskimo Joes, where everything comes with loaded french fries. Around that time I was trying to become a vegetarian, but then I remembered that bacon was on my BLT, baby steps. I snapped the picture below right outside the restaurant, sometimes it helps to read someone else's mantra to get you going.
It would not be a campus visit without a stroll by a football stadium. Boone Pickens Stadium graces campus and is home to 60,218 cowboys fans.
This was my favorite view, an Oklahoma sunrise. In the mornings, I would go for a run outside, best place to run down Route 66 of course. Another bucket list item, check.
Another day, another campus, another football stadium. The Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium opened in 1923. Home to 82,112 fans, the stadium is the 15th largest college stadium in the U.S. and the 2nd largest in the Big 12, but 2nd to Texas of course.
There really is something about the charm of a small college town. Something I truly value since I went to school in Orlando, Florida, one of the most visited cities in the United States. If travels take you to Norman...be sure to stop by The Earth Natural Cafe & Deli. Meat eaters, you wont even miss your bacon because that is what they made "facon" for. Stop in and try a beet + lemon + ginger + carrot juice to go with your Earth Burger.
You can also find many Kappas in Oklahoma. I always try to meet up with my dear Kappa friends when on the road and I was very lucky to meet up with some familiar faces in Oklahoma.
|Kappa Brick at Oklahoma State|
|Kappa Kappa Gamma at Oklahoma State|
|Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Oklahoma|
As I continued my tour of Oklahoma, my next stop was Shawnee, the birth place of Brad Pitt. Also home to St. Gregory's University. The University dates back to 1901 when Sacred Heart College and monastery was destroyed in a fire. The monks accepted an offer from the town of Shawnee and began to build the Catholic University of Oklahoma and St. Gregory's Abbey in 1910.
On campus is a statue of Saint Kateri, "Lily of the Mohawks". She is the fourth Native American to be venerated in the Roman Catholic Church, Kateri lived a very short life, she died at age twenty-four but out lived her family and tribe as many fell ill to the small pox disease. After Kateri passed, her relics were known to be used for healing. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter's Basilica on October 21, 2012. In 1974, the monks installed a statue of then Blessed Kateri on campus to honor all native peoples. They also declared July 14th, her special day in the year.
Before I left I had one more meeting and I was lucky it was at Cafe Evoke.
If you are ever in downtown Edmond, Oklahoma be sure to stop by for a sip.
Sip Slowly & Sip Often,
One of my favorite Oklahoman's Blake Shelton and my favorite Atlantien Ursher, performed one of my favorite songs ever during Healing In The Heartland. I love when my worlds come together. The song is available for download, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit The United Way in it's effort to help the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes.