Friday, October 2, 2009

October in Oklahoma

Yesterday dawned bright and beautiful, with mostly clear skies and a light, cool breeze. It was the perfect day for a drive. On Old Route 66 driving from Edmond to Arcadia, you can escape from suburbia into the rural countryside of Oklahoma County. Ten minutes after leaving the city limits, there is scant evidence of the urban center mere miles away. The public perception of the land here tends toward flat, but the truth is that the hills in central Oklahoma roll and undulate over the landscape in quite a lovely, respectable manner.

Wildflowers are still blooming in the pastures and alongside the roads. The wild sunflowers, standing six or seven feet tall with flowers the size of softballs, are just beginning to go to seed.

The cedar trees you see here aren't native to Oklahoma, they are invasive due to the favorable climate and considered a nuisance. The large yellow splashes of prairie goldentop and the prairie grasses (I think the one pictured is little bluestem) grow wild. When they grow in fields like this, farmers and ranchers sometimes bale them into prairie hay.

Rural roads, even the blacktops, are lined with little shrubby sumac trees. The grasses, the larger trees, and the flowers still look like summer, but those little crooked sumac trees are beginning to blush red.

Coffee Creek runs through Arcadia under State Highway 66 (old Route 66) in a northwest direction up toward the old state capital of Guthrie. Coffee Creek doesn't make it quite to Guthrie, ending about two miles south of the Oklahoma/Logan county division, which happens to be a couple of blocks from where our house sits.

Baled, dried prairie hay sits in the sun next to a little pond in someone's pasture. Because the large, round bales were used, the hay can sit in the elements unharmed for months, no hay barn required. Barbed wire fences are quite common in rural Oklahoma. I grew up with them and can't count the number of times the back of my shirt got hooked by a barb as I scrambled through a fence.

Below you can just get a glimpse of the largest attraction of the town of Arcadia through the trees. Arcadia is an old town for Oklahoma. The post office predates statehood, and although a large fire took out a good portion of the town in the late 1920s, many lovely historical buildings still remain. Nowadays, there are about 250 residents.

Arcadia Lake is quite beautiful, located near gentle, rolling hills and the Deep Fork River. Hiking, boating, swimming, fishing and camping are all offered in the Arcadia Lake parks. The lake itself is over 1,800 acres with about 25 miles of shoreline. The lake, like most (if not all) of the state lakes, is man-made. The lake opened in 1987 and in addition to the recreational aspect, it is a part of the water supply system for the city of Edmond.

round barn in Arcadia dates to about 1898. It housed livestock, hay and supplies and was a meeting place for townspeople. In the 1980s the roof of the barn collapsed. Since that time, a group of retirees worked to restore it to its original condition. Upkeep is ongoing; you can see a man working on the roof in the picture I took yesterday. Today the loft of the barn can be rented for special events. It's such a popular tourist attraction among travelers on old Route 66 that the town constructed a little area beside the road to pull onto for picture taking. When Paul McCartney drove The Mother Road to celebrate his birthday in 2008, it's said he took pictures there.

The area around Arcadia still boasts acres of pasture land, but there are recent additions, too. A local businessman recently built a roadside store just up a piece from the round barn that sells 500 varieties of bottled soda pop and boasts a retro diner serving old fashioned milkshakes, burgers, sandwiches, and chicken fried steak. Outside the front of the establishment, he erected a 66-foot pop bottle just so you won't miss the turn. In between the round barn and the store, you'll find a large tree farm owned by that same businessman (who happens to own the company that provides my husband's livelihood). You might have heard of this guy. His name is Aubrey McClendon and he had a hand in Oklahoma City's new NBA franchise team.

Just turn your head the other way, and you'll see we Okies haven't gotten far from our roots.

This part of the state is still a bit unfamiliar to me, but I am exploring and learning the area around my new house. I may never get used to the red dirt, but this place is starting to feel like home. If you ever visit, October is a beautiful time to see all the beauty central Oklahoma offers.


Babaloo said...

Yay, I'm the first to comment on your spanking new blog. I fell honoured!

Those are beautiful pictures! Now I can imagine much better where you live. Beautiful.

Babaloo said...

Did I say FELL?! Feel!!!!

Elizabethd said...

What a lovely new blog. The photos are so professional and give a real feel of the country.

Pamela said...

My brother lives in Spavinaw, OK.
I visited once over 7 years ago -- a very short stay.

I keep thinking I'm going to go back. I have so many road trips in my head.

CrazyBunnyLady said...

Pretty pictures.

Kim said...

Babaloo, I am honored by your presence. I'm glad you like the pics.

Thanks, Elizabeth! I took pictures in the country, which is just a few miles outside of Edmond, population 80,000.

You should come back, Pamela. Visit in the spring and I'll talk hubby into taking you to chase a tornado. I'll stay at home in my fraidy hole, of course.

Thanks, CBL. Glad you like them and glad you stopped by.

willowtree said...

Welcome to your new bloggie home. Great pix.

laurie said...

way down yonder on the indian nation
riding my pony on the reservation
in those oklahoma hills where i was born.....

Studentmum said...

Lovely photos, the space you have/live in is amazing - albeit a bit overwhelming I am sure!
Autumn in Student Mum land is nowhere near as picturesque!

Kim said...

Thanks, Peter. I kinda like it here.

Laurie, what ever in the world reminded you of Woody?

Ah, studentmum, one thing we have in abundance here is lots of wide open space.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Hi Kim, your prairie grasses remind me of Little House on the Prairie, one of my favourite childhood programs. What beautiful photographs and expert commentary. Thank you for sharing your trip with us.

CJ xx

Kim said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Crystal.

Faye said...

Glad you decided to go public again, Kim. First off, I love your header. First viewing I thought we'd only get to see Farmhose in Provence, but now I see it's going to change. Love that idea.

I haven't visited OK yet--must get there along with the northwest states--time is running out, so many places to see. Your photos show a different side to the state from what I think it's like. I'm glad it is beginning to feel like home for you now. How many years since you transplanted?