Storms, a Museum and on to Missouri
May 4, 2007
Phil, our cab driver from Tuesday night, had suggested that if we see nothing else, we needed to go to the Gilcrease Museum. We couldn't find very much about it in any of our tourism literature except an address, which was at least helpful. It is in the northwest of Tulsa with a gorgeous hilltop setting. It had a very nice restaurant with floor to ceiling curved windows, giving a wonderful view.
The restaurant wasn't crowded and we were seated at the window, with a couple of bird feeders right in front of us. We were entertained throughout our lunch with many different species of birds as well as squirrels on the ground getting the spillage. It was great fun watching the pecking order between species and sizes of birds, with the highlight being several hummingbirds and 2 red cardinals.
The museum features famous western painters and sculptors, including Remington and Catlin. We saw the originals of many famous works and I was delighted to see a Morrisseau in the Native American (Canadian?) section. In addition to the artwork, the Gilcrease has a massive collection of historic and prehistoric artefacts. Brenda and I spent a fair amount of time in their Discovery Center, where they have catalogued and display over 5,000 pieces of their 50,000 total pieces. The woman running the Center was very helpful and enthusiastic as we furthered our learning of Pueblo Indian pottery. The set-up is very reminiscent of the UBC Museum of Anthropology.
While in the Discovery Center, we met a couple from Dallas who were very interested in our trip. They are serious RVers who plan to be in Nova Scotia the same time as us. We exchanged business cards and promised to be in touch if the timing was right. They were also very impressed with the Gilcrease and curious, as well as us, about the lack of publicity about the place.
Tulsa roads are a mess of potholes, closed freeway ramps and incomplete construction as well as having very confusing numbering schemes for their roads, making for frustrating travel. Coupled with more rainstorms, we are getting serious cabin fever; happiness will be Tulsa in the rear-view mirror. The good news is we found a hell of a deal on a rooftop carrier at Sears and now feel more confident about carrying our luggage with our extra passengers in New Orleans and Atlantic Canada. That, coupled with Greenwood Street, Lucinda Williams and Lola's Restaurant, the Cain's Ballroom and the Gilcrease tour have made our Tulsa stop much better than it might have been.
Once again, we awoke to heavy rain forecast and flood warnings along our chosen route east. I suggested to Brenda that we entertain possibly staying one more day and she suggested that I get busy packing Big Blue. We were heading to Springfield, Missouri via Joplin (only St. Louis and Chicago left on our Route 66 checklist) along the Will Rogers Turnpike and parts of Route 66. In spite of the forecast, we had a very pleasant trip with beautiful rolling green countryside. We did notice a lot of damage to the trees along the way, with broken branches, twisted and uprooted whole trees and wondered what had happened.
We stopped at the Ozark Souvenir store along the freeway to look at trash and trinkets. Brenda had been looking for a postcard with an armadillo on it for the grandkids. We had seen several already...unfortunately in a deceased state, as they are not fast enough for the freeway traffic. In fact their nickname down here is "Hillbilly Speed Bump" and they are the daily feature on the "Road Kill Café" menu. The bonus here was Brenda finding 2 (yes 2!) pairs of Minnetonka dress sandals that were just perfect and less than half price (the luckiest girl in the world!).
With better maps and directions, we easily found a very nice motel in Springfield that was much cleaner and brighter than our last experience. It was conveniently located to shopping as well as being right beside the highway to Branson for Saturday. They also had a hospitality reception with beer, wine and food where we met a nice couple from Connecticut, in town for their granddaughter's college graduation.
We had received a message from Club Intrawest that they had found a 3-bedroom condo for us in Myrtle Beach from June 2nd to 9th. We did some Internet research of pictures and reviews on Tripadvisor.com and found it would meet our needs very well, so we phoned back to confirm. Springfield had been pretty good to us, so far.
Friday dawned with sunshine at last....yea!!! We planned a tour of Wilson's Creek National Battlefield from the Civil War for the day and headed there after Brenda's workout and my breakfast waffle. The first place we encountered was a small but comprehensive museum to the battle as well as the history of Missouri prior to and during the Civil War. We were just getting into it when a busload of 8th graders showed up for a Field Trip....crap!
We pulled out of the museum fast, hoping to get ahead of the kids. Before we left the parking lot, Brenda accosted a couple of the kids for a geography lesson and challenged them to identify where our license plate was from. Their guesses started with England and when Brenda said, "Think way up north", the next guess was "Russia?". She took pity on them and told them "Canada!", which just got quizzical looks. One boy did say he was sure he had "heard of it"
We stopped at the Visitors Center down the road where we had a very informative film and saw an animated diorama of the battle itself. It was very well done and we were now better prepared for the 5-mile circle tour of the battlefield. Apparently the busload from the museum was one of 10 that day, so we continued to leap frog them during our tour...oh well. Not that we have anything against 8th graders, but frankly the noise level was deafening!
At the next stop on the tour at the aptly named Bloody Hill, we encountered a volunteer ranger who really brought the story all together for us. He also cleared up the mystery of the tree damage we had seen the day before and today through the battlefield. Apparently there had been a major ice storm in January and they are still working on cleaning up all the damage. I remembered seeing it on CNN when it happened and now was able to put it in context. People had been without power for up to 2 ½ weeks and I-44 had been shut down for days.
We completed our afternoon with a bit of shopping and we were able to find a small stepladder to use with our new rooftop carrier. We completed the evening with Brenda making some phone calls to catch up with friends she hadn't connected with for a while.