Friday, June 7, 2013

#76: A Working Port

Tulsa Port of Catoosa

I was unexpectedly excited to see a working port. I was hoping my enthusiasm would be contagious. We first visited the Port Authority office where we stepped into a small museum which told us of the port's history.

The Tulsa Port of Catoosa is slightly older than me, as it was dedicated in June of 1971. The 2,500-acre industrial park is located at the head of navigation for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which stretches from Catoosa to the Mississippi, 445 miles away. Travelling at 6 to 10 miles per hour, it a takes approximately 10 days for cargo to reach New Orleans from Catoosa. Shipping cargo by barge is cheaper than other means of transportation, at about one-third the cost of railway and one-fifth as much as by truck. Barges vary in size, but an average barge is 35 feet wide and 195 feet long, carrying approximately 1,500 tons of cargo (as much as 50 semis or 15 rail cars.) The port is one of the nation's largest and most inland ice-free ports.

This animated model demonstrated how a lock works. Craig pushed a button which started the towboat pushing these four barges. It moved the barges into the lock, and river water began to "drain", thus lowering the water level for the barges to pass to the lower portion of the river. At the bottom, the towboat made a U-turn and pushed the barges back into the lock, which raised the water level for the barges to continue to the higher portion of the river. Since the Tulsa Port of Catoosa doesn't have a lock, I was happy that the museum had this visual model for the kids to see. I hope to one day visit the Newt Graham Lock and Dam, located near Inola, so that the kids can see it in action.

Just outside the Port Authority office, this towboat was on permanent display.

Here is the real thing, at work in the port. The receptionist in the Port Authority office told us that we could take a driving tour through the port, and she handed us a paper tour guide which told us which way to go and what we would see. Driving into the port area, we saw a sign which told us that it was a secure area with a Marine Security Level 1. SuperD was hesitant to drive past the gate, but I insisted that we were following the tour map. I later found out that Marine Security Level 1 means that there is a significant risk of threat, and appropriate security measures are maintained at all times. Only authorized vehicles and personnel are supposed to be in that area. It worries me that we were told to drive through the area, and no one stopped us or questioned our authority during the 10 minutes we were there. Small signs along the way indicated we were still on the tour route. We were told by the receptionist not to get out of the car and take pictures. So the few pics I took are from our moving car.

#10: A Faraway Island

Oologah Lake

This is a faraway island for two reasons:

1. It is 133 miles from our house.

2. We had to take a picture from our car because we didn't have a boat to reach the island.

Here is the satellite image:

Oologah Lake is much bigger than I expected it to be, and it was a beautiful, clear blue. If we had extra time, I would have loved to swim in the lake because it was about a million degrees in Oklahoma that day!

#61: An Unusual Museum

J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum, Claremore, OK

This has been a long-time favorite museum for SuperD. When we were first married and moved to Claremore, SuperD raved about the gun museum. He insisted that I had to visit it with him. Of course, I indulged him and spent what was perhaps the most boring minutes of my life inside this building. You can imagine how thrilled I was when he suggested that we take the kids. The nice man at the information desk seemed really excited about the private collection of over 20,000 artifacts, including over 14,000 firearms. It is the largest gun museum in the world, he told us. One of the exhibits that SuperD used to go on and on about is the collection of 1200 beer steins from around the world. It figures - guns and beer. What more can a man ask for?

I guess one gun just isn't enough. Mr. Davis received his first gun at age 7. For the next 78 years, he devoted his life to collecting guns and learning more about them. By 1929, he had collected 99 types of guns, and he put them on display in his Claremore hotel. In 1965, he transferred ownership of his collection to a trust which he and his wife had started. The trust entered into an agreement with the state of Oklahoma. The state paid $1 and agreed to house, preserve, and display Mr. Davis' collection so that the public could continue to view it, free of charge. The museum is run by donation.

This was our second Claremore stop which housed a mausoleum. Mr. and Mrs. Davis were laid to rest in a small room at the museum, overlooking his precious collection which includes firearms, beer steins, statues, music boxes, swords, knives, Native American artifacts, household antiques, boot jacks, cattle brands, Presidential buttons, animal horns, trophy heads, and World War I posters.

Look to your left. What do you see? Guns.

Look to your right. What do you see? More guns.

Oh, and here's a Samurai sword for variety.

You would think that if you've seen one Samurai sword, you've seen them all. Apparently not.



#100: A Street Market

57th Annual Krazy Daze

Street markets are most common in inner cities, but Edmond has its own version once each year during the summer. Krazy Daze has been an Edmond tradition since the early 1960's, when the owner of a local store (which is still there today) decided to have a sidewalk sale to clear out inventory. Retailers all over town set up tents and tables outside their stores and sell merchandise at reduced prices, typically 50% off or greater. The sale usually continues into the store, with other merchandise available at lesser discounts. The event has a theme, and the employees of local businesses are encouraged to dress up appropriately, although many don't participate in this tradition.


In the early 1980's, my parents owned a toy store, and I remember Krazy Daze well. Mom and Dad dressed in full costume, passing out yellow and green token coins to everyone who passed by.

This year's Krazy Daze theme was Mardi Gras, so most of the employees through on some green, gold, and purple beads and called it good. Others sported masks, and one store had special Krazy Daze shirts on. The kids and I shopped at the downtown retailers, as well as two shopping centers. You won't find any haggling here since the prices are already so good. We found some great deals and returned home before it got too hot outside.


I love that someone decorated the downtown sculptures for Krazy Daze!

C's favorite bronze sculpture, Ham and Eggs



#27: A Geyser or Natural Hot Springs

Vendome Well, Sulphur, OK

I don't know of any hot springs or geysers in Oklahoma, but we do have mineral springs. As we returned home from Turner Falls, we made a side trip into Sulphur, Oklahoma to visit what we had been told was a mineral spring. The smell of the sulphur water permeates the town. I think it smells like hard-boiled eggs, but David insists it smells like rotten eggs. Either way, it is an unpleasant experience.

A plaque at the site read:

"The Vendome Well, drilled in 1922, became a popular local attraction. Promoters claimed that the artesian well spouted water 30 feet high. A valve controlled the flow, and the water was heated for use in the Vendome Plunge swimming pool. Today the sulphur water feeds the pools of Flower Park before entering Travertine Creek."

The well is located in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area and has been flowing since 1922. It has been said that the springs and streams that run through this park are a part of the most complex geological and hydrological system in the United States. While the well is considered a mineral spring, the park neither confirms or denies the medicinal benefits of the water.

Here is some science-speak about the mineral springs:

"The springs are formed when water passes through underground rock formations. Rock layers form canoe-shaped structures called a syncline. Water enters the high point of this formation and travels downhill. The water is then forced upward through fissures in the rock layers. Some rock layers contain sulphur and bromine; water coming through these layers collects the minerals and becomes mineral water. Water passing through rock layers that do not contain these mineral remains fresh." -

The well has a fountain from which I had each of the children drink. Neither seemed bothered by the taste, but both could understand how the smell could change the flavor of things which are made with water, like Kool-Aid or orange juice made from concentrate.

#33: A Long Trail

There were many long trails at Turner Falls. We did so much hiking and walking that when we returned home, my calves were sore for two days. This is the hiking trail to a cave.

We were rewarded with some breathtaking views along our long trail hikes. SuperD had seen a sign for a natural arch, and we had almost turned around when he spotted it overlooking the pool at the bottom of a big waterfall.

But this was the longest trail of all. Well, it was the steepest, so it took us longer than any other. I thought we would never reach the top!

SuperD was a trooper! I know that hiking the trails was not his first choice for summer fun, but he stuck with us.

#23: A Crazy Dream House

Collings Castle, at Turner Falls

Along this beautiful walkway, visitors to Turner Falls look up the hill to see Collings Castle. The castle consists of two castles: a large, main castle and a smaller guest castle, each with their own stairway entrance.

It is a steep climb to the castle, up a narrow set of stone steps. By the time we reached the top, even the kids were winded.

Built by Dr. Ellsworth Collings, former Dean of Education at OU, the castle was erected in the early 1930's. It was constructed to resemble ancient medieval castles, with narrow staircases, some of which lead to the rooftops. Dr. Collings built his castles with native materials. He and his wife lived nearby and used the castle as a summer home.

The buildings are in disrepair, but they are safe enough for people to tour. As with any building which is standing in modern times, some of the walls were covered with graffiti. Sad.

Few of the rooms were large like this living area. Most were very small with low ceilings and doorways.

the view from one roof - beautiful!

At first, I thought this looked like a table and a bench for meals, but after reading a website about the castle, I think this may be an outdoor chapel.

The castle even had a potty, but you had to go outside and climb up some stairs in order to reach it.