Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A weekend in Oklahoma

This past weekend, Hunk and I made the 7 (ish) hour trek up I-35 to visit his family and to participate in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. He did the running, I did the cheering/spectating. The drive up there was uneventful. We had both his dogs in the car, plenty of water and snacks, and no need to hurry. Our main goals for the weekend were to relax, have fun, and enjoy some quality time together. The trip up was pretty easy, minus an overturned gas tanker and some obnoxious highway construction. We did make a fun Starbuck's pit stop in Ardmore to meet up with a former student. It just kills me how fast they grow up, but it's so neat to see how well they are doing! I so appreciated her mom pulling her out of school a little early to come and say hi to me. After one final stop in Norman at the OK Runner store, we made it to Yukon (Hank's hometown) without incident.

Maddie making herself comfortable for the trip.
Marley was perfectly content to either chew on her bone, or take a nap on her bed in the back.

The water tower in Yukon, OK

Once we arrived at his parent's house, we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the kitchen (he guaranteed me that his mom would be in there most of the weekend), snacking, drinking and getting to know each other. His parents couldn't have been more welcoming to me- they were just so nice! His brother's family came over to see us after dinner, and we called it an early night after such a long day.

On Saturday, we headed to the marathon expo where we both lucked out with a great new pair of shoes (thanks to the OK Runner expo sale), and then went on to see his niece's track meet. She was so excited to have her Uncle there to watch. It was a little warmer than expected, but still nice to be out. We were both starving though (and a little bit thirsty), so we headed to a new shopping area called Classen Curve to eat at a restaurant many of his friends had been talking about. Republic Gastro Pub was amazing, and was definitely the starting point for opening my mind to the fact that maybe Oklahoma isn't all that bad. The beer selection was incredible, and we had no problem picking out two tasty sandwiches (the BLT and the Reuben). I ordered the Abbey Road flight. It had Maredsous Blond, Ommegang Hennepin, Tripel Karmeliet, and St Bernardus Abt 12 ALL IN ONE FLIGHT. Even better was the fact that the heavy pours only cost $8. I fell in love with Republic at that moment.

Abbey Road beer flight at Republic

We went back to his parent's house for dinner that night, where we were joined by his brother and nephew. His mom cooked another great meal, and then we celebrated her belated birthday with some lemon cupcakes that I had made for her. It was an early night because Hunk was having to get up before 5 the next morning to head over to the race. Unfortunately, the weather was starting to look a little ugly, so I helped his mom move cars around in case of hail. Luckily, it was only rain (and a very small tornado watch) that ended up happening. I think besides an OU Zombie apocalypse, tornados were my biggest fear about being in Oklahoma.

I woke up by 6 on Sunday to drive with Hunk's dad, nephew, brother, aunt and uncle downtown to the finish line. There were tons of people, but I was lucky to score a spot where I would be able to see him coming down the chute, and maybe even get a picture. Hunk had already decided to just run the half, and even without much focused training, he did great!

Hunk crossing the finish line

We all headed for breakfast at IHOP afterwards, and then Hunk and I stayed downtown to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial, and the Festival of the Arts held every year in conjunction with the marathon. His mom had shown me a book the day before from the bombing that had personal stories from the rescuers, survivors, and medical/emergency workers who were there at that time. The stories were fresh in my mind when we went to the site, and I have to say it was a very emotional visit. Hunk had also volunteered then, and was a runner who went to fetch families when victims had been found. He is such a compassionate person, and this is just one of the many things I love about him. I can only imagine how difficult that job was.

Original Murrah Building sign

The reflecting pond

The lawn with 168 chairs for each victim

They open the lawn on the day of the marathon, and allow visitors to leave mementos on the chairs

The playground area for the daycare center inside the building

The original fence with items that were left after the bombing. The museum rotates items out from time to time

Shout out to my home state!

View of the Arts Festival from the Botanical Gardens

I have to say I was really impressed with downtown Oklahoma City. This orange-blood girl had low expectations, but it really was very nice! After walking around, we made a quick stop through the outlet mall by his house, a super fast drive through "downtown" Yukon, and then back to his house to munch on some snacks that his mom made for us. After a short nap, it was already time for dinner! His brother's family came over again, and we all sat at the dining table for a Sunday roast dinner. Again, his family couldn't have been nicer to me. Even his teenage niece and nephew were a lot of fun to be around. I'm so glad I got the chance to meet them!

On Monday morning, we loaded up the car, said our goodbyes, and then took the long route home going through 183. After dealing with the headaches on I-35, we decided it would likely be more fun to take the scenic route. We took our time, stopped when we felt like it, and even happened upon a little gem called Mineral Wells.

Driving into town, we saw this behemoth building standing out behind the typical downtown square area. Completely fascinated, we decided to circle around it to get some pictures.

Mineral Wells first hit the map when their mineral springs were discovered in the early 1900s. One well was known for its "crazy water" that helped patients with signs of Alzheimer's.

First glimpse driving into town

Neat architectural details of The Baker Hotel

Shuttered since the 1970's, it's in pretty sad shape

The pool and recreation area. I can only imagine how neat the hotel looked in its heyday.

We were so intrigued by the building (there were no signs saying what it was), but a quick google search resulted in everything we needed to know about the Baker Hotel. It used to be a top tier spa destination in the 20's, and now just sits empty and haunted, with no signs of the restoration proposed in 2010. Town people swear they see the windows open and close at any time, and one of the more popular ghosts is that of the hotel manager's mistress who used to live on the 7th floor before jumping to her death from the roof of the hotel. You can read about the various hauntings here. We were fascinated by the hotel, to say the least. So much that the rest of the drive, we decided that should we win the mega millions lottery, we would spearhead the renovation ourselves, and name it The Baker Holland. We came up with marketing, events to draw people to the town. You name it, we thought about it. Now if only we could win the lottery....

But, it was back to reality in no time as we pulled into Austin, and especially when we sat at our respective desks the next morning to the emails that had amassed while we were gone. However, after 14+ hours in the car, I think our relationship is even stronger. It was such a fun weekend together and I'm so glad we had the chance to take our first road trip!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a lovely weekend Amy! So excited for you two :)