Oklahoma! (Our Midwest trip, part 1)
I decided to take a trip to the Midwest to visit the family and friends who are dear to me, but who, well… my husband wasn’t all that interested in seeing. We made the trip concurrent with a trip he was taking to Scotland, so that neither of us were sitting around twiddling our thumbs in each others’ absence.
So, I packed as lightly as I could for FIVE people (one large and one small suitcase, plus my overstuffed backpack), and flew out of Phoenix for our first stop, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I am suspicious of relationships that begin online, but… well, this one did. I met Shellie on the Sonlight Forums. There, we discovered that, among other things, we were both wives of Vineyard pastors, we both had celiac disease, and we both homeschooled our children with the same curriculum. For the last three years, we have been e-mailing, calling on the phone, and corresponding through snail mail, deepening our friendship. Until this trip, we had never met IRL. That detail, plus the fact that she has five kids and I have four, would seem to predict a potentially chaotic meeting. However, our stay at her home was by far the smoothest of our trip.
Meeting Shellie (and her hubby & family) IRL was great, and I immediately felt at ease. I felt like I knew enough about her from our three years’ history that there were few surprises.
We spent three nights there, and except for Audrey-Baby, we hardly saw our kids at all. They all clicked, and ran off to play — outside, inside, anyplace. And nighttimes were like a giant sleepover. It worked out perfectly.
Here is Shellie, making her daughter Meg’s 12th birthday cake:
Meg had had a birthday sleepover the weekend before, so shared her real birthday with my family. My husband had insisted that I bring everyone out to dinner. We did so, going to Pei Wei, which has a gluten-free menu. However, it also has peanuts in several of the menu items. Wesley is anaphylaxic to peanuts, but we fairly regularly eat from Pei Wei — just not the peanut dishes. Darin, Shellie’s husband is also deathly allergic to peanuts, but is even more sensitive, so spent dinner helping police the NINE kids, and didn’t eat. 😦 I’m not sure if the dinner was more fun or more fiasco. It was pretty crazy, and I felt awful that Darin couldn’t eat.
Here’s Shellie’s daughter, Claire, who is two days younger than my Wesley:
Here’s my Grant, looking very happy to inappropriately use our hosts’ scissors in their back yard:
I’m really not into visiting all the “tourist” sites, but the one we went to — Woolaroc — was definitely worth a trip. It was the country home/ranch of Frank Phillips, the oilman who started Phillips 66. It is 3,700 acres, now a wildlife preserve for many species, native and non-native. It also boasts an impressive museum of Western art and artifacts. There was so much there that, even though we spent (I think) about 4 hours there, we barely scratched the surface, and our kids were disappointed to leave.
Here’s a pic of all of us who went:
Left to right is me; Shellie’s 12yo Meg; S’s 5yo Claire; S’s 10yo Caleb; Shellie holding my 11mo Audrey; S’s 14yo Jesse; my 9yo Ethan; my 7yo Grant; my 5yo Wesley. The only ones missing are Shellie’s hubby and her 16yo Josiah, who didn’t accompany us on the visit to Woolaroc.
Here’s a baby bison on the property:
Here’s Audrey on the back porch of the lodge at Woolaroc, which overlooks a lake:
The steep hillside which leads down from the lodge to the lake is rustically landscaped with stone paths, bridges, waterways and vegetation, and the kids played hide-and-seek there until we were kicked out, past closing time.
I’m surprised that I didn’t gain 5 lbs at Shellie’s house; she’s always baking g.f. goodies. I’ve NEVER been to someone’s home where I can snack and sample coffee cake, muffins, homemade bread, etc., pretty much nonstop. Shellie’s such a good cook; it was all so tasty. 😀
Our families had a great time hanging out. I so enjoyed the company of Shellie and her husband. They were such excellent hosts. It was just a lovely, friendly, fun, pleasant start to our trip, and we were all sorry to leave.
But, leave we did. I rented a vehicle that would cart myself and my family, plus Shellie, to St. Louis, our next stop, where we visited some former almost-neighbors. Martin, my hubby, had insisted on Shellie accompanying us for the 6+ hour ride, which turned out great; it was wonderful to have her company and her assistance. Then, she flew back to Tulsa from St. Louis.
Next trip installment: St. Louis.