Across Oklahoma (part two)

Tulsa

Mildly disappointed in Oklahoma City, we hoped for better luck with Tulsa. After all, it is home to many notable attractions having historic association with Route 66. But before we turned to that legacy, we had to decide whether it was more expedient to visit some other sites first, because we arrived in Tulsa on the evening of the trip’s first day rather than the following morning, and wanted make the best use of the remaining daylight.

We began with a symbol of something a little more universal than an old highway—World’s Largest Praying Hands.

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We did not verify the authenticity of the architects’ unequivocal claim, but it appears that the monument might, in fact, be the largest one of its kind.

Streets growing dark by the minute, we zipped by the Honest Abe Statue next.

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Two things need to be clarified about this statue: the material it is made of is wood, and the model the sculptor (carpenter?) meant to depict was Lincoln. By lucky coincidence, the lovely house across the street quickly distracts a meticulous observer from this artistic misrepresentation.

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Practically at nightfall we finally got down to the Route 66 business. Near the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza the City of Tulsa has preserved a section of the Route’s original road. The number has since been reassigned to an adjacent road, which is what is advertized as the real McCoy these days, though in actuality the new road should be more appropriately labeled as the Southwest Boulevard.

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The plaza also houses the West Meets East sculpture, which in all its realistic brilliance is supposed to symbolize the midpoint of the historic highway.

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After checking into a hotel we summoned enough energy for a late ramble to search for decent skyline views. The River Parks’ pedestrian bridge across the Arkansas River was closed off for construction, hence we got robbed of the most promising spot for nighttime photography. In addition to that, something went amiss with the camera / tripod setup, and all shots we took turned out blurry. Total bummer.

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In the morning, our exploration of Tulsa continued in top gear. First, we passed through the Woodward Park, a quiet wooded area and a locally celebrated wedding venue.

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It was still rather early when we made it to the Boston Avenue Methodist Church. The nearest entrance was locked, and we had to round the building, trying each of its other doors, which there were quite a few. When after all our futile attempts we returned back to the parking lot, some lady finally let us in through the only door that we had not tried.

The church is large and hosts dozens of rooms across multiple floors. While certain parts of the building are exactly what one would find in an average Catholic church in America, other parts are decorated with a lot more thought and enthusiasm. Soft lighting, quiet colors, calm and balanced furnishings are generally representative of a good hotel rather than a house of worship. But I think that having those things could not hurt either.

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The sanctuary is capacious and neatly arranged. Everything, from the dome to the altar, appears graceful despite its unadorned stern solemnity.

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In a departure from the ecclesiastical to the worldly, we decided to examine a few items of urban art, such as the Meadow Gold Sign and some old graffiti,

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before tending towards downtown.

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Among other things, in downtown we intended to find our way inside the Philtower building, which is said to have exquisite interiors. Alas, both doors into the building were locked, and not a single person passed through them in fifteen or so minutes, so we could sneak in.

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What we did manage to see in downtown was the Newspaper Boy Statue;

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a lot more graffiti (and of very respectable quality I have to say);

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an amusing architectural superimposition behind the Jazz Hall of Fame;

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and the Gulf Oil Company’s famous “Blue Dome”

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En Route to the Gilcrease Museum we took a shot of what is locally known as the Cave House. The house is inhabited, and even tours are given, but we figured that all we wanted to see you could see on the photo below.

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The Gilcrease Museum provided a great opportunity for us to recover our breath from the hectic morning travels. Besides, the collection was skillful and diverse. It comprised paintings, including many seascapes;

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ornaments of most intricate nature;

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bronze sculptures, counting the one outside;

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articles of trade and ethnography;

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and some creepy, yet innocuous-looking, masks.

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When we can, we like to pay a visit to the campus of a recognized university. As we had slightly outrun our schedule, we swung by the University of Tulsa’s main campus for a quick look-see.

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We saved three more staples of Route 66’s heritage for the conclusion of our journey. The Golden Driller is perhaps the most iconic of them all. (I will drop my comments about aesthetic merits of the colossus.) We were only surprised to find it next to a flea market of some sort.

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The main reason the Big “Liquid Life” Statue usually makes into the list of Route 66 attractions along with the other two is probably because it is located half-way between them. Or maybe it is a thematic concept: a big man needs a big bottle. Though I cannot fathom why a big drinking man would ever need a big whale, which is what we went to see next.

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Catoosa

If the Blue Whale of Catoosa is not the largest whale on Earth, it must be the friendliest. Otherwise how could one explain this grand smile and a flock of voluntary Jonahs.

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And that is it for Oklahoma.

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