The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Oklahoma City – A Jewel in the Plains

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on April 28, 2010

As we we continued our cruise along I-40, we finally got to the great state of Oklahoma.

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As we pulled into Oklahoma City, we had three things on our mind, besides checking into the Cambria Suites:  See the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, see Bricktown, and find something to eat.

We wanted to see the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial first, as we weren’t sure how late it was open, and we wanted to capitalize on the setting sun.  We headed off to the memorial, not really knowing what to expect.  We’ve both been to any number of memorials from all our time in D.C., but those are not nearly as personal to the community in which it resides as the Oklahoma City bombing. 

IMG_8749Not to say that the D.C memorials aren’t TRENDOUSLY personal to those that the events impacted.  I remember going to the WWII memorial with my grandfather, who served in both major theatres during his tenure with the Army, and it was truly emotional, for him more than myself, but it was still emotional for me.  But this was a memorial built by the people that it directly impacted, and not a memorial built by a piece of legislation to remember and honor those that were involved in something bigger than themselves (like the Vietnam Memorial or the WWI Memorial, or even the Iwo Jima Memorial).  The 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon may very well be the same kind of emotion, and the eventual 9/11 Memorial in NY will probably feel the same way, but this was, for us, a new experience. 

IMG_8633For whatever reason, the white balance seems to be off in most of my pictures, and I’m sorry.  They have almost a sterile feel.  It really was an emotional and touching, and I’m bummed the discoloration of the pictures detracts from the somber atmosphere of the memorial.  I hope you get the idea, though. 

The memorial is really quite large.  What used to be 5th Street, where the bomb was parked, is now the reflecting pool above. 

IMG_8640Where the federal building was, there is a field of chairs with bronze backs and stone seats on glass pedestals.  This gives them the appearance of floating during the daylight and the glow at night.  There is one chair for each victim that died in the bombing, and they are arranged in rows for each floor of the building.  You’ll notice that in almost every picture, there’s an American flag.  They seem to grow like rabbits in the city, peeking out from behind every building.

IMG_8658The chairs also came in two sizes, adult and child-size.  I can’t believe I managed to miss a picture of both.  It was remarkably tough seeing a long row of child-sized chairs in the second row.  

Several buildings besides the target federal building were destroyed in the blast.  All of them have been left undeveloped for the memorial.  As we walked around the grounds, we came across the Children’s Garden.  The artwork was provided by children from around the country as part of their outpouring of support.

IMG_8692 One of the adjacent buildings was mildly damaged, but was able to be structurally repaired.  Windows were blown out and the exterior wall was damaged by debris.  Aside from being structurally shored, the wall still remains in its condition as it did after the blast.  This includes some graffiti from a rescue worker involved in the recovery and cleanup efforts.

IMG_8678 This tree managed to survive the blast and is known today as the survivor tree.  It is actually situated between the above building and the reflecting pool (formerly 5th St.).  You can see how close the reflecting pool is if you look to the left.

IMG_8675 I took one last picture before we departed the memorial.

IMG_8672 As we walked across the street from the memorial, we found a statue of Jesus facing away from the memorial.  “How very odd?”  There was a plaque that explained St. Joseph’s Cathedral had been almost completely destroyed, and this statue had been erected as a memorial in 1997.  The memorial shows Jesus with the caption “And Jesus wept…,” the shortest verse of the King James bible (in reference to the death of his friend Lazarus).

IMG_8713  Jesus faces a stone wall with 168 voids; one for each victim that died in the blast.

IMG_8715It was an incredible experience, and we would recommend anyone that remembers the event to go and see what they’ve done with the memorials.  They are fabulous testaments to both honor victims of the blast, and resolutely announce the American spirit of perseverance.

From there we headed to Bricktown on Kylie’s and Michelle’s recommendation. 

IMG_8746 It’s another revitalized part of town with a baseball stadium, movie theatre, and a large handful of independent restaurants; just our kind of place.  It’s obvious that the revitalization process is still ongoing, as some buildings are awaiting some kind of refurbishment, and are currently vacant.  The town has a great start at building a tremendous downtown experience, though.

IMG_8733 Here’s another flag.

IMG_8743 A nice little canal splits the neighborhood.

IMG_8744 And a pleasant park or two dots the area.

IMG_8739 Once again, based on our readers’ recommendations, we planned on going to Nonna’s for dinner.  Unfortunately, Nonna’s is closed on Mondays, so we would have to find alternative arrangements.  We figured that Cattlemen’s Steakhouse might be a good place to start, since it was another recommendation on the list. 

IMG_8726 Unfortunately, it wasn’t in Bricktown, and we were starving, so we stopped for a bite to eat at the Bricktown Brewery.

IMG_2724 We figured we’d try a sampler and have an appetizer and head out to Cattlemen’s.  It was what we expected; a brewpub tucked into a fun neighborhood.

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IMG_2735 We ordered up an appetizer to satisfy the grumbling stomach.  We had the Irish nachos.

IMG_2727They looked as good on the menu as they did on the table.  They were really good, and I couldn’t keep my hands off them until the Wife got the picture.

IMG_2733 They also had four brewed beers on tap, so we tried a sampler. 

IMG_2729 From left-to-right we had the Copperhead, the Hefeweizen, the Red Brick, and the Blueberry Ale.

IMG_2725 The blueberry beer actually had blueberries in it. 

IMG_2731 The beers were pretty lackluster, if you ask me.  The hefeweizen was overpowered with banana and clove flavors and smells overpowered the remainder of the beer, and really made it unenjoyable.  The copperhead was true to its description as it was light bodied; remarkably light-bodied.  This really didn’t appeal to us, either.  The red brick was good, but I don’t generally care for English malt beers. The blueberry was excellent.  It was darker than most blueberry beers I’ve had before, which I think added to it tremendously.  I would stack it up against any blueberry I’ve ever had, and expect it to be a competitor.  Sadly, though, when I go to the corner brewery, I need a solid staple beer (pale ale, golden lager, malty porter, etc.) to bring me back, and the Bricktown Brewery only provided a tasty specialty beer.

Oklahoma City had a lot going for it.  Bricktown was nice, and there were clearly other neighborhoods that would have been interesting to explore.  There also seemed like there were lots of parks and open space to enjoy.  I don’t think I would recommend Oklahoma City as a travel destination of any sort (conventions or business aside), but if you find yourself passing through, you will find that you have a plethora of opportunities to enjoy your spare time.

Bricktown Brewery on Urbanspoon

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4 Responses to “Oklahoma City – A Jewel in the Plains”

  1. kath said

    So sad!!

    But great photos 🙂

  2. Michelle said

    Glad you checked at the bombing memorials. I agree on the emotional impact; perhaps it’s the chairs, esp. the child-size chairs, or the non-intrusiveness of the memorial. Too bad Nonna’s was closed! Continued safe travels to you guys!

    • I think you’re right about the child-size chairs, although in general, I thought it was all somber without being upsetting. To be fair, I’m pretty hit or miss on most memorials. I have noticed the ones that have the biggest impact on me are ones that involve children. I can remember going to the Holocaust Museum (a really touching, without being gruesome or horrifying memorial), and there is a room filled with shoes collected from victims that had been killed, not on display, but just held in huge bins. It’s been 10 years since I was last there, but I can still vividly remember seeing the shoes that were for children. Likewise with the small chairs, I don’t think I’ll ever forget them.

      • Michelle said

        Agreed, it was not upsetting in the least, IMO, too. Somber is a very good description. I’ve been to the Holocaust Museum as well, probably the same time frame as you, and remember the shoes, too, but nothing else as clearly as those.

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