When you travel – even short distances – you learn about a community culture and regional differences. C3 and I traveled to the southeast quadrant of Oklahoma this week-end in an area bordering Arkansas. Here is a list of our observations:
- The local version of their convenience store chain is referred to as Tote-A-Poke.
- The names of the towns are pronounced much differently than they appear in writing. For example, the small town of Poteau is French for post and is pronounced p oh – t oh
- One of the most unusual historic sites in the region can be found in Heavener Park down in a deep ravine. The steep rock stairs going down is an adventure even without the stone etchings at the base. Some believe that Vikings came here more than 1,000 years ago and left a sign of their passing carved on the face of a massive boulder. The huge rock, now called the Heavener Runestone, is the centerpiece of a small park in Heavener (pronounced like heave-ner not heaven-er). The sight is free to those traveling in the area.
- This year is a banner year for bugs in Ouchita (pronounces Wosh-it-a) Mountains. While we were safe and cool in the cabin, the cicadas, june bugs and other nocturnal critters were making music to beat the band. It was so loud, that we had to turn the TV up to drown out the noise. I told you we were cabiners not campers.
- If you like to gamble, this is mecca.
- Drive the Talimena National Scenic Byway along with many bikers and I don’t mean like on Tour de France. This is serious Harley country but they share the road very nicely with ladies driving Camry’s — as we discovered as we enjoyed the beautiful vistas (not overlooks) on this 50 mile motor tour.
- There is a Dollar General or Family Dollar in nearly every small town but no Starbucks. Fortunately, C3 and I favor Folgers anyway.
- Everyone is friendly, waves and is willing to explain everything about their home town. I spent quite a few moments with the friendly gift shop staff at the Runestone. I have links and research to prove it.
- A must stop is Treats & Treasures Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain in Talihina which features hand-stirred drinks, hand-dipped ice cream served in homemade waffle cones, banana splits, root beer floats and much more. This 1940s soda fountain uses original soda recipes, original equipment and original booths.
- While Oklahoma is famous for its red dirt, in this part of the state it looks more orange to me. Probably because there are so many OSU fans in the region that the dirt turned a new shade out of respect. If we have to root for an Oklahoma team, let’s cheer on the Cowboys.
- In this part of the country, salad is a vehicle for Ranch Dressing and everything is better fried. Sort of like west Texas.
Happy travels whether near or far.