When we last left you, we were leaving Oklahoma City. After a free breakfast (and free WiFi), we updated the website, loaded up the car and set out for the west…but not before we stopped off to see a few more Oklahoma Cowboys. This time we saw them at OKC’s National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, which was one of the trip’s unexpected thrills and surprises.
Upon arrival, the nice lady at the museum information desk gave us a quick overview of the museum’s highlights, beginning with the artists, whose work is included in the museum’s multimillion dollar collection (none of which I knew, but some of you might have heard of Frederic Remington). I was a bit nervous because after five days on the road, I wasn’t sure the Cawley kids were up for an art museum, no matter how significant, but it turns out I had nothing to fear. The paintings and sculptures in the collection were so engaging—amazing marble replicas of wildlife, pioneers and Indians and paintings that brought a world we know little about to life.
Plus the museum offered a hands-on area, rodeo and Western movie exhibits and a life-sized replica of a Western town (Prosperity Junction) to wander around in that rivaled displays in Disney World. Turns out OKC has one of the nicest museums we have ever visited, and we all agreed after four hours or so of meandering that we could have spent more time there…and not just because the temperatures outside the museum walls were approaching 107 degrees.
We had a leisurely lunch at the museum café, which featured a homemade Western potluck of baked goods, chili and tortilla soup. Then we kissed good-by the blissful cool of the museum, and headed toward the Big Texan, which after a few hours of travel, stood as an oasis of Western Kitsch in a the hot Texas Prairie. In short, it is Cheeseville.
We arrived by 6 p.m., and the kids enjoyed swimming across Texas, or at least swimming across the Texas-shaped pool that was plopped down right n the middle of a seemingly endless dusty pasture. The motel also offers lodging for horses, so over a couple of poolside Lone Star beers, Troy and I watched a pair of cowboys check their equine companions into the barn next to the pool area.
What our room lacked in amenities, it more than made up for in silly charm—from the swinging saloon doors on the bathroom to the heavy cowprint spreads that the girls arranged on the floor as mattresses. (They offered Emmett the double bed in honor of his impending 13th Birthday.)
Dinner at the Big Texan Ranch was a blast. We didn’t attempt to eat the “free” 72 oz. steak, but we did watch one outmatched cowpoke try to attempt the feat from the elevated table in the front of the restaurant, where a digital clock counted the down the minutes he had left to polish off the steak, shrimp cocktail, potato and salad. (You get an hour to get into the clean plate club, or pay 72 bucks for the privilege of trying.)
We, on the other hand, had no problem getting into the clean plate club with our smaller, but not small, steak dinners. A roaming country trio serenaded Emmett for his Birthday, and Katie again ate her weight in steak. She says she wouldn’t mind living in these parts since it offers abundant opportunities for steak and beef jerky.
Then full and happy we drifted off to sleep under the watchful eye of a three-story tall cowboy and a truck-sized steer, plus a giant boot…to boot.