{ February: Osage County }

February 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Flint Hills called me back.

I know, so soon? This time, I drove to Pawhuska, Oklahoma. More cow herds and oil derricks than Kansas, but still, gorgeous country.

Sidenote: Today I discovered that I’m not alone in my Flint Hill love: William Least Heat-Moon (another Missourian, of Blue Highways fame) wrote a book called PrairyErth (A Deep Map): An Epic History of the Tallgrass Prairie Country.

Angela, my extraordinary Couchsurfing host and Pawhuska tour guide.

Angela, my extraordinary Pawhuska host and tour guide. She made me walk across the scary swinging bridge.

This trip was mostly business, no buffalo. However, I was lucky to land an extraordinary Couchsurfing host named Angela. In addition to enlightening me on the town name’s pronunciation (mnemonic device: the high school mascot is the Husky — Pawhuskies!), she showed me cool things to do in Pawhuska and took me to a couple of her favorite spots in town. It felt like I was let in on a secret, so we’ll keep it that way for the most part. The one bummer was that so many businesses were closed on President’s Day. The bright side is that it’s an excuse to come back.

{ Things to Do in Pawhuska, Oklahoma }

  • Visit the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Bluestem and buffalo, a winning pair!
  • Go antiquing! My favorite was The Twisted Bronc, and I’m not just saying that because Angela runs it. It’s well curated, and her mother sells a lot of her own leatherwork. Two other shops, Comin’ Home Again Antiques and Sister’s Attic, were both pretty nice. I also wanted to check out Osage Outfitters and Clifton’s, which purports to carry a lot of local art.
  • Gawk at Ree Drummond’s new studio in downtown Pawhuska. I wish I had realized this was the same person who gave me the phrase, “whatever makes your skirt fly up” and whose chicken salad recipe I follow religiously. I might have paid more attention. At any rate, everyone I spoke to seemed very excited for the extra tourism her Food Network show might generate, and I’m excited about chicken salad.
  • Eat at The Prairie Dog, a gourmet hot dog shop. Which is fascinating.
  • Explore the Osage Nation Museum. A stunning array of photographs, sculptures and artifacts. Just don’t be a jerk like me and try to take pictures. (In my defense, I did not see the sign!)
  • Walk downtown to see beautiful murals, statues, and other fine details.  An oil boom in the 70s gave rise to beautiful, tall brick buildings, worked around much older stone structures that were early Osage governing sites. Boom became bust; the tall buildings emptied out. From what Angela and others say, there’s been a slow burn of businesses establishing themselves inside the town over the years. See also: the Catholic church, which has gorgeous stained glass filled with local history. Pawhuska is worth a day’s trip at least.
  • Visit Osage Hills State Park or Bluestem Lake. I didn’t see either one for much time, but it was lovely scenery.

I wish I had more time with Angela, because she seems like a really fun, deep-thinking lady. She told me, “I have more of a life in little Pawhuska than I did in Tulsa,” and I can believe it. Small towns bring people closer, especially if you have a group of outsiders intentionally living in a place like that. Same mindset, you know? They want to live there. They go to football games and benefit dinners and make hikes into adventures. A really inspiring bunch.

I’ll leave you with some wisdom from one of those secret spots:

Well if you insist...

{ Also }

Outside
Snow Geese!

Published
“Flying Green–we’re not there yet…” and “Driving Green-Running on algae?” in Global Business Travel magazine

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