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Newcomers Guide to OKC: 30 Things to do in Action City for 405 Magazine

If you live in Oklahoma, you’ve heard of Cattlemen’s. The Stockyard City staple’s prime cuts have long been a draw for visitors and locals alike. Folks come for the nostalgia as much as the steak and a visit to Cattlemen’s is hardly complete without some nervous soul gingerly taking a bite of, then being pleasantly surprised by the chewy texture of a lamb fry. It is an experience as authentically Oklahoma as they come.

What most folks don’t know, however, is that if you really want a peak behind the curtain, head down to Stockyard City for a live cattle auction. Every Monday at 8am, as the sun rises over dozens of pins swelling with nervous steer, in a small auditorium, cattle are herded into a small holding pin as cattlemen look on, somehow following the auctioneer’s frenzied chatter. That’s right… Think “old guy in a cowboy hat” at fever pitch… monotonously calling out “one-dollar-one-dollar one-dollar-can-i-get-two-two-dollars-two-dollars-can-I-get-three SOLD for three dollars…” to a room of stone faced buyers. These auctions have been taking place in the state for more than a century and are nothing short of fascinating, exemplifying the cowboy culture so many affiliate with the sooner state and visitors are welcome to observe to age old event….

A Gospel Brunch on a Sunday sounds about as Oklahoma as you can get. After all, it is the bible belt but Gospel Brunch Sunday at The Boom is just a little different. On Sunday mornings, not five miles away from cow town where stone faced cattlemen bid on steer, the bleary-eyed pack into The Boom on 39thstreet for Sunday brunch. There is no shortage of brunch spots where a Bloody Mary can roll a hangover on into Monday, but this little gay gem offers something a little more. The show features “Kitty” and “Norma,” to cross-dressing gospel “singers” whose raunchy performances are so sidesplitting that they will leave you rolling in your omelet.

Gospel lunch at The Boom

From gay drag Gospel Brunches to live cattle auctions, Oklahoma City is exploding with unique opportunities not only for Oklahoma newcomers but also for those of us who have lived here for years. Across the city are experiences we never knew existed, have forgotten existed or we things that we can experience again but in a new manner. For instance, you have been to the Oklahoma City bombing memorial, but have you ever been there just after sunset when the lights of the chairs go on? Maybe you’d finally like to take that art class you’ve been thinking about in the back of your mind.

The Wheeler District Ferris wheel previously was on the Santa Monica Pier

Co-written with Christine Eddington, here is a brief history of OKC and thirty amazing experiences big and small that you must try this summer to make it the best summer ever. http://www.405magazine.com/June-2018/Welcome-to-OKC/

 

Here is my cover shot of Mayor David Holt that goes with this story.

Main Streets Oklahoma: how the heartbeat is returning to some of Oklahoma’s most historic downtowns

I spent two months visiting main streets across Oklahoma and was delighted to discover how young entrepreneurs and artists are returning home to open businesses, which is sparking innovative fires across the state! Check the story out here. Also extremely excited to have my photograph appear on the cover of a magazine! Check out the story here. http://www.405magazine.com/March-2018/Main-Street-Oklahoma/

 

My photo from the cover of 405 Magazine’s March Edition

Three Days with the Kuna Yala in Panama’s San Blas Islands

Children of Playon Chico, Ukupseni

Three Kuna women waited for the plane in the rudimentary airport as I arrived to Playon Chico, a small indigenous village in Panama’s San Blas Islands. Each woman was dressed traditionally with a gold ring through their septum and dawning a bright red headscarf, colorful blouse and an explosion of colorful beads on their wrists and legs. The tallest of the three came half way to my torso and they spoke in hushed tones using Kuna and not the Spanish I’d grown used to in my 16 day stay in Central America. Several crabs scurried between their feet and a pair of white ibis flew lazily overhead. A man with a machete walked down the runway towards the three walled airport as children chased a soccer ball in the opposite direction. It was a different world that the frenetic Panama City from whence I’d come.

Local Guna woman in traditional clothing

I pulled out my phone to check in with my wife, but had no reception. The three women boarded the plane which took off over from the mainland over their tiny island connected to the airport by a footbridge. I patted my back pocket realizing quickly that my passport was still on the plane which seconds later, disappeared over the Caribbean Sea. “My passport is on that plane,” I said to Domi, a Kuna gentleman who was there to take me to Yandup Island, a local ecolodge, went minutes away by boat and run entirely by Kuna. I’d hoped to go to Yandup to relax, a goal which was thwarted by my own carelessness.

San Blas Islands

“Come to my village,” said Domi, in broken English. “I help you…”

Three days later, after an incredible trip and thanks to Domi, I got my passport back. Here are some of the beautiful people and incredible places I got to see along the way.  Hope you enjoy!

405 Magazine: Pawhuska, Oklahoma: where the cowboys and the Osage gather with the bison on the Tallgrass Prairie

Horses and Cowboys is downtown Pawhuska

Horses and Cowboys is downtown Pawhuska

Before I moved back to Oklahoma, a trusted travel writer and friend of mine said that among the most beautiful places he’d ever been was the Tallgrass Prairie in Northwest Oklahoma. In addition to the thousands of acres of blue stem and three thousand bison, several Prairie Chickens called this prairie home and it was a hell of a place to watch the sunset.

Sunset at the Tallgrass Prairie

Sunset at the Tallgrass Prairie

Bison and the sunset at the Tallgrass Prairie

Bison and the sunset at the Tallgrass Prairie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eager to see it, I made a point to visit after doing a small piece on Ponca City, an hour or so away. After getting lost and wandering down several dirt roads for considerably more than an hour, I finally came across a cattle guard and a sign warning morons that it is best not to try and touch buffalo. I’d made it.

Barn outside Pawhuska

Barn outside Pawhuska

After a beautiful drive and a visit to the visitor center, I came out the other end (the correct entrance/exit) into the charming town of Pawhuska. Not only was this the (correct) entrance to the Tallgrass but one of the most soulful and up and coming towns in Oklahoma.

night sky at the Tallgrass Prairie

night sky at the Tallgrass Prairie

In and around this magic little town clouds dance, the prairies beckon and cowboys still walk their horses down the street. Bison graze and the sun and stars playfully try day and night to outshine one another.

Buffalo on the Tallgrass Prairie

Buffalo on the Tallgrass Prairie

Read more about Pawhuska and the Tallgrass Prairie here.  And enjoy more photos below.

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Cowboy working a herd at sunset.

 

Working cowboys outside Pawhuska

Working cowboys outside Pawhuska

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From 405 Magazine: Cruising Alaska among the icebergs, rainbows, the eagles and everything else wild Un-Cruise Style

On the first morning of seven days and nights in the southern passages, I woke up to icebergs. Perched above the iceberg was an eagle and above the eagle on an iceberg was a rainbow… All of which was happening in front of a waterfall.

Alaskan Sunset

Alaskan Sunset

An hour later, while watching a brown bear bumble adorably along the shoreline, just off the bow of the boat, a humpback whale leaped out of the water. By day’s end, the sun made a royal departure, turning the night purple and gold for just a moment until everything was silent. Pics are below and link to my two stories are here for 405 Magazine and here for Lost Tribe.

 

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Killer Whale just off the bow of our sister ship.

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Nothing like waking up at 4am with the sun already up surrounded by icebergs. One of the most memorable mornings of my life.

Nothing rivals the EXPLOSION that follows as this glacier shed its primordial ice.

Nothing rivals the EXPLOSION that follows as this glacier shed its primordial ice.

The view above Mendenhall Glacier

The view above Mendenhall Glacier

Salmon is always the best choice in Alaska.

Salmon is always the best choice in Alaska.

 

An eagle perched on an iceberg looking for some lunch.

An eagle perched on an iceberg looking for some lunch.

One of many waterfalls in the eastern passages.

One of many waterfalls in the eastern passages.

Humpback tail

Humpback tail

an old volcanic plug

an old volcanic plug