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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

Star Gazing in Black Mesa State Park and Preserve: Oklahoma’s Darkest Skies

Sometimes the best way to wrap your brain around how vast the universe is, is to go someplace where there is little else. Here is my write up about stargazing at Black Mesa State Park for 405 Magazine. 

Wild Icons OK: Conservation Stories Rhinos

I got to produce a series of ten mini documentaries highlighting endangered species and conservation efforts in Oklahoma and worldwide at the Oklahoma City Zoo for OETA, our local PBS affiliate.  It was an incredible learning experience getting to interview the talented and passionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to conservation and these beautiful animals. Beyond grateful to have been a part of it. They will air on several PBS affiliates across several states through October alongside the documentary RARE which tells the story of famed National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore and his effort to photograph every species of animal in captivity to raise awareness. Here is the first one.

RARE: a look at endangered wildlife at the Oklahoma City Zoo

For years, I felt like I had my foot in two boats. On one hand, I’d find myself in Los Angeles working on incredible television shows with great writers where I made lifelong friends. When I was blessed with the opportunity to start travel writing, even though I had no experience doing that type of work, it was an opportunity that I had to explore.

For years, I’d find myself working on a television show on the CBS lot, heading to the airport on a Thursday night, catching a red eye to another country, spending a weekend in a jungle only to take a cab from the airport back to CBS on Monday morning. It was an exhausting but profound experience for me… I thought to myself, eventually these two worlds MUST collide and finally in the last month, I’ve got a taste of what it might be like if they did.

I’ve been hired by OETA, the local PBS affiliate to produce and direct a series of mini-documentaries to be aired in conjunction with a larger documentary on famed  National Geographicwildlife photographer Joel Sartore. Sartore has made it his life’s work to photography every wildlife species living in captivity. He is absolutely brilliant and his passion for wildlife is infectious and inspiring.

My mini documentaries highlight different endangered species, the zoo staff that love them and conservation partners for the Oklahoma City Zoo. I’ve met some of the most passionate, dedicated people imaginable through this process and gotten to spend time with, photograph, video and engage with some of the most tremendous endangered species on the planet. It has been a true joy. These photos are from my experience at thus far on the project. Hope you enjoy them. It has been an experience I’ll always treasure.

Cam the tiger

 

Elephant and new mother.

 

Toba, a fifty year old Orangutan at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

 

A grizzly keeping cool on a summer day.

 

This plough share tortoise was seized in Hong Kong before it was put onto the black market. There are less than 200 in the world.

 

I got to feed this beautiful giraffe by hand.

 

American Flamingos

 

Indian Rhino enjoying a lettuce lunch

 

Silverback gorilla