Midway through our third leg, we realize the rumors are true.
The stretch from Arkansas to Oklahoma should be known as The Land Starbucks Forgot.
We suffer in silence.
I never suffer in silence.
Still, we persevere.
But are reduced to taking photos of billboards instead of scenic vistas.
Before long, we get there. And have a critical decision to make.
“So, we’re going to make it to the antique shops today, right?” Andy asks, clenching the wheel so hard his knuckles go white.
His knuckles regain color.
(Reason #547 I love him.)
Cutting through Norman’s outer suburban hell, we pass into a safe haven: the historic district. We pull up to Amanda’s cute cottage, and get out to a deafening cacophony of wiener dog barking.
Amanda gives us the grand tour, and I get to remember antique-centric moments from years’ past while she recounts stories of her acquisitions. Or, in some cases, stories of when I pulled something out of the garbage and gave it to her.
Like a pristine 1950s kitchen table some dolt threw away.
Not that I’m keeping tabs.
Our feline docent Hernando, the dumbest (thus, skinniest) of Amanda’s two cats, accompanies us, while Tristan, whose blobby form could buckle a chair, casts disdainful glances from his surveillance position and awaits offerings of The Food.
Sensing valuable antiquing time slipping away, we decide to head downtown.
But not before we stop for lunch. And for waiter ogling.
We hit downtown Oklahoma City’s antiquing haunts hard, whisking away Fiestaware and Blenko in crazed swoops. And after each jaunt, we quietly revel in our finds, listening to the occasional tink from the plates, decanters, and teapots we’re balancing while motoring through the city’s labyrinthine highway system.
The sounds of another successful antiquing excursion.
We stop back at Amanda’s place long enough to drop our finds and unpack the Prius. Meanwhile, Amanda makes us some bourbony-delicious drinks to help rally us for our little hike to a nearby restaurant.
(Like I’d ever tire of the eating-antiquing-drinking-eating process. It’s so, er, holistic.)
Whether it’s The Drink or reality, I decide to declare that I’m no longer allergic to cats as Hernando investigates our tall tumblers. (Hey, it’s the little revelations, really.)
Regardless, there’s food to be eaten. So the vintage glasses are emptied, coats are layered, and we walk a whole five blocks to a cool little hangout, the Cool Factor for which is amplified by the warmth oozing out of its doorways into the chilly evening air.
Well, that and the drinks.
And the bruschetta.
The mac n’ cheese doesn’t exactly go to waste.
Neither do the spinach and artichoke potstickers.
Nor do the cheese-coated chips.
Quadruple wee! And where’s my Lactaid?
By the time we come to a consensus that our waiter is a missing, but high, Harry Potter character, and owl calling “Whooooowhowhowhoooooo!” as he disappears with the check, we’re a little tipsey.
Which means it’s time for a walk around the University of Oklahoma.
But it’s too cold, and Andy and I doth protest too much. Fine. It’s all me.
So, it’s time to scamper back to the digs. And talk about the past, and muse about the future, and just get lost in those booze-soaked, reflective moments.
And then sleep.
Mornings after a night of drinking are always interesting. Mostly because I don’t know how (1) I’ll ever dress myself; (2) I’ll tame my ratnest head of hair; and (3) I’ll make any sense before coffee.
Enter: local coffee shop.
With an amazingly cool retro vibe.
Quiet sitting areas.
And welcoming atmosphere.
Oh, and the coffee and peach-mango muffin ain’t half bad.
And it’s around that time that I realize that I’ve long misjudged Oklahoma. Sure, there’re unsavory parts like anywhere. But, on the flipside, it has revealed its little secrets, each of which has made me appreciate its charm all the more.
So as we putter back with coffee in hand to say our goodbyes, I have a warm and tingly feeling about this little visit.
Not just because Amanda is always fun and awesome and antique-obsessed and quirky in all the right ways, but because I’ve decided there’s quite a bit of stock in that adage about judging a place before you visit it.
Or is that about judging people?
Either way, there’s plenty more to be learned as we hit the road, our eyes toward the horizon and Sin City.