Clinton Presidential Library

June 8, 2017

I spent the full day in Little Rock, exploring some city parks and a visit to my first Presidential library.




The Clinton’s actually have living quarters on the top floor but I believe they generally stay elsewhere.


The glass artwork shown above was a gift from Dale Chihuly, whose other work I have shown in several posts the last two years.

Other items I saw in the Library:



Hot Springs, Arkansas

June 7, 2017

Today I drove over from Mena, AR and although I’d be spending the night in Little Rock I would spend most of the day in Hot Springs.

It stands to reason that Hot Springs is where you’ll find Hot Springs National Park.


(Photo credit:

The Visitor Center for the Park (indicated above) is actually right on the main drag in downtown Hot Springs.


(Photo credit:

Central Avenue is also known as “Bathhouse Row” for the large natural hot spring bathhouses which line the east side of the street, one right next to another:




The photo above is a former bathhouse and is now the Visitor Center for the Park.




After having lunch and walking up and down Central Avenue I drove on two scenic roads through various parts of the Park.  From one overlook I took the following photo of the downtown area:


And this photo of Mountain Tower, which folks can pay to go up in to take panoramic photos of the area.


Hello Arkansas

June 6, 2017

Time to say goodbye to Oklahoma and move one state east into Arkansas.  To accomplish this I would drive about an hour east of Bartlesville, almost to the Arkansas state line, then south for several hours on some more scenic roads and finally a “primary” scenic loop which would ultimately take me to the tiny town of Mena in southwest Arkansas.


(Photo credit:

None of what I told you above is shown on this map except the destination of Mena, in the lower left side.  Tomorrow I will be heading to Hot Springs, the next day a short drive to Little Rock, and then on to Memphis, Tennessee and east to home in Durham.

LaQuinta Foster Mansion

June 5, 2017

One of the things I discovered while driving around Bartlesville, Oklahoma was the campus of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, a private university.  One of the most beautiful buildings I found on campus was the Administration & Library building, once a private mansion.










As I was driving back towards downtown Bartlesville I found the family home of Frank Phillips.  He and his brother founded the Phillips Petroleum Company.



And as I got closer to the downtown area I saw the Bartlesville train station.


Pawhuska & the Tallgrass Prairie

June 5, 2017

As I was driving towards Bartlesville in northeast Oklahoma I saw signs for a nature preserve in the area and after checking in to the hotel I’d be staying at I backtracked to check it out.

The town of Pawhuska is about 30 miles west of Bartlesville.



And north of Pawhuska I found the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, a 39,000 acre facility owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy.  This is the largest tract of tallgrass prairie remaining in the world and among other things is home to herds of bison, approximately 2,200 head.





I drove around for a while but never saw any bison up close.  At one point I could see some way off in the distance but I didn’t know how to get there and was afraid I’d get lost and never get out.

In researching this post I also learned that this Preserve is also a home to the increasingly rare Greater Prairie Chicken.

Greater_Prairie-Chicken Audubon

(Photo credit:

These beautiful animals, a member of the grouse family, have an usual mating routine.  The males have a large, orange air sac in their neck which they can inflate during courtship and which can emit a loud sound (these birds are nicknamed “boomers”).  I found some videos on YouTube and watching their behavior, and the way they stamp their feet, is quite interesting.


(Photo credit:

I didn’t see any of these during my driving tour either.


Watonga Forever

June 5, 2017

With apologies to the Black Panther movie franchise….

Today was a travel day and I headed out early to head northeast towards Bartlesville.  I had seen big signs promoting the Luck Star Casino and it’s huge payouts to patrons.  I was quite surprised to find this:


Not exactly the opulent excess I was expecting…   And even though this was facing the road I was on I thought maybe it was the back of the casino so I went into the parking lot and drove around to the other side.



This post creates a dilemma.  These images are labeled to indicate I took them on June 5 at 812am.  In researching this post, however, I see that the Lucky Star Casino locations are all west of Oklahoma City, including the one in Watonga (and to their defense, most of their locations are more opulent than this).

I don’t remember exactly where I took these photos, or the exact route I took up to Bartlesville.  I can’t think why I would have backtracked to Watonga (or El Reno, their location closest to OKC).  Perhaps this was a temporary location further east which has since been abandoned.  Nonetheless, I found this an interesting conflict with my usual image of casinos….

Bartlesville, Oklahoma

June 5, 2017

I traveled to Bartlesville, in northeast Oklahoma, for one reason – to spend the night.  Specifically to spend the night in Price Tower.


(Photo credit:

When I visited the home of Walmart headquarters in northwest Arkansas earlier in this trip I picked up maps and brochures for the area, one of which mentioned Price Tower.  Price Tower was designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  Those of you who have followed this blog for the past two years know of my mild obsession with Mr. Wright’s work.

Harold Price commissioned Mr. Wright to design an office building for his oil pipeline and chemical business based in Bartlesville.  Mr. Wright designed this 19-story tower.



The significance of the “66” in the first building photo is that Bartlesville was also the corporate headquarters for Phillips Petroleum, whose gasoline brand was Phillips 66 (a reference to Route 66).

I learned that Price Tower was subsequently sold to Phillips (which seems to own just about everything in Bartlesville) and a portion of it is now a hotel.  I broke my routine of staying primarily in Airbnb’s during my trips and booked a night here.

I stayed on the 8th floor and after checking in, took the elevator up to my floor.  This was, by far, the smallest elevator I have ever been in.  The only way I could think to convey this in a photo was to take a picture of my feet.


I didn’t check the “Cherie Berry” certificate to see what the maximum occupancy was but it can’t have been more than 3 or 4.  For those of you not living in North Carolina, that is a reference to our long-time Labor Secretary whose photo is in every elevator in the state (her department inspects elevators for safety and issues certificates with her photo and signature).

The common area to the hotels rooms on the 8th floor wasn’t exactly spacious either.


The room itself was nice.  An odd shape due to the footprint of the building, but well used space.




There was a large book on the desk in the room which explained the history of the building and included lots of photographs of it’s construction and how it appeared back in the day.  The building now has an art museum on the lower floors (I’d be leaving in the morning before they would be open), several floors of hotel rooms and several floors of offices.


This was the view from my room:


There is a restaurant and bar on the top floor but it was not open the one night of the week I happened to be there.  I was also very disappointed to find that another restaurant in town which has an excellent reputation, Murphy’s Original Steak House, was also closed, the sign on the door indicating that the closure was only temporary.  I walked around downtown in the early evening and ending up having a few slices of pizza.


Hallett Motor Racing Circuit

June 5, 2017

Today was a travel day as I’d say goodbye to Oklahoma City and drive about 2 1/2 hours northeast to the town of Bartlesville.  I could have taken the dreaded interstate and gone through Tulsa but saw on my map a road racing course I have heard of and decided to take some smaller roads and check it out.  I was in for a pleasant and totally unexpected surprise.

My GPS actually took me on a series of small roads right to the track, out in the boonies.  I saw a police car coming towards me from the other direction as I was approaching the entrance and it turned in towards the track as well.  I thought perhaps there had been a burglary or something as it was a Monday and I wouldn’t have expected there to be any racing taking place.  In fact I wasn’t even sure if the facility was still in use or be open.


Well, not only was it open but I almost drove across a “Hot” (in use) track….

The gate on the small entrance road was open and just before I would have crossed the racing surface to get into the infield two cars came screaming by, on the track!  I backed off to a safe place and got out of my car to observe.


If you look closely at the photo above you’ll see a white car on the left and a dark blue car in the center of the picture, just to the left of the open white gate.



Yes, those are police cars…


Lots of police cars….

After a while someone who works at the track drove out in a golf cart to see what I was up to.  He said it was perfectly fine for me to stay where I was and watch.  I suggested that they close the gate, or at least put a sign up advising people to stop before crossing the track.  Understandably since the track is so remote they really don’t get many “drop-ins”.

He explained that what I was seeing was official, high-speed training for Tulsa police officers.  They use this facility periodically to simulate high-speed pursuits in all conditions (day and night, in rain and snow and dry conditions).  I wasn’t in any particular hurry so I hung out for a while to watch.  At times they actually pursued a blue chase car, driven by a professional race instructor.  Sometimes the police cars turned on their lights and sirens to simulate the actual conditions for which they were training.

When I finally decided I had seen enough I caught this scene as I approached a bridge which passes over the highway the police were using to get to the facility.


All of those are Tulsa police cars (and more to the left of my road, getting off the exit ramp).  I guess maybe today would be a good day to rob a bank in Tulsa!

I didn’t.

If you had asked me before I left Oklahoma City this morning what I would have been seeing today, this wouldn’t have been on the list.



Tinker Air Force Base

June 4, 2017

My final full day in Oklahoma City I drove out to Tinker AFB, east of town.  They do not have a Visitor Center but did have a display of aircraft outside the Main Gate.






And a B-1 Bomber – too big to fit in one photo:







Myriad Botanical Garden – Post 1 of 2

June 3, 2017

After visiting the National Weather Center down in Norman and the OKC Memorial downtown I went to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for a while (some pictures in a post below, although this trip was pre-blog so I didn’t take as many pictures as I often do).  Next stop on this busy day was the Myriad Botanical Garden, a 17 acre oasis in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Here are some of the things I saw there:







The photo above is the middle portion of a very tall “Zombie Palm”