We did end up adding another day (Friday of Memorial Day Weekend) to our stay at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. We had thought about moving a bit north to the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds but we ended up making the right choice as severe thunderstorms went through there and dropped quite a bit of hail.
We used our extra day to drive into the town of Oklahoma City. Our first stop was at the Oklahoma State Capitol building. This is another domed capitol building but interestingly even though they had planned to build a dome on it originally it didn’t have one. The dome was added later.
We stopped in at the visitor's center and picked up a self guided tour brochure as I prefer the self guided tours to guided ones because we can proceed at our own pace and if we aren’t interested in something we have the ability to move on. We found a lot of art to enjoy in the Capitol and visited an art gallery on the main floor. We certainly enjoyed touring this capitol.
I had a bought a Groupon some time ago for lunch in Oklahoma City so we stopped in at the 809 Sports Grill. Lunch was really good but I wouldn’t have thought so at their normal prices but with the Groupon it was great. After lunch we drove into town and parked at a meter across from the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
The Memorial is a tribute to the memory of those who were killed, those who survived and those whose lives were changed forever after the 1995 bombing. A lunatic had parked a Ryder rental truck filled with explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and when the truck exploded there were 168 people dead and the building was destroyed
Walking into the memorial and seeing The Field of Empty Chairs beside the Reflecting Pool makes for a solemn occasion. Especially heart wrenching was walking the 9 rows of chairs (one for each floor) while reading the names of those killed etched on the front of each chair. The front row has smaller chairs for the children killed on that fateful day.
The site is located on about 3 acres and is capped by the Gates of Time (Monumental twin bronze gates). Each gate bears the inscription “We come here to remember Those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.” Quite moving…
After the memorial we took a stroll toward the tall glass Devon Energy Center building which dominates the city skyline. We simply had to stroll into it and when we went through it we discovered the Myriad Botanical Gardens. This accidental find was fantastic as the architecture of the green house made for a striking contrast to the modern skyscrapers of the city. What a beautiful oasis in the center of town not far from the National Memorial. It would have been nice to enjoy music in the beautiful concert space but we thoroughly enjoyed walking all around the park.
We returned to the car with just minutes left on our meter and drove over to Anthem Brewery. Oklahoma has some archaic alcohol laws prohibiting the purchase of full strength beer at a brewery allowing only for the purchase of less than 4% beer. The really odd thing is that you can sample the full strength product but just can’t buy it at the brewery (you can at a liquor store).
I emailed Anthem Brewery and these laws were explained in the response while also informing me that the law allows Anthem to give customers three 4 ounce samples of full strength product at no charge. After our tastes we decided they have a pretty good ESB and Scotch Ale (the stout and IPA were not that great). We purchased a pilsner after our samples but really even a pilsner watered down to be a 3.2 beer wasn’t very good. While there we struck up a conversation with two orthopedic student doctors who graduated from Texas A&M and were in town for a professional conference. It was the final touch on our really fun day.
We arrived back home and made plans for our next stop in Kansas, another new state in our RV travels…