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Oklahoma: Bartlesville, Red Dirt Soap Co., Keepsake Candles, Tallgrass Prairie Preserve,
2003 Travelogue# 4 Bartlesville, OK
Mileage: 40115 Traveled 62 miles
Riverside RV Resort & Campground, 1211 SE Adams Blvd. Bartlesville, OK 74003
Full Hookups, 50-amps, gravel pads & CTV, $12 with PA discount 888-572-1241
Monday, August 11, 2003
Since it was a short drive to Bartlesville, we left late in the morning, arriving at Riverside RV a little after 12 noon. The owners, Joyce and Dave Butler, had reserved a shaded slot, and were on hand to greet us. Here we experienced another FIRST cable television. This is the first park to have cable access so we decided to give it a twirl. Dave was kind enough to come into the MH and program the set for us.
We finished setting up, unhooked the "toad" and were off to see some of the local attractions. The first stop was the Red Dirt Soap Company and Keepsake Candles. Both of these establishments are west of Bartlesville on US 60 and are situated on a high hill. During the 50's the US Air Force built a large radar installation on the hill with accompanying buildings. The Soap Company is in the main building next to the domed radar, which is no longer present, and the Candle Company is down the road, a quarter of a mile, in one of the remaining buildings left on the military site.
A lady, who made 500 bars of soap in her kitchen, for a crafts fair, started the Red Dirt Soap Company, named for Oklahoma's red dirt. (www.reddirtsoap.com) The soap was such a success she started the manufacturing facility. The soap is made from natural oils and products. We took a short tour to see how the soaps were made, cured, cut, and packaged.
Next stop was another business, which originated on a kitchen stove, Keepsake Candles (www.keepsakecandles.com). They started making candles molded to look like patterned glass, and to get the proper color they used their daughters crayons. Today they make molds for the outer shell from antique glassware dating from 1820 to around 1940. They use specially formulated heat-resistant Oklahoma paraffin for the outer mold and the molds are rotated by hand to form a wax shell and create the color of the candle. The shell is then filled with a softer scented uncolored wax that burns faster inside the decorative outside mold. The process takes two days. When the candle is lit only the scented inner wax melts. The owner gave us a free tour of the facility and she pointed out that their manufacturing was in the old Air Force gym and you can see part of the wooden gym floor.
After the stop at Keepsake Candle, we headed a little further west to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. The Preserve spans a vast 37,000 acres, only to be disturbed by wind, thunder, and the rumbling herds of buffalos. This land has never been touched by a plow and has all the native grasses that once covered the 180 million acres of the Great American Prairie. One could see for miles in all directions under a canopy of scatter clouds and blue sky. Our Julie would have been fascinated with all the Monarch butterflies busily feeding on the milkweed and our son, Scott, who is a "ranchland grass specialist" for the NRCS, would have enjoyed walking the Tallgrass.
On our way back into Bartlesville we passed a large area that was dedicated to the Wild Horse Preserve. We saw several large herds of wild horses, usually led by a predominant stallion with a collection of mares. This was our first sighting of wild horses.
We had an active day with no lunch, so we headed to Dinks BBQ on Frank Phillips Blvd. in Bartlesville. The tender pork loin, brisket, ribs, sausage slowly cooked over hickory wood with a vinegar based cold slaw was mouth watering. It was "doggie bag" time, to be enjoyed on another day.
Having eaten early, we had time for a much-needed walk on returning to the Riverside RV. There are 11 miles of walking trails around the city so we hopped on the trail closest to the RV Park, which took us into the Green Belt of the Caney River.
Upon returning, we visited with our neighbors, Karen and Richard H., who have been full-timers for a year. Being former residents of Bartlesville, and Richard, a former Phillips 66 employee, they had returned to take care of family and business matters. We always learn something from full- timers and these two were a joy.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Our first stop this morning was the 2nd Street Bakery for their freshly baked rolls and fresh ground coffee. What a way to start the day! Then we were off to Woolaroc, one of Oklahoma's premier historical attractions. This place is a MUST, if you visit the Tulsa area.
Woolaroc was the country estate of Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum Company. The name is derived from woods, lakes and rocks that are indigenous to the area. The ranch served as a one-of-a-kind environment for Phillip's wealthy eastern investors, as well as dignitaries, Indians, movie stars, lawmen and outlaws alike. There are over 3600 acres on the ranch and it has become a wildlife preserve with native and exotic animals grazing along the roadside. Masons worked the classic Oklahoma red stone into beautiful structures, stone pathways and buildings.
One of these stone buildings houses one of the most extensive western museums I have ever seen, where history comes to life and Native American heritage is preserved and displayed. Most of the artwork is framed in native wood by their own unique patented process using the outer tree bark.
Frank Phillips did archeological work and one of his most complete works was the Spiro Mound Indians excavation dating back 1500 to 2000 years ago. There is an extensive collection of artifacts that came from these mounds. Many of the artifacts reminded us of the Caddo Mounds we saw near Mission Tejas in Texas.
We entered Woolaroc at 10:45 and left at 4:00 but it was well worth the time.
Now, back to Bartlesville and the famous Murphy's Steak House. Luckily, we arrived before the usual dinner crowd, this is one of those places where they don't take your name on a seating list. You just ask, "Who's last"? Someone responds, then you know your place in the cue. This restaurant has been through several tornadoes and looks like a diner from the 40's, which it is. Murphy and his wife started the place in 1946. There is not much turn over with the staff. Our waitress had been there 20 years, and she asked us if we wanted to see a menu? Most of the regulars know what they want without looking at a menu. She recommended their famous "Hot Hamburgers with Fries and Gravy All Over". Our next question was, "what kind of gravy"? She brought us a plate of the fries and gravy to sample after which, we told her to "go for it make it two orders". This special brown gravy is made after cooking a roast each morning. The platter consisted of bread on the bottom then a grilled hamburger patty, a load of smothered onions, next, a mound of fresh French fries, topped with this brown roast gravy. WOW!! It's another MUST when you're in the area.
Needless to say we rolled backed to the RV Park for another much needed walk. Once again we spent the evening with our neighbors Karen and Richard.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Richard came over this morning and helped me set up my Brake Buddy. He was knowledgeable of the product, so I used his knowledge in my set up. This is an auxiliary braking system that attaches to the brake peddle of the "toad" so, when I hit the break in the motor home, it will engage a braking arm in the "toad". Some States require auxiliary brakes for towed vehicles.
We left Bartlesville a little after 10:00 and took US 60 East to Vinita. The
entrance structure to the Will Rogers Turnpike was one of the originals and
a snug fit. As we pulled up to the Toll Window, we heard this loud scraping
sound. We both looked at one another wondering, what in the world was that?
By now we were right at the Toll Booth, I asked the attendant "what was
that"? He said " sounds like your step is dragging". I had Peggy
stick her head out the window to see if the step was down. The attendant also
walked around, looked, came back and told me it was my tail pipe dragging against
the cement structure. I thought, gee they are chrome and only stick out 3 inches
He said on the way out," try getting closer to the Toll Booth". I
thought how close is close? I could almost reach out and make change myself.
We scraped out and finally took off on busy I-44 to Joplin, Springfield, and
Marshfield. We will spend time with family in Marshfield for the remainder of