Our mission to find a tiny road with which to enter the state of Oklahoma proved successful. Defying GPS orders to stay on Route 40, we veered off track and took Route 59 north that wound through a small patch of the Ozark National Forest and some tiny Arkansas towns. We knew we would have a better chance of getting a picture standing under the state sign if we crossed the state boarder on one of the little routes we saw on our paper atlas. We passed a barely-there town of “Natural Dam” which had a 60’s-style gas station and dark-looking café that gave me a few chills as I darted inside to find a bathroom. The road was scenic and comforting and proved to be a nice detour from the concrete-laden super highway that we had spent so much time on. When we got to our chosen state-crossing road (Route 100), we found a patch of dirt road directly in front of the sign to stop our car. Success! The only teeth-clenching portion of our photo-taking moment on that quiet stretch of pavement was the arrival of a seedy looking pickup truck that wizzed past our “parking spot” and down a dirt road just behind us that bore a brightly colored “PRIVATE ROAD!” sign. Realizing we may have stopped directly in somebody’s “driveway”, we quickly moved along.
After encountering our first “tornado shelter” signs on area buildings, we made it to Tulsa around dinner time and meandered downtown to find some food. There were several clusters of cool looking bars and restaurants at different junctures of downtown, but they were sandwiched between dark-and-unwelcoming stretches of sidewalk, which made for an interesting pedestrian city layout. We found a farm-to-table small plates restaurant, Tallgrass Prairie Table, to sip some wine and share some food—“animal of the day” tacos with beef and spicy aioli, pork belly with tomato marmalade, curry lime fried shrimp, and local goat cheese with pear slices and paper-thin flatbread. Fantastic food and a surprising find compared to the bar-style menus at many of the neighboring establishments.
After making a quick detour to snap a photo outside the Hanson brothers’ studio a few blocks away (Katie’s pressing need), we stumbled into a bar along the same street where they happened to be doing trivia night (Katie’s obsession). What started as a quick beer before calling it a night became a nail-biting competition and a random friendship with the bar-goer sitting beside us. He contributed to our trivia answers (though refused official membership on our team as we’d dubbed ourselves the “New York City Girls!” on our entry) and questioned us endlessly about our “50 by 30” challenge. Something about our need to see the world by road was hard for him to grasp, as he continued to search for a relatable and tangible reason behind it. We couldn’t leave him with much, except the fact that we get a high off every new experience and feel an instinctive and gripping urge to wander. He left us with his top recommendations for Tulsa area attractions—a building downtown that was designed by the same person who designed the World Trade Center, and a 100-year-old haunted bridge in the middle of nowhere where you can supposedly hear the ghosts of babies crying. Needless to say, we didn’t make it to either.