Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More to see in Oklahoma City

So, what else did we do in Oklahoma City? For starters, we had some repair work on the motorhome. The icemaker (yes, motorhomes can have icemakers) had been malfunctioning, running water into the ice bucket, so we’d end up with large blocks of ice. That got replaced. There is a small leak under the kitchen sink that I couldn’t find. The service tech did find it, but reported that the replacement parts had to be ordered from Winnebago in Iowa. That could take weeks, so we are putting that off for now.

As tourists, we visited the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge near downtown Oklahoma City.

The Crystal Bridge is a glass-enclosed tropical garden, with zones ranging from rainforest to island tropical areas to dry areas such as desert and savanna. We aren’t that keen on tropical plants, so we didn’t get a lot of learning from this expedition, but we did enjoy the visit.

We especially appreciated the several varieties of orchids we saw in bloom, of which these are just a few.

The outside gardens were attractive also, and the beautiful warm day added to our enjoyment.

On the other side of town stands the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, a huge structure housing dioramas, statuary, and excellent artwork by such notables as Charlie Russell and Frederick Remington and a host of other lesser-known artists, lesser-known to us, al least. There was an extensive gallery of black and white photography of rodeo events, animals, and their riders, all by one photographer, done over several years.

The centerpiece of this fine museum is James Earle Fraser’s magnificent and powerful sculpture, The End of the Trail. We’ve all seen reproductions of this piece, but we hadn’t known it was, and still is, the subject of serious controversy. The artist, who had lived near an Indian reservation as a boy, was deeply impressed by the tragic dispossession of Native Americans at the end of the nineteenth century, and made the first model of The End of the Trail in 1894 out of a sympathetic desire to depict what seemed to the end of a free people.

Some Native American groups, however, see it as an unpleasant reminder of defeat and subjugation more than a century ago.

This 18-foot plaster version was created for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, winning the gold medal for sculpture. The artist had hoped it would be cast in bronze and placed at the Presidio in San Francisco as an everlasting memorial to Native Americans, but metal was in short supply due to World War I, and the statue was cut up and discarded after the Exposition closed. In 1920, the pieces were gathered up and reassembled, then put on display in Visalia, California, where it gradually deteriorated through the seasons for the next 48 years.

In 1968, it was acquired by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, restored, and put on display. In 1994, it was transferred here to a new wing of this museum, built specifically for The End of the Trail. In the meantime, a full-sized bronze sculpture was cast in Vienna from molds made from this original.

This statue of Abraham Lincoln was scupted by the same artist, James Earle Fraser.

Don't know who did the cat!

Dioramas showed us samples of the cowboy life, as well as several different types of "cowboys," including the California vaquero, a black cowboy and a cowgirl.

The museum treated us to the best western town reproduction we'd ever seen. This was Prosperity Junction at dusk. What made it special was that all the buildings were full sized, up to two stories tall, and you could wander through them.

This looks drastic, but it's only a temporary stop along ... Our Life on Wheels!


  1. I think "The Cat" would be considered a Puma or Mountain Lion.

  2. Nice pictures. What size is your digital camera? Looks like Suzy has finally put you in your place. Looks like the weather is cooperating with you. Here in Gresham, Oregon it's cloudy & 60's the high. Maybe next week spring will arrive. Enjoy your blog. Sorry it took so long to give a comment.
    Jeff & Chris

  3. Jeff and Chris - nice to hear from you. We are using two cameras. Suzy has a Kodak 7.1 MegaPixel with a 12X zoom. Mine is a Canon Rebel, 6.3 MegaPixel. I have two lenses, one a moderate wide angle, the other a zoom telephoto.

    Typically, more of Suzy's pix than mine get in the blog. But she also gets to drive the motorhome. I'm the helper and writer.


  4. just stumbled on your blog..seems like we did your trip last year. loved the Cowboy heritage museum.....enjoy your journey I know we sure do.

  5. What beautiful orchids!


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