Oklahoma State Capital Tour and Steak and Shake

We were making a small vacation of this delay in Oklahoma City, waiting for the Motor Home to go into the shop.  We had added taking a tour of the State Capital to our list.  Last year we toured the Iowa Capital in Des Moines and was so impressed.  It seems that all Capital buildings are open for either a guided tour or self guided.  We checked out GPS on the phone and found out it was near.  So off we went in search of the State Capital of Oklahoma.  Of course traffic these days around capitals seems to be one way with circular drives around the whole complex.  So if you miss your turnoff, around you go again.  So finally we parked right in front.  After asking questions we were told to park in the designated spots of the House and Senate.  Of course they were out of session.  That seems to be the norm.


On the approach it also looked very stately with a Dome.  But it was not gold gilded like Iowa State Capital.  We found out later Oklahoma’s capitol was designed 95 years ago to have a dome, but the money ran out and the work was not resumed until 2001. So for all those years.  The building was just flat, looking very stately but no dome.


On the top if you look close is an Indian. The Guardian,” his body facing east in an Indian tradition and his face looking south, is 17 feet high but the entire structure, including a spear thrust into the ground at his feet, is 22 feet tall.  “The Guardian” is supposed to reflect Oklahoma’s heritage as the former Indian Territory. Nearly 40 Indian tribes call Oklahoma home, more than any other state.    Upon walking up to the building we realized that we came at the time of a major restoration, inside and out.  Scaffolding was covering a big portion of a wing.  We had boarded walkway to guide us to the entrance which was in the lower level.  Upon entering, of course we went through security and then on to the Visitor Center.  Their was a bunch of high school age kids and their teacher waiting for a tour.  We entered the very nice gift shop and visited with the very nice lady.  We had the option to tour our self or go with the group.  We decided to go with the kids as we might learn more.  A few minutes later our guide came and off we went.  Down the hall and up the stairs, turn, more stairs…..lol….Around the corner and look what we found.


This is a 9ft.  bronze replica of the statue on guard at the top of the Dome.  On we went with the kids.


We came to a Beautiful Grand staircase.  We kept going until we came to the rotunda featuring the State Seal.


It was situated right under the dome.  You could look up through the circular openings in the floors, all the way to the top of the dome.


It was magnificent.  At the very top is the State Seal and if you look closely you can see different levels that have railings around them.


We walked up another floor, and looked down at the State Seal.  So impressive with all the granite everywhere.


Now as we were trailing the kids, the tour guide said, “Don’t you have any questions?…Did you bring your pens and notebooks?”……Of course,  No Response.  They were just their to do the tour and have a fun day out….Notice the railings in the rotunda are all beautiful marble swirled.


The stair railings were also all marble and wrought iron.  On we went.  The one thing we were disappointed in, was all the paintings or anything decorative and art items had been removed for remodeling.  So the walls were very plain.  But they were remodeling, so that was to be expected.

Oklahoma capitalThis  is what the rotunda looks like with some of the art and paintings on display.  Next we went to the Hall of the Governors.


This room holds the sculptures of all the Oklahoma State Govenors.


This painting is my favorite.  It is called “Flight of Spirit”.  The artist is Mike Larsen, who is of Chickasaw decent.  It is just beautiful.


Here is another painting, depicting the history of Oklahoma.  The colors are so beautiful and vibrant.  Above is a stain glass curved window that lets light in


Next we went to the Supreme Court.  It doesn’t look quite at large as I thought it would be but it was interesting.  Our guide gave us some good facts that I already forgot….lol…Guess I should have brought my pen and paper.


‘Then on to the Senate.  The kids all sat at desks of the Senators as the tour guide talked.  You notice the balcony area,  it is open to the public to watch proceedings.  Some of it is glassed of so the noises of the news reporters cameras clicking are not heard.


Out in the hall we came across another beautiful mural depicting the history of the oil industry.


Now we entered the House of Representatives.  This time we were at the back of the room.  As you can see the balcony areas wrap all around the room.  If you look close, on the wall are the old fashion black bladed fans that are original and still can be used today.  The ceilings in both houses are stained glass.  At one time, they had been closed and sealed up to  make A/C more economical.  In the last decade, they decided to restore them to original.  They are beautiful.  At this time, it was the end of the guided tour.  We left the group and wandered a little our selves.  We finally left after about an hour and a half.


Located on more than 100 acres in NE Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma State Capitol is the only capitol in the world surrounded by working oil wells. One is even named Petunia #1, because it was drilled in the middle of a flower bed.   In researching, I found several interesting pictures from the past.


This one shows the many oil rigs around the capital.  It also shows the capital before the dome was added.  71225-004-CE0ECD1FAnother picture with all the oil rigs.  The capitol building is directly atop the Oklahoma City Oil Field.

Finally we headed back home.  We had 2 more days to enjoy.  I had wanted to go to Oklahoma City Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge.  It would have been so much walking, so we passed on that.  It was really hot so we just enjoyed the a/c, and did caught up on laundry.  We did so some shopping and found a Steak and Shake.


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Steak and Shake design of today


Now for those of you who don’t know, Steak and Shake started in Normal Illinois in 1934.  I grew up not far from their.  I thought it was only a local or Illinois chain.  They have the best Steak burgers, Chili, Chili Mac, and Chili 3 ways and skinny fries.  They are also famous for their old fashioned shakes…..

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When I was a teenager, they were drive in restaurants.  They offered curb service with carhops or eat in.  We would go to Peoria and cruise Main St.  Drive in and around Steak and Shake and back out again down Main. 


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Steak and Shake of the 50’s and 60’s


That’s what everyone did with cool cars.  A place for the guys and the girls to met…lol….Now I have found out they are in over 31 states and International.  They are only offer eat-in or drive-through now.  When Peru Illinois first built theirs, Tina was just 16.  She applied and got her first job their.  She just received her license and drove to Normal to get her training.  She did that several weeks.  I was a little leery but she did well.  She worked their for quite awhile.  They are open 24 hours, so she put in some very late nights.  I can’t believe I let her work till 2 am sometimes.  I wonder if that is even legal today.  So long story short, we went in and had a wonderful dinner.  I had my regular, Frisco Melt with fries covered with cheese.  It is 2 Steak burgers with American and Swiss cheese on buttery Sourdough bread, grilled to perfection with their Sweet and Tangy sauce inside.  Rich had a Triple burger and fries.  Mmmmm Mmm…good food.

We had a nice relaxing time at the campground.  We noticed it was so windy their.  Every day it just blew.  Also right by the office was a huge concrete storm shelter.  Oklahoma has so many tornadoes, they have to be prepared.  I was also planning on going swimming in their indoor pool, but the nite before some little kid made a deposit in the pool…..lol….The manager had to clean and drain it.  So much for that.  Finally Monday morning, we were told to be at the Rush Truck Shop at 8 am.  We drove about a mile and entered the yard and got in line.   Well the 8 am appointment ended up 1 pm.  We finally got in and were out by 2:30.  All that waiting for an hour and a half of service.  Oh Well, finally on the road again and heading south.  Next stop Johnson City Texas.  We have always wanted to tour the LBJ Ranch.   For those of you who are young,  LBJ stands for Lyndon Baines Johnson, our 36th President of the United States.  I was surprised how many do not know that.  Even the kids and grandkids had no idea.  I guess that shows our age.  We lived that chapter of history when President John F Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn into office on Air Force One.  We crossed into Texas finally and spent the nite at a campground.  On Tue. we drove on to Johnson City and found another campground.  On the way we had entered Hill Country.  It is the most beautiful area of Texas.


The trees and landscape were so green.  The road wound up and down and around hills.  Some place you seen what looked like small mountains in the distance.  Such a beautiful area.  After we checked in, we started our touring of LBJs life in Johnson City and the Ranch west of town.   Next Blog……LBJs Boyhood Home and LBJs Ranch on the Perdernales River. Also known as the Western White House during his Presidency 



Oklahoma City National Memorial

We left McNabb on a Monday.  We went to Galesburg and visited my brother and sister in law.  We stopped and bought KFC and brought it their home and visited.  We then proceeded through Iowa, and down to Missouri and visited our friends Cici and Larry in Excelsior Springs.  We had a really nice visit and took off heading south.  We discovered late afternoon we had a power steering leak about 100 miles out of Oklahoma City.  We slept at a Rest Area, in the morning we unhooked the pickup and drove to the nearest truck stop and bought some to put in.  We headed into Oklahoma City and after several phone calls and stops we finally got an appointment for the following Monday….This was Wednesday……So many shops didn’t work on power steering, and another didn’t have tall enough bays.  We could have kept looking, but we decided to make a little vacation out of it.  We found a campground near by and settled in.  We had lots of nice shade, a picnic table, and near all the shopping and sites to see.  We decided to go see the Oklahoma City National Memorial.  We have seen it twice before but it never gets old.  The first time was when it was just being built back around 2000.  It was only in the very early stages and the reflecting pond and grassy areas was nothing but red red clay.  We seen it completed years later but never went into the museum.  So this was a must this time.

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On the Morning of  April 19, 1995 a truck-bomb exploded outside the Alfred P Murrah Building in down town Oklahoma City, left 168 people dead and destroyed one-third of the building. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 car.  At that moment of 9:02, it changed the lives of many in Oklahoma City and through out the nation and world also.  Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols constructed a homemade bomb concealed in a rental truck.   McVeigh motivated by his dislike for the U.S. federal government and angry about its handling of the Ruby Ridge incident in 1992 and the Waco siege in 1993, McVeigh timed his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the deadly fire that ended the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.  Ironically McVeigh was stopped for no license plate only 90 minutes after the bomb went off.  He was arrested for illegal weapons possession.  With in several days forensic evidence quickly linked McVeigh and Nichols to the attack; Nichols was arrested, and both were charged.  They were both tried and convicted in 1997. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison in 2004.  These are just the highlights of the story.  It is a very heart wrenching story, but again, another story we must never forget.  Plans were made for this memorial to commemorate all the victims of this needless tragedy and those who survived and changed their lives forever.  This is something that all must see if ever going through Oklahoma City.  It is very easy to get to.  So this is what you will see…….


Upon walking up to the gate, you will see the original chain link fence constructed to keep everyone out as the debris was cleaned up.  In this fence everyone started bringing flowers, mementos, stuffed animals and remembrances of the victims.  It was stuffed full.  The items are periodically removed and catalogued……and as you see it continues today…..


This was one that drew my attention…..Chase Dalton Smith 3, and his brother, Colten Wade Smith 2.  They were the only children of their parents.  They were dropped off at the Day Care Center on the second floor.  They were both killed along with a total of 19 children in the Day Care which was at the front of the building.  Their were 4 infant cribs in front of the windows with the youngest being 6 months.  The oldest in the Day Care was 5.  3 teachers also lost their lives.


This is the gate or wall as you walk up and enter the Memorial. This was actually a street before that went in front of the Alfred P Murrah Building.

20170608_152213This Beautiful Reflecting Pond is what you see as you go through the door way.  As you look around, it is such a feeling of powerful tranquility.  Everything you see has a meaning.  The pond was the original street where the Ryder truck was parked and detonated.  Above the wall behind me at the top is etched “9:01”. 


On the other wall at the end of the pond above the opening is etched “9:03”.  They represent the calm before, and the moment the healing began.  9:02 was the moment of terror and murder.


As you look to the right, You see all the beautiful glass chairs.  Their are 168 chairs with 19 of them being of small size for the children.  They are arranged on top of where the Murrah building stood in 9 rows to commemorate the nine stories of the building.  Each chair corresponds to the floor each person worked on or was visiting.  The Day Care was on the Second Floor.


Here I found Chase and Colten’s chairs.  To see this it definitely tugs at the core of your heart.  Why can anyone do such a thing.   Kill innocent children.

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At nite these chairs are all lite up.  This site of open 24 hours a day for people to enter onto sacred ground for quite reflection.  Each chair has a persons name on it and people will leave flowers or memorials to different ones.


One the other side of the pond is a large building that withstood the bombing.  It was the former Journal Record Building.  Right in front is the only tree that with stood the blast.  It is a 40 foot tall Elm tree that was located across from the parking lot of the Murrah Building.  The bomb scorched the tree badly. It left glass and shrapnel stuck in its bark.  A hood from one of the cars that blew up was found burning in the crown of the tree.  It is now called the Survivors Tree.  Owners of landscape nurseries, arborists, urban foresters and expert horticulturists from across the state and country have come together to work and preserve this piece of history.  Every year seeds are collected and given to the Nurseries.  They plant the seeds and distribute the resulting saplings each year on the anniversary of the bombing. Today, thousands of Survivor Trees are growing in public and private places all over the United States.


After we walked up to the Survivors Tree,  we went on to the front of the actual Memorial Museum. 


This was the Journal Records building at the time of the bombing.  All the windows were blown out but it structurally withstood the blast.  In the front you will see many tiles designed by children all over the United States.  They carefully chose and installed these tiles in the front.  The rest of the tiles have been carefully saved for the future.  On the walkway is some chalk board areas that were installed for the children to draw or write messages.  Up on entering and purchasing your ticket, they have you take the elevator to the 4th floor.  You then work your way down.  Their are so many items and information saved.  Many recordings of survivors, emergency responders, and news people.  The one that really stood out was a room that we entered and we all took a seat.  Across from us was a wall of windows that were solid.  We thought we were going to see a movie.  In this room was the City Water Dept. holding a hearing about an issue.  It was recorded and started promptly at 9am.  As you sat their those 2 minutes seemed an eternity as the hearing progressed.  Nothing happened in the window screen area.  All of a sudden, the bomb went off.  It was huge and massive.  You could hear the chaos, the screaming and the running of the people. 

In that instant of the bomb, the window screens before us lite up with the pictures of the 168 people who were killed in the bombing. 

It was a moment of shock.  It was hard to comprehend the immensity of it all.  This is the only recording of the actual bombing.  Finally we walked out of the room and walked on.  So many displays.


This showed a door that had been blown and some other debris.


This picture is of the men’s bathroom that was walled off with windows so we can see in.  You can see the men’s urinals on the wall and the plumbing.   Such Violent forces.


We finally moved down to the floors where they talked about the investigation.  These were automobile parts found blown up.  The wheel hub actually belonged to the Ryder truck that Timothy McVeigh had rented.  Because of it and another piece they were able to check serial numbers and immediately find out that the truck had been rented to McVeigh.  It didn’t take much for them to put the pieces together.  He had been stopped because he didn’t have a license on his car.


This was his car,  1977 Mercury Marquis, that he had just bought as his had broken down.  He was stopped just 90 minutes after the bombing.  The Oklahoma State Policeman found he had a gun.


He was then arrested for Illegal Weapons Possession.   The Authorities put it all together in 3 days and found him still in jail on this unrelated charge.  He was never remorseful of what he had done.  McVeigh was executed by lethal injection at 7:14 a.m. on June 11, 2001, at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.  Terry Nichols was given Life in prison in 2004.  Their was 2 other accomplices, Michael and Lori Fortier testified against McVeigh and Nichols; Michael was sentenced to 12 years in prison for failing to warn the United States government, and Lori received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.  Finally we walked out the door.  It was definitely a heart wrenching experience to think that anyone could do such a terrorist attack, especially an American.  How could anyone kill all those innocent children.  Oklahoma City will forever be changed as they honor all the victims and all the people that has helped with the healing process.  They have all been made stronger.  It is hard to believe it has been 22 years already.  And they still come and leave mementos in the fence…..So if your ever in the area,   Please take the time to visit…….

After that we went to the stockyards to a steakhouse restaurant.  We weren’t really impressed….lol…So home we went…..Another adventure was planned for the next day….

Oklahoma State Capital Tour.