Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hashtag Discovering Oklahoma

So, I've lived in Oklahoma for 8 years. Let's take a moment to let that sink in.

When I first left North Carolina, I would have sworn that I'd be in Oklahoma for no more than 8 semesters. Notice how I didn't say 4 years? Nope. The plan was 8 semesters - with summers at home or elsewhere.

Then I changed my major, so it became 9 semesters.

Then I got a 4-month contract job with the University - 9 semesters and 4 months.

Then I applied for jobs all over the country, and I got an offer from an advertising agency in OKC - 9 semesters, 1 year, and 4 months.

Then I had a job offer that took me to the heart of downtown OKC for about 5 months - 9 semesters, 1 year, and 9 months.

Then I started working for the downtown organization, and over the next 2 years, I totally fell in love with this amazing city. And the more I learned about the state, the more I wanted to explore.

Now, I love a good road trip. Momma and I have driven from NC to OK many a time - plus a trip from OK to CA, as well. I will happily drive I-35 to Dallas at the drop of a hat for a quick adventure, and let's not forget the weekend trip to St. Louis a few months ago. (Relive my time in STL here, here, here, and here -- I'm ready to go back!)

I am also a lover of cheese.

Hm, wondering how those two are related? Well, now that you know those two facts about me, is it any wonder that I was elated when I learned of the Watonga Cheese Festival in Watonga, OK?!

I must go there. I must.

Well, as it so happens, the Watonga Cheese Festival was last weekend. And yes, I went.

After heading west for about an hour, it was time for this girl to get some caffeine -- the dreary day wasn't doing much for my energy level. And as luck would have it, there was a fun little surprise waiting for me inside the gas station.

I. Love. Buffalo. Statues.
Can I also tell you that this buffalo felt extra special because it's so far off the beaten path? What a fun find!

I also stumbled upon this unique buffalo sculpture on the way in to Watonga.

The sign points the way -- Home of the Watonga Cheese Festival! I was more excited than a kid on Christmas for what was destined to be a heavenly dairy experience. Can you hear the foreshadowing in my voice?

Now, here is the point in the adventure where a tiny red flag should have gone up in my mind. However, this mouse sign was moderately cute and he was pointing me towards the illustrious "cheese tasting line." Let's do this!

After a bit of wandering through the building - and a quick gander at the art show - we finally found ourselves in line for cheese!!

I should note that I was gobsmacked when I found out that the admission to the festival was only $5. (Yes, this should have also been a red flag flier)

Once I finished going through the line, this affordable entry fee was no longer surprised. There were 7 tasting plates with tiny (and I mean, even the cute little mouse on the sign would have said they were tiny) squares of cheese at the end of a toothpick.

I kinda felt like a character in that children's book, "If you give an Eliz a tiny square of cheese, well, she'll want to go to Ted's for bottomless queso for dinner." 

The adventure wasn't a total wash though. I got to experience a new area of the state, I did get to eat some cheese, and I absolutely fell in love with this building facade on my way out of the fest. 

To take full advantage of the holiday weekend - thanks, Columbus! - I decided to zip on up to Tulsa on Sunday. I've been to T-Town a few times, but I never feel like I've adequately explored the area.

If you're in Tulsa though, you might as well drive a little bit further to Catoosa to see the big Blue Whale on Route 66! I'd stood in the mouth of the whale once before, but it never gets old to pretend you're Jonah.

Whew, I sure did work up an appetite after all that "surviving a whale attack" business. 

I had heard a lot of good things about Andolini's Pizzeria and decided to give it a try. After being there for less than 5 minutes, I already knew I loved the place. Gorgeous brick walls, fun atmosphere, and a waiter who did a phenomenal job going over the menu and the local ingredients. Per his recommendation, an order of garlic knots (oh-my-yum) and the Upper East Side pizza were on their way to the table. 

I mean, come on, take a look at that pizza. To ease your curiosity, I'll go ahead and list the ingredients for you: roasted garlic infused olive oil, brie, toasted walnuts, honey glaze, topped with fresh Granny Smith apples. 

Oh yes, that's right, there was also prosciutto. Yum.

In case you can't tell from the photo above, this road tripping, picture taking, cheese-loving girl sure was happy after a weekend full of #DiscoveringOklahoma. 

xoxo, E

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