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Archive for August, 2022

Fat Okie Far from Home: Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway

South Dakota has a lot of beautiful scenery, but the most beautiful drive in the state through Spearfish Canyon on U.S. Highway 14A or better known as the Spearfish Canyon scenic byway. The first time I went through it was in 2011, we drove from Spearfish to Deadwood. It was so beautiful I wanted to drive it again. Finally this past May I got my chance. This time we went from Lead to Spearfish, opposite of last time but still gorgeous.

I’m going to take you from Spearfish to Lead and on to Deadwood in this writing. Spearfish is a cute small town, founded in 1876, it’s located at the mouth of Spearfish Canyon. There are plenty of historic buildings and different places to eat along with the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery. So after you have explored the town, jump on US Highway 14A and head south. You don’t go far before Spearfish Creek appears on the side of the road. This creek will follow along the canyon for the entire journey and there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy it’s beauty. This drive has many curves but none really tight like Iron Mountain or The Needles, this is a gentle cruise.

The first waterfall along the route is Bridal Veil Falls, this is a beautiful waterfall that flows right from the mountains with a long drop to Spearfish Creek. Next stop you will see is Devil’s Bathtub Trailhead. Sadly I didn’t get to do this yet, I saw the sign but knew nothing about it until later. It’s a hike up the creek to a rock pool, “the devil’s bathtub”. I will go back and try the hike. Another trail that I didn’t hike because I didn’t know about it is the Iron Creek Trail. This trail leads to Iron Creek Lake. Looks long but possibly beautiful. Then after a bit more of a drive you come to Spearfish Falls. It’s near Spearfish Canyon Lodge and is a short hike to see another good-sized waterfall.

It’s also at this point you can take a short trip to Roughlock Falls, I’ll talk about that next week. the next stop down the line is at Old Spearfish Creek Dam. This is small lake has some of the clearest water I have ever seen. You can see the bottom of the lake with all of the fish swimming around. This is a very popular place for fishing in the canyon. The small falls on the north side of the lake create photogenic rapids.

More gentle curves take you to the end of the canyon. But right before, stop at the next small pond. The water here is clear as well and with pine trees in the background, it makes a wonderful place for pictures.

Next turn back to the east and head to Lead and Deadwood. Lead was founded in 1876 as a company town for the Homestake Mine. You can see the hole left in the earth there as well as visit the Black Hills Mining Museum. Then on to Deadwood with historic downtown, homes, and Mount Moriah Cemetery. Deadwood was also founded in 1876 but had a lawless existence for many years, notably the place where Wild Bill Hickok was killed on Aug 2, 1876. Plenty to do and see on this drive. Hope you enjoy it.

Food Friday: Mother Road Market

This is going to be a bit different but then again the Mother Road Market is different. The Mother Road Market is one of these newer food hall concepts of having lots of small restaurant owners come together to offer their food under one roof. Really it’s like a big food court, like the kind you would find at the mall. The upside is that there are only a few stores to shop at, plenty of seating, and you don’t have to walk too far. It’s also great if you have picky eaters or if everyone wants something different.

So the three of us walked into the building with a plan, everyone was to get whatever they wanted but different. We split up and each got our own stuff. I got some pimento and cheese wontons from Salt and Vinegar, Big K stopped at Curds and Whey for some loaded fries, and Mae wanted a pickle pizza from Zasa’s Pizza and Wings. After the first round, I got some sushi from Akira Sushi & Ramen that I shared with Big K, he got a Brazilian savory pastry puff from Doctor Kustom. Lastly we all shared a sampler platter from Da Yolk. I wanted to try more places but we were all stuffed. There is a burger place, ice cream, barbeque, tacos, chicken, bread, pastries, and a bar. Everything was good, and the service was great at each location. I really like this food court set up, gives the small businesses a chance to shine while not having to worry about so much overhead.

It’s called the Mother Road Market because it’s about a block south of the current alignment of historic Route 66 at the corner of Lewis and E. 11th St. The building started it’s life as Scrivner-Stevens Grocery distribution center built in 1939, the non-profit Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation remodeled the warehouse in 2016. They then reached out to small business owners to set up shop and officially opened in 2018. There is more than just food, plenty of small local shops to browse and a mini-golf course. There is seating inside and out, when we were there it was over 100, so we stayed inside. If you are in Tulsa, stop by and check out everything they have to offer.

Address: 1124 S. Lewis Ave., Tulsa.

Fat Okie Far from Home: Runza

Over the years I have heard a lot about Runza. I married into a huge family from Nebraska and they always talk about how good Runza sandwiches are and that I should try one. In May I finally got my chance to try a Runza.

This sandwich is a Nebraska favorite. It’s a strange sandwich, ground beef and cabbage stuffed into a soft, hot hoagie type roll. You can get it with cheese, bacon, mushrooms, onions, and anything else they are able to put on it. The sandwich really sounds like something I would hate but I ended up loving it. Served steaming hot, the fresh bread is the first thing you notice. It’s soft, not too chewy. Then you get the meat, the spices and cabbage actually give the meat a flavor that is different. I would say it’s about the size of a 6-inch sub, so you do get a good meal out of it. Then there are the sides, French fries, onion rings, or both called Frings. I got the Frings, both the fries and onion rings were deep fried perfectly. The onion rings are hand cut every day. The fries seemed to be just normal crinkle fries.

You can find Runza sandwiches all over the state of Nebraska. There are a few in other states but only around Nebraska. They stay close to Nebraska to keep everything fresh. The restaurant chain was founded in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1949. They expanded from there. I’ve been told that their burgers are also really good but I can get a burger any time here in Oklahoma, I can only get a Runza in Nebraska. If you ever travel to or through Nebraska be sure to stop and try a Runza. 5 strips of bacon.

Food Friday: Stella Nova

I know coffee places are all the rage now, we have a Starbucks on damn near every corner or a Scooters to drive up for a quick pick me up but I have been looking for local coffee shops. I was lucky to find Stella Nova a few months ago and with every visit they just get better.

Now I’m going to be honest, I’m not a coffee lover. Hate the taste of it just by itself but over the past year with my barista daughter I have learned to like it a bit. I really like it in the Frappuccino or frappe form. It’s really a coffee milkshake. I started liking them back when McDonald’s introduced the caramel frappe in 2009. Only in the past year did Mae introduce me to Starbucks and Scooters. So now I am actively seeking them out. In March during spring break, Mae needed a caffeine fix so we tried the location at NW 150th and Western. I had the chocolate chip frappe, which has now become my go-to drink when I visit. Another favorite of mine is the cheese danish. This danish is so good, first they are large and second, filled with cheese. So good that I have to get one when I visit, no matter what else I have. Their breakfast sandwiches and wraps are also really good. Much better than a quick breakfast item from a chain.

I have now visited the Crown Heights location as well and every time both locations are clean and the employees are nice. Even in the morning rush, they get my items out quickly. I will give them 5 strips of bacon.

Address: 1415 W. Main St., Norman; 119 N Robinson Ave., Oklahoma City; 4716 N. Western Ave., Oklahoma City; 1041 NW 150th St., Oklahoma City; 6604 Snider Plaza, Dallas.

Tale of a Tadpole to a Frog

This past weekend I lost a beloved member of my family, my pet Grey Tree Frog. I know it seems crazy to keep a frog as a pet but this little frog was special, at least to me. This is his story.

April and May of 2019 were exceptionally wet months here in central Oklahoma. That May alone was the 3rd wettest on record since 1895 with an average of 10 inches of rain. With all of this rainfall, the low spot in my backyard filled with water and stayed that way for a while. It was at some point that a pair of grey tree frogs got into the water, one laid the eggs and the other fertilized them. I didn’t notice anything swimming in the water until the first few days of June. I hoped at first that they weren’t mosquito larvae, but after another few days I could make out the bodies of tadpoles. I was super excited, I thought maybe I was going to have a herd of toads growing in my back yard. Each night I would go out and talk to them, tell them the troubles of the day. Made me feel better. But it was also summer in Oklahoma and the rain had finally stopped, as the days went on the water in the low spot started to evaporate. As the spot got smaller, I decided to rescue the tadpoles. I tried. I was able to save 41.

So for the next few weeks I had tadpoles living in a habitat I built for them using a plastic tub. I would feed them and talk to them. When it came time for tub cleaning, I would carefully scoop each one out and talk to them. I watched their back legs develop first, then the front legs popped out. On July 1st, they were ready to be frogs, at least some were. Sadly for me, most didn’t develop their front legs or their lungs. By the end of that night I had buried most of the 41 tadpoles but I had 9 frogs. Between their green coloring and the fact they liked to stick to the side of the tub, I realized that I didn’t have toads but grey tree frogs. Surprise.

After all I had been through with them, there was no way I was just going to let them hop away. Now I had to get something better to keep them in, off to the pet store for a terrarium. They had a pool, substrate, sticks to climb on, and even small baby crickets to eat. They were so much fun to watch but they were also fragile, 2 died before the end of July, another 2 in August, another 2 in September. Being an animal lover, this was hard on me. I hated seeing a dead one, I dreaded looking in the terrarium some days.

I was left with 3 small frogs but even that didn’t last. Within a period of 3 weeks, 2 died. That left me with 1, Benjamin. I never really knew if he was a boy or girl, I just liked the name. He was just a happy frog, or at least he seemed happy. He got crickets whenever he was hungry, fresh water every night, and I even got him to trust me enough to pet him. When it was time for terrarium cleaning, he would hop into my hand so I could put him in another container to keep him safe. He was funny, loved sticking to the glass to look out. He was aware we were there; he knew each of us. I could even say “Hi Benjamin” and he would put a hand up like he was waving hi. The most fun was watching him hunt for food. Each time I got crickets, I would dump them in the terrarium and say to him “dinners served”. He would go from sleeping to awake and jumping all around to get the crickets. He was best at hunting when I would catch a wild moth. I guess moths must taste really good to frogs because he absolutely loved them. I would toss it in to him and start to count, before I hit 5 he would be stuffing the wings in his mouth. He even got to travel to my mothers-in-law house when we went on vacation. Spent the entire drive at the top of his terrarium looking out the backseat window. For 3 years he brought us all a lot of happiness. I knew he was getting older and hadn’t been jumping as much but I never thought he would go so quickly. So Benjamin, I hope you know how much you were loved and now missed by your family. I hope you had fun while you were with us and now you are back with your family. Buried in the same backyard you were born in.

Benjamin- July 1, 2019- Aug 12, 2022

Food Friday: Hynson’s Classic Burgers

I talk about it all of the time but there are a lot of burger joints in the Oklahoma City metro. Most are pretty good, a new place on the scene is Hynson’s Classic Burgers in Yukon.

They started in 2018 with a small location in Penn Square Mall but moved to the east side of Yukon in summer of 2021. With the history of small burger joints along historic Route 66, Hynson’s fits right into its surroundings in a small strip mall. My first trip last year I ordered a patty melt, it was one of the best I had tasted in a while. The bread was toasted, buttery, the cheese melting off the patty. It was great. I’ve been back a few times since and their food is always excellent. After the patty melt, my second go to is the bacon cheddar burger. Perfectly toasted bun, cheddar cheese melted over the top of the patty, and a couple strips of bacon top off this burger. The flavor of their meat is also very nice, not too seasoned so you can taste the freshness. I got fries the first trip but now every visit I get the loaded bacon cheese tots. These are so good, tots are perfectly fried with cheese and ranch drizzled over the top, then bacon bits and onion to top it off.

I will give Hynson’s 5 strips of bacon. They have a friendly staff and were quick with our order. I am happy to see that they have opened a second location in Harrah, so hopefully they will continue to expand but keep their quality.

Address: 825 E. Main St. Suite 100, Yukon; 251 S. Harrah Rd. Suite 100, Harrah.

Fat Okie Far from Home: Spangles

When I’m out of town, I like to try new places to eat. I have a rule, if I can get it at home then I can’t have it out of state. One of my favorite places in the Wichita Kansas area is Spangles. I discovered this chain of Kansas based restaurants several years ago and always visit when I’m passing through.

The setting is a 1950’s style diner, complete with neon, records, and posters on the walls. The food is also throwback to the 1950’s style diner, you have burgers, fries, onion rings, and various milkshakes to choose from for dessert. This last visit I went with a sourdough garlic parmesan bacon steakburger with fries. Their burgers are really good, juicy with a nice flavor. I really like the buttery sourdough for their burger, pairs well with the bacon. Their fries are always good as well, crispy. I haven’t had a chance to try their shakes yet, I’m always too full from the burger and fries for dessert. They also serve breakfast, but I’ve never been through Kansas early enough to try it. Spangles is family owned and has been in Kansas since 1978.

Overall, I will give them 5 strips of bacon. I love their food, service, and decor. Gives me an option of someplace I like to eat when I’m in Kansas.

Food Friday: Volcano Sushi Bar & Hibachi

Crab stick & sushi at Volcano

 

I first discovered Volcano Sushi Bar in 2017.  I knew there was a location in Moore and while I was in town, I stopped.  I had several friends rave about their sushi and they were right, some of the best sushi in the OKC metro.  So for a couple of years I would stop by this location right off of I-35 south of 19th street.  But I got lucky about a year ago, they opened a new location in NW Oklahoma City.  I am so happy to have their wonderful sushi closer to home.

I start with Crispy Crab, deep fried crab stuffed with cream cheese.  This is a true delicacy.  Light breading with crab, the taste of cream cheese envelops your mouth.  True creamy goodness.  Then the sushi roll comes out- my favorite is Lucky Lady.  Shrimp tempura with cream cheese, avocado topped with a crab stick.  This is my favorite every time I visit.  Another favorite is Space Ship, a fried scallop topped with salmon.  No rice surrounding it, what’s why they call it space ship.  I’ve tried many of their other rolls but always forget to write them down.  They have an extensive menu with rice, noodles and hibachi grilled meats.  I just haven’t tried them yet.

Service is always great at both locations that I’ve visited.  The decor is nice, the Moore location is darker but the new place in NW OKC is bright and airy.  So if you are looking for good sushi, I highly recommend Volcano.  5 strips of bacon.

 

Address:  2727 S. I-35 Service Rd., Moore; 5301 Main St. #103, Del City; 1609 Penn Park Blvd. #10, Oklahoma City; 3700 W Robinson St. Suite 164, Norman; 5612 W. Memorial Rd., Oklahoma City.

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