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Posts tagged ‘Norman Oklahoma’

Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

If you want to learn about Oklahoma’s history way before it became a state, take a trip to the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Here you can see dinosaurs, get an idea of current animals native to the state, and learn about the history of the natives who lived here before us.

Opened on May 1, 2000, this museum is popular with schools and any parents who have dinosaur loving children. There is so much to learn here as well. Upstairs is the Hall of the People of Oklahoma exhibit, here you can learn about the residents in Oklahoma over the past 36,000 years. There are clovis tools on display along with a map showing where these items were found. Spiro Mounds is also featured prominently in this exhibit, with several items that were unearthed from the mounds in the late 1930’s. There are reproductions of Native homes and transportation as well as artifacts from those who lived here many thousands of years ago.

Another part of the museum is the Hall of Natural Wonders which has taxidermy of animals that are native to Oklahoma. It’s a nice way for kids to get up close to an animal. They have been placed in settings that are natural to their habitat.

Of course, the big draw to the museum are the dinosaurs. The Hall of Ancient Life where you can trace the history of the Earth from formation. You can see the different time periods that dinosaurs roamed the lands. They do have the largest skull on record for the Pentaceratops. You can also get in the elevator and see the Apatosaurus looking at you. Several of the smaller dinosaurs were unearthed in the Tillman County area of southwest Oklahoma. I like to make the joke that some of them were pets that my dad had.

The long history of the museum goes back to 1899 when the territorial legislature created the Department of Geology and Natural History. The first curator of the museum was Dr. Albert Heald Van Fleet, who spent much of his time collecting artifacts. There were 2 fires, the first in 1903, the second in 1918, that damaged much of the collection. But professors at the University of Oklahoma kept collecting and displaying artifacts in buildings around campus. After many attempts to fund a proper museum, this museum found a home in 1947. Housed in former military buildings on Asp Avenue, south of the main campus, it became the Stovall Museum of Science and History. Named after Dr. J Willis Stovall who came to the university in 1930 and helped fight for funding to house the collection. While the collection grew, there was a danger of the artifacts being destroyed by fire or water, so in 1991 the city of Norman passed a bond that helped the state fund the new building. The new building is named after Samuel Noble, an oilman from Ardmore.

I always enjoyed the Stovall Museum and now enjoy this new museum as well. I encourage all to visit if they are in Norman. It is a fun way to learn about the early history of Oklahoma.

Address: 2401 Chautauqua Ave., Norman.

Food Friday: The Hive

So I mentioned in my review of The Bookmark Cafe that my daughter, Mae, worked here on her first semester at OU. The Hive is a small cafe in a larger complex called Cross Village. In this same building is Acre Provisions, a grocery store just for college kids, and Basic Knead, a walk-up restaurant that serves pizza and pasta. All 3 spaces run together on the ground floor with apartment-like dorm rooms above.

The Hive is set up the same way The Bookmark Cafe is- they serve different coffee drinks along with light snacks. There is plenty of space to sit, not only indoors but in the outdoors area as well. They are also in Starbucks “We Proudly Serve” program, so you will get drinks like you find at Starbucks. You will also find students working here as well. All of the times we stopped by in the fall of 2021, we had great service and the drinks were always good. I will also give them 5 strips of bacon. They are located south of Lindsay Street on Asp in the Cross Village complex (southeast of the towers). Can’t really see it from the road, if you find Acre Provisions, it’s around the corner.

Now a bit of the history behind The Hive- Cross Village was opened in the fall of 2018. It was a new concept at OU, the dorm apartments were on the top floors while the ground level was just for restaurants, shops, and other businesses. This was originally to cater to upper-class students at OU. Cross Village is further south of the well-known dorm buildings Walker, Adams, and Couch, so the older students weren’t as close to the younger freshmen. Cross Village took the place of the original Cross Center, “The Men’s Quadrangle” dormitory built in 1952. Cross Center had fallen into disrepair and was mostly used as storage, so then a plan was developed in 2016 to replace the older buildings. Cross Village was supposed to be a public-private collaboration but by the end of the first full school year there were clear problems. Cross Village never filled to full occupancy with only 30 percent of the units rented out to students. With a legal dispute now on the horizon, all restaurants and shops were closed on July 30, 2019. Over the next two school years, there was plenty of legal wrangling and by May 2021 a new entity stepped up to help the university run Cross Village. To get the occupancy up, freshmen were now allowed to move into the new complex. After a two-year absence, all restaurants and shops were able to reopen. The Hive has stayed busy throughout this time, catering to students who live on campus. (If you want a full run down on all the legal and financial information, just Google it. I could write a book with all that went down in the building of Cross Village.)

Food Friday: The Bookmark Cafe

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you would know that my contributing writer Mae has been absent. Well, she had to get through a rigorous high school schedule and now that she has graduated (PC Pirate class of ’21) she is studying at the great University of Oklahoma (proud 3rd generation Sooner). To help pay for this new adventure in education, she is working for food services as a barista. Her first semester she spent at The Hive, a coffee shop on south campus (more on it in another post) but now she is at The Bookmark Cafe in the first lower level of Bizzell Memorial Library.

This is just a small coffee shop, very similar to the ones you see in bookstores, where they have coffee, lattes, frappuccinos, along with light sandwiches and pastries. Last Sunday was my first visit and I was impressed, the space that had once been where the newspapers and magazines were kept was transformed into a study lounge with separate rooms for groups. Bookmark Cafe has a large area with tables and booths for group or individual study. They are part of Starbucks “We Proudly Serve” program, where they do serve up the same drinks that you can find at a Starbucks. Many of the pastries are cooked on site with the salads and sandwiches coming from Cow On the Fly. I didn’t get a chance to try any of the food yet, because of the snowstorm the previous week, the food delivery hadn’t come in yet. The double chocolate chip frappuccino that I had was awesome though. The staff is all students, they were all friendly and happy to be at Bookmark.

Now for some history- there was nothing like this when I was a student at OU in the early 1990’s (BA in Journalism, ’94). The coffee shop craze hadn’t hit Oklahoma yet. I guess there were some around but to me, coffee was just something that my grandparents drank. I had never heard of a frappuchino, latte, or macchiato. Bizzell Memorial Library was built in 1928 for the growing university and expanded, first in 1958, then again in 1982. Lower level 1 is part of the 1982 addition. Like I mentioned earlier, it held the periodicals. I used to sit at the microfilm readers and journey through the past with their newspaper collection. The Bookmark Cafe officially opened for the spring semester 1998 to give students a quiet place to study. The official grand opening was held on February 11, 1998 (I didn’t know this information until Wednesday of this week as I was researching, so the fact I’m publishing this on the same date 24 years later is just a coincidence). In August of 2013 construction began to transform the space into the study area it is now, Bookmark Cafe was temporarily moved but returned to its now larger location in September 2014 with a ceremony held on November 7, 2014, to mark the reopening of the lower level. In March 2020, it closed, not to reopen until January 2022.

Overall I will give them 5 strips of bacon, just for the fact that my child works there, but I would like to try more of their menu items. Project for the rest of the semester. So if you find yourself in Norman and near campus, stop into the historic library and grab a treat.

Medieval Fair in Norman

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Owl at Medieval Fair in Norman.  2015

In Oklahoma, the winter can be cold and boring.  That’s why so many of us look forward to spring and all the activities it brings.  Not long after spring break in March the festivals and fairs begin.  One of the best has been held in Norman at the beginning of April for the past 40 years- the Medieval Fair.

This event was started in 1977 by the English department at the University of Oklahoma.  It was just a one day event held on the South Oval in celebration of the birth of William Shakespeare.  After a few years the popularity of the fair forced it to be moved to the Duck Pond and expanded to two days.  This is how I first remember the fair- I was 15 and as part of my high school English assignment we had to go experience the fair.  There were demonstrations on how to use ancient weapons, exhibitions on medieval clothing,  and a mermaid perched near the stone bridge over the pond.  The crowds were still small but that would change in just a few years.  As a student at OU, I went again in the early 1990’s.  There were more people, most dressed in costume, and vendors selling clothing and fake weapons.  I didn’t go back until 1999 when I tried to take my husband for his first visit, but the crowds were so big you could hardly even see the pond.  We drove by slowly on Lindsay Street and left.

The University and the city of Norman obviously noticed this as well because in 2003, it was moved about a mile south to Reaves Park.  You would think being in a bigger park would help spread the crowds out but I think it just invited more to attend.  In 2007 I finally took my husband with Mae now in tow for their first trip, now we try to go every other year.  This year just happened to have a nice Saturday, so we went.

We got there nice and early to get a good parking spot at the Lloyd Noble Center.  The fair itself is free, but the University charges five dollars to park across the street from Reaves Park.  Once you enter the fair, you can find almost anything you want as long as it’s from the middle ages.  There is an archery stand set up so you can pretend to be Robin Hood, fortune tellers more than happy to tell you what you want to hear about your future, and lots of vendors selling everything from costumes and jewelry to leather and metal goods.  Of course there is also a huge selection of food vendors and that’s where we started.  Yeah, they have the corn dogs, turkey legs, and funnel cake but we wanted something else so we stopped at Helmut’s Strudel.  Mae had an apple strudel while me and my husband shared a Bavarian cheesecake strudel along with a spinach and cheese puff pastry.  It was a good “breakfast” to start with, then we just wandered around, enjoying the atmosphere.  Since Mae is getting more interested in clothing, she had to stop and look at the dresses and corsets for sale.  My husband took a liking to some of the mock medieval weapons, he might need some since Mae is starting to attract male suitors.  But for all the stuff being sold, there are still plenty of reenactments of life in the middle ages.  We watched “knights” doing battle, belly dancers, Irish step dancers, minstrels, and a real jousting exhibition.  The cool part of this fair is that even with the big crowds, the majority are dressed up in costume.  Just about everywhere you look you can find knights, lords and ladies of the court.  Even though there is no pond, you can find mermaids sitting in a ship.

Overall the Medieval Fair in Norman is a lot of fun for everyone.  So set aside the first weekend in April so you can venture back in time for just a while.


Weekend Fun by Mae

My weekends can go one of three ways.  Some weekends are dull as a rock, sitting on my butt watching cat videos for two days straight.  Other weeks I am a busy bee, running around over fifty miles or more away from home.  Then there’s the weekends I spend doing one of the above with Bubbles.  Considering that, it is no surprise that I have been to many of the recent events going on in our state. This includes; Septemberfest in Oklahoma City, OU vs Tulsa football game in Norman, and of course, the State Fair of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.  They were all super fun in their own unique way, making me more than happy to go again next year.


In 2007 I went to Septemberfest for the first time.  It was a different kind of experience that I had no intention of forgetting. There was a lot of excitement in the air as I rode the tractor train with other kids my age.  I walked along in front of the Governor’s Mansion, stopping to pet the Governor Brad Henry’s huge dog.  There was free stuff everywhere, and craft tables inside the Oklahoma History Museum.  The only part I didn’t like was the civil war cannon with a blast that shook the ground.  (They could have told me what they were doing!!!)  But even this wasn’t going to ruin my fun.  I went again this year, this time with my friend Bubbles. Just when I expected everything to be the same, Bubbles asked, ” What’s with the fence?”  I looked up to see that nothing was around the Governor’s Mansion.  As it turns out the festivities were moved across NW 23rd Street to the parking lot of the Oklahoma History Center.  They had a petting zoo, where I held a baby duck, pet a donkey, and touched a horses nose. Bubbles had a good time too, as me and her talked to and pet the fur-bearing creatures.  We wandered over to the food company area, getting free samples such as chocolate milk and beef sticks (Which are awesome!!!).  We went into the Oklahoma History Center to try some of the craft stuff, where we made a deer out of cups, and raccoon puppets out of paper bags.  When we were done in there, we went back out the parking lot to the Shape Your Future challenge table. Bubbles decided not to do the challenges, but I dominated them.  We stopped to get some Kona Ice before we left.

The bathrooms were in the Oklahoma History Center, they were clean.  My bathroom review for Septemberfest is five toilets.

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Mae riding in the barrel train at Septemberfest in 2007.

OU vs.Tulsa

I started playing the clarinet for my school band in sixth grade, and ever since then I have wanted to be in the Pride Of Oklahoma at The University of Oklahoma.  So when we got the opportunity to go to the OU vs.Tulsa game in Norman, I jumped to it because I wanted to hear the Pride in person.  Before the game the Pride parades around campus, then gives a brief concert.  There’s nothing better than hearing “Boomer Sooner” being played by over 300 musicians.  Over at the stadium me and my mom found our seats in the south end zone after we stopped and got some lunch.  The hot dogs, also known as Ballpark Dogs or Stadium Dogs, are and always have been the crowning jewel of an OU game.  The Super Pretzels aren’t bad either, despite being extremely salty.  OU scored the first touchdown, and even if we did win, I still think the Tulsa players where slipping fifties to the refs for some of those plays.  Both bands did an amazing job.  For such a small band Tulsa did a very good job.  The game itself was an experience in its own right, and the atmosphere was one of excitement and pride.  I am truly excited to be a part of the Sooner Nation.

I used not one but two bathrooms while I was on campus, the library bathroom and the south end zone stadium bathroom.  The library bathroom was in the newer section but still kind of small.  The bathroom in the south end zone was clean and smelled nice, even being used by so many people.  My rating for both bathrooms is five toilets.

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The Pride of Oklahoma on Owen Field, 2015.

State Fair

I have been going to the fair every year since I was just a few months old.  My parents like to go when the crowds are low, so this year we went on a rainy Sunday morning. The rides weren’t operating because of the lightning, but everything else was open.  I had deep-fried cookie dough for breakfast, which is my new favorite thing.  It is crispy on the outside, but warm and gooey on the inside.  Most of the buildings had fun stuff inside them.  We went into the livestock barns, where a sheep scared me (sorry, I’m a city girl).  We also watched the cows in the show ring and saw the new babies born to the goats and pigs.

I did use the bathroom in the animal barn, it only rates three toilets.  It’s big but was dirty and smelled bad.

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Cute sheep at the fair, 2015.


AAA Glidden Auto Tour in Oklahoma

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1929 Duesenberg at the Masonic Temple in Guthrie, OK, 2015.

Just when I think it’s going to be a boring week, I get word over the weekend that the American Automobile Association’s Glidden Automobile Tour is in town.  It is being hosted by the Okie Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America all around the metro area August 30- September 4, 2015.  Today I went to the stop in Guthrie, OK at the Masonic Temple and being a car nut, it was totally worth the trip.

The cars featured are all pre-1943 and still in running order, they do have to drive to their destinations.  I passed a few around town while running some errands, so I knew I was going to be in for a treat.  The cars started arriving in Guthrie around 11a.m., most were still getting there when I showed up.  Do you know how cool it is to have an old Ford following you through the streets of downtown Guthrie?  I just stood on the corner and appreciated the rolling works of art as they arrived.  There is just a sound with these old cars that you can’t recreate with a newer vehicle.  And since some of these cars had hand controls for the gas, it was fun to see how smoothly the owners operated controls.

There were of course the usual Fords- Model A and Ts, some sweet Chevrolets, a few Buicks, and a couple Cadillacs.  But I like the different stuff, the cars you don’t always see.  My favorite was the show stopper 1929 Duesenberg (shown above).  There is nothing in the world I like better than Duesenbergs and have appreciated many in museums, so to have this one drive up to the show was just the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.  There was a beautiful butter yellow 1937 Cord convertible, a red 1913 White speedster, a 1914 Dodge Brothers touring car, a 1931 Oakland, and a 1914 Chandler.  I got to talk to the owner of a 1938 Chrysler Royal Convertible Coupe, it had been a barn in Texas until 1963 when it was restored to original.

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The gold 1938 Chrysler Royal, Guthrie, OK, 2015.

The best part about the rolling car show is that it’s in town for 3 more days.  On September 2, 2015, the cars will be displayed downtown Oklahoma City on Broadway in what’s known as Automobile Alley (Broadway between NW 4th and NW 13th, more on the name some other day) between 10a.m.- 2p.m.  Then on September 3, 2015, they are traveling to Chickasha, OK to be displayed at the Grady County Fairgrounds from 11:30a.m.- 1p.m.  Last day to see them will be on Friday, September 4, 2015, when the cars go to the University of Oklahoma and are on display at the Lloyd Noble Center from 10a.m.- 2p.m.

Like I said it is totally worth a visit even if you’re not a car person.  You will see automotive brands that don’t exist any longer.  And for a little history, this is the first time the tour has been in Oklahoma City since June 24, 1910.  Yeah, you read that right 105 years ago.  The American Automobile Association started these endurance races in 1904 by Charles Glidden to promote the use of the automobile.  The races continued until 1913 when they stopped because they were too popular.  In 1946 the tours were restarted and continue to this day.

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A Plymouth with a Packard, Guthrie, OK, 2015

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An Auburn with a Dodge Brothers, Guthrie, OK, 2015.

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