Instead of writing this as a single huge entry, I’m going to tell the stories of Tulsa in the form of a few short stories… ‘ere we go!
Nov 9th and 10th
Indian Food and I… We’re good friends, but the kind of friends who antagonize each other like its their job. I love the complexity of the flavors and the bite of the spices, but I have no tolerance to the burn. I can ignore it without too much trouble, but its kind of impossible to ignore tearing eyes and running noses… you know? Totally worth it though, and while visiting with Jig and Dave I had many occasions to burn my taste buds to a crisp. For breakfast Dave would make Cha tea (pronounced “Ch-Uh”), and we’d snack on random breakfasty stuff like toast and some deliciously spicy food who’s name I can’t remember. It was sort of like cereal, but with beans and cinnamon and hot peppers. I couldn’t stop eating it, but finally my nose running and my eyes watering combined enough to convince me to leave it be. At least until the next morning.
For dinner on the 9th, Jig’s Mom cooked up a Chicken dish for us that was amazingly tasty, and really showed off the differences between Indian food and American food. The first thing – You don’t eat it with silverware or chopsticks or anything… you eat it with your hands. Not directly fingers-to-food, but you use the Nan (bread) to pick up chunks of the chicken and sauce. Sounds a bit strange I know, but it actually works really well with combining the flavors of the dish. After finishing the chicken (this dish wasn’t actually that spicy, thankfully) we piled some rice onto the plate to soak up the rest of the sauce, and then chowed down on the whole mess. Ohh my lord I was in heaven.
One of my favorite places to relax and hang out with friends is at a cigar bar. Seriously… they don’t actually smell as bad as people think (very strong HVAC systems), and they usually have amazingly comfortable chairs and couches to sit on while you drink / smoke / relax. Tulsa is no exception, and we headed over to a place called the Cigar Box to meet a friend of Dave’s. Kyle was his name, and he had actually used to work at the Cigar Box and gave us a little tour before giving his recommendations on cigars. We settled down with beers and smokes and spent a few hours relaxing in lazy-boy recliners, chatting about everything from playing hide and seek in the woods as kids to having kids of our own (and how scary that would be). It was a good night, made amazing by the combination of company, good cigars, and great beer.
**Note: The above feels like an ad for being an old man. Maybe also beer. Sorry for that one.**
Nov 9th and 10th
Near where Dave and Jig live there’s a small “mountain” called Turkey Mountain. I hesitate to call it an actual mountain, since it might a few hundred feet high, but it was a really fun place to hang out and hike around in the woods. Dave and I visited twice; the first time we hiked a few short trails as a nature walk, and the second time we headed out with full packs to rock the longest trail and get some strength training in (thanks to the full packs). I’ve got to say, for a smaller mountain / wilderness area Turkey Mountain is a really nice place; its got thick woods, nice views, and a fair amount of wildlife in the area… even though I never got pictures of any of the animals. Our hikes were a nice difficulty too, they weren’t ridiculously easy, but we were able to keep a conversation going for pretty much the entire time, aside from a few rough gully ascents.
Our second hike was significantly longer than the first, and was a great chance to do some fast hiking with a full pack before I head out to New Zealand and start backpacking in earnest again. I hadn’t been out backpacking in months at this point, and I was a bit worried about how well I’d do with the pack… especially hiking with Dave “Lead from the front and by example Army lieutenant” Siegfried. I definitely did well though, and we made really good time around the loop that we had chosen. Once night fell we took a quick break to make ourselves some Fir tea (See recipe below) and watch the lights in Tulsa come on. The tea was a chance to try out Dave’s new camp stove that we had bought earlier, and the Jetboil did not leave us wanting.
Baseline of this, if you’re into outdoorsy stuff and in the Tulsa area, I would highly recommend walking around Turkey Mountain at least once.
Fir Tea Recipe
Branches off a fir tree. Don’t cut off the needles or anything, just have a 4-6” branch.
Heat water to a boil
Shove in Fir branches
Wait 60s, then take out branches
Drink when you want
Yeah, that’s it. Its tasty. No, you won’t die. I don’t think. Meh, you’ll be fine.
The TV show “The Walking Dead” is cool. We watched the first season, though we failed at finding a way to watch the second season. Its good, though a bit hard to watch as a guy who prides himself on both a good grasp of basic leadership theory and a solid idea of battlefield tactics. They do some really dumb stuff… though I guess it wouldn’t be a TV drama if they didn’t, right? And its the freaking zombie apocalypse, their probably under a bit of stress, I guess. Meh. No excuses.
Shopping for a new Knife
So, my knife was stolen by a bouncer last weekend at the Boston Decom party. It was “too long for Mass Law”, so he “confiscated it” by putting it in his pocket and telling me that I couldn’t get it back to put in the car. Jackass. So now, I need a new knife. And I’m in Oklahoma, the place of negligable gun laws and lots of hunting, so I can’t think of a better place to pick one up. When we pulled up to the Bass Pro shop though, I did not expect nearly as much of an adventure as what we ended up getting.
Dave and I finally put a lid on the “Oklahoma Accent” jokes when we walked in, figuring that it would be a bad idea to mock the people selling the shotguns… at least for the time being until we found out if they’d laugh or shoot. We headed to the knife counter and started talking with one of the service guys about what knife to get, since they didn’t have my usual CRKT M16 serrated blade knife. We talked knives for a while, until a disturbance behind us caught our eye, and we needed to evacuate the area. That’s right… evacuate the area. A woman behind us, who we had talked to not 5min before, was laying on the ground having a conversation with the two people next to her. A completely normal conversation, except for two things: they were desperately trying to hold her down, and she was having a massive seizure. We moved away to give them some room to help her, and continued the conversation with the store rep once he was sure that they didn’t need his help. She ended up being fine, but it was a rather interesting way to buy a knife; Talk about it, guy runs back the few hundred feet to get a new set of knives for us to check out, repeat 5 or 6 times.
After picking out my new knife (Dave actually grabbed a copy of it too, Its a really solid Kershaw blade) we were about to head home when we remembered our other two errands in the store: Pick up White Gas for my stove, and play with crossbows. Not “Play”, of course, since a crossbow is easily as deadly as a gun… but I’ve never shot a real crossbow before and I definitely wanted to try it since I had the chance. We stepped into the practice archery range and chatted with the guy in charge for a bit; it turned out that he was an avid bow-hunter as well as ex-army, so Dave and him shot the shit about the military life for a bit. The bow that he recommended for us was the highest-end bow that they make, a beautiful reverse-curve rig that can shoot over 450 ft/sec, and has an effective range over a few hundred yards. We only got to shoot it once each, but I’ll freely state that it was an impressive shot… the bolt went clean through a sand-filled basketball at 20 yards. I shudder to think what it would do to the deer that you’re hunting.
After the archery range we headed over to the camping supply section to grab some white gas for my stove, so’s we could brew up some tea while hiking around Turkey Mountain. While searching for the fuel we ran into the Jetboil display, and got into checking out the new versions that they’ve been making… and Dave decided to pick up a Flash for us to use, since he’d been wanting one for a while. While we were looking at it though, we ran into another employee who wanted to chat, but this time we talked and shot the shit about camping, backpacking, stoves and mountaineering. We actually learned a good bit about sneaky old-school backpacking tricks, and Dave found out about a few new places to go hiking in the area, but the conversation started to go long, so we made our escape (with difficulty), and headed out to go hiking.
Home-style cookin’ at the Cracker Barrel
For my last dinner with Dave and Jig in Tulsa we headed to the Cracker Barrel that had just opened down the street. You’ve probably heard of the restaurant but, like me, have never decided to actually go and check it out for yourself… that is exactly why we went. It was a rather strange place; the front-end was actually a country store, and the back dining area looked a bit like an old-timey version of TGI Fridays… the walls were plastered in farm implements and 1950’s-style memorabilia. Cool, but it was a little too “schtick” for me… its exactly what you’d expect an Oklahoma townie restaurant to be.
We did have a lot of fun though, enjoying an awesome combination of this really cool peg-game and a hysterical waiter. The peg game was that “jump all but one” thing where you start with a triangle of golf pegs with one missing at the top, and have to eliminate all but one by jumping the other pieces. It’s simple in practice, but actually getting the right pattern down is pretty tough – we still hadn’t gotten it by the time we finished and headed out. The waiter though… Yeah, awesome guy. First thing about it, he had an amazingly thick stereotypically Oklahoman accent, and chatted like he had known us for years on end. And second, his accent was contagious. I’ve already been making fun of Dave for starting to pick up a Midwestern twang, but by the end of the dinner he was cutting food with the “Knaaafe” and drinking his “swayet Tae”. Hehe… not that I was any better though, truth be told. It was impressive how infectious this guys twang actually was… even Jig caught a big of the bug, and I’ve never heard her speak with any accept whatsoever.
Other cool little things that went on
Nov 8th – 11th
- Smash Burger is awesome. Think In-n-Out, but a little more Midwestern
- Chili’s margaritas are awesome anywhere in the country
- IHOP is tasty, and they do actually change their menu based on where the are (I almost spelt that iHop… stupid apple)