More than Just O.K.

road-tripIf only all my deliberations were like this one.

I’m off to Oklahoma and trying to decide where I should stay. Yes, I’ve heard that joke: Why did God create Oklahoma? To keep Kansas out of Texas (unless you live in Kansas; then reverse it). But the folks who tell that joke have a long way to go before they’re in Ron “Tater Salad” White’s league on the stand-up comedy circuit. Oklahoma is more than O.K., and choosing between Guthrie and Oklahoma City ain’t easy.

On one hand, Guthrie does have the history, and it did come first, born on April 22, 1889, when 10,000 folks transformed a patch of prairie into the capital of the new Oklahoma Territory. It would become the state capital, too, in 1907.

On the other hand, Oklahoma City, well, prevailed. The city—a short drive south of Big G—took possession of the state seal on June 11, 1910.

Then again, what did the civic leaders in OKC do? They named their airport after Will Rogers, which is basically on a road named after Amelia Earhart. Not exactly a great PR move to get people to jump aboard airplanes and fly in, or out, of OKC.

Both towns have other lures, though.

Shopping? Well, Guthrie lays claim to Lisa Sorrell, one of the most respected custom bootmakers in the business and talented enough to give the big boys of the world a run for their money.

Yet, you need a good hat to go with a rocking pair of boots, and Oklahoma City has Stemwinder Custom Hats, not to mention about a zillion other cowboy shops in its Historic Stockyards district.

Historic sites? Guthrie’s historic district alone covers 400 blocks, more than 1,400 acres and 2,169 buildings. Of those 2,169 historic buildings, it seems like 2,159 of ’em are quaint little bed and breakfast inns, while OKC offers a fine selection of Motel Sixes, Hiltons and Best Westerns.

But Oklahoma City has the coolest bookstores in the state. Check out Full Circle Books. Heck, even the chains seem to be a step above in this burg. I’m not sure visitors to Guthrie read anything other than menus.

Speaking of which, both burgs have fine options for dining out. Movie star Tom Mix, legend has it, tended bar at the Blue Bell Saloon in Guthrie. Maybe so, but the cheesecake they serve at OKC’s County Line Bar-B-Q is bigger than Tom Mix, Mickey Mantle and (talentless) Toby Keith combined—and the restaurant is just a skip and a holler from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

That’s right, Oklahoma City is home to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and that alone is worth fighting congestion and construction along the interstates. Guthrie, however, offers the National Lighter Museum, which Ted Ballard opened in 1993, housing the world’s largest collection of lighters, including a wild boar tusk lighter worth, some say, more than $20,000. Can you say Zippo?

OKC has the Red Earth Museum and the annual Red Earth Festival, both of which are dedicated to preserving American Indian cultures. Guthrie has a jazz banjo festival. Oh, yeah, there’s also a Territorial Christmas Celebration in Big G, too.

Oklahoma City also has the National Memorial. There’s nothing funny about that, but it is a place every American, and every foreign tourist, should visit.

Guthrie is brick and stone and charming. Oklahoma City is modern and busy, but full of culture.

Shucks, I can’t decide. Maybe I’ll split the difference and stay in Edmond.

 

Road warrior Johnny D. Boggs recommends the Pollard Inn in Guthrie and County Line Bar-B-Q in Oklahoma City.

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