Quirky is Good
Have you ever been to a place that speaks to your heart? A simple place? A bit of a quirky place? A place where you feel at home; although, it is nothing like the home you remember?
And so it was as we entered the main street of Medicine Park, Oklahoma. This was my very first view of Main Street while doing some "drive-by" shooting. Tiny cobblestone buildings painted in a rainbow of bright colors, ducks and geese walking the street, welcoming chairs at the entrance to the shops. No strip malls, no fast food, minimal traffic and a river runs behind it (Medicine Creek)! And just down the road... the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
Medicine Park is the epitome of quirky. On the way into the little town, I had to shoot the huge praying mantis sculpture on the front lawn with a man reading a book near the doorway of his home. Now that's quirky! Town consists of a few stores along one side of the street with an assortment of eclectic items for sale... probably none of which anyone truly needs but interesting, none the less.
My friend Mary and I were traveling together and as we came into town, the Plantation Inn where we would be staying, was on our right but we had to go on down to the Plantation Inn Restaurant to check in. It was a good thing we got our reservations when we did as there was an Art Show in town for the weekend. Mary requested two keys so that we could both come and go as we wished. Well... they demanded a $50 cash deposit for the second key which would be returned when the key was returned. That is crazy but she paid the $50 and then, there was difficulty getting the second key to work in the door anyway.
The Heard Nature Photography Club had planned this outing to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. I have actually been there previously and had a marvelous time and wanted to return in hopes of shooting more wildlife and some scenic vistas.
The day was overcast but it felt good to be out of the Texas heat and there was a stiff breeze blowing. We headed to the top of Mount Scott. On the way up, we stopped to take some photos and marveled at the biker with legs strong enough to pedal to the top. We definitely will not be trying that anytime soon! Here is the view from Mount Scott.
From there, we took a drive through the refuge. We saw some areas that had been burned previously and did not see as many animals as I had seen on my previous springtime visit. Everything looked very brown but I was excited when I got this shot of a buffalo.
We met up with some other members of the club and photographed a few of the prairie dogs that are always such fun to watch as they dig furiously and occasionally will give a call of distress to warn the others of possible imminent danger. And when in danger, they duck into their holes/tunnels for safety. Some of the prairie dogs looked exceptionally fat, like they might explode at any minute and we laughed as we watched them.
The next morning a group of photogs were going out to shoot sunrise. I opted to shoot the river instead and to sleep in a bit longer. Unfortunately, sunrise was a bust as it was clouded over. I met up with my friend Deanna on the river and we had fun shooting together. The river runs along the back side of the little stores in town and there is a bit of a rickety bridge for car and pedestrian traffic to cross and in the distance you can see what I dubbed the "Twin Towers"... actually, the Comanche County Rural Water District towers. These could be seen far off in the distance when we were on the top of Mount Scott.
We also wandered the Art Festival. I talked with Brent, a fella who makes Native American flutes. He was originally studying to be a chemical engineer when his nephew bought him a flute and that prompted him to research it further and then he started making flutes out of various woods and embellishing them as well. When I went to his website, I was overwhelmed with the sound of the double flute. To read more of his story...
And then there was Reian, a portrait painter. His portraits exhibited such emotion and I could not help but be drawn in by the eyes and all the realistic details that he had captured. He was delightful to talk to and I could feel the intense love that he has for his art.
And I will never forget the woman who had a food truck at the festival. She told me she had worked in an Emergency Room as an LVN but when the hospital told her she would have to get her RN to maintain her nursing position, she felt it was too late in life to pursue that goal and not only that but she was fighting breast cancer. She was working during the week and taking her food truck out on weekends. It was a big turning point in her life and she was pleased to report that she is doing well following her chemo treatments and I wish her well!
And then I met a fella who has a little shop that he feels fortunate to have found when he did. As we were chatting, my back was aching and he offered me his cane. He reached out and handed it to me, saying he really didn't need it any more and to take it... it was mine. It seems that he had a back injury about 6 months ago but is now doing much better and not needing that cane. He said when he was coming into town on weekends to run his shop, that he was sleeping in his car, and because of this, the police had a warrant for his arrest and that pushed him to get a trailer to sleep in. He was so friendly and I wished we could have talked longer.
A stranger approached me as he saw two cameras around my neck. His name was Kris. It seems he loves photography as well but was recuperating from a brain infection which caused him problems in walking and general motor skills as well as his speech. He credits Chinese herbs for overcoming these disabilities following a hospitalization and he is now able to walk and speak appropriately. Previously he had loved doing strenuous hikes and worked in places so he could visit the national parks on his off-days. He loves nature and still shoots film but he has recently started taking digital photos with a small Canon camera. He pulled it out of his pocket and shared his photos with me and they were excellent! He said his father was so worried when he was sick as he had already lost a son to a heart attack and another to AIDS. How sad for that family!
And have you heard the story about the dog that goes into the bar? Be sure to read Jamie and Sean's story...
As I was walking down the steps from our room at the Plantation Inn, a woman spoke out and said hi and asked how I was. I jokingly said that I would be better if they would put a handrail by the steps. Following that, we chatted for a bit. Her name is Kathy and she has a shop in Medicine Park called Kathy's Caravan of Beads.
All the people I met were fun-loving, open, talkative, welcoming and seemed in tune with the simple things in life. What a magical combination of serendipity! Is it any wonder that I fell in love with Medicine Park? And each time I would "disappear", my patient traveling companion, Mary, would immediately know that I was in deep conversation with a stranger.
We had difficulty returning our $50 key as when we were ready to check out Sunday morning, the Plantation Inn Restaurant was locked up and dark inside. We frittered away some time driving through the refuge in pouring down rain but seeing no animals, we decided to grab some breakfast after making a call to find out that perhaps someone would be available around 10AM to return our key deposit, so, Mary and I went to Cock-Eyed Bob's for breakfast and we no sooner walked in and I heard someone say... "Hi Fay!" Now who could that be? And then I realized it was Kathy! Now honestly... would that ever happen in Dallas? I very much doubt it. She invited us to sit at her table and we had a nice chat.
Following breakfast we were attempting to drive to the Plantation Inn Restaurant to return the key but the main street was blocked for the art festival. One kind vendor pulled aside the barrier in an attempt to help us get to our destination in the torrential rain but before we knew it, a cop appeared and that ended that. We finally had to park back at the Plantation Inn and fortunately, Mary had a very large umbrella and hoofed-it through town and finally got her $50 back and we were "home free" after that little snafu!
All in all, it was a fun weekend with photo friends and was made even better thanks to all the wonderful strangers I met along the way!
Keywords: Art Festival, Cock-Eyed Bobs, Medicine Creek, Medicine Park, Native Amercan flute, Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, artists, buffalo, killdeer, kunstlerstudios.com, painting, portrait, woodsounds.com
I will need you to ghost write my book. You have a way with words that makes life good.
What a great story, Fay! Your listening skills as an RN
are obviously still active & working as people
open up to you about their lives! If the hotel
had been open for the key return you'd have
missed a nice visit over breakfast! Everything
happens for a reason! Thanks for sharing your
experiences & teaching me that I need to stop
and smell the roses!
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