Monday, July 20, 2009

Let's gaze into my crystal ball

Steve Lackmeyer asked me to write a bit about "What should downtown Oklahoma City look like in 2020, and how can this vision be best achieved?"

After rereading the question a couple times I began to notice a gap in the word "should" to the word I wanted to use..."could."

Downtown Oklahoma City will undoubtedly look different; especially by bringing a more impressive skyline with Devon's 54-story skyscraper and leveling the offensive crosstown bridge and shipping it off to a resting place not to be missed.

I could go on all day long on what I want downtown to look like in 2020 and could dream-up some ideas on what it could be...but let's stick to the question, "What should downtown Oklahoma City look like..." Not sure if I'm the right person to ask, but I'll at least give you a glimpse on what I should be doing in Downtown OKC in 2020.

As I gaze into my polished crystal ball I see myself hoping off the cable car at the stop off Sheridan between Harvey and Hudson and starring up at the iconic skyscraper and shielding my eyes from its glass reflection. Watching the cable car scoot on down Sheridian I scurry across the street into the Myriad Gardens immediately noticing how shiny the Crystal Bridge has become...the scrubbing and cleansing the outside has received over the past decade really helped in getting rid of all the gunk due to all the neglect from the two decades previous; which left it anything but "crystal."

Heading farther south through 'The Gardens' my dog, "Reina" starts to bark at all the squirrels and geese that have started to plant themselves in the area due to the Core to Shore initiative passed roughly 10 years beforehand. Pulling on the leash and retracting Reina from his jubilee we trot on through the park, passing the street musicians and kiosk stands selling fruit and souvenior hats with "405" across the front and the occasional "I (heart) OKC" shirts.

After the quick mile jog we get down to the river and I let Reina loose in the dog park off the river front and sit on the bank gazing off over the river at the 100,000-light ferris wheel and reflect over how anxious I was to find out more info about this Santa Monica Ferris Wheel once I read about its purchase online back in the summer of 2008 at a friend's apartment in Edmond (can't believe I chose to live in Edmond).

Whistling over to Reina and putting the leash back on him we head on back over the Skydance Bridge towards the rustling and bustling roar of a downtown finally stretching its legs from over a 100 years of pent-up excitement. We stop for a snack while I dangle my legs over the edge and scratch Reina's tummy as cars travel underneath us sending wind gusts up to cool us down from the hot Oklahoma summer sun. Peering off to the East I start to notice all the trees that have started to finally reach the rooftops of all the recently occupied residential complexes.

Pedestrians keep walking by us on their way down to the river and some are headed the opposite direction to downtown to start a night rememberence while stopping to pet Reina as they often do...he has become an exuberently friendly face to those urbanites I've come to know over the years.

I take a second to think to myself, "The once dirt river and abandoned buildings has now turned into all this??? My kid's will never believe me."

Monday, July 6, 2009

OKC and me

After an exhausting 5-week hiatus away from Oklahoma City (aren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?) I am back here where I belong. I love it here.

With two more states (Utah and Hawaii) left to visit to cross all 50 off my list and also having traveled to 16 countries outside of the United States, I can safely say that Oklahoma City is where I should be. This place is great. I love it when people ask where I’m from and the door is open for me to spill all the positive superlatives of Oklahoma City leaving them penciling in OKC on their next road trip. Currently, I have a few friends that I met in Spain that are now in Oklahoma City visiting…on their first trip to the United States.

I know, I know…I hear adults (adults to me is anyone that can recall living in the 80’s) say all the time that I don’t know exactly how special OKC is because I wasn’t aware of OKC’s downtown before the 1st MAPS. True, I was only nine years old as the first MAPS vote passed but now I stand at 26 years old hoping to be “that” adult 17 years from now telling people how lucky they are because I remember OKC before Core to Shore took place. Before the Thunder rode into town carrying the young Kevin Durant. I was here for that. I was also here for the ribbon cutting of the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library and I attended the first baseball game at the Bricktown Ballpark. I was at the opening game for the Blazers and remember the shock upon hearing their departure. I remember like it was yesterday the shaking of my middle school and being told an explosion happened downtown and not quite grasping the weight of situation.

I remember seeing the theatre play, “Will Rogers” in the civic center before the renovations. I remember the downtown canal’s opening night and not being able to ride on the ferry because I didn’t want to wait in the line that would inevitably take two or more hours (secretly I still have not taken a ride). I remember “the hill” at the old 89ers stadium and how sad I was when I had to park my car (a couple years ago) on what was home plate while at the State Fair.

But, living in the past is a terrible waste of time. I am here and witnessing (right now) the reconstruction of I-44. The reemergence of Deep Deuce and Midtown. The additions to the Ford Center and I’m glad I have photos of myself outside the current facade to show my kids someday. I walked around, recently, the site of the proposed core-to-shore and looked at everything that will be gone and replaced with a beautiful 20-acre (roughly) park to shape this city for the next generation.

Oh, what a joy to be in this city.

I walked in the parking lot soon to be covered by Devon’s new 54-story corporate headquarters. I have photos of that area of me while visiting the Arts Festival.

You don’t have to have witnessed Oklahoma City pre-MAPS to appreciate it.

Yes, I may not remember the collapse of the Penn Square Bank (I wasn’t born yet), but I have witnessed some pretty monumental historical events in OKC leaving me very proud to say that OKC is my heritage, my home and where my heart will always be.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 28 and more; Home

Well, the trip is over. I'm home.

I arrived at the Madrid airport way later than I should have (only an hour and 15 min before my flight) so I was a little nervous about missing my flight but I arrived to find out my flight had been delayed. Hooray. 2 hour and 50 min after my flight was scheduled to take off we finally hit the skies. So, because we left so late I ended up missing my connection in Dallas. I catch the next flight in Dallas and arrive into beautiful OKC at 9:15 with the sun finally going down.

I was welcomed at the airport by my mom, dad, brother and another friend Aimee (the one that originally traveled with me). They showed up with "welcome home" signs... :) big smile.

bed time and jet lag soon to hit.


Ok, this is now my third day back home and jetlag didn't hit me as hard as last time and I actually slept in today to a respectable hour instead of waking up at 6 a.m. for no reason the past couple of days. Now, I'm just uploading videos and photos to youtube ( and Flickr ( and hope to have it all done by Monday morning.

Enjoy celebrating THIS country's birthday this weekend!