Pass The Ranch Please

Pass The Ranch Please

Today my daughter and I went from our home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to see the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie. This is a wide open Nature Conservancy that offers a vast wildlife habitat. Famous for buffalo roaming the fields. 

I have lived in Oklahoma for almost ever and have never seen this famous preserve, so after a friend told me how beautiful it was, my daughter and I set out for a field trip. 

She drove. I cannot be trusted at the wheel in her eyes, which can At times be valid, so I sat there like a giant five year old on a kindergarten field trip. Excited to see what I had not. I wanted to see the buffalo and also to see the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond’s ranch, which is right next door. 

Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman

In these parts, Ree Drummond is famous. For her recipes and for her mercantile and restaurant in Pawhuska, OK, where she sells here food and kitchen wares. I don’t much like to cook, but I will tell you, her crockpot pot roast with red cooking wine, carrots, potatoes and onions recipe is melt in your mouth. To. Die. For. If you like to cook, you probably have heard of her. And if you shop at WalMart, you may have seen her gorgeous colorful kitchen and cookware line aptly branded Pioneer Woman. 

“This is it.” She said, as we entered the rocky road. “Where is the Drummond Ranch?” I said. “Up there.” Past where we are going.” I decided it was no big deal. Which it was not. I have posted a picture of Ree Drummond and what I would have seen had we detoured. Didn’t miss anything. Before we got to the Tallgrass Prairie, my daughter pointed to a different ranch entrance with another name on it, just like the Drummond ranch sign in the photo. “See that? Picture it with the name Drummond instead.” 

We didn’t pass the ranch and I was fine with that. But I thought it was funny when I asked her if we were going to pass the ranch. Hence, the name for this post. I amuse myself. Hey, it’s free.

As we are headed to the Tallgrass, neither one of us has much of a clue as to what we are going to see or how long it takes to get there. All I knew was that it was about a 10 mile gravel road trip through the – you guessed it – Tallgrass Prairie. And that is what it was. A prairie. With tall grass on it. And lots of nature and critters and bugs and birds living in it and on it and under it and around it. Now I am going to confess. I have never much been a fan of the lack of scenery in Oklahoma. It is flat here, with a few hills and the lakes, in my experience, are like giant mud puddles with snakes and roots and God knows what else on the bottom. I am a snob for clear water lakes and mountains and oceans as backdrops. So I tried to keep an open mind and focus on being fully present. Which was hard as I am getting ready to have the Emerald Coast of the Gulf of Mexico as my permanent backyard a month from now. 

It took us about an hour and a half to get there. Upon arrival, my daughter was cruising along so I asked her to slow down and stop. There were some buffalo off in the distance. We stopped. I got out and took pictures. They were off in the distance. I was hoping to see them up close.  It was nice outside of the car where I could hear nothing but the biggest flies, tiny birds in the brush squawking with their heads arched back and the wind sweeping down the plain. It really does that. It sweeps. I saw it. Don’t believe me? Look at my pictures. Here’s proof.

And about 20 minutes into the gravel ride, my daughter was getting sleepy.  It was almost noon. She is off work right now and  this was about her lunch time nap in the parking lot time. So, roles reversed, the offspring settled in for a thirty minute nap in the car while the eager parent, happy to be out of the quarantine house, followed a trail for a little nature walk.

I stayed the course. Tried to be in the moment.  Appreciate the beauty that WAS there. Wide open skies. Wide open spaces. It is a thing of beauty.  No city noise. As I chose from two paths, it was easy really. One was covered in clover, which was covered in bees. I wasn’t afraid, or, well, I was nervous to piss them off. They were having so much fun! Buzzing from clover to clover. Making a whirring concert of zzzzzzzz. I sat on a chair full of bees once. 

So I took the clover free path. And as I started up, I had to pee. I have peed all over Oklahoma in the last three months. Walking places where there is no bathroom. This may not be a big deal to you tree huggers out there, but I’m a Winnebago kinda girl, so yeah, I felt pretty cool for hanging my bare butt out in the tall grass. 

I also decided on this outing that I am addicted to my phone and taking pictures. I had it in my mind to take all the colors of all the wildflowers in pictures. So that I could, oh, I don’t know, have another thousand pictures to have to dump next week because I have thousands of them that I have taken and done nothing with. Well, the phone went dead before I  could get from the pink flower on to the orange and the purple and the yellow and the gold. And I stood there. In the middle of God’s country. Nothing but blue skies and prairie as far as the eye could see. Pouting. For a minute. I told myself the point was maybe that I actually just be present for the beauty rather than trying to catalogue it. I also thought about picking all the colors of flowers to take home to take pictures of them later. Oh my God. I am a sick woman! I left them where they lived, looked around and avoided being like those people I like to judge at live concerts for the fact that they have the show right in front of them. Live. And yet watch it through their tiny screen of their phone, which stands between them and the performance. I wonder. Just how many of those people go home from that $200 show and watch it on their 6” phone with that tiny speaker?

Back down the hill, my daughter refreshed from her nap, we set out. To get out. Of the Tallgrass Prairie. There is only a little ways to go and much to our surprise and pleasure, there are a whole bunch of baby buffalo at the fence! Up close and personal! So we go talk to the babies, take their pictures, listen to them snort, watch them roll around in the dirt, pee and poop, take some pictures and decide we are done. Next stop, fried chicken lunch.

Phone signals are spotty out in nature, so we decide to just follow the road we are on. Rather than turn around and go back the way we came. Hey. It’s not like we had any place to be. We are quarantining together after someone at her work tested positive for COVID 19, so we are happy as clams to be out of the damned house!

We drive along for about twenty or thirty minutes and when I look up, I say, “Abby, we’re in Kansas.” The opposite of Dorothy when she said, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” We laughed and decided to just keep going. Head to Coffeyville. For Popeye’s fried chicken. Well we got lost again. So tails tucked, we finally hit highway 75S and headed back to Oklahoma. Got to Bartlesville about 40 minutes from Tulsa for that fried chicken. Then home. For now.