The Road to Pawhuska

Shelly and I like road trips. We went to Waco last year to the Magnolia Market. This year, we planned a trip to Pawkuska, OK. We wanted to see what Ree Drummond had happening at her Merchantile, or the Merc as she calls it.

I’ve been a long-time fan of the Pioneer Woman blog. I don’t remember who told me about her website years ago, but I was hooked by her marketing genius. I admired her ability to combine several aspects of her life into one website. She gave us a peek into her daily happenings, provided photography tips, and made throwing together a meal look easy. I admit I’m more of a Hello Fresh gal, but I have tried several of her recipes. I even admit to having a couple of her cookbooks. I’m a big fan of the olive bread and apple dumplings.

Originally our plan was to make the 12.5-hour (one-way) trip from home. It took us the same amount of time to get to Waco last year. Our plans changed when the week of our trip coordinated with another trip to Omaha, NE. We checked the distance and decided we could rent a car in Omaha, drive the 6 hours to Pawhuska, and fly out of Tulsa. That’s exactly what we did.

There’s not a lot to see between Omaha and Pawhuska, but the landscape is calming. There’s lots of blue sky. We were surprised to see gardens already flourishing and corn growing in the field. They must have got a jump on us with drier weather. We made a stop in Auburn, NE for gas and coffee. We stopped at a little place that served tacos for lunch and coffee all day. My latte was awesome.

We reached Pawhuska around 2 on Thursday afternoon. Although we heard the horror stories of long lines and crowds, we were pleasantly surprised to find parking in front of the Merc and no lines. Lodge tours were the day before. I’m guessing there’s more people on those days. It would have been OK to see the lodge, but it’s not on my bucket list. I imagine if you’re a fan of her show, the lodge where it’s filmed is a must see. If you go, be sure to check the schedule.

The shopping area is smaller than I expected. Most of the square footage is taken by the restaurant and upstairs bakery. Kitchen items and Ree’s (I don’t know her personally. Is it ok to call her Ree?) cookbooks are the main items of the Merc’s inventory. There are T-shirts and her signature tunics. The colors of the cookware and tunics are gorgeous. Since I just finished a renovation, I was flying out of Tulsa, and don’t look like her in a tunic, I wasn’t looking to make big purchases. I longingly admired a beautiful leather purse and a turquoise bread box. I left them behind. My suitcase was full. There’s always online ordering.

What you can’t get online is the eats. There was no waiting for the restaurant. Shelly and I halved an order of the olive bread. Yum! I had tomato soup and grilled cheese. Shelly ordered chicken parmesan. There was a lot of it. It made a nice dinner back at the hotel. Shelly shared.

After eating lunch and more browsing, we made our way upstairs to the bakery. I bought a blonde brownie. It gave me the sugar shivers. Shelly had a truffle. We both ordered the spicy cowgirl coffee. I found it a little too spicy for this old farmgirl with occasional hot flashes. It’s probably better on a cooler day. Shelly drank every drop of hers, cayenne pepper and all. Show off!

There’s no comparison between Waco and Pawkuska regarding the population and size of towns. In Waco, you can spend much of the day at Magnolia, but then visit many nearby stores and shops. Pawhuska stands more on its own. Unless you’re standing in long lines, making your way through the Mercantile might take an hour. Add eating time, without the lines, and you spend three. If going to the lodge, I imagine it turns into a longer day. You can spend more time browsing through additional shops or driving through Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. The entrance is right around the corner.

What is comparable between Waco and Pawkuska are the long-term effects being made possible with the revitalization of a specific area. As a marketing person, I admire the vision. Their own business initiatives plus the ones that spin off contribute so much to their communities. New job potential, additional tax revenue, and tourist dollars. Small towns need it for survival.

I’m hesitate to recommend making a 24-hour (home and back) road trip to Pawhuska unless you’re a much bigger fan than me, or you plan to make other stops. A plane ticket may be in order. I will say that however you choose to get there, it’s certainly worth the destination experience.IMG_0223IMG_0213IMG_0208

Bee Love

I admit I was naïve about beekeeping. My intentions were good. Get some hives, do my part to save our agricultural future, and harvest some honey in the process. On top of being naïve about the amount of knowledge needed, I certainly didn’t expect to feel genuine concern for the little creatures. After all, it’s not like having a dog.  I didn’t give them names like the neighbor does with her chickens and sheep. Hive #1 and Hive #2 is certainly sufficient.

To start from the beginning, I set up the hives about 4 weeks ago with two colonies. Since then, I’ve mixed up their bottles (jars of sugar water), monitored their flight paths, observed the pollen on their back quarters, and studied up on mites and beetles. I waited for them to acclimate to their new homes before pulling off the roof to check what was happening. The truth is I put it off until I felt I had watched enough YouTube videos. I know nothin’ about conducting a beehive inspection. Seriously, I’m still trying to figure out the difference in brood, burr comb, and honey. Not mentioning how to keep a smoker smoking.

After deciphering a little information from each of the 5,000 videos on the subject, I hoped I knew enough to crack the lid. I took notebook and pen, pretending that I would actually know enough to write something down. After a little smoke in the first hive, I took off the lid. There seemed to be thousands of bees, but then I spotted the white larvae. I felt panic. Is that a baby bee? Is that a worm? What is that?  I put the lid back in place, took off my gloves, and scribbled in my notebook…I NEED A BEE MENTOR!

I went back to the house, shot off an email to a fellow bee association member, and called up YouTube. The white stuff is wax moth. Wax moths set up camp in the empty real estate in the hive if there aren’t enough bees to protect the space. So, after some advice and two or three videos, I suited up, went back to tackle the intruders, and do some frame shifting. The bees weren’t excited to see me again, but I told them it was for their own good.

I knew Hive #1 and Hive#2 wouldn’t be glad to see me a third time, but I went to inspect the work the next day. The bees seemed happy, undisturbed by my presence (other than one overzealous guard bee), and buzzing with work. As I placed the frames back in line, fanned to keep from squishing, admired their little wings and cuteness, protected my babies, I realized….. I just fell in love. I felt the weight of responsibility for their well being.

I’ve heard there is no money in beekeeping, it’s expensive, and requires maintenance. Those comments are normally followed by “but it gets in your blood”. I now understand what they mean.

I wonder how many names I need. Hive #1 and Hive #2 now seems so impersonal.

Bee Love

36 Years……

Being in a long marriage is a little bit like that nice cup of coffee every morning—I might have it every day, but I still enjoy it.” Stephen Gaines

I sat and watched David fix a leak under the sink this weekend. He said he hated plumbing as he shook his head, starred at the issue, and FIXED it. I sat in my chair at the bar, drank my coffee, and supervised. Not really. I know nothing about plumbing. What I did do is think about being married to this man for 36 years today.

We were kids when we married. I’m sure we didn’t think it at the time, but we were. I was 19 and he was 21. Yep, kids. Thankfully, we’ve grown up together. We’ve spent a lot of time apart. He worked midnights for several years and I worked and traveled. I’ve spent several years working in another state. We’ve had independence, but always secure in where we belong. We’ve swapped chores when needed with no assignment based on roles. David makes a mean pan of cornbread and loves using the iron skillets. I’m a Hello Fresh and crock pot girl. He makes me waffles with blueberries (contributes to my retirement weight gain). He changed as many diapers, if not more, than I did.

I wondered if and when I retired, if we would get on each other’s nerves. So far, we are good. Several have asked him if he is adjusting to me being home every day. Each time he gives the same answer. He tells them that he loves having me around. Even after 36 years, I know he means it. A few days ago, he told me that he enjoys my company. Good thing since I hope we are both around for a while. He also said that he wishes for us to have another 36 years together. That is sweet, but I don’t think it will be very pretty or realistic.

When I talked about getting a couple of bee hives, he said to go for it. He told me that it would have to be a “Carrie” hobby because of his work and mowing habit. Funny thing about bees, they seem to draw you in (they are fascinating critters). First, he helped level the hives and get the area ready (He knows I’m horrible at leveling). Second, he helped catch a swarm I found in a nearby pine tree (I know nothin’ about catching a swarm). Just other day, he made two new opening reducers to fit the hives with feeders. As he walked toward me with the reducers, I remember thinking this man hates buying presents and cards for any occasion, but he makes me waffles and builds bee hive parts. Who needs cards (I’m trying to be a minimalist anyway)  and presents?

Happy Anniversary David, life is good here with you on Windy Hill.pexels-photo-1036844.jpeg