Travel- Exploring an Eclectic Downtown in Tahlequah, Oklahoma

I was still unexpectedly awake when October 15th turned into the 16th and continued to stay awake until 3am. That’s what happens when you hang out with friends in a band, but I forgot this fact since I haven’t done that in so many years. The next evening I was still recuperating, but it was well worthwhile.

The show was at the Dream theater in a small unassuming college town at the edge of the Ozarks in beautiful Tahlequah, Oklahoma. So why was I, the person who loves to be asleep early and wake up for sunrises, able to stay conscious for such a long stretch?  Because the concert included two of my dearest friends, who I’ve known since birth and stayed in touch with despite my family’s gypsy ways. Annie and Bonnie Paine are talented musicians who can sing and play a variety of instruments. Despite Bonnie’s busy schedule touring with another great band, Elephant Revival, I was lucky to catch up with both at once.

The music was a montage of talented rock, folk, alternative, americana and blues. Each band had their own signature style and there were many crossover performances creating a feeling of being at a private jam on a back porch. Together they put on a beautiful show. Featuring more than the guitar and drums of most pop music I was enamored with the washboard, bass, clarinet and fiddle. I haven’t had this much fun at a concert in years.

If I had to pick a favorite it would be “Cottonwood Snow” with Annie and Bonnie Paine, Allison Olassa and featuring Patti Richardson on clarinet. Patti is also a talented photographer.

Possibly the world’s greatest rock and roll fiddler, a talented lyricist and a fun person to boot is”Randy Crouch and the Flying Horse

A band to fall in love with and listen to as your falling in love is “The Deer” from Austin Texas.


If you want delicious food for any meal stop by the Iguana Cafe at 500 N. Muskogee Ave. in downtown Tahlequah. They have a variety of food for vegetarians and carnivores, plus some superb smoothies. I recommend the Garden Snake sandwich and Four Berry smoothie. They also have wi-fi which allowed me to get a lot of work done while I ate and saw people from the previous night’s fun.



I arrived just in time for the Third Thursday event celebrating local shops, musicians, and artists.  I met Rodslen Brown who runs the Project A Association, a non-profit designed as a prevention program for youth in the surrounding area. Their objective is to “provide hands on involvement, learning, basic work ethics and effective decision-making through education and training.” For more information send an email to or call 918-683-2753. Rodslen is featured with the hand-woven baskets in the photo collage below.

I felt at home in this artistic town with a bustling theater, music and art scene. Artist Linda Callaway caught my eye with her clever looking blank dolls covered in beautiful hand drawn tattoos. You can order from her by calling 918-351-8918. Musicians performed a variety of music on every block, but my favorite was a man wearing zombie makeup on the guitar who encouraged us to join him in singing “Monster Mash”.  I don’t care for singing in public, but I will admit that it was fun. There were even actors from the Tahlequah Community Playhouse walking around in full costume advertising the upcoming play, “The Trial of Ebenzer Scrooge”.

Tahlequah Oklahoma


Ready for breakfast or dessert? Morgans Bakery has been a local favorite for over 50 years, and you can walk over to Kawi cafe for a cup of Cherokee blend coffee. Kawi means coffee in Cherokee and on top of tasty food, this delightful stop is a project of the Cherokee Department of Commerce offering free training for enterprising entrepreneurs.


One of my favorite perks of a small rural town is the beautiful scenery in place of the endless concrete and freeways found in larger cities. October seems to be the best time of year for a visit. The summer heat is over, most of the bugs are gone, the low humidity is not turning my hair into a ball of curly frizz, temps are hovering in the 70’s and the vivid green foliage slowly changes as bursts of red and orange hint at the approaching autumn.


These last two collages are a spattering of the eclectic treasures to be found by off the path explorers like me. You will find murals, parks, stone bridges,  art, culture and a copper horse. Oklahoma used to be Indian country and there is still much Native American influence, as noted by the street signs printed in both English and Cherokee. So what’s with the cell on the wall? This humorous write-up for the bathroom graffiti was too funny not to share and is a good indication of the local laid back vibe.





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Empowering Discussions

Culture is Important: Photos from the 2014 Inter-Tribal Pow Wow at San Luis Mission Rey.

I recall going to a Pow Wow or two with my family when I was younger. Part of our family is Cherokee so Native American culture has always held an importance in my life. While my own family is mixed up with different colors our culture is a mashup that closely resembles many modern families. Holidays are observed as a occassion to get together or have a potluck, not out of obligation, religion or superstition.


Still preserving our diverse and global cultures is important to me. I’m especially drawn to cultures that incorporate music, dance, costumes, and earth friendly traditions. Native Americans embody all those qualities. I highly recommend attending a Pow Wow or other tribal events in your area. It’s eye-opening to remember that we live in a world where everything cannot be bought in a store or filmed on a Hollywood set. On Father’s day I went to the 2014 Inter Tribal Pow Wow hosted by the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians,


At this years event we were honored to listen to a few elders share their wisdom along with a call to action. Among those actions was to respect the earth and stop destroying our Mother Earth with so much pollution. Another was to stop judging others and being negative, jealous, or mean because you don’t understand or like someone. Their messages varied on topics, but were all about creating a sustainable world. They asked for peace, for problem solving, and to rethink the world we are leaving for the next seven generations.


The Pow-Wow featured beautiful costumes, enchanting dancers of all ages, basket weavers and vendors selling a mixture of native made products and modern toys and clothing. Everyone who was attending and performing was friendly and enjoying themselves. I had a great time. The California Indian Basketweavers Association was set up displaying their talents and weaving baskets. This was my favorite booth by far.

The only disappointing part was the food. The closest thing to “native” food was fry bread, which only became a traditional diet staple when tribes were forced off their land and onto reservations where hunting and foraging was scarce. Our government was “nice” enough to give tribes flour, sugar, and lard so women used what they had tokeep their families alive. With a rise of diabetes and obesity among Native and all Americans fry bread is an easy target and up for debate on whether it should continue to be a staple: addition to fry bread there was soda, lemonade, tacos, steak, and ice cream to eat. I decided to walk a few blocks away and get bring back food from the grocer instead. Hopefully next year they will have healthier fare.

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