It’s All About The View

It’s All About The View

The very last week of March, Scott and I moved into a tiny 400 sq ft studio apartment that we intended to be in for at least a year.  We were pretty confident we would be able to live comfortably in the small space with the beds and living area in the same area because we did it quite well in the apartment we had in Texas.  I, however, did not have a job that caused me to come home and hit the bed by 6:30 pm.  This situation was just not ideal for Scott since he really didn’t want to go to bed that early.  But yet we really loved the tiny apartment in the historic building and were trying our best to deal with frustration.

The apartment building was built next to the Bellview School on 15th (Cherry Street) and Peoria.  I have checked out various places of Tulsa history and have found this building to be the location where those who taught at Bellview School (later changed to Lincoln School) resided.  At the time the school was built, it was just outside of the Tulsa City limits and the street was not known as 15th, but it was Cherry Street.  This was in 1909 and Tulsa was just finding its place in the state. Orcutt Addition was the area where the school was located.  You will find many old houses and apartment buildings from the 1900-1920’s in this area and all the street names have changed except for Utica.  The Swan Lake Park is still there, but at one time it was an amusement park; alas, that is another story.

There are eight one bedroom apartments and four studios at this time.  I am sure there were a few others down in the basement area, but spaces below are now storage for building maintenance and the laundry.  All of the apartments have mostly the same historical decorations that are quite charming, but there is a quite a bit of difference in what the studio has versus the one bedrooms.  I found the studios utterly charming and loved the experience of living in one.

The studios are basically one room with a seperate kitchen, hall area and bathroom; they do not feel terribly small. Having lived in our 547 sq ft Texas apartment within the bedroom, we thought this would be the perfect place and even were making plans to build a murphy bed!  The photo above is the 400 sq ft Tulsa apartment while the photo just below this is the 547 sq ft Texas apartment.

As you can see, space is pretty much equal and the living was pretty much the same, except in the Tulsa apartment the beds were used at night and stood up during the day for ease of movement.  We loved the situation we were in and really liked living in this manner when we were both on the same sleeping schedule.

One of the things I just loved about this Tulsa apartment was the fact that they had a huge closet in the main room.  What tiny 400 sq ft apartment has a giant closet like this, especially in historically build buildings from the turn of the century?  I was under the impression closets were never really built.

The surprise is, this was not originally a closet, it was a murphy bed!  This is where a bed frame and mattress are stored in a closet or stand-alone storage unit that is pulled down to sleep on and put away when not in use.  Unfortunately, the apartment owners decided it would be better to not have the murphy beds due to the “critters” that can be found in some beds, furniture and dark comfy places.  As neat as it would have been to have one, it is probably best to have them gone. This enabled us to have a huge closet to store our totes of unsorted stuff.

One of the interesting things about this tiny apartment was the fact that all four of them had whats called a “dressing” room.  This is where another closet was found and led to the bathroom.  During the time this building was created, people had specific rooms they would dress in so the main living areas were not cluttered with non-essential pieces of furniture.  This area was a huge space for us to put a dresser and have all of our clothes. At one time there was a door dividing the living and dressing areas, but only the henges remained.

The next set of doors had an even better surprise that had my heart all aflutter and was one of the reasons I really wanted this apartment in the first place, the kitchen.  It was about the size of the dressing room and bathroom together and there was a true antique behind the glass doors.

This is a cast iron, porcelain kitchen unit!  Of course, the stove is new, but the kitchen unit is original to the building and it came with a sweet bit of history.  On the lower left side of the photo, you will notice a door, do you know what it is?  I knew as soon as I saw it and I squealed with delight.  Strange I know, but that’s the history person in me.

It was an ice box!  An actual icebox that was still in amazing condition.  I have just loved the fact that there was one in this historic apartment.  Granted, I had no clue how to use one the way they did with these units, but, because an actual modern refrigerator was included in the kitchen, it would become a place to store items since there was not much room here.  There were also so many other original-to-this-kitchen items that I was thrilled about.

All of the cabinet and drawers were in fantastic condition and it just boggled my mind as to how little these original apartment dwellers had when they came to teach at the new Bellview School in 1910.  I could just imagine a teacher fixing themselves tea or a small meal after classes were over for the day.

The sink and faucet were also original to the apartment giving it all of the charms I was thrilled to be living in.  Fortunately, the plumbing was not historic and worked really well such an established apartment.

So many wonderful things we found original to this tiny bit of an apartment that made living here a pleasure, but that happiness was going to sour a little in less than a month of us moving in.  I had started a new job with a company who does resets of displays in a multiuse store and the work is exhausting.  I would spend hours working on ladders and lifting product to shelves that I had previously moved to fit a “plan-a-gram” and I was coming home exhausted and worn out.  First thing I would do was soak in a very hot tub with Epsom salt, then I would eat and then pull down my bed and fall asleep and all before 6:30 pm.  This did not go well for Scott.  He was feeling as if he had to be silent and not stir much.  Of course, I couldn’t seem to get him to understand that it would never have disturbed me, I was too exhausted.  Because of this, he had decided to look at the one bedroom apartment next door to our tiny apartment.  He was thrilled and wanted to move.  The apartment owner was happy about this turn of events and allowed us to move.

The move only took a few hours since we really don’t own too much.  The apartment has it’s own bit of charm because the former tenant had painted an accent color throughout the apartment.  It, at first was a bit overwhelming, but I have found I am quite fond of it and wonder how to add my own touch of style to it.  We both like the space we have gained and there are still some nice historical touches that make me happy to be in the larger space.

One such is this little niche next to the door.  At first, I thought it was a place for a phone; however, at the time the building was built, telephones were not in homes.  So, I still have not figured out what it was for, but I am using it as a landing strip and Dr. Who alter.  It works well for this.

The doors are original to the apartment and I love that there are still the glass knobs.  I, unfortunately, have found it is definitely not a door that keeps the sound out.  We are hoping to get the door replaced someday, but for now, we will continue to say it is wonderful to have such historic charm.

In the hallway, located where the kitchen is, most of the outer apartments have these niches in them.  There is a corresponding door on the opposite side of the wall.  It was definitely a mystery to us and it took a little research to figure it all out.

Turns out it is called a “milk door.”  This is where the milkman would deliver milk and pick up the empty milk bottles!  Once I knew what it was, I was very thrilled to know the owner had decided to keep them inside the kitchens.  Our milk door is closed up from the outside so the only place you can see this bit of history is from inside the apartment.  We decided this would be the perfect place to put Cordie’s food and treats.  Since there is not a lot of storage in the kitchen, this was the perfect spot.

The kitchen in this one bedroom does not have the same amount of charm as the tiny apartment, but it is still nice.  It has the same, but larger kitchen cabinets, but a more modern lower counter with sink.  I must say I am thrilled about a larger sink, it has made washing dishes so much easier.  Scott is still getting used to the kitchen area because there still is not as much prep surface.  We are still in the process of making it home.

It is such a very long kitchen, but I am realizing that the section just before the working area is just about sized right for a small round table.  I remember a photo I saw once where the table was just large enough for two plates and that was it, with a man sitting next to it.  People at the turn of the century did not sit in front of the television and eat like we do today; they sat at a table and took in their meals.  We are still looking for something small enough, but will probably build a folding table so we can use it and then put it away.  Space is a premium around this apartment and we are always looking for an interesting way to have the things we need using the least amount of space.

I had not realized how much I have missed having a bedroom.  I was finally able to go to bed as early as I wished without worrying about putting Scott out.  He was able to stay up as long as he wished without worrying he would disturb me from my sleep.  The best part was we did not have to put the bed away the next morning; just simply make the bed and get on with the day.  Such a  wonderful feeling.  It had been so long since we were able to do this and I am finally able to use the quilt my grandmother and mother made for me so long ago.

Because we have so much more space in the living room, we are able to have two dedicated desks for Scott and me to work at.  I have been working on the laptop on my lap for so long, I had forgotten how nice it was to have a clean, uncluttered desk to work at.  It has made working on the website so much easier.  We will be putting up a few individual shelves eventually and artwork, but we have the perfect accented wall to do just that.

One of the things a fellow tenant commented on is that we have our apartment flipped.  I was a bit confused by what she said and she invited me to her apartment on the other side of the building.  She has put her living area in the room we are using as a bedroom while using the biggest room for her bedroom.  I was stunned.  However, isn’t that what they did at the time when this building was new?  The one bedroom apartments also have the huge murphy bed closets so this originally the bedroom!  I was stunned; after all my studying on history living conditions, why had I not realized this!

When this building was built, there was no air conditioning except for the natural rise of heat and fall of cool. I often wondered how people kept cool during the years before air conditioning and this apartment was an education in just that.  Because of the high ceilings, cross ventilation, and large double opening windows they were able to keep the heat down.  The room we used as a bedroom has four huge windows that were put there for just that purpose.  Unfortunately, because we are using it as a bedroom, we are having to put a large cover over the west windows because of the summer sun and bright street lights.  This causes the “turn of the century” air conditioning to not work as well.  I wonder if Scott would go for switching the rooms…

I am loving that we moved to the one bedroom apartment next door to the tiny studio.  We have gained a little bit of normalcy back and we are able to function a bit better, but I think Scott decided he wanted the apartment because of the view.

I think I agree with him.

If you want to view the original photos, please visit the album for this post on our Flickr page:
Thanks for visiting us and see ya soon,



Counties, Gotta Catch’em All!

Counties, Gotta Catch’em All!

One of the things Scott and I have been doing over the past couple of years is collecting counties.  I guess you could say even though we do not have much room to collect things, we still have the urge, the need to collect something.  We decided the best way to do this was to drive through a county and, as a bonus, capture the county courthouse, in pictures, if possible.  There are 3,144 counties in the United State and our intention is to visit each one; true, this is a monumental task, but think of everything we will be able to see!

Most of the time when we start out on a trip, we do not really plan what counties we will be passing through.  It is not until after the drive that we mark what counties we passed through.  In November we decided we wanted to change that up a bit and made a sort of plan to get as many counties as we could while traveling through the state of Arkansas.  However, it wasn’t exactly planned the whole way.  We sat up in our Auntie’s bed with our atlas and started to look at where we were going to go the next day.  We knew we wanted to stop and stay the night in Pine Bluff but that was as much as we knew.  Looking at the atlas, we realized there was a pattern we could take to capture a bunch of Arkansas counties, so that was what we did.  It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it was a “plan.”

Because of a basic plan we were able to accomplish a rather large county grab with 18 new Arkansas counties and 21 county courthouses (some courthouses were in counties we had already collected in the past).  We were stunned when we realized it only left us six counties to get for the state, but we just didn’t have the time as Scott had to be at work the next day.  This was sad for us, but it did open our eyes to how much we could accomplish with a little bit of planning.  “Just think,” Scott daydreamed, “we could accomplish so much more if we just planned better and stuck with it!”  He was right in his observation, but would we really be able to stick to a travel plan and not pursue bunny trails?

Since I have been working on the website, I have become more aware of the counties and how we will accomplish this county collection since we are tied to a sticks-and-bricks home.  We have been to all of the closest counties to Tulsa County (marked in blue below) and it takes approximately two hours to get into counties we have not visited.  Yes, serious planning is required now, if we want to accomplish anything.

This situation had us a bit baffled because we haven’t really made ourselves follow a travel plan and never really needed to do so.  With this thought in mind, Scott and I decided it was time to start working on this very situation, so knowing we wanted to do something on Sunday morning we decided upon a county grab.  When we drive somewhere with a plan to just drive through and collecting new counties, we call this a “county grab.”  This would be a well planned day trip getting us six new counties, eight county courthouses, and one state park.  However, because of the time we left, we planned for an alternative change of three new counties, four county courthouses, and one state park if necessary.  The plan looked something like this:

Starting from Tulsa, we would take the Cimarron Turnpike (Highway 412) to the north of Stillwater at Highway 177 then head north to Newkirk capturing Kay County Courthouse.  Then we would head further north to Arkansas City and capture the county courthouse there.  Head over to Highway 35, up to Kansas to Highway 160, over to Wellington, then on to Harper and Medicine Lodge while grabbing both county courthouses as we went.  We would then head south back into Oklahoma to Alva’s county courthouse for Woods County.  Once there we would head home by way of Highway 64 to Cherokee for Alfalfa’s County Courthouse, picking up Great Salt Plains State Park.  Then we would head east on Highway 11 through Medford, capturing Grant County’s courthouse.  From there, it would be Interstate 35 back to the Cimarron Turnpike (Highway 412) towards Tulsa.  This was a good plan and we would have been thrilled to get as much as we had; however, we soon learned our plans would need to be changed.

As we approached our exit on to Highway 177 towards Ponca City, we were alerted of severe winter weather road conditions. Checking the radar there was a huge snowy, winter storm heading directly for us if we crossed over the Oklahoma-Kansas border.  The closer north towards Newkirk we drove, the darker the sky was becoming.  When we stopped for the courthouse, we checked the weather radar to see that our planned path into Kansas was not possible so we altered the plans by turning south and heading towards Blackwell.  This meant we would probably not be capturing two county courthouses, but someday we would be able to do so.  We still had the plan, we were just altering it a bit.

As we came to Interstate 35, an SUV was exiting onto highway 11 just in front of us.  The sky ahead of us was blue and all evidence of the possibly dangerous weather had disappeared, except for this SUV.  He was covered with snow and ice.  This, in itself, confirmed we had made the correct choice.  Lesson One:  Sometimes plans must change in order to have a good road trip. Checking the weather radar we continued east towards Medford, the county seat for Grant County.

From Medford, we headed on to the Great Salt Plains State Park just outside of Jett, Oklahoma.  I had visited this area with my parents when I was in elementary school, but Scott had never been there.  This is the location you can walk on the salt plains and dig for crystals.  Unfortunately, the dig site was closed for the season.  They are open from early April to late September each year; for this, we will be back, but definitely not during the hot summer months.  This part of Oklahoma can be just as brutal in the summer as we were experiencing this day’s winter winds with a 15-degree windchill.  We braved the strong winds to look at the spillway where the Great Salt Plains Lake fed into the Salt Fork Branch of the Arkansas River.

This was a moment we needed to make another decision about our day trip.  If you will remember, we had originally thought about going into Kansas and getting two more Kansas counties but decided not to go north on Highway 177 because of the winter weather warning.  We had to make a decision; were we going to stop our county grab in Woods County or would we be going north towards the two Kansas counties?  Looking at the clock, it was 4:10pm and we still had a 50 minute drive to Alva.  Scott checked the time of sunset and it was at 5:50pm.  Obviously, we would be driving into Kansas in the dark if we continued and we would not see any of the two new Kansas counties.  We knew Alva would be the last county courthouse for us for the day.  So without any further delay, we drove just south of the Great Salt Plains to Cherokee in order to capture the county courthouse for Alfalfa County.

Alva was an interesting place, here you will find quiet streets filled with old prairie styled houses, many brightly painted murals on various types of buildings, and Northwestern Oklahoma State University.  The later shocked me.  I had been under the impression it was in far western Oklahoma; I was then even more shocked when Scott informed me that we were in far western Oklahoma.  Looking at the county map, we were literally one county from being in the Panhandle of Oklahoma!  I had a brief moment of excitement and almost suggested we drive to the Highway 64 crossing of the Cimarron River to dip our toes in Harper County, but that would be another 40 minutes and we were already looking at a three-hour drive home.  So I kept my excitement to myself and turned the SUV eastward towards home.

Photo taken by Scott of a pond and farm along Highway 11 west of Medford.

We had accomplished what we set out to do, we had followed a plan and changed it accordingly so we could meet a goal we set.  This was huge for us.  For us, this meant we were able to make a plan, follow through, and make the necessary changes for our safety; all of this without being pulled away by bunny trails and curiosity.  Lesson two:  Spontaneity is not always something you should allow, especially when trying to achieve a goal.  With us being in a specific place for an unspecified amount of time, we are going to find ourselves in need of long-distance travel to get to the new counties.  This will take willpower because both of us tend to want to take the path of the unknown which will cause us to not achieve.  We have a goal of visiting all 3,144 counties in the United States, we cannot crush this goal if we allow bunny trails to lead us away every time.  With this trip, we accomplished more than just a county grab of three; we achieved success over bunnies.

St Francis National Forest – Arkansas 2017 (Scott)

Thanks for visiting us, see ya soon,

How To Start A New Year

How To Start A New Year

We planned to enjoy the bringing in of a new year quietly and at the place we are calling home for now; unfortunately, that is not what serendipity decided for us.  Instead, we found ourselves 450 miles away on a bus with no English speakers surrounded by icy winter weather.  However, it’s wasn’t as grim as it might sound.  Scott and I were enroute to pick up a new-to-us Expedition because the truck finally gave up.  See, it’s all about how you choose to view it, no matter how cold it is.

Christmas Eve, we were headed to spend time with family only to start the day out with the truck giving up, leaving us stranded for a short while.  Don’t fear, our friend Larry was able to assist us and got us home.  We were able to borrow a vehicle for the day so we could be with family.  Christmas Day was amazing.  Most of the time my mother and father have myself and my children with their families celebrating at their home, but this year my daughter Amber took on the work.  Since my son’s Christmas gift was the meal, we had a very simple menu with ham, potatoes, pea salad, and my son-in-law’s Tator Tot Casserole, plus the many dessert treats that were Ren friendly.  Then, of course, there were the gifts!

Often people use Christmas to give huge extravagant gifts for their friends and families which can cause an issue of “keeping up with the Jones'” mindset.  We decided this year we would not fall into this frame of mind and put a simple limit on the amount to be spent.  Even better than that, we gathered the money together and asked our good friend Belle to purchase and wrap the gifts.  None of us knew what the gifts were until we unwrapped them Christmas Day.  The part that made this so fun and challenging for Belle, was it was only $5 per person.  I know, scary, right?  However, this gal hit this challenge out of the park.  She was able to get everyone something they loved and could use while not allowing anyone to feel they had been slighted. It was definitely a wonderful celebration, and one that will be hard to beat.

With Christmas over, the next important chore was to find a vehicle we could afford.  We had some requirements for our next vehicle but were not sure we would be able to find what we needed for the money we had available.  Fortunately for us, we have some amazing friends who were in the right place at the right time.  Our friends Karl and Jessica had a 1997 Ford Expedition they were needing to home and it was in excellent condition.  The best part was it was within our price point AND it fit the requirements we had.  The only thing was, it was in Austin, Texas; we are in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  That is a 450-mile trip and we had to figure out how we were going to get there as soon as possible.  Scott had a four day weekend coming up and we are always up for a challenge; well, once plans stop getting nixed.  Unfortunately, because we had decided a couple of years ago to get rid of our credit cards, we were unable to rent a car; the only flights available were all on standby and the traditional Grayhound bus service was completely sold out.  We, meaning me, were in a total panic, then Scott found something unexpected.

Turimex Internacional is a bus system that caters to the Hispanic community.  At first, when Scott told me about it, I was nervous about it.  I know, I was not in my comfort zone and I found myself putting up barriers.  However, after reading reviews, seeing many photos of the buses and finding out more about the service, I agreed.  It was not the perfect answer, but it was the answer, and it was time to take our own advice and get out of our box, our comfort zone, and live life.  There were some really difficult things about this trip such as there hardly being anyone who spoke English, it was a twelve-hour drive, and not a dining situation except to eat in our seats, but it was a new experience for us.  It has helped us see that there are other possibilities out there for travel.  I will admit, I prefer our own transport, but there is a more willingness to entertain other modes of travel.  Twelve hours after we stepped upon the bus, we arrived at our destination.  We were very happy to go sleep in a comfortable, warm bed.

The day before New Year’s Eve, Scott and I got into our new vehicle and proceeded to go on an adventure.  We have been to Austin many times because I needed to attend Texans for State Parks board meetings, but we had not really seen much of the area except for the downtown Texas Capital building.  I knew McKinney Falls State Park was directly behind the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department headquarters, but we had never stopped in to visit; therefore, we decided this was one of our destinations while we were running around this day.  McKinney Falls State Park has some really amazing features that you are going to love, I know I was in heaven while we were visiting.  The actual falls were created by the wonderful Texas Limestone that once was the roadway for the El Camino Real de los Tejas.  This was the road we traveled along when we visited Nacogdoches November 2015 and was the lifeline for Texas in the 1800’s.  You will find some homestead buildings, a 500-year-old Cypress tree, a natural stone shelter, and many trails.  When you are in the area, go visit; it is so worth the trip.

While we were wandering around Austin, we found the Travis County Courthouse.  Even though we had been able to mark off the county a couple of years ago, I was extremely excited to be able to collect the county courthouse.  One of the things about county courthouses I love is the history.  The original county courthouse was a two-story building near Republic Park in downtown, but this was not the official courthouse.  That was built in 1876, but it was not large enough for their needs so they built a second one in the Second Empire style alongside the Texas Capitol Complex.  Eventually, in 1931, the current building was built and the former building was used as office space for various Texas State Agencies.  The current building is six stories PWA Moderne style made out of concrete with limestone neoclassical flourishes.  As you can see, it fits the Austin eclectic style.

After the capture of the Travis County Courthouse, we knocked about town enjoying the hills, canyons, and scenery.  I can tell you, I am looking forward to more adventures in this crazy place.  There are so many interesting eating establishments, but our favorite so far has been the food trucks.  They are everywhere and some of the local coffee places are welcoming them onto their property.  We had a great experience with one at Radio Coffee and Beer.  Because we were in Austin, we knew there would be great music playing somewhere on a Saturday evening.  We were not left lacking for sure.  This evening we went early for dinner and enjoyed street tacos by Vera Cruz Taco Truck, a couple of blood orange ciders and, of course, coffee.  We were also able to hear some really good music by Christy Hays and Ali Holder.  I just loved Christy’s song style and really enjoyed her songs.  One of the songs she sang “Ribbon of Highway” just spoke to me.  If you would like to hear some of her music you can go here:  I can’t wait for her album release in April.  You should be excited about it too!

New Year’s Eve was such a quiet day for us.  We just spent the day with our friends Karl and Jessica, while having lunch at Opal Divines Austin Grill with their friends Taylor and TheLester (turns out it is DLester, but I thought she kept saying “The” Lester!  hahahaha).  It was amazing meeting these two gentlemen who were great conversationalists and very interesting people.  I think that is one of the reasons I love meeting friends of my friends; they are so diverse and I feel like I am a better person because they encourage me to be one.  Plus they have awesome toys!   Once the long wonderful lunch was over, we went back to Karl and Jessica’s and just chilled out, played video games, and talked about everything.  Scott and I were invited to a New Year’s Eve party but we decided we were going to stay in.  We had pizza (did I mention Austin was a food paradise?), booze, and popcorn.  I had forgotten how excited Texans get about fireworks and it was New Year’s Eve so fireworks were a must.  You could hear them popping all around us, in the middle of town.  It was so loud, but I managed to fall asleep until, what I assume was midnight, there was a huge explosion of fireworks.  It was extremely loud, however, my exhaustion was more powerful so I turned over and went back to sleep.  The next morning I woke to Scott snoring like a madman.

It was departure day, New Year’s Day, and it was 9:00 am.  We dressed and gathered our things, headed out quietly and found a McDonalds.  While we waited for our order to arrive at our table we knew we needed to look at the various routes home.  On Saturday the Fort Worth-Dallas area was overtaken by a wintery weather mix and the cities were shut down for the at least a few days.  This wintery weather mix showed up in Austin the night before and I had panicked a little the night before, but Scott convinced me to calm down and we would figure things out the next morning.  It was the next morning and we were viewing the traffic map only to see Waco was shut down as well so we were going to be required to figure out a new path.  Fortunately, we were already near State Highway 79 and it went straight to Palestine then up to Paris along State Highway 19.  We had already been through all of the counties we were driving through, but we had not gotten three of the county courthouses of those counties.  We were able to capture the Robertson County Courthouse, Rains County Courthouse, and Anderson County Courthouse, just by driving right past them.  The best part about the situation is that we didn’t have to drive out of our way to capture them.  Once we got to Hugo, Oklahoma we took the Indian Nation Turnpike home.  We pulled into the driveway around 9:00 pm.

This, in many ways, began as a trip that was filled with anxiety and fear because we were taking a mode of transportation we were unfamiliar with and it was in a situation where we did not know the language.  We found ways to communicate and we made it work; it has helped us be more open to learning Spanish and exploring the culture a bit more.  Mark Twain said, ” Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” After this trip to Austin on the New Year’s Holiday, I find this to be extremely true and I look forward to getting out and living life outside my comfort zone.

Happy Travels Everyone,