ATT Bricktown Ballpark
We were back in our car and on our way. I fully expected to drive most of the way, at least, to Oklahoma City before we stopped again. (Deja-vu all over again). Well, this time I was right. We made a quick pit stop in Clinton, OK to go the restroom. I was also getting hungry so I got some snacks. This was probably not smart, because we wanted to eat once we got to Bricktown.
With our various stops, instead of arriving around noon, as I had first planned, we pulled into the western end of Oklahoma City around 4 PM.
As it had been the case every day of our current trip, it was hot! The car thermometer registered 104 degrees F! I was not looking forward to wandering Bricktown in this heat, but unfortunately this was the only time we would have to do it. Tomorrow, we would be doing museums.
So after checking into our hotel, we got back on I-40 and continued east for another 5 miles. I had already scouted out parking. We would be parking at a place called Power Alley Parking. This is a multi-story parking garage located right behind the left field fence of AT &T Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City Redhawks. It is also right in the heart of Bricktown, and exactly where we wanted to start our tour.
Bricktown is an old warehouse district in Oklahoma City.
In the 1980s the area began a change from a run down eyesore to a vibrant destination for locals and tourists alike. In 1993, that transition was kicked into high gear when Oklahoma voters approved a 1% sales tax hike for the Metro Area Projects (MAPS) initiative. This project included the construction of an indoor sports area (Ford Center), a baseball stadium, and the Bricktown Canal.
Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse
The Bricktown Canal is a San Antonio Riverwalk inspired, man-made canal, lined with restaurants and other businesses. The Canal was completed in 1999 and flows along what used to be California Street between the BNSF railroad tracks and Walnut Ave.
It is only about four feet deep, but is serviced by a constant flow of scheduled water taxis. Taking a boat ride was high on our list of things to do today.
This is just wrong!
After parking the car ($5 for all day), we took the elevator down, and walked out into the alley behind the parking garage and the ballpark. The park is designed so those in the alley can look between the slats and actually see what is going on. It was kind of an offshoot of the old knotholes in wooden fences from days gone by. I knew the Redhawks were on the road while we were in town. I was torn by this fact. It’s a beautiful park and I love watching baseball. But, even forgetting about the heat (not much cooler at night), we would have had to squeeze the game into our schedule. That would really be pushing it. Should we make it back to OKC again, we will be going.
As soon as we emerged from the alley, we saw a street sign indicating that we had just passed through Flaming Lips Alley.
I am sure there is a story there, but I don’t know what it was. I was a bit troubled by this sign, as it also announced the street which we would now be crossing, Mickey Mantle Ave. It just seemed wrong for Mickey Mantle Ave to meet Flaming Lips Alley.
Waterfall on the Canal
Across Mickey Mantle Ave was Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse, a branch of the famous NYC restaurant, started by the Yankee great. We were not hungry, so we did not go in. Yet another thing we would miss on this trip. However, Mickey Mantle’s sits right on the canal, and so does the kiosk to buy your Water Taxi tickets. Since we weren’t hungry, and it was hot enough burn asbestos, a shaded and misted water ride sounded pretty good.
I got our tickets and Margo and I walked down to the queue.
There weren’t many people, so we just grabbed a spot in the shade and waited. It didn’t take too long before a boat was ready to go. We got a seat under the canopy, but noticed that the misters weren’t working. That was Ok, it wasn’t that bad. Our guide introduced himself as Mason, and said as quick as he could grab a water we would be under way.
The Oklahoma Land Rush Memorial
Mason turned out to be a very knowledgeable and friendly guide. He relates stories of his younger days, traveling to OKC with his Dad on business. How this area of town was not the best after dark, and how the people and government of the state had transformed it through a 1% tax (with a sunset provision!) increase. If the Chamber of Commerce was not giving him a percentage of the take, they should be. He pointed out many restaurants giving a review of them. He related bad (not a whole lot, but enough to convince me he was honest) as well as good.
The trip took us from one end of the canal to the other.
It lasted about 30 minutes and gave us a couple of ideas on what to do next. We were very impressed by The Oklahoma Land Rush Monument. This monument is a series of statues that when completed will be the largest statuary (300 ft) in the world. It will consist of 45 statues, to commemorate OK being the 45th state. The statues are 150% of normal size and made of black bronze. Mason told us we were allowed to climb on them, but in today’s sun that might be hazardous. Sounded like a challenge to me.
The Land Rush statues stop at the Canal, and the pickup on the other side
We asked Mason to drop us off near the Hooters restaurant. We weren’t terrible hungry, but using our crystal ball, we were able to tell that by the time we were hungry it would be dinner time. We wanted to eat at both Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Hooters today. Why, you ask? I have a Hooter’s blog that might explain that half. As for Toby’s place, we had never eaten in one before. Plus, I’m a sucker for the touristy stuff. Most of it is just fun, even if it also mostly expensive fluff.
It is the one time of the year when I am not the hard core responsible watch-every-penny adult. I get to be a kid. Well, considering my Hooters fixation, maybe a teenage boy.
Me and the Girls
Hooters come in many different sizes (mind out of the gutter, please) and the one in Bricktown was a little on the small size. But, it had a lot of personality. (This is starting to sound like a description of a blind date). Margo and I went in and spent about half an hour there. See
if you are interested in my visit there.
Oklahoma here I come!
We finished at Hooters around 5 pm. I wanted to head back to the canal, but first we wandered the shops. More like wandered the shop. This is the one area where we found Bricktown lacking. We only saw one shop, The Red Dirt Emporium. There were restaurants everywhere, but you were SOL if you were looking for souvenirs. The RDE was ok. It had the requisite shirts and other such mementos, but it was nothing special. We didn’t get anything.
With our shopping opportunities exhausted we climbed back aboard the Water Taxi and took it to the south end of canal, and then after the turnaround, we asked the skipper to drop us off near the statues.
Margo and I climbed on a couple of them and took more than a few pictures.
They are quite impressive up close. The artist put a lot of work into making them historically accurate, and adding details that you have to be up close to see. They weren’t as hot as we thought they would be, but still hot enough that you didn’t want your bare skin on them for long. After exploring the statues for about fifteen or twenty minutes, we figured we had seen all we could.
Margo will stop the runaways!
We walked to the far south end, not much of a walk really, and waited for the next Water Taxi. We could have walked back uptown, but it was plenty hot, and our water had run out. It seemed like the smarter choice to just lounge around and wait for someone to come pick us up.
We had used up about two hours and it was nearly 7 PM. We weren’t hungry and probably wouldn’t be for a few more hours.
But, we were also tired and it was unlikely we would be back in Bricktown tomorrow. Tomorrow was already spoken for. So I proposed that we drop in on Toby and just have a dessert. There is always room for dessert. (I heard that somewhere). So that is what we did. Our waiter was pretty good, and did the Chamber of Commerce thing too. I’ve got a pretty good BS detector, and while it was saying “Trained to talk up the tourists”, the info he gave us on what to see and do, for the most part was out of Bricktown. So, I was thinking that whatever training these guys are getting is more directed to making tourists feel welcome.
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar-Outside
And we did feel welcome. My first impression of Oklahoma City was exceptionally positive. I found everyone very friendly and helpful. The traffic was not bad, when compared to Denver. I liked how the people seemed very proud of their city, while not feeling the need to tear down another city.
I did give one of the Water Taxi drivers some grief about how the Oklahoma Sooners got their mascot name. The term “Sooners” goes back to the days of the Land Rush. Parts of OK were opened up for homesteading with the rules stating that everyone had to wait at the border until the designated time. When that time came, a gun was fired and everyone dashed to find an unsettle spot to claim. But, in more than a few of the prime spots someone had gotten their first. They had cheated and crossed into the OK “sooner” So Sooners are cheaters. This solicited a bard at my Colorado Buffalos, an inter-divisional rival. But, I did hit first, so I had one coming. I mean, you can’t insult someone’s sport team and expect to come home unscathed.
Sonic Corporate Headquarters
That was it for the day. We headed back to the hotel, took care of our nightly rituals, and went to bed.