Photo Diary: Our Weekend in Norman, Oklahoma
Bryce and I began our journey by leaving Dallas on Friday evening. I picked him up after he’d finished school and I finished work, and we shot by my parents house to drop off my dog.
At this point, Bryce decided he needed a “survival kit” for the apparently arduous 2-and-a-half hour drive that awaited us.
Fortunately, we only encountered a little bit of traffic around Denton, so we made it to Norman in about three hours of total drive time, stops included.
And we knew we’d arrived when we spotted this inviting beacon directing us in from I-35:
La Quinta scoring major points with me personally was only just beginning.
Obviously La Quinta would appreciate me shining a positive light on their brand since they are, you know, paying for the trip and all. But what happened when we checked into our room truly went above and beyond the call of duty, warranting special mention.
I had the following exchange with the receptionist:
Receptionist: Name on the reservation?
Receptionist: Zack? (Looking up, smiling)
Me: I wish!
Best. Receptionist. Ever.
Even better, a lovely gift basket awaited us when we got to our room, with a specially addressed envelope to “Mr. Morris.”
It made me feel very adult, which I suppose is good seeing as how I’m 31-years old. But then again this was five minutes after getting genuinely excited about being called Zack Morris, so…
As soon as I was done digging through the gift basket searching for hidden goodies at the bottom like a greedy kid on Easter, I turned around to see Bryce staking his claim to the bed.
Knowing how much he sleeps, I became immediately concerned that we’d never end up leaving the room.
Fortunately, after a wonderful night of rest on Friday evening, La Quinta provided the perfect excuse to get Bryce’s butt out of bed on Saturday morning:
And not just any waffles, but make-your-own waffles!
I did not partake in the waffles myself, however.
Having just completed an elliptical workout in the gym, and knowing the indulgences sure to come that afternoon, I was hoping to eat healthy. Yeah, I was that guy on a road trip.
So I was pleased to see hard boiled eggs and more bananas and apples available at the breakfast spread. Way to go La Quinta. A little something for everyone.
After breakfast, it was off to campus.
We drove around for a little while to get our bearings and did a quick walk around the football stadium to see it in all its Saturday morning splendor:
But the 6:50 kickoff meant we had an entire day to spend exploring what Norman had to offer.
Eventually, we decided that checking out the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History would be a great way to start.
What follow are the best photos we took at the museum, beginning with a quote on an inside wall that I particularly enjoyed. I’ll leave the storytelling to the captions:
One story is probably worth telling outside of the captions, and it relates to the picture below, which Bryce took of some Native American glass art.
Needless to say, this being in Oklahoma and all, there was an entire wing of the museum devoted to Native American history. When we entered said wing, the following exchange took place between me and Bryce:
Me: This is art by the native Americans, who we pushed out of their land.
Bryce: You did, not me. I’m black.
Me: (pause) Well, that’s kind of true.
At least he knows his history.
After the museum, and the walking that preceded it, we were predictably hungry. Fortunately, on the way into campus from our hotel we’d passed a small BBQ joint that looked pretty good.
Determined not to eat anything from a chain restaurant during this one brief jaunt into Norman, I was pleased when Bryce expressed interest in going there.
We certainly were not disappointed.
I ordered the brisket, which was great, but the highlight was the side of baked beans. I am not exaggerating when I say they are the best baked beans I’ve ever had.
Bryce had himself a burger. That’s just how he rolls.
We then decided to stop by an OU gift shop near the restaurant. We were immediately reminded that they don’t take too kindly to our kind – the Texas kind – up here in Oklahoma.
We made our purchases – I got an Oklahoma-shaped picture frame into which I’ll slide my favorite picture from the weekend, and Bryce got an Oklahoma shirt – and then headed back over to campus to begin taking in the sights and sounds around the stadium.
With Bryce being underage and all, I figured it best to steer clear of the tailgating scene (though look for plenty of tailgating adventures in future editions of the MSF-La Quinta CFB Road Trip…). But Oklahoma has enough around the stadium to keep any football fan busy for a while.
Each Heisman Trophy winner has a statue outside the entrance gates. Here are a couple:
In addition to the statues, there were two other notable observations made walking around the stadium.
First, as is the case here in Texas, many females at OU don cowboy boots, and do so quite well in a very easy-on-the-eyes sort of way, with a quintessential example below.
Second, many of the older OU gentlemen, as older gentlemen are wont to do, seemed to enjoy wearing this particular garish shirt in support of their beloved Sooners:
More importantly, the “Memorial” in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium stands for something quite meaningful, as we learned upon finding the war memorial on the north end of the stadium.
The war memorial is off just a bit to the west from the regal main entrance to the stadium.
Finally, we made our way into the stadium.
Not surprisingly, the homages to OU’s glorious football past continued with support beams commemorating the greatest players in Sooner history.
We, of course, had a mission as soon as we walked in: find Adrian Peterson.
And we did.
Pretty much every Oklahoma great you can think of was featured either on one of these support beams or on the section placards.
My other favorites were the aforementioned and pictured Billy Sims, and his glorious afro, and The Boz.
Eventually we made it to our seats, which you saw above were awesome. In fact, the entire stadium experience was quite awesome, as you would expect from a place that takes college football as seriously as Norman.
For whatever reason, I really liked the press box. Like, I was transfixed by it.
The OU press box reminded me of the banners that hang in Assembly Hall in Bloomington. It sits atop the west end of the stadium quietly but confidently, calling attention to the greatness of OU’s glorious football past.
The detail in the images on the left and right pillars is remarkable. And I greatly enjoy the old school font used to list out the National Champion teams, the conference and bowl championships, and the All Americans.
Plus, you have to love the open space to the right of 2000 in the National Champions row. It’s a subtle but clear reminder of what is expected in a place like Norman.
And the video board is a great complement to the rest of the stadium experience.
OU uses it well, both for the introductions and general stats and information, but also for entertainment during the constant breaks in action that will occur during a nationally televised football game.
On this particular September evening, already unique by OU standards because of the loss by the home team, we got to see another unique event: a proposal.
Now, normally I’m not a huge fan of the stadium proposal. But that’s when it is done cheesily on the big screen. When it is done in a more spontaneous manner without public address coordination, and a large swath of fans are in on it, then I’m all about it.
Unfortunately, this is the last picture I could take during the game…as my phone battery died. But I’m almost happy it did though.
I’d been so concerned all day about taking pictures and videos to have material for this post, that I probably didn’t just enjoy the actual moments themselves enough.
With my phone dead, it was just me, Bryce, and one hell of a hard-fought, even if sloppy, college football game playing out before us. It was a great time, as I figured it would be.
Ultimately the game ended, and Bryce and I made our way back to our car. After stopping for a burger at Classic 50′s (a Sonic-style drive-in on Lindsey Street) at Bryce’s behest, we headed back to our comfortable hotel room to relax and get ready for the drive back in the morning.
But we had one more task: after having Pizza Shuttle recommended to us, we had to give it a try.
Hey, it was our last night in college town. “When in Rome,” right?
Sunday morning we drove back, wishing we could have had another day but having thoroughly enjoyed our road trip north to Norman.
Still, it was a welcome sight seeing this sign to let us know we were back where “our kind” are welcome.
I hope you enjoyed this first installment of the MSF-La Quinta College Football Road Trip. Remember that to follow along over the next several weeks, you can connect with me many places:
- Posts and photo diaries here at MSF
- Videos at YouTube.com/JerodMSF
- Tweets from @JerodMorris
- Instagrams (jerodmorris)
- And plenty of fun Facebook status updates (Facebook.com/JerodMSF)
Next week, I head to Lincoln, Nebraska, and stepping into Bryce’s formidable footsteps will be my friend Genesis, who you know from her always-interesting blog and from the Neverending Fantasy Football Mailbag here at MSF.
We leave Thursday, driving all the way from Dallas, and we are planning to experience a little bit of everything game weekend in Lincoln has to offer. Like this past weekend in Norman was, next weekend should be one heck of a fun time.
I can’t wait to share it with you, and I thank La Quinta once again for giving me the opportunity to do so.
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned this week for a preview of the trip and Keith’s preview of the game.