I picked up my young friend at 6 a.m. The morning began a bit rainy,but soon cleared up. I gave him his high school graduation gift from my wife and I.
We had breakfast at McDonalds (oatmeal for me, a steak bagel for him). Then we hit I-35 heading north. We drove to Sulphur, Oklahoma, 2 1/2 hours away. We were headed into the heart of the Chickasaw Nation.
We first went to Chickasaw National Recreation Area. We walked a wooded trail near Travertine Creek. We saw a small, non-venomous snake called a Texas brown snake on the trail. We gently escorted it from the trail without incident.
We saw lots of flowers, a huge spider, and natural Springs. Then we went to the Chickasaw Cultural Center, an amazing multi-building complex devoted to the Chickasaw people. The attractive young woman minding the front desk let us into the cultural exhibit free of charge. We saw a great film about Chickasaw history, from their myth about division from the Choctaw to
the Trail of Tears to modern times. The film was professional and impressive and neither too detailed nor too long.
We toured the museum. A man told us how to make deerskins and played his native American flute for us. I liked that Chickasaw flute music is not programmed or based on sheet music, but instead each flute player is supposed to just play in his own style.
We ate at the center's cafe for lunch. I had the Chickasaw special, with
frybread done up taco-style, hominy, and blackberry cobbler. My friend had the buffalo burger.
The center had a replica Chickasaw village, great statues, and wonderful grounds. The center's staff was excellent. The place was great.
We stopped in Ardmore at the Hastings books. This bookstore is amazing,because all the CDs and DVDS are always bargains. Then we drove back to Texas. We had frozen yogurt at Yogurtville and then stopped by Escape Coffee Shop for cold drinks and internet time.
We talked a lot during this 12 hour adventure. My friend just finished high school, which in effect ended our Big Brothers/Big Sisters "match". We first met 3 years and 10 months ago, have been on 80+ outings. My friend has not only graduated from the program, but he let me know earlier this week that he is moving to upstate New York to live with a relative and to take a job waiting for him there. I will miss him, but we will stay in touch. This was my second mentoring relationship through BBBS. I will wait a few months, at least, before signing up for a third little brother. I hope someday to visit my friend in upstate New York, and perhaps my wife and I could show him part of Canada. He is 19 now, a good bit older than he was at 15 when we began. He's a great fellow.
After I dropped him off at 6, I went for a walk on Trinity Trail. I was thrilled to see an indigo bunting. He flew away before I could take his snapshot. I also saw several cardinals and a skittish killdeer.
My wife and I dined on Mediterranean food while sitting outdoor at Hedary, and called it a night.