Lake Tenkiller, Oklahoma

Welcome back. Over the past several weeks I’ve written about nurses and the fine job they do for mankind with their dedication and love. I know most of you readers have experienced this at least once in your lives. There’s another group of people that is just as dedicated which folks all over the country depend on and that’s the men and women of volunteer fire departments. From the Oglesby Fire Department to the Copan Fire Department, you can also count volunteer fire departments in Wann, Osage Hills, Hulah, Ochelata and beyond. Yes, friends these fire departments are all staffed by men and women who volunteer to put their lives on the line twenty-four hours a day to protect our lives, just like nurses.

We’ve got to thank them so once again with the help of my friend Gentner Drummond down Tulsa way, I have expanded our book giveaway to include volunteer fire fighters. Just like nurses around around the country, all you have to do to receive a free copy of my best selling book Footprints in the Dew is to email or call Best of Books in Edmond, OK at  (405) 340-9202 and one will be mailed to you free of charge. If you live out in a rural area and know of a deserving fire fighter just send their name to Best of Books and that fire fighter will get a copy. They don’t have to be local either- anyone around the country is eligible.  Although they are frequently overlooked, these folks are also essential workers and they ought to have our gratitude.

On another note, if you’re looking for a getaway here’s one I took myself last week which you might think about. Your destination will be Lake Tenkiller and the exact location is an Army Corps of Engineers viewing spot right above the dam. But before I get to that here’s a little history about the lake:

Located in the Cookson Hills of eastern Oklahoma, Lake Tenkiller was created in 1952 when the Army Corps of Engineers completed a dam across part of the Illinois River. The lake was built to provide flood control, hydroelectric power generation, water supply and recreation. and it was named for the Tenkiller family, prominent Cherokees who owned the land and ferry that were bought for the dam project.

Tenkiller itself is 13,000 acres in size and has 130 miles of beautiful wooded coastline. The lake offers 10 marinas, 14 parks and 24 boat launches all of which are managed by the State of Oklahoma and the Army Corps of Engineers. There are also numerous privately owned campgrounds and resorts.

Now that you have some background on the lake, here are a few other things you may find handy for your trip. Bring plenty of food and water as Gore is the closest town to the viewing area and with a population of just 800, some supplies can be unavailable there on certain days. If you want to swim, the state parks all have designated swimming areas and many of the marinas rent boats. Large pontoons go for $275 for four hours and $500 for eight hours- and you buy the gas.

Tenkiller is widely considered one of the clearest lakes in Oklahoma so scuba diving is very popular here and there are several places where you can take diving lessons. The state’s only underwater state park is located here as well.

If your trip turns into an all-nighter there is plenty of lodging available in the area and my favorite is the well-known Fin and Feather Resort which is about a half mile from the viewing area by water and a little further by road as this part of Oklahoma is hilly. The area is also somewhat remote so there is plenty of wildlife including black bears. This is a good trip and well worth a two day stay for sure.

 Till next time make sure to thank a nurse and a volunteer fire fighter and I’ll see ya down the road…

Aftermath of the Trump Rally in Tulsa

Welcome back. President Trump didn’t show up at the Tulsa Fairgrounds where I was autographing books on Saturday but everyone else did and the well-advertised gun show drew one of the biggest crowds in years. The show was held on the lower level of the big Expo Center and the Spring Home and Outdoor Living Show was on the upper level which the organizers told me was a bit slow. Live horse racing was also going on at the Fair Meadows track on the fairgrounds and they have had a bit of a crowd but employees tell me it could be better.

All of this was going on Friday and Saturday but for you and me the real story this week starts early Sunday morning at the BOK Center where the night before thousands of people had been inside the Center and thousands more outside, all getting ready for the President’s campaign rally.

I wanted to see what it looked like after a big event like this so I showed up Sunday morning around 9AM and the ten-foot-high steel fences surrounding the BOK along with barricades blocking streets were still up. I saw dozens of volunteers picking up trash and outside the perimeter of the fences which encompassed a four-block area more people were dragging trash sacks to already full dumpsters. A third group of folks was dismantling the fences and stacking them up for pick-up by the city on Monday. When I investigated a little further, I learned that these people had just seen a need and gone to work on it. Some people were part of the Black Lives Matter group, some were local residents and others were just plain old do gooders.  It was inspiring to see all these folks working together and they certainly saved the City of Tulsa thousands of dollars in labor.

As I drove around downtown, I found that all the Quik Trips in the area were still closed and boarded up and many other stores had also covered their windows and doors with plywood for safety’s sake. The blank plywood had attracted a lot of street artists so there were beautiful drawings all over the place from the BOK to the Greenwood district. It was all pretty cool and I am also happy to report that I didn’t see any vandalism at all. Although there were still a lot of people on the streets everything was peaceful. Except for the fences and the good Samaritans picking up trash it seemed like a normal Sunday morning.

I had arranged for a visit to the thirtieth floor of the Bank of America building because the view took in most of downtown Tulsa and no matter what direction I looked from there were no fire trucks, ambulances or even police cars. As far as I could tell this big pep rally that most experts were saying had the potential for trouble stayed calm which is a good thing and says a lot for Oklahomans.

As for me and my hopes for a sit down with the President so I could sell him a book, maybe next time. At least for now things are loosening up a bit so I’ll be doing some appearances around the four-state area including Lorec Ranch in downtown Pawhuska at noon this Friday and Saturday. Then over the weekend of July 10th-12th I’m looking forward to a trade show in Guthrie which as many of you know was Oklahoma’s first state capitol.

Thanks for reading and till next time I’ll see ya down the road………….


Oklahoma Coming Back To Life

Welcome back. Brenda Maness from Franklinville, North Carolina got one, so did Katie Craft from Eastlake, Ohio and Lynn Smith in Hamilton, New Jersey got one as well. For me, what was going to be a four-month book signing tour on the east coast starting in May turned into a book giveaway for nurses all around the country. From Angela DeBlasio in Martinez, Georgia, Anne Baird in Hudsonville, Michigan and Lisa Mathison in Neenah, Wisconsin, all told close to twelve thousand dollars worth of books, along with free shipping, went out across the country. According to my latest report last week from Best of Books owner Nan Hight there are still about fifty books left so here’s the scoop: If you are a nurse or know a deserving nurse email or  call (405) 340-9202 and have one mailed at no charge. You can select either a paperback copy or a copy of the recently released audio book while supplies last so don’t wait and the next time you see a nurse, thank them.

As for me, this Saturday will find me in Tulsa where, unless Mayor G.T. Bynum shuts the town down, I’ll be at the reopening of the Tulsa Fairgrounds which has been closed for over thirteen weeks due to the pandemic. A big gun and knife show, a yard and garden show and the return of horse racing should make for a big crowd. When you throw in President Trump’s visit to Tulsa on Saturday maybe even at the same place where I am, who knows what to expect but one thing for sure Tulsa’s not big enough for the two of us, so you’ll hear all about it right here next week.

Also coming up, my column about property rights for anyone living outside the Bartlesville City limits and here’s a little preview. The Washington County Board of Adjustment which I was President of at one time, has been dismantled. Basically, this means that someone can buy a piece of property in the county and put any type of business they want on it without any input from neighbors and without submitting any plans to either the city or the county.

As an example, when the SPCA built their new facility on highway 75 south they submitted all of their building plans drawn up by a local architect for review and neighbors had an opportunity to give feedback to the Board of Adjustment. Not everyone was happy and the SPCA took their feedback into consideration and made modification to their plans. When they had met all these requirements their plans were approved by the five members of the Board of Adjustment and their project went forward. This process is no more and I will have more on this subject in the near future as I research it further.

The recent passing of Bartlesville icon Mike May whose estate sale was held this past weekend and now with the death of Del Dutcher have left many of us old YMCA guys with just memories of what they meant to us. As a child attending the Y I used to see both Mike and Del almost every day and like many other kids I looked up to them. Along with Ken Dunlap, Dick Kane and Derry Ebert, Mike and Del set a good example for both sportsmanship and service to the community that should not be forgotten.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……


Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….

Coming Back to Life

Welcome back. Trade shows at the Tulsa Fairgrounds are starting up again on June 20th with a big two-day gun show and I’ll be there to give you all a report not only on the size of the crowd but also on all the coronavirus prevention measures being put into place. The Spring and Outdoor Living show is also going on that weekend and horse racing has started back up so look for my report on all these events as well.

In Oklahoma City the state fairgrounds will be busy hosting An Affair of the Heart on June 12th, a show which always draws a lot of people. On June 27th the Cowboys of Color Rodeo will be held there and then the R&K Gun takes place the following weekend.

In Springfield, Missouri the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds has also reopened with the Monster Ford Truck Fest on June 13-14 followed by the Ozarks BBQ Festival from June 19-20. The R&K Prepper Show will be held there on June 27-28 and if it is anything like my experience there last year doing a book signing, I look for a big crowd.

The event centers in the Kansas City area are the same; trade shows and other events are coming back as we all try to pick things up again.

Here’s another report from Pawhuska where I spent the last two weekends autographing books. Businesses are all open including Ree Drummond’s Mercantile where a two and a half hour wait to eat was normal on Friday and on Saturday it was three hours. They are only seating 40% of their normal crowd at a time so plan ahead. The same is true at her pizza place although the wait was not quite as long there.

The Ben Johnson Museum is another Pawhuska attraction that is bringing folks in again and I’ve been told they have plans to open a small movie theater inside soon. Yes, friends we are living through a moment in history that we will all be talking about for a long time to come.

In Bartlesville I’ve noticed many businesses and not-for-profits are carefully resuming their operations. From Woolaroc and the Price Tower to Elder Care and the United Way, everyone is working hard to serve the community as safely as possible.

I also want to mention that the original Bartlesville Magazine will soon be on the racks and you Sunday paper subscribers will get it first. I know the staff at the Examiner-Enterprise appreciates your business and they are doing their best nto keep you informed on details you can only get from a hard copy of the newspaper.

On another note, coming up is a story about the dissolution of the Washington County Board of Adjustments and what that means for residents in the county. What are their options if someone decides to put an objectionable business next to their property? I will be bringing you my personal experience and perspective.

Also coming up, stories of the men and women who have made a difference in the lives of hundreds of children, not for glory, fame or money but out of love and compassion. We should all remember their deeds.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….

Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Welcome back. In 1875 Pawhuska got its first post office and not long after that what had been Indian Territory became the State of Oklahoma. in 1909 one of my favorite organizations, the Boy Scouts of America, established its first troop in Pawhuska. The town is also the capital of the Osage Nation and there is a very nice informative museum there about Osage history and culture.

Home to the National Indian Taco Festival, the Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping competition, the International Round-up Club’s annual Cavalcade which is the largest amateur rodeo in the world and a dozen other events, Pawhuska always draws a crowd. When you add the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile, which just reopened last week, to the mix and its no wonder new businesses keep popping up. A new bank, a new dentist’s office, a furrier and the newly reopened Ben Johnson Museum, well friends I can tell you from my recent two-day visit signing books there this past weekend, the town is busy once again.

I’ve also noticed that Pawhuska offers a lot of interesting free attractions. The Immaculate Conception Church which was built in 1910 is known around the world for its spectacular stain glass windows depicting real Osage people from that era. Admission to the Osage Nation Museum is free as well and it is the oldest museum of its kind. The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is a protected tallgrass prairie ecosystem and has one of the largest herds of free ranging bison in the country. There is no charge to visit the preserve where you can also see a wide variety of birds, small mammals and lizards in addition to many species of wildflowers and native grasses. Then add the Osage County Historical Society Museum to your list of interesting, free places. At this museum you’ll learn about the great ranching empires that started here along with the bad boys, bank and train robbers, bootleggers and murders who hid out in the area.

Another cool thing to do is to walk over Oklahoma’s only swinging bridge. The bridge goes over Bird Creek and crossing it is especially exciting when the creek is high but I warn you it’s a bit scary. Trust me, a visit to the swinging bridge will keep you talking about it for a long time.

Do the names Elizabeth Marie (Maria) Tallchief and Marjorie Louise Tallchief ring a bell to you? If they don’t, they should because back in the 1930s these two Native American sisters made history together. Maria was the first American to dance with the Paris Ballet, the Ballets Russes and the Balanchine Ballet Society, becoming the first Prima Ballerina in America. Maria’s little sister Marjorie was also a renowned ballerina in both Europe and the United States. Both women were members of the Five Indian Ballerinas of Oklahoma all of whom are featured in a mural at the Oklahoma State Capital. They are members of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and Maria also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center among other awards.

Another name you may hear in Pawhuska is that of John Stink, an Osage Indian with the power to rise from the dead. It’s true, this guy was pronounced dead twice and even buried under a pile of rocks on his property yet he came back to life and continued to walk the streets of Pawhuska until he was 75. Although he had money, he preferred to live as a hermit and some say he still walks the tallgrass prairie at night.

With both old and new attractions, Pawhuska is now officially reopened for visitors.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…


Oklahoma Memorial Day

Welcome back.  Memorial Day weekend 2020 is history now but before it slips away in our memory here’s a few places I went you might find interesting. First, I took a spin down to south central Oklahoma to Tenkiller Lake on Saturday to see if folks were getting out and I found all the boat launches crowded with people out on the lake to enjoy the weather.  At the restaurants things seemed somewhat back to normal although not everything was open.

If you are not familiar with Tenkiller, it is one of the larger lakes in Oklahoma and also one of the clearest. A popular place to have a weekend home for those who can afford that sort of thing, the area round the lake is quite beautiful with big hills, lots of trees and wilderness areas for hiking. As you can imagine camping is big here and the camp hosts I spoke with told me that their campgrounds were full for the holiday but that spaces were usually available on regular weekends. If you’re in the mood for a day trip or even an overnight stay Tenkiller is a great destination.

Fort Gibson Lake is nearby and when I got to Sequoyah State Park which is on the lake, I found most of the campsite and cottages rented although the historic Lodge there won’t open until June. Sequoyah is another great place to visit which offers not only swimming, boating and fishing but also golf and tennis. Several of their rental cabins are right on the lake with decks over the water so put this place on your list too.

In northeast Oklahoma I found plenty of swimmers and boats at Lake Copan and the campgrounds there were full except for a few spots that were under water. The campgrounds at Hulah Lake which are now run by a group of great volunteers had a few spots available and at $10 a night for seniors you can’t go wrong. If you haven’t been camping or picnicking along the scenic bluffs here, I can tell you the view is well worth the trip.

On another note, my friend Jerry Poppenhouse who is a well-known photographer from this area was back in town for the weekend and shared a few thoughts on his recent move to Phoenix, AZ.   Even if you don’t know Jerry personally you have probably seen his photographs over the years.  Hired by Phillips Petroleum Company to take photos of their projects, he traveled around the world to every job they had underway back in the day. The North Sea in the early days of off-shore drilling, Jerry was there. He was the first American with a camera to visit the Great Wall in China. He photographed celebrities too, including Walt Disney, Robert Redford. Willie Mays and dozens of other big names. After retiring from Phillips Jerry went on to teach others his art at Okmulgee State University for ten year. Yes, friends I’m sure you probably know who he is and have seen his work. Here’s this week’s scoop. Although Jerry is now living in Phoenix and won’t be there, Gail’s Estate Sales will be conducting a sale of his belongings soon, photos and all so you might give her a call at (918) 440-5200 for the details. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the Dewey Antique Show that’s coming up on June 6th.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….

Bob Funk’s 80th Birthday Parade

Welcome back. The date was May 4, 2020 yes friends this past Thursday, the time was 6PM and the location was on the old Chisholm Trail where Texas cattle were brought to Oklahoma and then shipped by Kansas railroads to folks on the east coast to eat. Sitting just a few miles north of Yukon, Oklahoma alongside the trail are four ten-foot-tall and four-foot-wide concrete markers wrapped around large bronze tablets which tell the history of the ground you’re standing on. The view and the history of this place are inspiring and standing in front of the concrete markers is a full-size bronze statue of a real-life man sitting on his horse.

Now I know you’ve seen many a statue of famous men. Over in Claremore at the Will Rogers Memorial there’s a statue of Will riding his horse Soapsuds. At Woolaroc just as you enter the museum you are greeted by a large bronze of a man and his horse. Inside the museum are more bronzes honoring men who accomplished great things in their lifetimes but unfortunately Will, Frank Philllips and his brother Waite are gone now.

This brings me to the reason I was in this area along the Chisholm Trail. The man and the horse depicted in this particular bronze are still alive and when I got the invitation to this man’s 80th birthday party nothing was going to stop me from attending. So, here’s the scoop on the 80th birthday of a man who changed thousands of lives.

The invite said it would be a drive by event so stay in your car and wave as you go by. That was fine with me being he was turning 80 and all the health experts say to stay away from seniors. I figured there would be 15 or maybe 20 cars and then I would be heading home but when I arrived for this surprise party there were over 200 lining up. The participants included a dozen police cars, two semi-trailers, a six-horse team of Percheron horses pulling a full-size replica stage coach and a dozen kids riding Clydesdale horses. All in all, the birthday parade was over two miles long. Riding in some of the cars I saw several past governors, professional rodeo cowboys and well-known sports figures. To top it all off there was a jet flyover that passed overhead not once but three times.

I think you regular readers have already guessed who I’m talking about but those of you who don’t know here’s a very, very brief biography. He was born poor in Duvall. Washington where his grandparents had settled after immigrating from Germany. His father worked on a small dairy farm and his mother worked in a grocery store earning $25 a month. His parents showed him the value of hard work and they also taught him that God loves everyone. When in 1949 he met Billy Graham during a revival at Taft Stadium in Seattle this boy of eleven saw God in an even brighter light.

After high school he went on to college, then began a career focused on helping other people, eventually buying the company he worked for and all the while doing things according to God’s word. He also became a patriot not only in his heart but with his wallet, supporting our country and especially our youth. To this day he will tell anyone who listens that young people hold our future and all they need is direction and opportunities. Along the way he has made thousands of friends so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by all the cars at my friend Bob Funk’s 80th birthday party.

I’ll end by telling you nurses “keep going” and so will I as I am giving away another bunch of my bestselling book Footprints in the Dew to nurses. You can email  or call (405) 340-9202 to request a copy.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….


More on Nurses, Woolaroc and the Cowboy Hall of Fame

Welcome back.  From Montana to Texas, California to New York nurses have heard about the book Footprints in the Dew and learned that they could order a free copy by emailing or calling the store at (405) 340-9202. Dozens of books have already been mailed out and the giveaway is still going on so if you know a deserving nurses, even a retired nurse,  anywhere in the country just send an email with their name and address to them and boom! the book gets shipped. If you’re not computer friendly you can call Best of Books and give them the info over the phone. It’s easy and it’s not too late. National Nurses Week should last all year long but I have to move on to another story although not far because these people also work in the healthcare field.

I want to give a shout out to caregivers so here’s a little history on these folks. According to the dictionary caregivers are defined as people who help other people with activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing. Caregivers can be paid or unpaid, with or without formal training. I’m sure many of you know a caregiver or you may be one yourself. In Bartlesville we are fortunate to have several professional caregiving services including the Brighter Living program offered by Elder Care. Throughout the pandemic these workers have continued to care for their clients despite personal risk. To me these folks are also heroes working on the frontline of this struggle like nurses do everyday.

Moving forward in this uncertain time when so many things have changed so quickly I am happy to report that thus far two of my favorite parties are still being planned. The Western Heritage Awards at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City has been rescheduled to October 2nd-3rd. As I previously told you Kurt Russell and Robert Duval are among this year’s honorees and I heard they both planned to attend. This year the awards will be held in conjunction with the Traditional Cowboy Arts Exhibit and Sale so there will be even more to see and do.  Give ‘em a call at (405) 478-2250 for more information.

The Cow Thieves and Outlaws Reunion will be held out at Woolaroc on September 26th and it is another great get together held in a truly magical place. To my knowledge the ranch and museum are still closed to the public but on Wednesdays you can drive through the grounds for free and experience the beautiful scenery and wildlife that  Frank Phillips left us.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….