I was out recently on a business trip to one of the most well known towns in the entire world! Well pun intended, this was Claremore, a little town somewhere in the north eastern Oklahoma, US of A.
Folks at office had already made my mind up, that I wouldn’t have to carry any more expectations than to see one road and a few buildings on either side, go to work, eat to survive, rest and comeback. That the town had a few run-of-the-mill hotels to stay in and a few not so exciting Restaurants to eat in.
We were to drive 500 miles to reach so we started on a Tuesday morning so as to go to work for the rest of the week. After a petty many stops we reached the town late and checked in. ComfortInn was cosy clean and decent.
After a decent breakfast the next morning I set out to see the town in a hurry as I drive to the office. Yes, like my office folks had said, there was one main road, a parallel rail road, a few banks, one Walmart, a few restaurants, a couple of gas stations, a gun museum and wo! there I was at the office, beyond which the town seemed to have ended. Hmm…
Later in the evening when I was driving back was when I actually noticed more details. The town was small yes but it had the well known Route66 as its spine. And if you looked closer the town had its own laid back charm.
We checked out the India Palace restaurant in Tulsa, the nearest city around 30 miles away. The restaurant had amazing reviews on the Internet. With painted and hand woven art work on the walls, candle lit tables and well mannered service guys, ambiance gets its good impression right away. More than the appearance what sells more at any restaurant for me is good food. We tasted some Biryani. As a rule of thumb, for me, if a restaurant claims they serve authentic Indian cuisine, the best way to test that is to order a Biryani and see for yourself. The dish here was without doubt one the best, freshly made, with fresh spices (most Indian restaurants I went to use stale or aged spices, unfortunately). The manager (or is he the owner?) greeted all guests personally and offered some complementary Masala Chai to finish with. While the Chai itself was very good, that for me was a nice gesture.
The next day after work we went to Tulsa again to check out a couple of the parks – the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens and the River park. While we were probably late at the Teaching Gardens but the birdies on the Internet said we could see volunteers who would ‘teach’ what various species of ornamental/flowering plants there were in the park. We missed the left end lake side of the park but we did see some amazing flowers around a seemingly old conserved Woodward park greenhouse. Later, we headed straight to the River park alongside the Arkansas river. Though we had to scout a bit for parking, it was worth the walk, some live music by the Elwwods cafe by the river, and the best part was some breathtaking sunset photos.
For dinner we checked out the Desi Wok which seemed like a confused (oh they call it fusion these days by the way!) Indo-Chinese noodle bar type restaurant. The food there was OK. But we had some ‘desi‘ style noodles for the first time in the US.
Tulsa seemed like once a prosperous town, now slowed down or starting to be rebuilt with most of its roads being repaired and buildings either empty or ill maintained.
The Friday after work was surprisingly the most eventful day of the Claremore trip. I came early from work, and we had decided check out a couple of places in Claremore. The Gun Museum, Totem Pole and for dinner either Molly’s Landing or Belvidere Tea Room.
Ah a Gun Museum, my idea of it was that it would be some kind of a run down collection of a few guns, but boy was that some history. And you know what, it seems the J.M. Davis Arms Museum as it is called, is the world’s biggest private collection of arms. What? How? Well the museum has on display a sweet 14,000 guns ranging from the Gun powder days to the modern anti-aircraft shooters. I wish we could spend more time there since such a collection is worth at least a couple of hours your awe. We barely had half hour before closing time. Not just Guns, the building itself being a Famous Route66 hotel of yesteryear, also has a large collection of items like swords, axes, leather saddles made in SFO (in what, 1854?? right, I don’t remember, just too much history and too little time I had)
The Totem Pole – we had too little an idea about what we’d see there. This one perhaps is the worlds biggest Totem pole. That makes two worlds biggest in a little town called Claremore! Some history again, a pole built out of mud by red-Indians of lore. The lush green around and old yet very colorful structures were a pleasing sight for a Friday evening. But the the most exciting part of the day was just about to emerge. As we decided to head back to Claremore, to our awe, we see numbers of amazing vintage cars pouring in on the Totem pole premises. We got delighted, excited and scared all at once. While their proud owners parked and lined up for some barbecue, we see there parked a range of cars I never saw ever. Right from the likes of the Ford Model T to the 2012 Corvette, the DMCs to the Jaguars of the 1930s, there they were, some restored and repainted, some kept in mint condition. After a bit of hesitation we talked to one of the few non-tattooed guys who was on a photographing spree as to what this vintage car fuss was about. We found out it was the Route66Cruisers club would host a car show the next day. So we got a preview… a good one at that. One the way back we drove through some breath taking views of the road while the sun set in the horizon.
We felt pulled to another surprise and we grabbed the opportunity impulsively. It was the Claremore eagles football match. It was our first ever football match at a stadium. Though the Eagles felt no competition from the otherside, we enjoyed the cotton candy amidst the pomp and cheer as their band played jazz to a packed audience.
That was such an eventful Friday in Claremore. Who said there isn’t much to do and see in Claremore?
On the way back we drove via the scenic route 270 only wishing we went there a few weeks later to see the fall colors.