Sunday, May 31, 2009

Future Rocket Scientists

Future Rocket Scientists, originally uploaded by Tasha Does Tulsa.

For your Sunday afternoon enjoyment: Two toddlers learning to negotiate the social contract. Which for some reason includes wearing a diaper on your head while biting your playmate on the forehead and, thirty seconds later, dancing as vigorously as possible. Thanks to Holly Wall for having us over and feeding us and allowing us to disillusion your child.

Now, that's enough computer time for you today. Get out and about. The weather is perfect, and it's a great day to enjoy Tulsa Tough before it wraps up for the year.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Something to Do at Sunset Tonight

It's been a beautiful day. As I write this, it's 90 degrees, and skies are blue all around. A gentle breeze is helping to keep things from getting too steamy.

From what I saw when we were out and about before naptime, I know thousands of Tulsans were out enjoying the weather today.

One of the No. 1 questions I get from readers on what there is to do in Tulsa is where to find a good sunset. I have a few favorites - most of them are on the northwestern outskirts of town - but I found a new place today: The new 41st Street Plaza that opened at River Parks earlier this month.

With interactive fountains and water features, a plethora of brand-spankin' new playground equipment and tons of room to run around, this plaza is one of the most exciting things I've seen happen in Tulsa for families with young children for quite some time. It'd be almost too easy to grab a picnic supper, unload it at one of the covered picnic tables at the plaza and then challenge the kids to get cramps in the splashpads.

The sun sets at 8:34 tonight. Head to 41st and Riverside and watch the sunset with your kids. Then, run 'em like crazy. Smile at the thought of the super-quiet Saturday night that's about to happen at your place.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Time to Get Tough. Tulsa Tough.

It's here: The fourth annual Tulsa Tough Ride & Race

Quite a sight to behold and, from what I understand, even more fun to pedal through, Tulsa Tough Ride & Race is a set of competitive races and tour rides that bring athletes from the world over here to T-Town. The race routes showcase the best of what our fine city has to offer - the historic Brady and Blue Dome Districts, Riverside and more.

The event, designed for new and experienced riders alike and to inspire athleticism and Tulsa pride, gets started tonight at 6:20 with the Men's Category III race and rolls through to the end of the weekend. The event is thanks to the Children's Hospital at Saint Francis (which will help Tulsa Tough give 225 new bikes to kids this year), Tulsa Sports Commission and Tulsa Wheelmen

Riders and racers can participate in a number of events and activities, from professional-level races, recreation and tour rides to kids and youth activities (check out the Tough Kids and Townie ride at 1 p.m., 13th and Riverside) to live music and vendors during the three-day cycling event.

In short, Tulsa Tough is more than a cycling event; it's a weekend festival. 

The event attracts thousands to Tulsa, filling the sidewalks, cafes, bars and art galleries to the brim with the spandex-free cycle happy along the race tracks. Last year's event brought on an estimated 15,000, or about six times to capacity of the music hall at Tulsa Performing Arts Center

Now, that's a lot of biking (and Tulsa) enthusiasts. 

See y'all at the races.

Feeling Tense?

Please welcome again to TDT Laura Ritchhart of She has something extra special for us this week. Take it away, Laura!

If you have never experienced a hot stone massage, you, my friend, are missing out. 

Big D bought me my first-ever massage a few years ago, and it was one of the most amazing experiences ever. Then, when we were in Florida on vacation, I went into a spa and asked for a hot stone massage. But it just wasn't the same as the one from Liz and Sandalwood Day Spa, right here in Tulsa at 37th and Harvard. 

The rooms are spacious and calming, and the massage table features a heating pad under linens to really help you relax during your massage. Ah - I can feel myself relaxing just thinking about it. 

There's calming music and a water feature bubbling in the background. Your knots, kinks, worries, troubles and stresses vanish as you lose yourself in the warmth of the stones and the smells of cinnamon, lavender or scented oil of your choice. As you relax, you feel yourself sink into the warmth of the table and float away to a quiet, peaceful realm. 

Follow up on that relaxation with some RO water or one of the many hot teas available at Sandalwood. 

Sandalwood Day Spa offers other massages, too - swedish, reflexology, deep tissue and a Hawaiian lomi lomi. It also offers a line of facials, body masks, waxing, salt polishing and an aloe vera wrap I've been dying to try. 

Still conscious? Let's see what we can do about that. 

Sandalwood recently added a full-service salon. Anything and everything can be done at this place, all at once - it's a comfort to be able to come to one place for all your relaxation and beauty needs. 

Sandalwood would be a great place to take a bridal party or a landing pad for a girls' night out. The girls could get a relaxing massage, manis, pedis and/or a new hair cut, all in one fell swoop. Call Liz about bridal packages and other discounts

Still vertical? Sandalwood now carries the Mere Minerals line. Get your chance to meet the local creator and owner of Mere Minerals makeup, Yannah Cormier, this Saturday from 3-5 p.m. at Sandalwood. Stop by to meet Cormier, and take a few minutes to get with her cosmetologist and estheticians to go over which colors would best suit your skin type. I like Mere Minerals because it's great stuff. Plus, it's affordable. What's not to love? 

Feeling ready for a hot stone massage of your own? Thanks to our friends at Sandalwood Day Spa, you have the chance to win a free one-hour hot stone massage with Liz. And how about a free haircut with Farrah, a $30 value, just to round out this sexy little giveaway? 

Just leave a comment on this post or at to enter. Only one entry per person this time, please; that is, unless you stop by to check out Mere Minerals this Saturday. Earn extra entries by telling Liz or Yannah you heard about them on or (be sure to leave them your name!). The ladies will confirm you came by, and ta-da, an extra entry goes into the hat for you. 

Entry deadline is Tuesday, June 2, at 8 a.m. CST. 

Good luck! 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bootcamp Tulsa

Please welcome to TDT Deedra Determan, one of the minds behind that local source for mommyhood, For the past several months, Deedra has been rising at ungodly hours, only to work her butt off - literally - with Bootcamp Tulsa. Anytime someone's willing to go sweat it out in front of a bunch of other people (including the Mayor of Tulsa herself, Kathy Taylor), I want to know more. Take it away, Deedra!

You know, the name didn’t even scare me when I first heard it: Bootcamp Tulsa. I mean, how hard could it really be? 

I have played sports my whole life. I workout 4-5 times a week, and I’m a pretty tough chick. I guess it was a good thing I was naïve going into Bootcamp Tulsa or I may have never started that first day.

My first day was in the beginning of March, and the temperature was below freezing at start time - a not-so-bright and early 5:30 a.m. I thought for sure Bootcamp would be canceled or at least inside that day. Coach JC (Bootcamp Tulsa founder and president Jonathan Conneely) laughed when I texted him to see if it was still outside. I was used to getting up at 5 a.m., so that wasn’t a shock. But the freezing Oklahoma wind was a bit much for me. 

When I pulled up, I saw 40 or so women, all bundled up with hats and gloves, ready to work out. These people must be insane, I thought, as I reluctantly walked up to join the group. 

Coach JC was his usual chipper self, laughing and carrying on with the girls as if it wasn’t 5:30 a.m. and below freezing.

Needless to say, I made it through that first day. I gave my all. No one told me I wouldn’t be able to walk for three days after that first workout or to take Ibuprofen every 4 hours. I quickly learned and lived off Ibuprofen for the first couple of weeks. 

As the weeks went on, I found myself looking forward to each Bootcamp workout. It is the most fun I have ever had working out and is such an inspiring way to start the day. 

I tried to go back to my gym a few weeks ago to take my favorite class and ended up leaving half way through the workout. I just can’t do the boring gym any longer! Bootcamp Tulsa is a different workout every day. The workout shocks your body with something new each time, which is why it works and why you will never get bored. 

You also have the positive feedback from the coaches who push you to work harder each day. I am seeing results, and I'm seeing things about my body that I haven’t since before I had kids! I've also made friends and created business relationships through Bootcamp Tulsa. 

It is not just a workout, but a way of life. Nothing is more exciting than seeing women regain confidence in themselves after only a few weeks of training. As women, we are pulled in a million directions every day. This is one thing you can do for yourself. 

So, this winter when it is below freezing at 5:30 a.m., all I will have to say is, BRING IT ON COACH JC!

New classes start June 5, so check it out now. If after that testimonial you're still on the fence, give Bootcamp Tulsa a try for free. Just don't come complaining to me about your sore butt and underarms and how the prospect of moving gives you anxiety attacks. I jumped into training for a 5K two weeks after I gave birth. When I was still retaining water like crazy and outweighed my husband by thirty-five pounds. I don't want to hear it. 

The sun is shining today, people, and swimsuit season is just around the corner. Tulsa Tough rolls into T-Town tomorrow, and it's never too early to start training for the Tulsa Run. Get thee moving.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's New, Cupcake

Monday I posted one of my crazy contests. This time I wanted to give away a box of a half-dozen picture-perfect cupcakes from, where else, Kupcakz, Tulsa's first and only little cupcake shop, at 71st and Mingo. 

To enter, readers were asked to unleash their creative juices and come up with a fantasy cupcake - the cupcake of their dreams. 

You guys. I have never been so tantalized, allured, and downright hungered by a contest on this blog before. Some seriously creative cupcake lovers live in this city. Good thing there's a bakery to cater to those tastes, huh?

I had a really hard time choosing a winner today, which explains why this post is sliding in at 8 p.m. rather than this morning when I'd planned. I wanted to make sure I'd picked the most creative, the most fun, the most innovative cupcake design submitted. 

I think, though, that'd we can all agree on the winner. 

Anna Marie, with her Fourth of July Fireworks cupcake! 

Congrats, Anna Marie! E-mail me tashadoestulsa at gmail  dot com to claim your prize. 

I have to say, though, that one other cupcake caught my eye and grabbed my imagination. 

madonnacramer, out of all the cupcake designs submitted, yours would be the one I would mostly likely eat until I passed out in a sugar coma. Raspberry and lemon - so bright, sweet and fresh. Perfect for early summer. Get in my belly! 

There's a line we haven't heard in awhile, eh?

Congrats, madonnacramer! E-mail me to claim your prize. 

Thanks to all who did a little cupcake dreamin' for this giveaway. Keep those ideas handy, folks, because this sweet contest won't be the last.

Let Freedom Ring: 14 Free Things to Do in Tulsa

Just because the economy sucks and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs and many more have seen their life's savings vanish into thin air doesn't mean we all can't have a good time.

After all, there's a treasure trove of free, exciting things to do in Tulsa. Here's a list of some of the best:

Get the list of the free in Consumer Watchdog in this week's edition of Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Signs of Summer

I logged on to the Interwebs this morning to see Irritated Tulsan's feature of the QuikTrip 49-cent fountain drink. What a lovely way to start the morning - a towering cup of frosty, sweaty, perfectly sweet Dr Pepper.

Boy howdy. Those QT folks just know how to pour 'em. And Irritated Tulsan knows how to shoot a drink to make my eyes and my ears and my very pores salivate.

Carly Rush (of 92.9 KBEZ fame) saw Irritated Tulsan's post, too, and commented that when she saw on her drive to work this morning that QT's 49-cent drink billboards are up, she knew that summer must be upon us.

It's true. Though summer doesn't get its official start until late next month, we Tulsans start reaping the benefits of 9 o'clock sunsets, 92 percent humidity and scorching temperatures a good 30 days beforehand. When the ads for the SofPools come out, most of us have been swimming for a month already. When the sun is shining and the days are hot, we don't waste any time here in T-Town.

Not that we don't have until mid-October to wear shorts and bathing suit tops while we mow the grass, but still, when time's a wastin', we don't mess around. And not that we wear bathing suit tops while we mow (cough, cough - no, not at all). I'm just trying to make a point here.

I used to have a bearded dragon lizard that, once summer came, loved to eat these flowers. Well, not these. These are at Utica Square. I bet my mom asked three dozen times that summer if I knew what had happened to her hibiscus. How am I supposed to know? I'd ask her. I'm not your garden boy.

I was a somewhat unruly teenager. Sorry, Mom.

My favorite things to do during summer in Tulsa? Watch the fireworks at a Friday night Tulsa Drillers Game (and get my beer on at Thirsty Thursdays, when beer and soft drinks are just $1). Eat every meal on the patio, even breakfast and especially coffee. Hang out at the farmers' markets. Stroll along Cherry Street or at River Parks, stopping to climb on the animal sculptures and to watch the flow of the Arkansas. This year I'm going to read books with my kid for the summer reading program at Tulsa City-County Library.

What do you like doing during summer in Tulsa? What tells you summer is here? I'd love to hear about what you all get up to during the long days ahead.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Not Exactly What Pavlov Had in Mind

Because it's Monday, let's start off the week with something simple. Easy to understand. Common sensical. Downright duh.

Provide subject: 

With Stimulus A: 

Subject response is:

Easy enough, right? I mean, who could resist that darling little box of cupcakes, each pretty as a little picture? Not I, said the cat. 

Those cupcakes are from the new shop at 71st Street and Mingo Drive, by the way - you know, Kupcakz. Maybe it's that place you've been meaning to check out. Or, it could be to where your car drives automatically during those times when you go on autopilot and can't quite explain how you traveled from one spot to another. Your mind's a blank. You remember nothing. 

But your instincts are rewarded with cupcake deliciosities like Morning Buzz (rich espresso-soaked chocolate cake with mocha buttercream buzzed with French chocolate sprinkles - oh!), My Peanut Butter Cup (dark chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting, chocolate splitters and toasted peanuts - OH.) and Boston Dreamer (fluffy yellow cake filled with French pastry cream and capped with bittersweet chocolate ganache - PURRRR.). 

Now that's positive reinforcement. 

Okay, that was fun. Let's do it again!

Provide subject: 

With Stimulus B:

Sushi from Sushi Train, at 51st Street and Harvard Avenue (click for a great, fun article from the kids at The Collegian at The University of Tulsa)- sushi that the subject's female parental unit would just assume not tell anyone about, ever, so she can have it all to herself. 

Subject response:

...quite unlike anything any of you have seen before, I'm sure. You can't win 'em all.

I'm having a lot of fun with this. Can you tell? 

Provide subject: 

With Stimulus C(upcakes - a chance to win a half-dozen of them, to be exact, each and every one from the glorious display case at Kupcakz and made fresh from the highest quality ingredients the world has to offer by Chef Doreen):

Response is: To be determined. By you, of course. Powerful feeling, isn't it? I love feeling the power of the power to empower you to feel powerful. 

Eyes starting to salivate? Better win the cupcakes soon, then. How to do it? I'll tell you. 

Invent a cupcake. It can be silly, it can be serious, it can be whatever you want it to be - just tell me all about what your ideal cupcake would be like. To be eligible for this giveaway, you have to be creative. Why? Because the genius behind my favorite answer will be six cupcakes fatter by the time I'm through with them. 

Enter as many times as you wish by inventing cupcakes on this post, via tweet (just make sure to put @tashadoestulsa in there so I can see your entry) or my Facebook wall before 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, May 27.

I love these contests, the ones that reveal the creativity of the cupcake obsessed. Because there are so many of those. Good luck!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Top 10 Ways to Spend Memorial Day Weekend, Okie Style

10. Discover bubbles.

I know what you're all saying. "Aw!" "Oh, how cute!" "Look at those curls!"

See? Like I said, I know.

9. Bake!


I just don't know what I did wrong.

Well, actually, I might have a few ideas. I let it rise for an hour and a half, punched it down and let it rise for another hour where I should have let it rise for an hour, punched it down and let it rise for another 30 minutes. When I brushed on the egg white, this overinflated baguette wannabe sort of, well, deflated.

Now it's an oblong focaccia. Yeah, that's it - an asymmetrical, UFO-reminiscent, mildly pitiful oblong focaccia.

Mildly. This is what happens to a person when she is not only on the brink of insanity thanks to the styrofoam we call bread in this part of the country, but also trying to save $1.79. Because the Coupon Queen has bit me. Hard. I'm bruised and bleeding, but at least I'm leaking sanity and not cash this time.

8. Terrorize defenseless puppies.

Oh, boy.

All I can say is, Welcome to the family, little doggies.

7. Grow dimples.

As if you needed a reason.

6. Eat stuff.

Why, no, a love of food doesn't run in the family - I just don't know why you would suggest such a thing.

5. Eat more stuff.

Cheese it up, Dad. Cheese it up.

4. Rock out while, you guessed it, eating stuff.

From whence I came. Now you all don't have to wonder what's wrong with me anymore.

Just kidding, Dad. You keep on rockin'.

3. Make green Jello.

Now in Lilting Lime flavor. Don't offer any to the kids, if you know what I mean.

2. Bust a move.

The Lilting Lime Jello served in the smart little martini glasses had nothing to do with this. Nothing at all.

1. Smile.

How can you help it? It's the Oklahoma way.

Have a great holiday, everyone. Consume your Jello responsibly.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Big Catch (and No One Has to Lie)

Remember the little giveaway hosted here by Laura at earlier this week? The one she was using to gift a year's pass for one lucky Tulsa-area family to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks?

Good news: The winner has been chosen!

Congrats, suburban hippy mama (author of a very amusing local blog, Surviving 4 Kids, which is all about the mommy life in the super-fast lane)! I have a feeling you're going to get a lot of mileage out of this pass. Don't forget to tell us about your Aquarium adventures, okay?

Thanks for playing, everybody. Don't forget to watch Laura at for more giveaways - she's a force to be reckoned with.

What to Do After Church

The best way to spend a Sunday afternoon? Eating chicken and baked beans on the back porch, washing it all down with an ice-cold glass of sweet tea. 

Then all that's left is to work off the two days' worth of calories you just put away. There's no more productive way to do that at this time of year than get down and dirty in the garden. 

Tomorrow afternoon, the whole community can find a new place to burn off those extra handfuls of fried okra and biscuits at the opening of the Haven of Harmony Community Garden opening celebration

The party, which will feature live music, locally grown food and plenty of other entertainment from Tulsa's garden societies, will get started at 2 p.m. at 920 S. New Haven, on the grounds of the First Seventh Day Adventist Church of Tulsa. Admission is free and, of course, open to the public. 

As if you needed any more fuel for the garden fever that threatens to overtake your life. But, hey, what am I here for but to help you drive yourself crazy by enabling you to let your passions consume you, right in your own backyard? Literally this time.

Rock & Rescue at RiverWalk

Need yet another excuse to be near water this Memorial Day weekend? Well, get along, little doggies, to Rock & Rescue at RiverWalk Crossing in Jenks

The event, hosted by Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, a local nonprofit committed to reaching a day when no healthy, adoptable dog or cat is destroyed simply because it does not have a home, promises to be a doggone good time. Twitter is already hoppin' with updates from RiverWalk, and from the sound of things, everyone's rocking out to live music, snagging some mad noshes and ooo-ing and ah-ing and scooping up the pets available for adoption there. 

If you're in the market for a new dog, there's no better way to find one than through an adoption. Not only are you giving a homeless animal love, care and a place to call home (an act that I'm pretty sure earns you extra stars by your name in that little book the gatekeepers of gatekeepers lugs around), but you're also voting with your actions against some of the unsavory practices going on in the pet breeding industry. 

Rock & Rescue got started at 10 this morning and will finish up at 4 this afternoon, so there's plenty of time to get out there and experience some puppy love. Until you arrive, follow along on Twitter by following @billhandy, @dogdish@mattgalloway and @HomemakerHero.

More Than Fair Food

Ever wonder how the hundreds of emergency utility workers who braved the 2007 ice storm – remember, the one that froze the entire state under a three-inch slab of ice, immobilizing the greater Tulsa area for more than a week – found time to eat?

Thanks to EXPOSERVE Food & Beverage Management Services, with support from Expo Square’s management team and community volunteers, some 4,000 of those men and women managed to catch a bite for breakfast, lunch and dinner as they worked through the blackout. Add it up, and that’s 75,000 meals served by EXPOSERVE over the course of more than a week.

Read the rest of this story on
the Food page in Tulsa Business Journal.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our Famous Skyline, From the Inside

Go downtown, only to be confused by one-way streets and parking? Convinced you'll be mugged if you set foot within the IDL? Maybe the whole urban grit scene just rubs you the wrong way. 

Let the folks at Tulsa's Owen Park change your mind about all that.

EDIT//NOTE DATE CHANGE. Art deco lovers and the downtown ambivalent alike will gather at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 30 at New Centennial Park at 6th Street and Boston Avenue for a stroll on the downtown Tulsa streets hugged by the buildings of oil barons' dreams. The whole family is welcome; just make sure to wear shoes made for walkin', because that's just what they'll do. 

Grab some coffee Saturday morning, head downtown and prepare your hearts for the inevitable: an irresistible urge to enroll in architecture school. Also, love - sweet love.

To be sure you don't get left behind, call 596.1485 to register for the walk. Or, register on the page for this event on Facebook. And don't pay the meters - downtown parking is free on weekends.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

BYOB: Brew Your Own Beer

This economic crisis has brought many things: scares about nationalized banks, too-big-to-fall auto manufacturers talking bankruptcy and enough pink slips to do a decent job of redecorating Wall Street with paper mache.

Despite what other media outlets might say, it's not all bad. After all, the craft beer industry is experiencing a revival. Though it's not the cheapest choice on the market, more and more beer lovers are veering from the "big three" corporate beer giants and choosing bottles of artisan and craft brews. In fact, growth of the craft brewing industry was nearly 6 percent by volume and almost 11 percent by dollars last year. Try to name anything that has experienced that type of growth for that time besides the lines outside the unemployment office.

But, at a local midrange of about $8 for a six-pack, the thirst for craft beer can get pricey. The good news? Beer lovers can brew their own booze, and it's good enough to serve even to the snobby neighbors who are still trying to pretend they're current on their mortgage.

Read the rest of this story in Consumer Watchdog in Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Summer's 5th Night 2009 @ Utica Square

Looking for the 2010 schedule for Summer's Fifth Night at Utica Square? Check out this updated post.

There's no question that Tulsa's Utica Square, on 21st Street between Utica and Yorktown, is a beautiful place, even when my 15-month-old son does his little break dance on its freshly manicured lawns that, as marked, are not to be walked upon.

Oh, well. Whatareyagonnado.

If you're tired of the Thursday night bar scene, consider heading to Utica Square this week for a change. The 2009 season of Summer's 5th Night, the Utica Square outdoor summer concert series, will start at 7 p.m. Kicking off the season will be Light Opera Oklahoma, Tulsa's very own opretta and classical musical comedy company.

If the classics aren't your thing, dig out your calendars (does anyone actually keep a pocket calendar anymore?) and block off next Thursday from 7-9 p.m. Mid Life Crisis, a T-Town based classic rock band, will be rocking the socks off Utica Square that night.

Other acts this season include Admiral Twin (June 11), the Red Dirt Rangers (July 2), Annie Ellicott with the Brian Haas Trio (Aug. 13) and the master of romance himself, Grady Nichols (Aug. 27).

Plus, Summer's 5th Night attendees are eligible for drawings and giveaways. And there's dancing. And picnic dinners. And soft breezes to cool your skin as you sprawl across your favorite blanket, loosing yourself in the music and some of the best scenery that Tulsa has to offer.

Sorry. I'm writing a romance novel, and I switched gears rather involuntarily back there. Happens to the best of us.

Not really on the romance novel. I prefer to stick to the real smut - you know, blogs.

This all sounds like high-quality entertainment, right? The kind of fun honest people pay for? Well, guess what. It's free. But you knew I was going to say that, didn't you?

See you all out there - bring an extra antihistamine for me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Diary of a Bus Rider

Before I left on my bus trip with Metroplitan Tulsa Transit Authority general manager Bill Cartwright this morning, TDT reader and blogger Ron Hudson made the brilliant suggestion that I make a video of the experience.

Ta-da! See? I'm not completely technologically inept. Just partially. Moderately. Okay, significantly. Just try not to get seasick watching that video.

Some quick thoughts:
  • The downtown station on Denver Avenue is a beautiful, lively place.
  • The buses are very, very clean, much contrary to what I'd heard.
  • It's not hard at all to catch an MTTA bus. They're on-schedule, even if at some stops they don't come but once per hour.
  • Bus riders make up a diverse group of Tulsans, from the mother and her small child out to do some shopping to the woman on her way downtown for work to the guy who rode his bike to his stop and loaded it up to the front of the bus in order to get to class.
  • MTTA has a number of perennial obstacles to tackle - lack of funding, low service, our Midwestern love of the automobile and the stigma of public transportation, to name a few - as gasoline prices are set to climb through the summer months and ridership promises to continue increase. It's already up about 9 percent from this time last year.
I'll write more about what I learned on my ride this morning in some shape or form, so be on the lookout here and as you flip through the pages of Urban Tulsa Weekly looking for free karaoke nights (my favorite is at Joe Momma's Pizza in the Blue Dome District in downtown Tulsa - gotta love that big stage).

Oklahoma's Big Fish (and a chance at a great catch)

Please welcome to TDT Laura Ritchhart, blogger at Owasso-based Beach Bum Wannabe. She was nice and generous and long-suffering enough to put together a post on the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks for our reading pleasure. Be sure to drop by her site, y'all - it's one of the few things that makes me feel really sorry that Oklahoma is a landlocked state.

Take it away, Laura!

Photo courtesy Oklahoma Aquarium

We hadn’t been to the Oklahoma Aquarium since it opened in 2001. At that time, some of the exhibits were still being finished up. The other day we finally got around to our second visit, and I want to share with you all the Aquarium has to offer.

The Oklahoma Aquarium is in Jenks on the west side of the river near the Riverwalk Crossing. For directions and a map, click here.

Admission is $13.95 for adults, $11.95 for seniors and military, $9.95 for children 3-12 and children under 2 are free.

At first the price seemed a little steep, but those prices are really not much more than what it costs to see a movie these days.

Plus, if you have a current fishing or hunting license you can get a $2 discount, and if you think your family will visit the aquarium more than 2-3 times in a year, you definitely should get a family membership, which is only $85/year for a family of 4.

They also have student, grandparent, senior, military, and individual memberships, so there is something for everyone. Memberships not only save money on admission but also have the added benefits of $2 discounts on admission for up to five guests, a 10% discount in the gift shop and discounts on camps and other special events.

Okay, now that we have all the technical mumbo jumbo out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff: The exhibits!

I will have to warn you that I am very rusty on my low light photography skills and going to the aquarium really helped my cause in convincing Big D that I REALLY need a new lens (or perhaps two!) for my camera.

Oh, and if you are shooting in RAW mode on your camera, you may want to remember your extra memory sticks! *sighs* Someday I may have it all together! HA!

Here is where you begin. All the exhibits branch from this main hallway, which creates a smooth transition between exhibits.

There eight different “theme areas” in the Aquarium, with a wide variety of exhibits in each area. The Oklahoma Aquarium has over 200 exhibits in all.

First we walked through the Biodiversity Area, which exhibits various examples of aquatic life. I loved looking at all the amazing and colorful sponges, star fish and sea urchins. They were fascinating. I especially loved this purple sea urchin and pink sea slug. Wouldn’t want to come into contact with either of them, but their colors are so vibrant and fun to look at.

Next was the Adaption area. From my understanding, this exhibit focuses on the fish and sea life that are true survivors. They can change colors and/or take on the appearance of rocks, corral, etc. to camouflage themselves to help them survive.

I find sea life so captivating. In case you couldn’t tell, I absolutely love scuba diving and snorkeling. It truly is another world under water.

Photo courtesy Oklahoma Aquarium

The next area we saw was a fairly large exhibit paying homage to the fishes of Oklahoma. I’ve seen a lot of the fish that were on display, since Big D loves to fish. We are huge outdoor people, and we have traveled around Oklahoma and Arkansas snorkeling in streams and lakes. But t he size of the fish at the Aquarium are astonishing! I didn’t know Oklahoma fish got that big.

Ever heard of “noodling?” It’s the “sport” that drives crazy people to dive under the water and stick their hands into caves and crevices to grab and pull out big flathead catfish – ones like this one:

Um, seriously. What possesses anyone to do this? I should probably ask my brother. He is one of those crazy people.

Okay, these things freak me out. These are alligator gar. I so would not want to be swimming with these guys. They are HUGE - we are talking seven feet long.

Or this guy, an Alligator Snapping Turtle. Maybe his old age of 120 years might slow him down a little, though.

Not sure I want to go swimming in the Oklahoma lakes and rivers now. I think I like the ocean MUCH better. At least you can see the sharks and jellyfish - right?

Look at this sweet lil’ fella sunning himself. I would much rather swim with him.

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is the largest blue catfish in the state of Oklahoma. He is absolutely enormous. How fun would it be to catch him? And then put him back, of course.

The Ozark Stream exhibit is really cool in that you can see through the glass into the multiple levels of a stream. There are small mouth bass, sun fish, and other native fish in this habitat, as well as a river otter, raccoons, and, of course, beavers.

In the Oceans Room, Aquarium goers can experience the Rocky Coast by observing and touching different kinds of sea life.

The Ocean Room also has all the gorgeous sea anemones, which I love. Here are a few:

I absolutely love the color of this one:

The Aquarium has colorful pictures, names, and descriptions of each critter in easy-to-see and -read light boxes.

The Ocean Room is also home to the stingray exhibit, where guests can feed and touch the smooth stingrays. They can even feel the back of a small shark, if they dare. Unfortunately, this exhibit wasn’t open while we were there, but I’d visit the Aquarium again, just for that. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the exhibits or shows, check here for the daily schedules.

Just off the Oceans Room is the coral reef. It's a huge tank full of coral and colorful Caribbean fish, including parrot fish, eels, and the biggest porcupine puffer fish I have ever seen. This photo does not do him justice:

There are a couple of benches in the coral reef room so you can sit down, relax and just enjoy watching all the fish. It starts to feel as if you are underwater with them.

Who could forget the Shark Adventure area? It’s home to one of the most unique and impressive shark collections in the world.

The exhibit features a walk-through glass tunnel and dome - it feels like the sharks are swimming all around you. Having these massive, powerful creatures swimming toward you with a mouth full of sharp, pointy teeth and menacing eyes is quite the experience.

Photo courtesy Oklahoma Aquarium

Last but not least is the Marvels & Mysteries area. With creatures from the venomous lion fish and piranhas to the freaky octopus and mesmerizing jellyfish swimming around, guests can’t help but leave this room awed by these marvelous and mysterious underwater dwellers.

Staring at all that aquatic wildlife, it was easy for us to work up an appetite at the Aquarium. Grab lunch or a snack at Corkie’s Deli & Grille. The café offers a variety of sandwiches, wraps, snacks, cookies and refreshments.

Wish you could take home the amazing creatures you saw? Check out the gift shop for marine life galore (of the stuffed variety, of course), puzzles, books, apparel and more.

Keep up to date on the events and fun activities offered by the Oklahoma Aquarium by visiting its Web site often.

Museum hours are every day from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; the Aquarium stays open until 9 p.m. Tuesday nights. Keep in mind that the last paid admission accepted one hour prior to closing.

I know this post has been long, but there are still 180+ other exhibits I didn’t get to share with you. So, just for baring with me and to encourage you to get in on the fun, too, here is a little something for you.

Our friends over at the Aquarium have generously donated a One Year Family Pass (worth $85.00) to giveaway to one of our lucky readers. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment at or here at telling us about your favorite aquatic animal.

Entry deadline is Friday, May 22 at 8:00 p.m. Tulsa time. Good luck, and see you at the Oklahoma Aquarium!

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