This past weekend my mom and I took a road trip to visit the Tallgrass Prairie located in Osage County, Oklahoma. This preserve is enormous. It has never been plowed or mowed. It is full of wild free-roaming bison, bobcats, coyotes, greater prairie chicken, and many other animals and birds. We drove out to what felt like literally the middle of nowhere. At the entrance to the preserve, there is a very modest gate and a cattle guard. No large signs proclaiming you are here! Just a dusty dirt road and miles of open prairie. As we continued our journey into the prairie, I was very suddenly acutely struck with what this part of the world looked like when Cowboys and Indians were living in the “Wild Wild West”. It is almost impossible not to imagine an Indian on a painted pony at the top of a bluff overlooking the prairie. It was amazing to see a part of our current world so untouched and empty. Though, emptiness is an illusion. If you stand still long enough you will notice that the rock out in the distance is actually a bison taking a nap, and the bird song is quite unusual in tone and a constant background to the sound of the wind in the grass. Our drive through the prairie was relatively short, in total, we spent only a little over 2 hours. Even at that, we explored such a small part. There are miles of dusty dirt roads to travel. Often the only signs of civilization are the metal cattle guards to drive over and the warning signs to alert drivers of the possible encounter of wild bison. It was such an escape from the normal busy, crowded, loud tourist spots. On our drive out of the preserve, we were lucky enough to encounter a herd of bison blocking the road in front of us. This herd in total was probably between 25-30 in size. There were some obvious juveniles in the group and we were lucky enough to see a few playfully head butting each other and a couple charging through the fields. It was quite the experience to be in the middle of this large group of wild animals and suddenly realize that should they become spooked we were not overly protected by our car. Bison can jump vertically 6 feet in the air! Luckily for us, none of the bison in question seemed inclined to sudden bursts of aggression. All in all, it was quite the experience. I’ve never before been surrounded by a herd of wild bison.
After our trip through the preserve, we drove into downtown Pawhuska to check out Ree Drummond’s “ The Pioneer Woman” Mercantile. Ree is a Food Network famous chef. Known for her bubbly personality and delicious food. I am a huge fan and love her bright colors and retro country charm. Her store was adorable. Set up with displays in the middle of the aisle and library-style shelves and drawers to poke through on the side. We came after they had recently reopened due to the Corona pandemic, because of this I believe we were lucky and the store though still very busy was not packed. I have visited HGTV’s home improvement stars Chip and Joanna’s store multiple times in Waco and each visit is always slightly disappointing because the grounds are packed. We were disappointed that the wait time to eat at her restaurant was over 2.5 hours and as a result, we didn’t get to dine there. However, that snafu aside, we had a great time. I immediately found lots of cute gadgets, tea towels, and dishes that I started to fill my basket with. My mom and I have talked about going and visiting for years so to finally have made it we were not disappointed. The downtown of Pawhuska is a very quaint picturesque view of middle America. Charming antique stores and clothing boutiques all along the streets and little cafes to stop and grab a bite at. Also, located only about an hour away from Tulsa its the perfect mix of get-a-way but close to the city.