It Happened in Pawhuska, Oklahoma! Travel Tips to see the Pioneer Woman

Bestie and I made a pilgrimage to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to check out all things Pioneer Woman and it did not disappoint.  Located in Osage county in the northeastern part of the state it should be called “Pawhuska:  Pretty Happy People.”  The hospitality in this town was by-far the best I have ever received.

We started our 72 hour getaway with a stop in OKC to tour the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Musuem.  We spent several hours just taking in all the powerful moments captured in the thought provoking exhibits.  Honestly, I could have stayed at least another few hours, but we needed to head on to Pawhuska another three hours down the road.  If you’ve never toured this memorial, it’s a must.   Beautiful, reverent and inspiring.

Our next stop was for a treat at Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies.  Who wouldn’t brake for fried pie dough stuffed with filling!  We picked our faves — me cherry and apricot.  I ate mine while Bestie tried to drive.  I kept moaning “this is SOOO good!”  She finally had to pull over to eat hers properly.  I tucked the apricot away for another time.

We were so hungry having eaten early in the day at Sarah’s in Gainesville, Texas before we crossed into Oklahoma that we stopped in Cleveland at Hungry Eye’s for dinner.  We both ordered the red beans and cornbread and I named it the best beans I have ever eaten in my entire life.  Seriously.  We asked “who made these beans?!” and learned the bean maker extraordinaire was Sally.  So, if you see or know Sally in Cleveland be sure to tell her that her beans are legendary.  For reals.

Back in the car we arrive in Pawhuska.  Most everything was closed up for the night, but we stopped at the Mercantile to just peak through the windows.  Like kids looking through candy shop windows we were in awe over the decorations and pretty displays.  Amy, the manager, saw us through the windows and I told her through the crack in the door “don’t mind us, we’re just dreaming of a Mercantile Christmas.”  She sweetly came to the door and asked us if we’d like to come in while she straightened up the store.  We almost knocked her over jumping up and down with glee.  Andy Williams was singing and birds were flying around putting ribbon in our hair, y’all!  Ornaments, kitchen gadets and dishware, gifts, candles, toys, mugs, a wrapping paper station, Pioneer Woman Barbie, it was jaw dropping.  I had to check my pulse several times.

After we were treated to such a warm welcome, we headed to check into our hotel the Historic Whiting Hotel Suites.  Built in the 1920’s, the Hotel was once all efficiency apartments for newlyweds and workers in the oil field. Over the last 30 years it has been converted into individual suites each with different themes. Furnished with locally resources antiques and local memorabilia. Not only is the Hotel historic but each suite is full of history. Some rooms still have the original Murphy bed frames that have been in use since the 1920’s. Our room was the #16 the American Suite.

Within just a few blocks from the Mercantile, dining and shopping, it was a great location to retreat.  After a long day we nestled into our pjs for a nice, relaxing sleep to wake up early for the next day.

7:30 a.m. breakfast at the Mercantile.  Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, biscuits, tomatoes, cinnamon rolls and coffee.  We dined sufficiently and were treated well by Autumn, our server. Afterwards we headed over to do our shopping.  I picked up some new Santa mugs for my collection, a Pioneer Woman Barbie for my little niece to enjoy when she comes for visits, and a few gifts for Christmas that I had beautifully wrapped for a nominal fee.  Tip:  Be sure to eat and shop early in the Mercantile because later in the day when we popped in for coffee and to pick up my wrapped gifts, it was really crowded.

Scenic view of The Lodge at Drummond Ranch

While we were in the store we picked up our free tickets to tour The Lodge on Drummond Ranch and upon the advice from our server we made the drive out there as soon as we loaded our purchases in the car.  It was a 30-minute drive, most of it along a gravel road.  The Lodge is their family guest house, which also serves as the production location for Ree’s Food Network show.

We stood at Ree’s kitchen Island, peaked into her pantry to see her emense supply of cast iron, Le Creuset, bowls, measuring cups and racks and racks of kitchen props.  In the back of The Lodge is a commercial kitchen where I am sure she does the actual cooking and preps recipes and the food for the camera. We even saw her fancy KitchenAid mixers.  We enjoyed the view from the deck and then headed back to town for more shopping.  Tip:  Do plan to make a trip to The Lodge as soon as it opens at 9 a.m. so you miss the crowds.  By the time we left alot more people (and screaming children) were arriving.

Back into town, next on our “must-see” list was Handy’s convenience store.  I had read this article on Pinterest from the blog Postcard Jar for “70 Things to do in Pawhuska.” They said you “must stop in Handy’s for an icy cold drink of “pop” from the soda fountain.”  Why? Because they have the best ice for drinks — your choice of cubed, pellet or if you ask they will make you shaved ice in the back!  The store is run by twins Margie and Martha, almost 80 year old pieces of dynamite.  Martha was running the store and greeted us immediately.  We told her all about her being famous on Pinterest and would she pose for a photo with us.  We chatted her up and Martha told us they sell more “pop” in their store than on the highway.  That’s quite an accomplishment!  We snapped a pic with her and then she told us to hightail it over to RedBud Cottage their Airbnb that her sister Margie runs.  Being good tourists we did and Margie gave us a grand tour of their lovely home that you rent here.  Seriously next time we go to Pawhuska we are staying there and inviting the twins over for a BBQ and to bring along some of their famous ice for margaritas.  I bet they are real fun at parties!

There are a lot of cute stores and antique shops along the main street.  I mentioned to Bestie that the Constantine Theatre was showing “It Happenened on 5th Avenue” and that we should see it, but alas the showtime was on Saturday evening after we would already be back in Fort Worth.  I said outloud, “there has got to be someone in this town that can let us in here to watch this movie.”  The next store down was The Lilac Bench and I told the owner Lisa of my unusual request to find someone to let us into the theatre to watch the movie.  She said she knew just who to call.  Less than five minutes later I was chatting on the phone with Gary who said he’d be happy to let us into the theatre for our own private viewing of the movie and oh, by the way did we want popcorn ready when we arrived?  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done in Smalltown, America!  We agreed on a 6 p.m. showtime and headed back to our hotel for a little nap.

4 p.m. arrives and we dine at P Town Wood Fired Pizza.  We  split the Pizza-Ree-A a cross between a pizza and bruschetta and an order of the Caprese Salad.  While we were eating, Ree’s eldest son Bryce be bopped in with his friends and we scooped him up for a picture.   He’s a cutie and I am sure used to the old-lady charm.

Then we met Gary Hartness at the Constantine for our movie.  He couldn’t have been nicer and so excited to share its history. The Constantine Theatre (a.k.a. Constantine Center) was originally created to be the Pawhuska House Hotel in the 1880s. It wasn’t until 1911 that C. C. Constantine purchased and remodeled the hotel into a theatre. The Constantine was remodeled in Greek Revival Style, and can hold 589 people. After many years of use, the theatre deteriorated and was finally abandoned in the 1970s. In 1986, a group of determined citizens began their efforts to restore the theatre back to its early glory.  The theatre is recognized by both the National Registry of Historic Places and the National League of Historic Theatres and is one of the oldest working theatres in Oklahoma.   We had our pick of any seat and settled for right in the center of the theatre.  I will never be able to see this movie (one of my favorites at Christmastime) without thinking about this night.  It was magical.

Saturday morning came and we dined again at the Mercantile.  Johanna did a wonderful job waiting on us and sharing the stories of how they opened the restaurant in 2016.  Sarah made a great Cafe Americano.  And, of course, I had to have another cinnamon roll.

We headed upstairs to the coffee bar, bakery and candy counter that we had missed the day before.

We could have easily spent one more full day seeing tons more sites like the swinging bridge, the Woolaroc Museum and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, but alas it was time to head home.  We left with our stomachs full and our hearts warmed by the hospitality of this sweet little town.  We will definitely be back for more fun!

Weekend Getaway: The Stage Coach Salado

Growing up, Salado was a fun place to get away during the summer months.  My parents could easily drive the two hours down the freeway to stay for a long weekend. The only place to stay once you arrived off the highway was the Stage Coach Inn.  You couldn’t miss it – there was an old Stage Coach right in front perfect for photos. All the rooms faced the kidney shaped pool.  We’d swim all day, eat hot hushpuppies dripping with butter for snacks, and wander over to float in the creek before dinner. We’d shop in the little stores along Main Street, and sometimes Mother would buy a new dress at Grace Jones – a haute couture clothing boutique.

For a long time I think the then owners of the Inn relied on the kitsch of their motel because that’s what people liked, but over the years the interiors and exterior of the Inn became tired. Coupled with the highway construction that was supposed to only take three years but is still going on five years later, moved the Inn into foreclosure.  You can read all about the history of the Stage Coach Inn here.

But, have no fear – the Stage Coach Salado is under new ownership. All 48 guest rooms have been renovated with a mid-century West Texas vibe.  The pool is brand new featuring gorgeous landscaping surrounding the pool deck and each 1st floor patio making guest space private.  There’s even a bar open on the weekends for poolside sips. It’s definitely got a fresh-new feel, but you can still see the old Stage Coach Inn you loved back in the day.

Guest room doors in mid-century colors

They moved the entrance to Main Street so don’t be deceived if you cannot enter through the access road like in the past.  We were immediately greeted by Jared who drove us to our room via golf cart.  You can no longer drive up motel-style and park outside your room which makes for a more upscale vibe that I liked.  When we opened the door to our room I was completely surprised, and very impressed, at how different the rooms are.  Gone is the carpet and in-room sinks.  The floors are covered with gorgeous saltillo tile throughout the entire unit. We had a 2nd floor room with a pool view, but it felt very private with the addition of the landscape.  My favorite touch on the patio was the hanging lantern.  It was the perfect spot to sip my evening coffee and read.

The accomodations are very resort like – plush towels, matching robes (Mr. Bee gifted me with one for my birthday), luscious smelling soaps, and crisp white linen bedding. Next to the bed was a tiny journal, a pencil and a postcard — all that was missing was the rotary dial phone.  Even the ice in our ice bucket was a nod to Mad Men – big chunks of ice perfect for a bourbon and coke.  I totally crushed on the bathroom tile – shades of teal, turquoise and cream – made me want to cry out for Don Draper to bring me that drink, and a towel.

We enjoyed cocktails and dinner in the Stage Coach dining room.  Most of the menu items from back in the day are gone, and they no longer recite the menu, but it was still enjoyable.  I sipped the Lot 10 hibiscus margarita  with Cimarron blanco tequila, Hibiscus Caruacao and lime – quite thirst quenching.  They still have their famous hushpuppies which did not disappoint, and since it was my birthday weekend they surprised me with their famous strawberry kiss for dessert.  The 250 year old tree is still standing at the center of the restaurant.

The next day we did some shopping in town.  After chatting with a few of the locals – the highway construction has negatively impacted many of the business owners. Most of the shops were closed or had minimal inventory.  However, the Texas Highway Department has responded to this and will be installing all new sidewalks, street lighting, widening the streets and repairing the bridges.  Hopefully, this quaint little town can regroup after all the updates.

We got a great tip to drive out to The Vineyard at Florence for a tasting and dinner. About 20 minutes from Salado, the vision for The Vineyard at Florence comes from two ladies who loved their own experience in Italy so much they wanted to share it at home. Sloping hills of limestone and clay surround the valley with its gentle breezes, perfect elements for successful grape growing. Four grape varieties, Blanc du Bois, Cabernet Sauvignon, Norton, and Lenoir were chosen for their affinity for Texas weather and their potential for producing exceptional wines. Thirty-two lush acres of vines remains the focal point for the private homes, Villa Firenze, Villa Ella Amore and guest accommodations. You have got to go see this place for yourself!  We enjoyed a few glasses of Merlot and brick oven pizza while we enjoyed the view.

Once we were back at the hotel, we took a dip in the pool right before bed to cool off.  It was really quiet and peaceful.

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at Lively Coffee House and Bistro. We each ordered delicious breakfast sandwiches and Americanos.  We made a quick stop at the Salado Library – you may not know this, but everytime I visit a new town, I must take a peek at their library.  It’s fun to see how different each one is.  They had a nice bookstore of used books in the back and we loaded up on history and self-help books (I picked up a few copies of Brene Brown books for about $5!).  Then, we were back on the road for home.

My Maine Vacation — Food, Flowers, Foliage and a dog named Bentley

I am taking a little break this week.  I’ll be sharing some “best of Mrs. Twist” posts for you to enjoy while I get some R&R.  Have a lovely week!

I have to admit, I am not original on the idea of traveling to Ogunquit, Maine. I totally got the idea from Holley when she traveled there with her family this past summer (you can read about it here).  As soon as I hit the publish button on her blog post, Mr. Bee and I booked a “just the two of us” getaway.  We always travel with Miss Bee because we knew one day she would be away at school and we wanted to spend all the time with her that we could.  Now that we are emptynesters, Mr. Bee and I were super excited to get away and enjoy time together.

We booked our stay at The Trellis House.  Hands-down the best B&B we’ve ever stayed.  You can read all about them on their website, including all their Trip Advisor awards!  Here’s my highnotes…

October is the perfect time of the year — everything is still in bloom and it’s cool.  I was raised with the AC set on 62 so I love the cool air anytime I can get it.  Gorgeous flowers everywhere and giant pumpkins are on everyone’s front stoop.

Here’s another B&B in town decorated for fall.

As soon as we arrived, Laurence greeted us with deviled eggs and flutes of sparkling wine.  I could tell immediately, he and I were going to be fast friends.  Give a southern girl bubbly and deviled eggs and she’ll take a bullet for you!

As soon as I scarfed down the bites and bubbly, I immediately snapped pics of their living area.  It is gorgeous.  Classically and elegantly nautical with gorgeous accents of kelly green, navy and crisp white.

And these dahlias from their garden were waiting by the fire for me to enjoy while I looked through their fabulous cookbook!  It’s filled with all the recipes they serve their guests.

Speaking of food, here are snaps of the sumptuous breakfasts they served each morning.  Not only was the food delicious and beautifully plated, but we were able to make so many new friends during breakfast and happy hours each day.

Happy hour was the highlight of our day.  Laurence and Glen pampered us each afternoon at 4:30 p.m. with hand crafted cocktails and yummy bites.  Some of the best conversations I’ve shared were had on their outdoor wraparound porch.  I enjoyed this whiskey sour curled up under a blanket.

Tucked under the coffee table glass were dozens of handwritten messages left by guests swooning over their stay.  Here’s the chicken enchilada dip Laurence “whipped” up one evening.  He rattled off the ingredients for the recipe, but I know it won’t taste as good if I make it.  There’s magic at this place I tell you!

Okay, we really did more than just eat and drink I promise.  A few of the days we were there it rained and we were perfectly content to putter around the B&B, but we did try to take advantage of the sun by walking along the seawall and take a day drive to Kennebunk and Kennebunkport.

We were able to see President George H.W. Bush’s home, Walker Point, along our drive.

We had purchased lobster rolls for our lunch in Kennebunk, but when we stopped to see the seaside view in Kennebunkport, I spied a cute little hang out called The Ramp.  I asked the lady who was coming out of the restaurant if it was good, as we chatted — she was from Texas, used to live in Fort Worth, her daughter went to TCU, and taught at the same school Mr. Bee substitutes!  It was meant to be.  We enjoyed cocktails by the water and stuffed our faces with fish and chip.  Pinch me, this place is amazing!!!!

Here’s the gorgeous view of Perkins Cove where all the lobster boats anchor for the day.  That was our view one evening during dinner while we noshed on two pounds of lobster!

Okay, here’s the flowers.  Ya’ll, I am planting dahlias in my garden.  They were like tissue paper, so delicate and perfect.  And the colors!

I have saved the best for last.  This handsome fellow, Bentley.  He is the official greeter of The Trellis House — has his own #thetrellishousebentley

He welcomed me each morning at breakfast and by the end of our trip, he was my side kick on the couch and upstairs in our room (he always politely waited until he was invited).  He delivers a spectacular turndown service each night, too!  Homemade treats and snuggles.

All good things must come to an end and Monday morning we said farewell.  But, no fear, we’ve decided to make this our annual fall trip and we look forward to many more years of this Maine event!