So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You, OKC

On Saturday, the LEAPsters had to finally bid farewell to the endless flat land and lustrous skies of Oklahoma City, but not before a few last adventures. Like the tumbleweed in a dust storm, we drifted through the city and down to Dallas, in search of great art, food, and little bit of history.

Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum (Ashley)

After driving through the city and getting a feel for what 1995 would have been like in that quiet city, we reached the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum. Never had we visited an institution dedicated to a single tragedy, being able to capture and include poignant details of the Oklahoma City Bombing. The museum was structured in an interesting way. We started from the second floor and then worked our way down to the first. The facts were presented in chronological order, beginning with the events, down to the minutes, leading up to the bombing. It was this introduction that set the exposition of this heart-wrenching story.

OK Bombinb Museum and Memorial, Oklahoma City, LEAP Center, SHSU

It can be difficult to relate to an event (such as domestic terrorism) after being born years removed from it. But when you see how other people were impacted by it, the tragedy becomes more relatable. As we looked through the pre-bombing news articles and artifacts, we were amazed how Timothy McVeigh was actually interviewed by a journalist two years before, while professing anti-government propaganda related to the 1993 Branch Davidian Compound attack in Waco, Texas. Apparently these views were what compelled him to attack the Murrah Federal Building two years later. Perhaps the most gripping part of the museum was when we entered the model of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board room.

OK Bombinb Museum and Memorial, Oklahoma City, LEAP Center, SHSU

There we listened to a recording of the board’s minutes the day of the bombing. In the middle of the recording, the voices die, the recording crackles, and the explosion roars in the background. With the flickering of the lights, and the sounds of panicked screaming and confusion, some of us were close to tears.

OK Bombinb Museum and Memorial, Oklahoma City, LEAP Center, SHSU

We explored the rest of the museum, reading about the destruction…

OK Bombinb Museum and Memorial, Oklahoma City, LEAP Center, SHSU

…rescue, investigation, and miraculous rebuilding of the city.

OK Bombinb Museum and Memorial, Oklahoma City, LEAP Center, SHSU

After we witnessed the destruction of the bombing through the exhibits…


…we stepped outside onto the memorial and found the survivor tree. The area was really a place of brilliance as it was full of beauty and somberness.

OK Bombinb Museum and Memorial, Oklahoma City, LEAP Center, SHSU, Survivor Tree

There were large gates on each side of a pool with the time a minute before (9:01) and after the detonation (9:03) of the bomb.

OK Bombinb Museum and Memorial, Oklahoma City, LEAP Center, SHSU

Perhaps most gripping from the memorial was the 168 chairs engraved with names representing the people who died during the explosion, with 19 small chairs honoring the deceased children. The museum at first emits a certain mournfulness, but because of the survivor tree and the resilience it shine with its green, resurrected branches, we left with a sense of hope. This memorial deeply touched us, and was definitely one of our favorite places we visited on this trip. With this sense of vitality, we reached the end of the gate and made to get some lunch.

Iron Star Urban BBQ (Kaitlyn Tyra)

Before departing from Oklahoma City, we stopped to fill our growling stomachs at Iron Star Urban BBQ. LEAPster, Ashley Allen immediately described the restaurant as “hipster BBQ.” Rightfully so perhaps, as the atmosphere of the restaurant was very trendy. Regardless of it being hipster, it proved to have tasty food. To experience the restaurant as much as possible, we ordered bacon wrapped quail breast and jalapeño cornbread to sample. Both were surprisingly tasty! For our main entrees, we tried the pulled pork sandwich, the pimento cheese burger, and the smoked prime rib sandwich.  Although the Oklahoma BBQ was different from our traditional Texas BBQ, we enjoyed trying Okie cousins’ delicious bbq!

Our dessert, like a sweet coup-de-grace, finished our meal consisting of a peach crisp, Drunken Turtle Cheesecake, and Double Chocolate Bread Pudding.

Iron Star Urban BBQ, Peach Crisp, LEAP Center, SHSU

Everyone had their own favorites but we enjoyed sampling them all. Iron Star BBQ was a fantastic final meal for our time in Oklahoma City!

With that we piled back into the car and settled in for our drive to Dallas.

Nasher Sculpture Center (Mitchell Sanchez)

At the midpoint between Oklahoma City and Huntsville, we decided to take a breather near downtown Dallas. We took this opportunity to visit the Nasher Sculpture Center. Raymond and Pasty Nasher began the art collection dating back to the 50’s. Together this couple has built one of the finest collections of 20th century sculptures in the entire world. The students had the privilege and honor to walk among some truly amazing pieces, from the quirky Claes Oldenburg…

Nasher Sculpture Garden, Claes Oldenburg, LEAP Center, SHSU

…to a couple of Pablo Picasso’s sculptures. One of them was inside one of the three galleries on the interior of the center, where other virtuosos of art were housed.  While the second, much larger, Picasso was outside in the 1.4-acre sculpture garden.

Nasher Sculpture Garden, Picasso, LEAP Center, SHSU

The garden contains more than 90 trees, including oaks, elms and crepe myrtles. In the midst of this urban forest were pieces by Henry Moore…

Nasher Sculpture Garden, SHSU, LEAP Center, Henry Moore

…George Segal, and Barbara Hepworth, just to name a few.  A particularly striking theme to the garden was how the nature and sharp cut stone and walk ways complemented each other in a way that demonstrated the ability of artists to enhance nature’s peace and beauty. The Nasher Sculpture Center gave us a wonderful vibe of elegance and peace. Peace much needed after a very momentous weekend.

Nasher Sculpture Garden, SHSU, LEAP Center, Henry Moore


With a last stroll through Klyde Warren Park, among a thong of lively children and mirthful adults, we boarded our van and made the last stretch to Huntsville. With the moon behind the clouds, and an air of tranquility, we ended our trip with a restful chat of all the wonderful adventures we had during the trip. From tripping through the ice, to trying out buffalo burgers, we reminisced on the happy memories of our Texoma LEAP Trip.

OK Bombing Memorial, Survivor Tree, SHSU, LEAP Center

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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