Road trip day 3: Raccoon skeletons, buffalo statues and flaming lips in Oklahoma

banner great plains

Following my failed attempt to sneak into an abandoned amusement park in Kansas, the Great Plains road trip carried on into Oklahoma, a state I had visited once before, for just two hours.

welcome-to-oklahoma

While writing about Topeka, I mentioned my state capitol building fetish. So of course in Oklahoma City I stopped by to see the capitol building. That makes 17 capitol buildings I’ve seen in person. Not that anyone’s counting. This may have been my favorite, with the Native American warrior atop the dome.

oklahoma city capitol building

Oklahoma City is a very quirky city. My first stop was the American Banjo Museum, an entire facility dedicated to the classic stringed instrument beloved by everyone from Mumford & Sons to Kermit the Frog.

banjo-museum-red-room

It turns out that the Banjo Museum was one of the most normal places I visited during my time in Oklahoma City. Because up next was the Museum of Osteology, which collects skeletons of wild animals and puts them on display together in one large room. If you cared to count them all up, you’d find more than 300 skeletons here.

osteology-museum

Thanks to some clever museum employee, the best skeleton on display is the raccoon. Even dead raccoons can’t stop eating trash!

raccoon-skeleton

In the gift shop you can purchase your own skeletons. Get your porcupine skulls here… only $125. Yes, that’s one hundred and twenty five dollars.

porcupine-skull-for-sale

Wandering around OKC was fun. Bricktown was a cool neighborhood. As a huge indie rock fan, I headed straight for the intersection where a certain local rock band has its own street, next to the street of a certain Hall of Fame baseball player.

flaming-lips-alley

The sidewalks were home to several bison statues, ranging from UPS workers to tie-dye colored beasts.

buffalo-statues-okc

Finally, I spent quite a bit of time at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the site of the 1995 bombing by Timothy McVeigh that killed 168 people at the federal building. The land has been turned into a somber and tasteful memorial, as well as a museum documenting the act of domestic terrorism and the city’s response and perseverance after the blast.

oklahoma-city-memorial

bombing-memorial-sign

The centerpiece of the memorial is a reflecting pool. It’s surrounded by the Survivor Tree, the Survivor Wall, and the Rescuers’ Orchard.

oklahoma bombing memorial

The most powerful feature might be the Field of Empty Chairs, which contains 168 bronze chairs, each representing someone killed in the attack. Each chair has an actual victim’s name etched on it, and the 19 smaller chairs among the group represent the children who died.

oklahoma-memorial-chairs

The weeping statue across the street sums up the feeling of the city on that tragic day.

weeping-statue-oklahoma

Outside the memorial stands a fence adorned with personal items from victims, their families, and others who just want to pay tribute.

oklahoma-memorial-fence

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

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