My friend Tammy planned to travel from Alaska to Missouri this summer to see some of her family, so we decided we would meet somewhere for a day or two. We contemplated a few locations and most of the more “appealing” sites were too far for one or the other of us. Eventually we just looked for something about halfway rather than somewhere we really wanted to go. Our search informed us that Broken Arrow, OK, was about equidistant and not a terribly long drive for either of us.
Tammy and I chat regularly via Facebook messenger and our planning began months ago. As time moved forward, we began to talk about getting hotel rooms v. renting a place to share. Also as time went on, in my mind I somehow changed the name of the meeting place to Broken Bow, not Broken Arrow. Tammy went along with me and soon we were both planning our trip to Broken Bow without question. In fact, one time she said, “I keep wanting to call it Broken Arrow!” and I replied, “Me, too!” and we laughed and went back to arranging our meet-up in Broken Bow( totally oblivious to the mistake).
Apparently, Broken Bow has a very popular lake and lots of fly fishermen like to vacation there. We were told it was the busy season and it might be hard to find a place. There were some cute cabins for rent but all required a two night stay and we were only going for one. We finally settled on an apartment I found on HomeAway, a little funky looking, but we thought it would be okay, and it was located “downtown” near shops and restaurants. It would be fun to walk out our door and wander around, right?
We talked about meeting around noon since we each had about a 3.5 hour drive and didn’t want to have to leave too early. The day before our trip, Tammy texted me and said she would not be there by noon because it was a 5.5 hour drive for her. WHAT?? I was so confused! I thought we were meeting halfway! I looked online and sure enough my trip was right at 3 hours and hers was 5.5. I was still puzzled about how I could have misunderstood the driving distances when I thought we planned something that would be about the same for each. I started digging back through our messages and finally found the error–yes, we were supposed to meet in Broken Arrow and we had made plans for Broken Bow! OMG. I felt so horrible about it! Of course, because we’d rented an apartment, we couldn’t cancel and get a refund at this late date so we were stuck unless we wanted to forfeit our money. Tammy was such a good sport about it and said no biggie, she was on vacation and it was all fine. Thank goodness for kindhearted friends!
Rich and I headed out on Sunday morning and arrived in Broken Bow around 1 PM. I texted Tammy that we were there so we could meet somewhere for lunch. No reply so I figured she was driving and her two teen girls were asleep so no one could text. We decided to drive over to find the apartment and make sure everything was okay there. It was a little difficult to find (as we’d been warned by previous renters on the website), with the address on one street and the entrance on a side street, connected to a business, so it wasn’t obvious that there was an apartment there. We had to get a key out of a mailbox, which we did, but then we couldn’t get into the apartment. The key unlocked the deadbolt but the doorknob was also locked and the key didn’t seem to work. I messaged the owner to ask if there was something else we needed to do and didn’t hear back from him. We decided we’d give him some time to reply while we waited for Tammy, who eventually called to say she and her daughters were in town but their AK phones apparently did not work in OK and she had a hard time finding someone who would let her borrow a phone to contact us. What the hell. Several people told her no before some kind soul at a store let her use a phone! We then met at a Mexican restaurant and had a great time chatting and catching up. Tammy is full of stories and always lots of fun and it was good to see Rosie, who’s in art school in Portland, and Mary, who’s a high schooler back home in Unalaska.
After lunch, we drove back to the apartment. We figured out that the key DID open both locks and walked into a foyer area that had three separate doors in it. We weren’t sure which one was the apartment so we tried them all and none of them would open. I finally called the owner and he said he was out of town for work but that the apartment door should not be locked. Well, it was! He seemed very puzzled about this but after we tried some more, he told us to open a different door that seemed to be stuck but we finally opened with a strong tug, taking us into a large industrial type garage. He told us to walk through the garage and there would be another entrance to the apartment, call him back if we had any more problems. I had barely hung up when we walked into the apartment and realized that it had not been cleaned! There were towels all over the bathroom, three beds were messed up and unmade, coffee pot sat on the counter with residue in it, trash in the trash can, etc. So our little misadventure continued! I called him back to tell him and he acted like he was shocked. He could not understand why the apartment was not cleaned. I asked “Are you sure you didn’t have someone here last night?” because he had earlier sent us a message saying he hoped we’d “enjoyed” our stay and to leave the key in the mailbox. Then immediately after that, he sent another message saying, “Sorry, I just realized you are there tonight, not last night.” So this made me think that he DID have people there the night before and he’d somehow gotten mixed up.
Anyway, he said since he was out of town he didn’t know what to do except refund our money and try to find us another place. This went on for awhile with him texting us about other options but they were all more expensive and he never offered that he would pay the difference so I finally said we would just find our own place if he would refund our money ASAP. He apologized and agreed that he would set a refund in motion through HomeAway, stating that it was his fault; he did have people there Friday and Saturday nights and forgot to set up a cleaning. Meanwhile, the AK people with no service got to use his free Wifi for a little while. 🙂
He did call back and say he had found someone who could clean the apartment if we could wait 3-4 hours! LOL By now it was 4:30 or so and I told him we’d already wasted our afternoon, so no thanks, just the refund, please.
We found a lodge outside of town near the state park that had two rooms next to each other for about the same price, so we drove out there. The weather was nice and there was a seating area right outside our rooms so at least we could sit there and chat. We were still full from lunch so didn’t want any dinner at that point and by the time we decided we might want something, most of the restaurants were closed (well, the ones that had been open in the first place…it was Sunday and a lot of stores and restaurants were closed all day). Rich volunteered to drive back into town and get us some pizza so we sat around and chatted some more with our late night pizza dinner, then hit the hay. Whew! First day was quite a fiasco but at least we had fun hanging out!
Monday we had breakfast at the lodge and then set out to see “downtown,” which ended up being a bunch of closed down buildings from the past, one junk store/soda fountain, and one western-wear clothing store. It did not take us long to see “downtown.” From there, we decided to go to the Gardner Mansion and Museum, which houses Native American and pioneer artifacts. I’d read online that it was a little hard to find, which proved true but we did locate it and drove up the dirt driveway past a sign that said “closed.” The road was open, though, so we thought maybe they just hadn’t switched the sign to “open.” We pulled into an area that said, “park here” and displayed two more signs, one that said, “honk for an attendant,” and the other that had prices listed to see the museum and “the tree,” or “the tree” only for fifty cents. Rich said he loves trees but he wasn’t sure what was so special about this one that made it worth fifty cents. 🙂 We honked but no one came out. I looked up the phone number and called, but no one answered. We took a few pix and drove away, sadly.
I’d also noted the Forest Heritage Center Museum and the Peter Toth Totem Pole as places we might visit, so we had to drive back the way we’d come, out to the Beaver’s Bend State Park. The Forest Heritage Center was pretty interesting, with a lot of history about the area and about the logging industry, the CCC camps, and the traveling timber towns. I never knew that the logging companies would house people in the woods, then cut their houses in half and truck them to the next location when all the timber had been cleared. We saw some interesting photos of the company towns of the logging industry in OK, which “despite the hardships,” are portrayed as just the most wonderful life anyone could have imagined. Funny how history gets revised. I was especially interested to read that the women worked themselves to the bone on a myriad of tasks but “these were the best days of their lives.” I wonder if anyone really asked those women! We also saw a 100 year old log cabin and an old Post Office.
The Peter Toth totem pole stood outside. According to the OK Forestry Service, “The sculpture is one in a 50 state series known as the “Trail of Tears” sculptures by Hungarian artist, Peter Toth. Mr.Toth came to Oklahoma to sculpt Oklahoma’s Indian monuments. Mr. Toth’s goal in life was to complete at least one sculpture in each of the fifty states. To date, he has done 67 monuments.” When I was reading about Broken Bow, I learned that it was originally founded by some members of the Choctaw Tribe who had grown weary on the Trail of Tears and stayed at this location. They lived in their community of Con-Chito for about 75 years before white settlers began to arrive and take over. Eventually, brothers Herman and Fred Dierks moved from Broken Bow, Nebraska and began a logging company, changing the name of the town and trajectory of history.
After lunch at a nearby diner, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. It was really great to see Tammy and her girls and we had a lot of laughs and conversation about what will be forever known as The Broken Bow Incident. As a funny side note, we discovered there was a Star Trek episode with the same name, in which a Klingon ship crashes in Broken Bow, OK. 🙂
We decided next year we will have to meet in Broken Arrow as planned, or Rich says he is willing to drive further to Eureka Springs, which was suggested this time and we had vetoed it as “too far.”
Thankful for good friends with understanding hearts!