Friday, July 22, 2016

Pawhuska or Bust

When I was planning this trip, I thought, "we should go to a rodeo!" Which is a great idea...for a road trip during rodeo season. The few taking place in Oklahoma and Texas this summer were too early or too late for us. I did manage to find ONE that could work: the 70th Annual Cavalcade in Pawhuska, OK. This was an amateur rodeo - but seeing as we are not rodeo regulars, I figured we wouldn't know the difference.

Oliver was really into the rodeo plan. That morning when I told him where we were going, he asked where his cowboy outfit was. He also told me that he wanted to "do the bull ride," saying, "maybe if someone is sick, I can fill in for them." He has never been on a horse in his life. He also watches way too much TV.

That actually echoed some of my own concerns about what we should wear though. I wondered if it would be dusty. Maybe we should wear hiking shoes... Maybe I should have listened to Chris when he told me to bring my cowboy boots - but no, I couldn't pack ONEMORETHING if I would only be using it one day. I don't mind looking like a dorky tourist when we're going to be surrounded by other dorky tourists, but my guess was that an amateur rodeo mainly attracted locals. I was fully expecting to have a reverse Party in the U.S.A. experience.

Turns out I didn't have to worry. It was more or less like going to a county fair in Virginia. While there were plenty of people "rocking kicks," there were just as many in flip flops and sneakers.

Pawhuska is about an hour north of Tulsa (where we were staying). But we got up early so we could be there when the rodeo started. Good thing too, because of course I drove directly into downtown Pawhuska.

Once I realized that the fairgrounds were elsewhere, I pulled into a gas station to ask for directions. A woman who worked there came out to tell me that I was parked at a diesel pump. I said, "oh yeah - that? could totally happen. But I really just stopped to get directions." Ten minutes later we were at the rodeo!

Rodeos last for days and feature different events depending on when you go. We saw barrel racing, calf roping and pole bending.

First the barrel racing...

My kids' take on this: "Hey, I want to do that!" Oh sure - you get in there and show 'em how it's done! Anyway - it wouldn't have been possible since you had to be registered. So much for my rodeo hopefuls.

The next event was calf roping...

Oliver seemed to think that this was supposed to be a race for the calf to get away from the cowboy. He cheered every time it did.

The last event we saw was pole bending. This was fun to watch because even newbs like us could tell if they were doing it right (it's hard to see the poles in the video):

By the end of that event, we had been there three hours in the heat without anything to eat or drink. I left our water in the car because I'm awesome like that. I'm also lazy and didn't want to walk all the way to the parking lot to get it. I told them that as soon as the food stand opened, I'd buy them a lemonade. Epilogue: It never opened.

Total Bullshit.
Two short events between the longer competitions were a "chuck wagon race" which seemed to involve riding in mini wagons with mini horses and making a fire, then doing something that I couldn't understand. Here is a (very pixelated) picture of one of the wagons:

The other one was a "Pony Express" race where two girls raced their horses all the way around the track, stopping at stations to do something I couldn't see. This was very exciting. And the last thing we experienced at the rodeo.

Oliver really wanted to stay for the "flag racing," but the twins were DONE.

I asked the kids if they thought this was a road trip highlight and the consensus was "HELL YES" (minus the hell part).

For the drive back, I found a country western radio station that I blasted all the way to the hotel. Thankfully, no one complained.

Yee haw.


  1. Once again I will say, "You are amazing!" So are the kids as I would have been done from the get go.

  2. The caption to the Lemonaide/snack stand pic cracked me up. How do they NOT open?