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Old 09-09-2010, 09:23 AM   #1
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Only 24 Hours From Tulsa - Indian Territory

Index to all instalments

Saturday, 24th July

I wake at 2:30am and again shortly after 4am. I try various meditative techniques in an attempt to drop off, even resorting to the age-old sheep counting trick, but when Matt wakes at 5:20am, I decide there’s little point battling with it any further. After unpacking, we creep into the lounge trying not to disturb Susan, but she soon joins us having had a similarly disturbed night. She makes tea, whilst I attempt to fire up the laptop in order to write up yesterday’s trip notes. Checking the bill from Pete’s Place, we realise that we weren’t charged for the beers we had with our meal last night. We consider phoning, but figure that doing so could potentially cause problems for our server, so decide there’s nothing for it but to settle for free beer however it came our way. :cheers:

We drive to Sweetie Pie’s in downtown Sand Springs, for breakfast. Sand Springs is a pretty little suburb of Tulsa, founded in 1912 by philanthropist, Charles Page with the building of the Sand Springs Home and Widows Colony.

Quote:
In 1912 Page began the construction of a colony for widowed and divorced women with children to support. The colony consisted of 40 three-room shotgun houses. As years passed and the old colony homes began to fall into disrepair they were replaced with new two-bedroom brick cottages. The colony grounds came complete with a chapel and a nursery. Each house was complete with free water, gas, electricity, rent, and a quart of milk per child per day. In order for a woman and her family to live in the colony she had to have at least one child still in school or college, her children had to maintain a "C" average in school and they had to observe all the colony rules of behaviour.

Charles Page died in 1926, but is still remembered in his community. The main street is named Charles Page Boulevard; Sand Springs' high school is named Charles Page High School in his honour; and in the town’s centre is a statue of him next to the library, also named for him. The Sand Springs Home continues to help families and children today.

Sweetie Pie’s is a tiny bakery-cum-café right in the town centre. Luckily we’re the only people here and we take a seat at the little counter. For both Susan and me, the huge cinnamon rolls, dripping with frosting, look way too good to resist. Matt’s intrigued by the sausage rolls which are encased in bread dough, rather than pastry as we’re used to in the UK. As we get up to leave, I’m presented with a loaf of freshly baked bread. These Oklahomans sure are friendly! [Over the course of the next two weeks, we’ll come to learn that the term Southern Hospitality describes a very real phenomenon.]






Our destination today is Tahlequah, around an hour and half east of Tulsa. Tahlequah is the capital of both the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, having been settled in 1839 following forced removal from their ancestral homelands in the Southwestern United States (commonly known as the Trail of Tears).

As we drive into town, we slow down to take a look at the whackily named Sam ‘n’ Ella’s Chicken Palace (read it aloud) which, bizzarely, is actually a pizza joint. Our first stop, just a stone’s throw away, is Northeastern State University, where Susan studied. Its centrepiece, and the oldest building on campus, is the former Cherokee Female Seminary.

Quote:
The Cherokee people understood the value of educating their children and quickly formed a public school system. In 1847 they began building two institutions of higher learning in and around their new capital city of Tahlequah. Both the male and female seminaries opened on May 7th, 1851 and taught the equivalent of a college preparatory level of education.

The first female seminary was located in Park Hill, just south of Tahlequah. On Easter Sunday, 1887, it burned to the ground. Three original columns remain and can be viewed at the original site on the grounds of the Cherokee Heritage Center (where we’re headed next). Two reconstructed columns, made from bricks gathered from the rubble, stand on the southwest lawn of the modern-day campus.

The Cherokees were determined to rebuild and to offer the same high level education for their women. In 1889, the female seminary was rebuilt in Tahlequah at a cost of over $60,000.
This is a beautifully maintained facility and dominates the vista as we approach it along Muskogee Avenue. We park the car and, as we make our way via the paved walkway towards Centennial Plaza and the statue of Sequoyah, it’s impossible not to be impressed. Both memorials were installed to mark the celebration, in 2009, of 100 years as a state institution.

Centennial Plaza



Statue of Sequoyah



Seminary Hall and NSU’s greatest alumna



One of the two reconstructed columns



The original Women’s Seminary with its distinctive pillars



The rebuilt seminary


Quote:
The story of Sequoyah is a fascinating one, so I make no apologies for the length of this sidebar. There are various versions, but each of them conveys the same basic premise. He was a Cherokee silversmith who, in 1821, developed a written version of the Cherokee language, called a syllabary. This syllabary is one of the world’s great literary achievements as it was written by a man who was not literate in any language.

Curious about the “talking leaves” (writings) of the white settlers with whom he dealt regularly, he was inspired to devise a means of written communication in the Tsa la gi, or Cherokee, language.

His first attempts were to create a symbol for each word, but it wasn’t until he abandoned this idea and sought, instead, to represent sounds, that he began to make progress. He realised that there were 85 syllables used to make up words in the Cherokee language and created symbols to match. Enduring ridicule from family and tribal members, and unable to find anyone willing to learn his syllabary, he taught it to his daughter, A-Yo-Ka. At one point they were charged with witchcraft and brought before their town chief for trial. Sequoyah asked the tribal leaders each to say a word of their choice which he then wrote down before calling in his daughter to read them back. This demonstration convinced them to allow further tutelage.

Within a year of its introduction, 90 percent of the Cherokee people could read and write because the syllabary was so logical to the native speaker. This rate of literacy remains unprecedented. Sequoyah was rewarded for his achievement in 1924 with a silver medal from the General Council of the Cherokee Nation.
All around Tahlequah, names are depicted in both English and Cherokee. This street sign caught my eye as we drove through due to its British connection. That it also illustrates my point is an unexpected bonus.


We realise that a lens cap is missing and it doesn’t take long to figure out that we must have left it at Sweetie Pie’s. They’re relieved to receive Susan’s call as they had no idea how they were going to track us down, and we arrange to collect in on Tuesday when they next open.
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Last edited by UKDEB; 04-18-2011 at 02:03 AM. Reason: Tahlequah restored to its correct geographical location. Thanks, Nitpicker3.
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Old 09-09-2010, 09:24 AM   #2
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At the Cherokee Heritage Center in nearby Park Hill, we take some shots of the aforementioned pillars before killing some time in the gift shop whilst we wait to join the tour of the Ancient Village.






Quote:
Opened in 1967, the Ancient Village remains the oldest and most enduring of all the attractions at the Cherokee Heritage Center. The site was selected for the project because it was the location of the original female seminary. At the time, it was an all but forgotten piece of land five miles outside Tahlequah. Trees and dense undergrowth made it nearly impossible to view the remains of the seminary columns, yet a group of dedicated people was able to share a vision and create the Cherokee Heritage Center from that wilderness.
Colleen, our strikingly attractive young guide, is dressed in traditional garb with the addition of delightfully incongruous hot pink painted toenails. She explains that the village depicts life as it would have been for the Cherokee’s ancestors before European contact and in their original homeland, prior to removal.

Quote:
These were a settled people and their structures were permanent in nature, unlike the tepees of the nomadic tribes. They employed a variety of construction techniques to take account of the changing seasons. For summer, houses were of the wattle and daub type - twigs, branches, and stalks woven together around upright poles to make a frame, and coated with a sticky substance such as mud or clay. [I’m drawing a blank regarding the winter structures, but maybe one of my fellow travellers will recall the detail.] The villages were fairly large communities contained within a double fence, forcing single-file entry and, thus, preventing attack from potential enemies. Each had a seven-sided council house where ceremonies and tribal meetings were held. The seven sides represented the clans of the Cherokee – Bird, Deer, Wolf, Blue, Paint, Long Hair and Wild Potato. But, of course!
Colleen leads us around the village, stopping at each building to describe a particular craft – basket making, flint knapping, blowguns, dugout canoes and pottery – and we witness a demonstration of the ancient game of stickball. Finally we gather around the ceremonial fire to learn about the traditional Stomp Dances which would have taken place here.

Wattle and daub dwellings





Basket making







Stickball





Bows and arrows



Pottery





Flint knapping



Seven-sided Council House





Ceremonial fire pit


Next we look around the museum. The building itself was designed by Cherokee architect, Charles Chief Boyd, to symbolise a traditional Cherokee dwelling, built low to the ground and illuminated at both ends by natural lighting. The museum serves five main functions: it houses the permanent Trail of Tears exhibit, temporary exhibits, two major art shows each year and the genealogy center. The Trail of Tears exhibit, which explores the forced removal of Native Americans from their indigenous homelands to the “Indian Territory” (present day Oklahoma), is staged in six galleries, each concentrating on a specific aspect of Cherokee history and culture.

Lastly we take a self-guided tour of Adams Corner, a collection of seven buildings replicating a typical Cherokee settlement in the 1890s, after the Europeans arrived.

Traditional log cabin



General Store





Schoolhouse (notice the syllabary on blackboard to the left of the second picture)





Storekeeper’s House



Blacksmith

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Old 09-09-2010, 09:24 AM   #3
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Back in the car we head out for an early dinner at Jincy’s Kitchen in the tiny hamlet of Qualls in the Cookson Hills. You’re not going to come across this place by accident – it’s way out in the sticks. We’re talking uber rural, here, people! It’s open on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays only and we’ve come intentionally early to avoid the Saturday evening crowd. Two small parties are already eating as we arrive.

[This is sister Sally’s favourite restaurant and the original plan was for her to join us here, but this is her school reunion weekend and she has preparations to attend to ahead of a dinner this evening.]




This is an old post office and general store. Built in 1936, it featured in the 1974 movie, Where The Red Fern Grows as well as the 2003 remake of the same name. It’s a small place with fewer than 50 covers, but bigger than I’d imagined. It’s charmingly quirky with an eclectic mix of artifacts. The old grocery counters now serve as dining tables.


















Susan immediately introduces us to owner, Debbie, and her right-hand woman, Diana, who are busy in the kitchen. After all the months of planning and anticipation, I’m momentarily overcome with emotion.


We’re all parched and are soon in possession of huge cups of iced tea. A batch of bread rolls, fresh from the oven, is swiftly glazed with butter and, before we know it, we’re each handed one of the meltingly soft, warm confections. At Susan’s suggestion, we order a variety of dishes from the menu in order to sample as much as possible. Our feast includes chicken fried steak, chicken fried chicken, catfish, hush puppies, buttered cabbage, brown beans, black-eyed peas, pickled cucumber salad, deep fired okra and mashed potatoes. Chicken fried steak is a Southern US speciality consisting of steak, coated with the kind of seasoned batter or flour you’d normally associate with fried chicken, and deep fried. Matt (who, let’s face it, is easily confused) pronounces it “weird”, adding that “you don’t expect to bite into KFC and find steak”. What? Even if you knew beforehand of the steak lurking inside? Apparently not, although, in this instance, weird clearly equates to “extremely tasty” as he demolishes the lot before Susan and I can get a look in.




We sit for a while, enjoying our surroundings and one another’s company, all the while hoping that our distended bellies will quit their complaining long enough for us to make an attempt at the delicious-looking dessert pies on offer. Eventually we have the presence of mind to acknowledge that we’ll enjoy them far more later this evening and order coconut cream pie, banana pie and peach cobbler to go. The cost for all this food is $70, including tip.

Matt has packed just two t-shirts for this trip, intending to buy several more on our travels. Sadly, Jincy’s is sold out, but whilst we’ve been eating, Debbie has snuck out to her home across the road and brought back one of her own. It’s one of the original designs and no longer for sale, which is a bonus. Let’s hope this trend for free stuff continues everywhere we go! Seriously, we're overwhelmed by the warmth and kindness that's been extended to us here.

We bid a fond farewell to Debbie and Diana. Whilst I’ve been chatting with another dining party, Matt and Susan have been getting directions to Tenkiller Lake, nearby.

We set off in the opposite direction to that in which we arrived, down the dirt track running in front of Debbie’s house. The word “dam” has been uttered a few times, but it’s not until we’re approaching it that I realise what’s in store. Matt makes the impromptu decision to pull over as we reach it. He wants to get out and take photos, causing my fear of heights to kick in, big time. My agonised protestations only serve to make him delight in the plan even more and he romps off. Watching him teeter on the precipice gives me way too long to consider what lies ahead and, by the time he returns, I’m less than keen to drive across. I point out that if he hadn’t insisted on this folly and simply driven across, I’d have had little choice to put up with it. As it is, Susan confirms that we can take an alternate route and so we turn the car around to embark on a diversion which will take us a fair few miles out of our way.





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Old 09-09-2010, 09:25 AM   #4
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The last leg of our journey today takes us to Muskogee where Susan and Sally grew up. We drive through Honor Heights Park, a botanical garden and arboretum spanning a whopping 132 acres. I don’t possess the vocabulary to properly describe this idyllic place. It’s magnificent, divine, dazzling; cared for yet carefree. Here, on this gloriously sunny day, it feels like a little piece of heaven on earth.

[In hindsight, I’m kicking myself for not suggesting we stop awhile. We were approaching the end of a long, hot day and we still had things to see before embarking on the 1½ hour journey home.]

Quote:
Originally purchased by the City of Muskogee in 1909 and officially named in 1919 in remembrance of the soliders of WWI, Honor Heights Park features fishing lakes, an amphitheater for outdoor concerts, several arboreta, a lily pond, a waterfall, walking paths, lawns, picnic areas, gazeboes, nature trails, a rose garden, a reflection pond, playground and splash pad. Its Azalea Garden is world renowned and hosts the annual Azalea Festival. In winter, the park becomes The Garden of Lights with the addition of over a million lights. Housed in an 1875 Indian Agency building is the Five Civilized Tribes Museum which preserves the heritage and cultures of the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole tribes.
I’ve taken some screen shots from the Honor Heights Park Panoramic Tour, but I’d urge taking a look at the site itself as it does a very good job of getting across the feel and magnitude of the place.
















Our final stop of the day is Sally’s home – the house where she and Susan grew up. We let ourselves in as Sally has already left for her reunion dinner.

The family home is a substantial two-storey property dating from 1908 and with a later extension, built by Susan and Sally’s father to house a salon for mother, Wanda, who was a beautician. It’s bursting with charm and character, with surprising delights around every corner. The areas beneath both front and back stairs hold little secrets – hiding places within hiding places which enthralled the local children. Wanda’s creativity is evident in abundance and we marvel at her carvings and brasses. I’m very taken with the collection of Carnival Glass amassed by Mother and transfixed by a phonograph and its assortment of cylinders. I’m utterly bewitched by the huge portraits of Susan and Sally as children which grace the wall of the front stairs. Susan fascinates us with tales of fun and adventure and we’re left with the feeling of having been immersed in an enchanting time capsule. It’s difficult to articulate the effect this place has on my sensibilities. It’s as if it has a personality; holding safe the love and memories seeped into its very fabric.

[Because Sally wasn’t present, and bearing in mind that I’d only just met her, I didn’t feel comfortable taking photographs. Through the wonders of Google Earth, I do have a glimpse of the outside of her house to share.]


We wend our weary way home, stopping off at Braum’s for ice-cream to accompany our Jincy’s pies.

Quote:
Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Store is an Oklahoma staple dating back to 1968. It’s notable for its vertical integration - almost all the food products sold are processed or manufactured directly by the company. It owns eight farms and ranches including its flagship family dairy farm in Tuttle, Oklahoma, as well as its own feed mill, dairy herd, dairy processing plant, bakery, stores and delivery trucks.



Back home we indulge in what we can manage of our desserts and chat for a while before finally giving in to our bodies’ collective call for sleep. We’re in bed by midnight.
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October 1992 ~ Enclave Suites, I-Drive May 1996 ~ Omni Rosen, I-Drive October 1998 ~ Villa-Clear Creek August 2000 ~ Beach Club/Villa-Sunset Lakes July 2001 ~ Animal Kingdom Lodge/Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns Christmas 2001 ~ Villa-Formosa Gardens October 2002 ~ Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns May 2003 ~ Portofino Bay/Villa-Cumbrian Lakes January 2004 ~ Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes/Villa-Formosa Gardens July 2004 ~ Grand Floridian/Portofino Bay/Villa-Formosa Gardens December 2004 ~ Villa-Rolling Hills/Disney Wonder Cruise/BoardWalk Grand Villa/Contemporary April 2005 ~ Washington DC, Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, Charleston, Savannah, Royal Pacific Resort/Villa-Acadia Estates January 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/Royal Pacific Resort April 2006 ~ Celebration Hotel/NCL Jewel Cruise/Hotel Victor, Miami/Beach Cottage-Disney's Vero Beach October 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/BoardWalk Villa/Rosen Shingle Creek August 2007 ~ Saratoga Springs//Reunion Grande January 2008 ~ Saratoga Springs/Beach Club Villas/Reunion Resort November 2008 ~ BoardWalk Villas/Royal Pacific Resort/Saratoga Springs March 2011 ~ Celebrity Cruise/Veness Towers, a stone's throw from the Magic Kingdom November 2012 ~ Bay Lake Tower/Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota/Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, Jupiter/Saratoga Springs September 2013 ~ Kidani Village/Saratoga Springs May 2014 ~ Beach Club Villas/Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek/Bay Lake Tower

Last edited by UKDEB; 09-10-2010 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 09-09-2010, 09:31 AM   #5
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Oh MY! You're in my home state! Old Tulsa girl here. I just stumbled on your post!

What a lovely writing style you have, and I can't wait to read further posts of all my familiar places from a British perspective. Hope you have fun in tornado alley!

ETA: I had posted when just your first one was up. I have really enjoyed reading these. Makes me so homesick - especially for Braums ice cream! Hope there will be more.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:33 AM   #6
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Loving the southern hospitality.
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:36 AM   #7
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Lovin' your report as usual Debs.Please stop with all the great food..... I'm drooling all over the keyboard.
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:40 AM   #8
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What a wonderful day Deb.....the photos are gorgeous, and everywhere looks so interesting....you make me want to go too! You certainly seem to have found some of the kindest and most hospitable people!
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Old 09-09-2010, 01:09 PM   #9
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Another incredible day bathed in good ol' Southern Hospitality. Gotta love it (and Braum's! yum!) Please tell me you tried the peanut butter cup ice cream! YUM!

Wonderful pics and detail, Deb!

As for chicken fried steak, consider yourselves (or rather, Matt should consider himself) completely indoctrinated.


I only have one question: will there be a test at the end?
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Old 09-09-2010, 02:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UKDEB View Post
The last leg of our journey today takes us to Muskogee where Susan and Sally grew up. We drive through Honor Heights Park, a botanical garden and arboretum spanning a whopping 132 acres. I don’t possess the vocabulary to properly describe this idyllic place. It’s magnificent, divine, dazzling; cared for yet carefree. Here, on this gloriously sunny day, it feels like a little piece of heaven on earth.

[In hindsight, I’m kicking myself for not suggesting we stop awhile. We were approaching the end of a long, hot day and we still had things to see before embarking on the 1½ hour journey home.]



I’ve taken some screen shots from the Honor Heights Park Panoramic Tour, but I’d urge taking a look at the site itself as it does a very good job of getting across the feel and magnitude of the place.
















Our final stop of the day is Sally’s home – the house where she and Susan grew up. We let ourselves in as Sally has already left for her reunion dinner.

The family home is a substantial two-storey property dating from the 1930s and with a later extension, built by Susan and Sally’s father to house a salon for mother, Wanda, who was a beautician. It’s bursting with charm and character, with surprising delights around every corner. The areas beneath both front and back stairs hold little secrets – hiding places within hiding places which enthralled the local children. Wanda’s creativity is evident in abundance and we marvel at her carvings and brasses. I’m very taken with the collection of Carnival Glass amassed by Mother and transfixed by a phonograph and its assortment of cylinders. I’m utterly bewitched by the huge portraits of Susan and Sally as children which grace the wall of the front stairs. Susan fascinates us with tales of fun and adventure and we’re left with the feeling of having been immersed in an enchanting time capsule. It’s difficult to articulate the effect this place has on my sensibilities. It’s as if it has a personality; holding safe the love and memories seeped into its very fabric.

[Because Sally wasn’t present, and bearing in mind that I’d only just met her, I didn’t feel comfortable taking photographs. Through the wonders of Google Earth, I do have a glimpse of the outside of her house to share.]


We wend our weary way home, stopping off at Braum’s for ice-cream to accompany our Jincy’s pies.






Back home we indulge in what we can manage of our desserts and chat for a while before finally giving in to our bodies’ collective call for sleep. We’re in bed by midnight.
My husband is from oklahoma, he raves about braums! I'll have to show him your posts. Thanks for the beautiful pictures. Hope you keep them coming! Jo
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Old 09-10-2010, 07:17 AM   #11
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Another great day Deb. You certainly crammed a lot in.

Must say I agree with you about the dam - even looking at the photos made me feel queasy.

Love the photo of Susan outside her old University

Tam
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Old 09-10-2010, 08:39 AM   #12
Kevin Stringer
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The TF would like to see Kevin’s rendition of 'Great balls of fire'
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UKDEB View Post

He wants to get out and take photos, causing my fear of heights to kick in, big time. My agonised protestations only serve to make him delight in the plan even more and he romps off. Watching him teeter on the precipice gives me way too long to consider what lies ahead and, by the time he returns, I’m less than keen to drive across.
Oh Deb! What an opportunity missed! Just one little shove ....... think of the insurance.

Looks like you fully immersed yourselves in the Oklahoman (is that a word?) culture. Some beautiful and interesting sights.

Kev
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Old 09-10-2010, 10:17 AM   #13
chunkster20uk
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I am loving the trip reports so far, looks fantastic.

I may have missed it, but I didn't see a mention of a beer for Matt, was that an oversight?
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:09 PM   #14
jockey
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Great report the people there sound so friendly
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:53 PM   #15
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What a great day, loving the pics, looks a wonderful place.

Tina
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