POSTED ON APRIL 1, 2009:
Affordable vacation alternative is right in our own backyard
This is the time of year I get the itch to vacation. My mind drifts to the sunny beaches of Florida. I feel consumed by spring and feel like everyday work inhibits my opportunities to soak in our most refreshing season.
For those of you planning a getaway to Eureka Springs, Siloam Springs, or Springfield, maybe you should consider sunny Tulsa, Oklahoma. I know, I know. That raises some curious questions.
Well, I just drove across Texas and New Mexico, and I'd vastly prefer 10 hours spent in Woodward Park, on Riverside, or even at the center of the universe than in a car driving across either of those states. Plus, there's little chance of being pulled over by an ambitious officer from the Texas Highway Patrol while kickin' it in Tulsa. And, you save a lot on gas money.
Last week, the girlfriend and I decided to take a load off only 2.1 miles from our home. Instead of being bothered by the location of our bicycles in the living room or the state of the kitchen, we checked into the Inn at Woodward Park, 1521 E. 21st St. We grabbed a bottle of wine, left the list of chores on my desk and prepared for a romantic night away from the disquieting state of our place.
Mark and Janet Mobbs, the innkeepers, began restoring the bed and breakfast, across 21st Street from Woodward Park, in 2003. In November of this year, The Inn at Woodward Park celebrates its third year of operation. According to Janet, because of the inn's location in a preservation neighborhood, their neighbors must approve even small changes: thus, the three-year restoration project.
"We couldn't have done this without friends and family," said Janet.
All that help has produced results. The inn has welcomed visitors from Australia, Russia, Israel and the West Indies. They even housed a retired Swedish ambassador, which is cool. According to the couple, 95 percent of these diverse visitors learn of the bed and breakfast the same way I did: the Internet.
Purchasing the home only to transform it into a bed and breakfast was a rather spontaneous decision for Mark and Janet. Prior to operating the inn, Mark was an accountant and Janet, an x-ray technician. The house was in poor shape when they first toured and was being advertised as a teardown. They couldn't let that happen, so they decided to pursue their business idea.
Cristi and I decided to make an evening of our night away from home. We checked in shortly after 7:30pm, grabbed our key and were off to Cherry Street for an enchanting dinner at Tucci's. Once at the restaurant, we adopted our finest out-of-town accents and did our best to role-play as New Yorkers or Georgians. I seem to always regress into a southern accent.
The dinner was delectable, and the company even better. It was a mild night, so we took a stroll and admired our vacation home. Based on other diners at Tucci's that evening, I told Cristi, "I reckon we ain't the only ones havin' a good ole time, babe."
How could I think otherwise? This is a vacationer's city (at least for this night)! This is Tulsa!
After arriving back at the inn, I picked out a movie from its respectable collection. I settled on What About Bob? It'd be the perfect movie to crawl into bed and fall asleep to.
Our room, the Moroccan, also had rooftop seating with a satisfying vista of an all-too-familiar skyline. As Cristi and I peacefully reposed on the pseudo-balcony with wine in hand, we both expressed our need for such an evening. I could have dealt with another night of clutter on my desk, but I didn't want to.
"This has been a good night," I said. She agreed.
As I observed what I thought was a large maple above our cozy rooftop table, the Utica Square bells sounded. Cristi smiled. "You have to include that (in your column)," she said.
"Will do," I replied.
The next morning, after being awakened by Diablo, the neighbor's rooster, we met Janet downstairs at our pre-arranged meeting time. Breakfast was served. We began our meal with a pear crumble. The organic pears came from the Natural Farms Food Co-op right here in Oklahoma. Not only did the produce come from the cooperative, but so, too, did the recipe. After the crumble was cleared (a dish I could have devoured ten times over), Janet served an egg soufflé with spinach and mushrooms. Tea and coffee came with breakfast, which was specially prepared for us as vegetarians. It was also vastly superior to any and all continental breakfasts I have ever eaten.
Janet told us how the B & B intended on providing a "real taste" of Tulsa for bikers traveling Route 66, business people or sweethearts looking to get away for a short while. While the majority of visitors to the inn come from the Oklahoma City, Norman and Edmond areas, there have been other Green Country residents needing a break from their homes.
As Cristi, Janet and I visited, Janet's gregarious cat, Miss Kitty, welcomed us to the breakfast table. If you've had troubling relationships with cats in the past, I suggest you meet Miss Kitty. Returning customers often request that the feline stay the night in their room, but because many other guests are allergic, the cat is not permitted to stay the night with guests.
Rooms are priced between $99 and $139 and include breakfast, complimentary snacks and beverages and more personal interaction than can be found at a typical hotel. The rooms are subtly based on various themes (i.e. jazz, Hollywood, Moroccan). And, the entire inn can be rented for $329 per night. Additionally, the inn prepares picnic baskets for those in need of a romantic afternoon activity in Woodward Park.
After I cleared my plate, Cristi and I gathered our things. Our relaxing mini-vacation had come to an end. The thought of returning home to a sink full of dishes was so daunting that I forgot to return the key. Fret not. I returned it later during an errand. It wasn't terribly out of my way (2.1 miles), but had I vacationed in Springfield I wouldn't be able to say that, would I?
The Inn at Woodward Park is open year-round. The bed and breakfast will participate in this year's first ever Oklahoma Bed and Breakfast Day on April 26 from 2pm-5pm. The inn will be available for touring; and local impressionist, Stephen Smith, will be showing his art and Whispering Vines will be available for wine tasting.
For more information, contact the Mobbs at the Inn at Woodward Park at 712-9770 or visit innatwoodwardpark.com.
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