Angelia McDaniel recently became the first person to stay in all eight rooms at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House in Pawhuska, Okla.
That’s right. She’s slept in all eight Tempurpedic beds, walked through every two-door shower and bathed in every claw foot tub. She’s had the rare opportunity to sit back and relax in all of the leather couches and comfy chairs at The Boarding House, and now, she’s on to round two.
Hotel staff told McDaniel she was the first to stay in all eight rooms when she arrived for her stay in December 2018.
Even more stays in 2019
With rooms booked about once a month through 2019, she’s become a Boarding House regular and the envy of Pioneer Woman fans everywhere. A wife and mother of one, McDaniel became a Pioneer Woman fan years ago when she stumbled across Ree Drummond’s blog. An Oklahoman herself, she loved Ree’s story and found she had a lot in common with the ranch wife and mom who met her husband in a bar (so did McDaniel).
While she admittedly doesn’t use Pioneer Woman recipes, when The Mercantile opened in Pawhuska on Halloween in 2016, McDaniel couldn’t wait to visit. She and her husband, Tim, drove from their home in Bixby to Pawhuska, only to find long lines of people waiting to taste Ree’s chicken fried steak.
“We got here and there was this long line down the block and we don’t do lines,” McDaniel said. “Instead, we ate at McDonald’s and went on to Woolaroc.”
But they would be back.
Getting a room at The Boarding House
When The Boarding House opened in early 2018, online reservations filled the available bookings within an hour. McDaniel was not one of the lucky ones to snag a room on opening day, but was told to watch the website for cancellations. So, she did.
She kept her laptop opened up the online booking page and just watched. And watched. And watched. Finally, she noticed a cancellation for the Emerald Room in May and she booked it. “Then, it was game on,” she said.
A data analyst by day, McDaniel said she became intrigued by the challenge of booking each of the eight cowboy-luxury themed rooms. This is nothing new for her. When her daughter was in elementary school, McDaniel located every state park in Oklahoma on a map. They started visiting the parks and didn’t stop until they seen all 50.
How she got reservations
So, how did she get all those room stays when the hotel has been solidly booked since the day it opened? Well, she started by analyzing the booking process and online calendar, and then watched for cancellations. She’d wait patiently near her computer, and when she saw a cancellation, she booked it.
In fact, every stay McDaniel has booked has been due to a cancellation.
McDaniel, who lives just a 90-minute drive from Pawhuska, stays in the hotel with either her husband of 22 years or their daughter. They check in, browse the new items at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile next door, and enjoy dinner at The Merc or P Town Pizza across the street.
Her favorite foods
Their favorite menu items include the chicken fried steak, turkey club, and the creme brûlée. Oh, and the not knots at P Town Pizza. They also love everything in the bakery and usually take home a little of everything when they check out.
For McDaniel and her family, one-night stays at The Boarding House are just quick getaways to relax and unwind. They’ve always wanted to travel, but didn’t do much of it for many years while they spent time with and cared for her elderly parents. Every weekend, they’d drive three hours round trip to see Angelia’s parents and take care of their home and yard for them. Then, in 2013, John and Floyace Rush both passed away at home, just two hours apart, from natural causes.
McDaniel said she never could have imagined losing both her parents at the same time and was devastated. Eventually, with more time and freedom, she decided to start making new memories with her family and they began to travel together more.
A love of travel
While they’ve been on several cruises and visited big cities, there’s something about small towns like Pawhuska that keeps drawing them back. McDaniel said she loves returning to The Boarding House every few months to see the progress in the town and new buildings being renovated and restored.
“A building is just a building unless it has people and a purpose,” McDaniel said. “The Drummonds have gotten people back in these buildings and they’ve given them a purpose.”
If nothing else, they’ve given people like McDaniel and her family a place to escape the busyness of everyday life, put their feet up, and enjoy all the wonderful tastes of the most comforting foods around.
And for McDaniel, whose childhood dream was to own a china cabinet and travel, life couldn’t get much better than this.