Sometimes when I travel, something catches my eye and an obsession is born. It usually doesn’t take long to convince Ann to go along when I explain what we’ll be doing.

For instance, one of these obsessive desires took us to Tabacon Hot Springs in Costa Rica where we could sit, surrounded by the beautiful rainforest, basking in the pure volcanically heated mineral water that freely flows off Arenal Volcano. Another took us to the clear blue waters of Maho Beach where we had an amazing view of airplanes approaching St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana airport. Then, on our recent first-ever trip to Tulsa, I convinced her that we needed visit a giant blue whale with a hat on its head.

Our obligatory pic at The Blue Whale of Catoosa.

Steve and Ann prepare to enter the whale’s mouth.

When we left for Tulsa, we’d asked readers to suggest things we should see and do while there. We were overwhelmed by the number of amazing recommendations for meals, museums, and shopping we received. We knew that our limited time in Tulsa would be packed full of activity and we would have to carefully choose what we would do. So when I read Jessica Voelker’s suggestion that we should go see the “Blue Whale,” everything else obviously faded to a distant second. I knew my choice for what I wanted to see. I mean, it’s a giant blue whale in a small pond in the middle of Oklahoma. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

Our obligatory pic at The Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66.

Our obligatory pic at The Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66.

Located along old Route 66 near Catoosa, Oklahoma, you’ll find a huge, smiling blue whale sitting peacefully in a pond. It has been there since the early 1970’s, tiny cap perched on its head, when Hugh Davis built it for his wife, Zelta, as an anniversary gift. Frankly, I think that was a pretty gutsy anniversary gift as I can’t imagine Ann’s reaction if I gave her a big whale, but Hugh knew his wife loved whales and it was a big hit.

A walk through the whale’s smiling maw brings you out on a dock over the water. For years, locals and travelers alike came here to swim, jump off the whale and slip down the slide on its side. Apparently, as the whale’s popularity grew, Hugh and Zelta also built a replica of Noah’s Ark which they used to hold a small zoo of other animals on the property.

It was fun to think about the thousands of kids who climbed these steps to the top of the slide on The Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66.

It was fun to think about the thousands of kids who climbed these steps so they could jump into the water from the tail of The Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66.

Eventually, the Davises retired, and the park fell into disrepair. A group of locals got together and brought the property back to life, if on a limited scale.

Today, there is a small information booth that is open on weekends where you can buy a postcard. To our knowledge, swimming is no longer allowed, but that doesn’t mean this pop-culture landmark that has been featured on the Food Network, and on the television show, American Pickers, should be missed. Instead, take a few minutes to pull off the road and spend a little time listening to the echoes of summers past.

Our daughter, Meghan, at The Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66.

Our daughter, Meghan, at The Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66.

And of course, take your obligatory photo with the blue whale.


Have you been to see The Blue Whale of Catoosa? What did you think? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you. 

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The Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66 near Tulsa

The Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66 near Tulsa

  • A chic, swanky boutique hotel, located in a renovated Middle School, @hotelgrinnell offers guests comfortable accommodations as well as great food and drink options. With a full auditorium, and a ballroom in the former gym, this hotel is perfect for anything from a weekend getaway to a major event. We had the opportunity to stay in the hotel on a hosted visit, and wrote a blog post about our stay. See the link in our bio.
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Ann took this photo several years ago when we visited St. Kitts for a day while on a cruise in the Caribbean. ⁣
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We met our friend, Mikey Tross, on the island and with the help of a local driver and guide, we toured the entire island in a day. ⁣
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We climbed to the top of Brimstone Hills, saw the beaches, at at Fredo's (a local restaurant) and toured Caribelle  Batik at Romney Manor. ⁣
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St. Kitts is a beautiful island and the people there are incredibly generous. If you haven't already been there, add St. Kitts to your bucket list.
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These buildings are intricate in detail and rich in their finishes. The next time you pass near Grinnell, it is definitely worth the stop to step into American architectural history.
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@visitnebraska @visitkearney
  • A rite of passage...⁣
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The Swinging Bridge in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, has thrilled residents and visitors alike for decades. When it was originally built in 1929, it was the only way to cross from one side of Bird Creek to the other. Today, there are other bridges, but the beloved swinging bridge still spans the creek and dares folks to cross.⁣
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Long-time residents will tell stories of rieding their bikes across it when they were kids--and it should be noted that back then it didn't have the chain link side guards.⁣
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No visit to Pawhuska is complete until you've tried The Pioneer Woman's chicken fried steak AND crossed the swinging bridge. Go ahead and try...we dare you!⁣
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@TravelOK @VisitTheOsage
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All of the leather goods for sale here are handmade by people in third world countries. Elevate, it turns out, is a non-profit that gives local artisans small, low interest loans to get started in the leather making business. When loans are repaid, the money is loaned out to another craftsperson so they can get started. Meanwhile, Elevate provides access to a market to sell the goods produced so the worker continues to be supported. They also have an online store.⁣
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We have purchased several items from Elevate, and have loved all of them.⁣
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@visitnebraska
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We were treated to a complimentary stay at the brand new Hilton in downtown @minnesotas_rochester. Located near the Mayo Clinic, it's an incredibly beautiful hotel with nothing but the best amenities and top-notch service. One of our favorite places in the hotel is the hot tub in the pool area. How can it not be? Look at this place. And yes, it's as relaxing as it looks, especially at sunset. ⁣
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The room in this new luxury hotel are just as nice. We enjoyed it so much that we changed our travel plans and booked a second night on our own dime. It's our new go-to hotel in Rochester, Minnesota.⁣
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@minnesotas_rochester @exploreminnesota @hiltonhotels
  • Our hosted food tour in @visitkansascityks began with a bar-b-que spread from several local restaurants. Needless to say, we had to sample a little bit of everything because it was for science. We enjoyed ribs, smoked sausage, brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, burnt ends, rice, beans, and even warm potato casserole. ⁣
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If you love bar-b-que, head to KCK. Trust us, you'll love it. Just wear your stretchy pants.

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