A year after our first visit, we’re going home to Pawhuska, Oklahoma

A year after our first visit, we’re going home to Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Just more than a year after I quit my job as a middle school principal, we’ve made another big life choice. We bought a house in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. (No, we’re not having a mid-life crisis, thanks for asking.)

Regular readers of this blog know that we have absolutely fallen in love with Pawhuska (pop. 3,477 3,479) over the past year. In June of 2017, we made our first stop in Osage County. It was a quick visit to pay homage to The Pioneer Woman and her Mercantile on our way to Texas. We enjoyed a chicken fried steak dinner and wrote a few blog posts about our time in town, including this one that listed six reasons husbands should take their wives to the Merc.

We rolled into Pawhuska for the first time in June of 2017 for a quick visit to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile on our way to Texas.

A couple of months after writing that post, the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce contacted us to see if we’d be willing to return as celebrity judges for the National Indian Taco Championships. We felt obliged to call and tell them that we really aren’t celebrities. They replied, “Well, you are to us! Everybody here loves your blog!” We then shared that we knew little about Indian tacos. They told us not to worry and that we should just be sure to pack stretchy pants and Tums.

How could we say no to that?

We loved learning about how authentic Indian tacos are made from our new friend, Margie Williams, of Pawhuska.

We rolled back into Pawhuska early in the first week of October. We wanted to spend a few days getting to know the town a little better before the Indian Taco Championships and like we did for our own hometown of Crete, we decided to write an article on 70+ things to do after you’ve eaten at the Merc

Powwow at the National Indian Taco Championships

We saw our first ever Powwow at the National Indian Taco Championships last fall and can’t wait to see it again this year!

We figured five days would give us all the time we needed in Pawhuska. We were so wrong.

You see, when you’re in this cowboy town that has just one flashing traffic light, you can’t just walk into a store or museum, take a quick photo and leave. Nope. The folks you’ll find there are just too friendly and welcoming for that. We learned quickly that people in Pawhuska were genuinely interested in getting to know us and many of our conversations pushed well through the noon hour or until after closing. Nobody seemed to care. Relationships mattered more than time. We loved that.

Handy's Martha and Margie, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The day we met Martha and Margie at Handy’s in Pawhuska, they put their spoons down, forgot about their chili, and took time to tell us all about the history of this unique convenience store and the secret to the best fountain pop in Osage County.

It didn’t take long before we began to feel like locals. Though we had a hotel 25 miles away in Bartlesville,  townspeople insisted we should be staying in Pawhuska. By Friday, one had helped us find a room, and so we spent our first overnight inside the city limits. With no 30-minute drive to a hotel, we decided to go to the high school football game to cheer on the hometown Pawhuska Huskies. We met some nice folks as we sat down on the bleachers to watch the game and, as was normal for this town, we felt like old friends by the fourth quarter. It was homecoming that night. We couldn’t help but feel like we’d come home, too.

Homecoming in Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The Homecoming game had all the pageantry you’d expect in a small town.

By the time the National Indian Taco Championships were over that weekend, we didn’t want to leave and vowed that we’d be back soon. A couple of weeks later we took our moms to Pawhuska. We went back in December for the Holiday Parade of Lights. Starting in January, we found one reason after another to return to the Osage and learn more about its unique history and residents. With each visit, we grew to love the town and the people more and more. We started to feel like maybe we belonged, like maybe we had a bigger calling there. 

A view of Pawhuska at the Cavalcade street dance in 2018.

So, after a lot of consideration, investment planning, and prayer, we contacted a realtor, put the word out, and began looking for a house to buy. We had looked at about a dozen homes before getting a text from a friend a few weeks ago that pointed us to one that seemed just right. It was in a great location, in our price range, and newly remodeled. We knew it wouldn’t last long on the market. So, despite the fact that we’d just gotten home from a trip about an hour earlier and our suitcase was not even unpacked yet, we put our dirty clothes in the laundry, re-packed clean ones, got in the car and headed south. 

It is less than a six-hour drive from Crete, Nebraska, to Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

We spent time looking at the house and talking with the owners and everything about it just felt right. We made an offer that evening around their kitchen table, shook hands, and were under contract the next day. If all goes as planned, we’ll close on the three-bedroom, craftsman style bungalow Monday morning. We can’t wait to show it to y’all (I think we’re allowed to use that word now that we’re south of Kansas) and be a part of the Pawhuska community.

Pendleton Blanket, Clifton's Gift Shop, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

We were honored to be given this blanket by longtime Pawhuska residents and business owners Mr. and Mrs. Trumbly.

What, exactly does the future hold for us? We honestly aren’t sure. For now, we are planning to go back and forth between Oklahoma and Nebraska, splitting time between the Huskies and Huskers. We hope you’ll stop by for a visit if you’re in the area. We may even look into becoming Airbnb hosts, someday. We can write about travel from anywhere with internet service, so we’ll do just that as we create a new home while maintaining another one, at least for now. 

What we know for sure is that Pawhuska is a special place, and very soon we’ll be proud to call it home. 


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The Pioneer Woman Boarding House hotel in Pawhuska, OK, is stunning!

The Pioneer Woman Boarding House hotel in Pawhuska, OK, is stunning!

We were at the right place at the right time this week when we rolled across the windy plains of Oklahoma into the small town of Pawhuska for the seventh time in nine months, excited to see if there was any progress on the Pioneer Woman Boarding House.

As you know by now, we adore this historic town that is coming back to life, in part due to the entrepreneurial spirit of The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond and her husband, Ladd.

We pulled into Pawhuska Wednesday and walked by the Drummonds’ new cowboy luxury hotel on our way to The Merc for dinner our first feeding.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile building in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

It wasn’t open yet, but the stunning lobby caught our eyes and we peeked through the door for a better look. One of the front desk attendants, Leslie, saw us and invited us in for a personal tour of The Pioneer Woman Boarding House.

These swinging wood doors were original to the building and lead to the lighted themed rooms upstairs.

These swinging wood doors were original to the building and lead to the lighted themed rooms upstairs.

The lobby is amazing — and it’s not even completed yet! The Drummonds kept the original tile floor and also preserved the steps and swinging doors that lead upstairs. Constructed in 1920, Leslie told us the building originally housed the Indian Silk Shop and was later a clothing store and J.C. Penney department store.

The light coming into the Butterfly Bed made the room light up.

The sunlight coming into the Butterfly Room made the room so refreshing and relaxing.

Rooms at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House

Each of the eight rooms has its own unique theme and name — Tack Room, Prairie Room, Ranch Room, Butterfly Room, and more. Leslie said Ladd designed the four rooms on the third floor while Ree created the four on the second floor.

The Drug Store Suite was amazing! The uncovered mural, the apothecary jars, oh, my!

The Drugstore Suite was amazing! The uncovered mural, the apothecary jars, oh, my!

The Drugstore Room was one of the first rooms we visited and I’ll admit our jaws dropped about as far as the time we first laid eyes on Ree’s chicken fried steak. It was incredible. The largest feature of this suite is a huge Puryear’s advertising mural on the south wall. There are also wooden shelves that display apothecary jars filled with penny candy.


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Everything was just all so well thought out with careful attention paid to details that bring relaxation and luxury.

All of the beds have luxurious bedding with embroidered pillow shams

All of the beds have luxurious bedding with embroidered pillow shams.

Amenities at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House

Each room has a king Tempur-Pedic bed topped with soft, fluffy bedding and decorative blankets. There is a stocked mini fridge and basket of unique snacks and fresh fruits in each room. In addition, they have provided not only a hair dryer, but a curling iron, as well. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Each of the rooms includes a basket of fresh fruit and unique snacks (like wax lips and Smarties) for purchase.

Bathrooms at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House

Oh, and bathing will be an experience at this hotel. The rooms have showers that are walk-in (many from both sides) and some have claw foot tubs. These aren’t the tiny, curl-up-your-knees and contort your body claw foot tubs, either. I’m talking stretch-out-your-legs, lie back in bubbles and soak-for-eternity claw foot tubs.

The Boudoir is decorated in burgundy velvet and glossy black paneled walls. Can you imagine soaking in this claw foot tub with a chandelier hanging above?

The Boudoir is decorated in burgundy velvet and glossy black paneled walls. Can you imagine soaking in this claw foot tub with a chandelier hanging above?

Every room was strikingly beautiful but the Emerald Room really caught my eye. Featuring emerald green tile throughout the huge bathroom, this room just makes you feel like you’re in a completely different place and time.

Each room at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House has luxurious bedding, an accent blanket, and a stuffed animal from The Mercantile.

Each room at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House has luxurious bedding, and an accent blanket.

This emerald green bathroom has a large clawfoot tub in addition to a walk in shower with floating glass doors.

This emerald green bathroom has a large claw foot tub in addition to a walk-through shower with floating glass doors. I know I’m in the reflection in the mirrored tile, but I just had to share a picture of this amazing room!

I also loved the Photograph Room. The charcoal plaster walls are decorated with stunning photographs from the Drummond ranch, all taken by Ree. The bathroom has marble countertops and the entire room is ADA-accessible.

This Photography Room is ADA compliant and filled with photographs taken by Ree Drummond.

The Photograph Room is ADA compliant and filled with photographs taken by Ree Drummond.

Everything in the ADA-accessible room is so well thought out. The closet is open and includes a lower bar for hanging clothes.

Everything in this ADA-accessible room is so well thought out. The closet is open and includes a lower bar for hanging clothes.

The Photograph room in filled with Ree Drummond's photography.

The Photograph Room in filled with Ree Drummond’s photography.

The staff at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House

There’s no doubt in our minds The Boarding House is going to be a destination in and of itself for people who want to escape, relax, and unwind. Not only are the rooms and amenities some of the best we’ve seen in all our travels, the people who work there are committed to one thing – making people happy.

Our tour guide Leslie, who is from nearby Hominy, was a wealth of information about the history of Pawhuska and Osage County. And like everyone we’ve met in Osage County, her gift of hospitality made us feel right at home.

Our tour guide, Leslie, was so sweet and full of great information about the history of the town and the building.

Our tour guide, Leslie, was so sweet and full of great information about the history of the town and the building.

We can’t wait for The Boarding House to open and look forward to sharing much more about the additional perks and services provided to guests. The spicy cowgirl coffee delivered to your room. The outside terrace overlooking Kihekah Avenue. The wine reception. The turndown service each evening complete with chocolate truffles. We’ll share it all with you, soon.

In fact, we’ve got a room booked the first week in May and we can’t wait to check in.


Thanks again to everyone at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile and The Boarding House for your incredible hospitality. We can’t wait to check in. 

As always, thanks for sharing and pinning!

The Pioneer Woman Boarding House in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Wichita, Pawhuska, Tulsa, and Pittsburg: Our road trip through Kansas & Oklahoma

Wichita, Pawhuska, Tulsa, and Pittsburg: Our road trip through Kansas & Oklahoma

We are on the road again through Kansas and Oklahoma for a variety of reasons. Earlier this week, we headed back to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to look for apartments for our daughter, Meghan. She was recently accepted into the accelerated nursing program at Oklahoma University and will be attending school there for 14 months, beginning this June.

Despite being raised a Nebraska Cornhusker, Meghan will be attending nursing school at OU.

Despite being raised a Nebraska Cornhusker, Meghan will be attending nursing school at OU. Steve isn’t sure whether to feel proud or betrayed.

My joints don’t do well on long car rides, so we left late in the day and stopped in Wichita for the night. Steve had a great idea as we were planning this trip, and found a KTag office near our hotel. There, we grabbed a tag for our car, as we plan on using several toll roads on this trip and the KTag is good on toll roads in three different states. With this tag, we can cruise on through the toll plazas and leave the loose change in the cup holder.

Steve had a great idea to stop and get a K Tag while in Wichita.

Steve had a great idea to stop and get a K Tag while in Wichita.

Since we were soooo close to our favorite small town, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, we made a quick stop there for breakfast at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile because Edna Mae’s pancakes. While there, we also visited the Chamber of Commerce and some of our friends there.

The mean green burrito at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile was amazing.

The mean green burrito at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile is as amazing as the pancakes.

We had some time to visit with our friend, Lauren, at one of our favorite shops, the World Famous Buckin’ Flamingo, and we stopped by LOREC home furnishings to catch up with Gay.

We always have to stop by LOREC when we're in Pawhuska and say hello to our friend, Gay.

We always have to stop by LOREC when we’re in Pawhuska and say hello to our friend, Gay.

And of course, we just had to stop in at Handy’s convenience store on our way out of town for a fountain pop for the road.

We were excited to see that "I got a pop at Handy's" postcard sales were going well.

No trip to Pawhuska is complete without a Handy’s pop and now you can get a Postcard Jar postcard to send to your friends.

We did a customized Handy’s postcard recently and were excited to hear from Kristen and Martha that sales were going well.

After filling our cups with pellet ice and our favorite fountain mixtures, we made our way south to Tulsa and began the long and tiring process of looking for an apartment for Meghan.

This apartment was beautifully staged, but way out of our price range.

This apartment was beautifully staged, but way out of our price range.

She had a few appointments scheduled but we also stopped by several other places that seemed to be in the area and price range she was looking for.

 

Loved this apartment, but too expensive.

We just loved this apartment, but too expensive.

Let me just say that apartment complexes are a lot more competitive for your business than when I was shopping for a place to live after college. Some of the apartments are even beautifully staged. The leasing offices have cookies, bottles of water and complimentary coffee. One even took us by golf cart on a guided tour of the grounds.

Some of the complexes were much too expensive for the rich and soon-to-be famous, and some were in not especially safe suuuper sketchy neighborhoods, but eventually, I think we found a place Meghan is going to love and be able to afford.

After a while, all of the bathrooms began to look the same.

After a while, all of the bathrooms began to look the same. Steve honestly doesn’t remember in which apartment I took this picture.

After a long day during which we learned new words like “pre-lease” and new meanings for words like, “gourmet kitchen,” we had dinner and checked into the Hampton Inn – Tulsa Central. We found a nice surprise in our room, left by the new Director of Sales Casey Keeler.

Gifts from Casey at the Hampton Inn - Tulsa Midtown

Gifts from Casey at the Hampton Inn – Tulsa Midtown

She gave us a cup full of Hampton/Tulsa goodies, including Bedré chocolate that is made in Ada, Oklahoma. And, she even included a postcard! I wondered how she knew about our travel blog, since I didn’t think we’d left our card or anything the last time we stayed there.

A quick selfie with Hampton Inn - Tulsa Central Director of Sales, Casey Keeler.

A quick selfie with Hampton Inn – Tulsa Central Director of Sales, Casey Keeler.

When we asked to meet her the next morning, she said that when she noticed we’d been there twice in a month, she Googled my name and was delighted to see that we had a travel blog. We thought it was a super nice extra touch to leave us a small gift and personalized postcard.

Needless to say, we’ll be back.

The next morning, Steve and I finalized a few apartment tasks wrote a check while Meghan went to orientation at OU. Steve and I then rented a car in a process that took WAAAAYY too long which is a post for another day, and drove to Pittsburg, Kansas. Our route took us on a toll road where, guess what? We couldn’t use our new KTag because it was in the car we left with Meghan and we were in a rental! Anway, we drove to Pittsburg where several of our Doane University “sons” are running and jumping in the NAIA National Track and Field Championships.

Honored to be "like a mom" to these incredible young men.

Honored to be “like a mom” to these incredible young men.

We arrived in time to see Mikey and Josiah run in the 60-meter dash. They did not make the finals, but regardless, we were so proud of each of them and happy we got to see them run. Mikey ran a personal best and we joked afterward that we drove about seven hours to watch a race that was finished in less than 7 seconds!

Showing the guys the signs we made to cheer them on at the NAIA National Track and Field Championships in Pittsburg, Kansas

Showing the guys the signs we made to cheer them on at the NAIA National Track and Field Championships in Pittsburg, Kansas.

We relaxed last night at the hotel and are back to the track today to watch De’Andre and Shingai compete in the triple-jump.

Such a great road trip already.

What I love most about The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK

What I love most about The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK

It’s Valentine’s Day and that gets me thinking about all the things I love. My incredible family. Our fantastic church. The privilege of blogging about midlife travel. My electric mattress pad warmer. And yes, Edna Mae’s pancakes at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

Edna Mae's Pancakes at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Edna Mae’s Pancakes at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

I fell in love with them last summer when we visited The Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, for the first time. I knew from the start we were destined to have a long-term relationship and it has been true love ever since. The menu says the recipe for the tender and delicious pancakes came from Ladd Drummond’s grandmother, Edna Mae. They are served with a trio of flavored butters as well as signature syrups, including aged vanilla and cinnamon, orange zest and clove, and sea salt caramel. Do you see why I love them so much?

Here are a few more things I just love about The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

The Bathrooms

The beautiful bathrooms at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Our moms in the beautiful bathroom at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

The bathrooms at The Mercantile are so beautiful that women actually spend more time taking photographs of the subway tile than they do applying lipstick. And that’s saying something! The bright and roomy restroom has gorgeous tile floors, scented liquid soap, and thick paper towels for drying your hands. There are handy little hooks for hanging your purse while you wash and the bathroom stalls are well stocked with Charmin toilet paper.

The Cowboy Coffee

The Cowboy Coffee at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The Cowboy Coffee at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma

I dream about this coffee. I had it the first time we visited The Mercantile and every time we’ve been there, since. There’s just something wonderful about the way the baristas prepare this hot coffee, served “shot in the dark” style, infused with Sarsaparilla and topped with frothed milk and powdered espresso. The coffee is specially roasted for The Mercantile at Topeca Roastery in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and believe me, it is to die for.

The Turquoise-Colored Beads

Turquoise colored beads at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Turquoise colored beads at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Displayed throughout the store, these turquoise-colored beads are a Pioneer Woman signature item. This beaded necklace is the #1 seller in The Mercantile and seems to go with just about everything. You’ll see them worn by The Mercantile staff with black shirts and jeans and I think they make a great gift for any PW fan.

The Plastic Wrap Dispensers

Love this plastic wrap dispenser from The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Love this plastic wrap dispenser from The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

So, plastic wrap might not seem like a big deal to most people. It wasn’t to me, either, until I bought this self-proclaimed “World’s Best” plastic wrap and dispenser at The Mercantile. I am not exaggerating when I say it is life changing. My old beaten up, cardboard Saran Wrap box went right into the trash after I tried this dispenser last summer. For just $12, I completely eliminated the frustration of trying to find the end of the wrap as it clings to the roll or cut off a straight piece across a row of cheaply made metal teeth that slice your hand better than they cut the plastic.

Now, I simply measure out my wrap, gently slide a bar across the sturdy, decorative box and … voila … I am happy as a clam.

The People

Meg Kane visits with guests outside The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Meg Kane visits with guests outside The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Everyone we’ve met at The Mercantile (and Pawhuska, for that matter) has demonstrated sincere hospitality like we’ve never seen. On our first visit to The Mercantile last summer, we met Meg Kane who was in charge of keeping people in line outside the restaurant on a hot, summer day. She led trivia contests, passed out bottles of water and umbrellas and was just a delight to visit with. The Mercantile has plenty of staff readily available to answer questions, point you in the right direction, and even make recommendations for the very best dishes on the menu.

The Drummonds go above and beyond to make people feel welcome in their hometown, even hiring staff to open the doors for visitors. We’ve traveled all over the world and can honestly say Pawhuska, Oklahoma, has some of the nicest people we’ve ever met.

The Fried Chicken Sandwich

Fried chicken sandwich at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Fried chicken sandwich at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Hands down, this is the best fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever had. It is a crispy fried chicken breast with white cheddar cheese, honey mustard dressing, and creamy coleslaw on a toasted brioche roll. But my favorite part of this sandwich is the house made bread and butter pickles and I always ask for a few extra on the side. The sandwich is large enough for two meals and is served with homemade potato chips, all for $10!

The Decor

Love this sitting area on the second floor of The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Love this sitting area on the second floor of The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

I love everything about the decor at The Mercantile. The brick walls, wood floors, and the uncovered mural in the dining room all give this place a historic feel with modern touches. You’ll be awed by casual seating areas, complete with leather couches, southwestern rugs, and unique tables and chairs. We learned that many of the furnishings (including the furniture and rug in this picture) came from LOREC Ranch home furnishings which now has a showroom full of home decor accessories just north of The Mercantile on Kihekah Street. Stop in and tell Gay hello for us, if you go there.

I also love all of the large black and white photographs taken by Ree Drummond of scenes from their family ranch. Seeing pictures of her children when they were little and cattle on the ranch really give the space a personal touch.

The Fruit Flavored Iced Tea

Flavored tea at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Flavored tea at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

On a hot summer day, nothing quenches your thirst like a tall Mason jar filled with ice cold, fruit-flavored tea. The Mercantile menu includes a variety of fresh fruit purees in sweet and unsweet teas as well as in lemonade. I especially loved the blackberry tea served over pellet ice.

The Vintage Lip Balm

Vintage lip balm at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Vintage lip balm at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

When I saw this vintage lip licking lip balm in a glass jar at The Merc, it took me back to my childhood! I remember having these lip balms stuffed down into my back pocket in elementary school and collecting all the flavors, including my favorites, bubblegum and root beer. I loved the little metal containers and sliding the top back and forth during class. And for $5.50, I took home a wonderful memory.

The Tiny Bowls

Tiny bowls at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Tiny bowls at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Do these make you happy, or what? I love the plethora of tiny, colored bowls at The Mercantile. So many pretties in every color of the rainbow. There are polka dot bowls, mini spout bowls, nut bowls, berry bowls, and so on. I love all of the bright colors with their unique designs and every time we go there, they seem to have a new tiny bowl to tempt me. These bowls are great for entertaining, filling with salt and pepper for easy access near the stove, and for holding jewelry on a dresser.

The Prices

The prices at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile are very reasonable.

The prices at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile are very reasonable.

One thing we really love (and appreciate) about The Pioneer Woman Mercantile is the prices. We know that The Pioneer Woman brand is huge and the Drummonds could charge and arm and a leg for their food and goods but they don’t. At least to us, most things were very reasonably priced.

You can get the Farmer’s Breakfast including eggs, potatoes, ham, bacon, and house made sausage with a fluffy buttermilk biscuit and berry jam for only $10. Salads and sandwiches range from $7-15, while the most expensive dinner entree on the menu is the Cowboy Steak Dinner for just $24. I don’t know any other place you can get as good a 12 oz. USDA Choice ribeye steak with a twice-baked potato and green beans for that kind of money. And that queso dip appetizer for $8? Worth every penny — and every calorie.


Have you been to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma? What did you love most about it? 

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The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

A parade, The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, and Pawhuska at Christmastime

A parade, The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, and Pawhuska at Christmastime

Just after Thanksgiving, I received a text message from the Pawhuska (OK) Chamber of Commerce that said, “Kind of kidding, but if you Steve want to be in Pawhuska the first weekend in December, I have two judging spots left for the parade. We just miss you all!”

It had been several weeks since we’d taken our moms there for a visit and truth be told, we missed Pawhuska, too. I quickly answered the text with, “Sign us up!.”

Each Christmas, we usually plan a short family getaway to see something new and celebrate the season. We’ve gone to Christian music concerts, sought out Christmas light displays, and last year saw Mannheim Steamroller live for the first time. So, it was very exciting to add something new to our list of Christmas adventures and we’d heard so many good things about Pawhuska’s annual holiday lights parade.

Kihekah Ave., Pawhuska, Oklahoma

All ready to judge the parade!

Our daughter, Meghan, was able to come with us and we enjoyed the time to reconnect on the 6-hour car ride from our home in Nebraska to the Oklahoma border. We got to town Saturday afternoon with just enough time to check into our room at the Historic Whiting Bed & Bath in downtown Pawhuska and stop by a few of the shops there, including the Tallgrass Art Gallery, Osage Outfitters, and LOREC Ranch Home Furnishings.

Osage Outfitters, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

It was Ladies’ Night at Osage Outfitters.

The Holiday Lights Parade began just after sundown and it was AMAZING! Cody and Lauren Garnett (owners of the World Famous Buckin’ Flamingo) were the parade emcees and they did a fantastic job introducing each entry and entertaining the crowd with what Steve likes to call “hilarious dad jokes.”

Cody and Lauren Garnett and Reba Bueno, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Lauren Garnett, Reba Bueno, and Cody Garnett prepare to host the parade. We knew Reba was multi-talented, but we didn’t know she was a “gansta wrapper.”

I took pictures and shot video of the parade while Steve and Meg judged the more than 30 entries, each covered in lights and exemplifying the theme of this year’s parade, The Nutcracker.

Christmas Parade of Lights, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Christmas Parade of Lights.

Filming the Christmas Parade of Lights, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

It was fun to share our parade experience “Live” on Facebook.

There were parade entries from businesses, non-profits, and even families who all just love celebrating the season and having a good time.

Christmas Parade of Lights, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Christmas Parade of Lights.

We had a late supper at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile and enjoyed doing a little Christmas shopping during the extended holiday hours that evening.

Christmas Tree, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

One of many trees at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska.

Boots ornament, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This pair of cowboy boots was another of the cute ornaments at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

The Mercantile was beautifully decorated for Christmas, with several well-adorned Christmas trees, each with a different theme. There was one with food and cooking-related ornaments. The mini cinnamon rolls and KitchenAid mixer were a favs of mine.

Cinnamon roll ornaments, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

These cinnamon roll ornaments at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile look good enough to eat.

Another tree had a cowboy/ranch theme and had ornaments with things like cowboy boots, horses, dogs, barns, and John Deere tractors.

Cowboy Santa ornaments, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This cowboy Santa looked great on the ranch-themed Christmas tree at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile

Christmas dogs, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

These cute pups at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile are a perfect Christmas gift for any dog lover.

When we left The Mercantile, there were still a few shoppers in the streets and looking back at the strings of lights draping from building to building and hearing Christmas music played over a loud speaker downtown, we all felt like we were in the middle of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. I just love Christmas. I love my family. Pass the Kleenex, please.

Kihekah Ave. at Christmas, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Meghan stands on Kihekah Ave. after the parade.

The next day, we ventured outside and found a few local store owners working in their shops. We had a nice visit with the owner of Hair Razors and then spent quite a bit of time talking to the owners of the Book Burrow. The (mostly) used book store is a great addition to downtown Pawhuska and they had so many interesting books on the shelves, along with some antiques and other household items.

Book Burrow books, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The Book Burrow in Pawhuska has a huge selection of used books including these children’s books.

Of course, when in Pawhuska, you MUST stop at Handy’s, so we made our way over to our favorite convenience store to grab a cup of the best soda fountain pop in all of Oklahoma. We loved catching up with one of the owners, Martha, who was excited to tell us that our blog post about Handy’s a few months ago has helped business. She said several groups of people have even come in for a pop, saying they came to Pawhuska just to try the pop!

Martha at Handy's, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

It was nice to have a chance to catch up with Martha at Handy’s.

We spent the afternoon touring the area, as there was still so much we had not seen on previous trips. We drove out to Grayhorse Cemetery and paid our respects to those buried there, many of whom we’d recently read about in the book, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. It is an eye-opening and riveting book, if you haven’t read it. I highly recommend.

We also visited the Shrine of Kateri, the Veteran’s Memorial, and had lunch at Buffalo Joe’s. Later in the day, we attended a worship service with a new church in town and then drove about 20 miles to Woolaroc for the Wonderland of Lights display.

Woolaroc entry at Christmas, Woolaroc, Oklahoma

The Woolaroc Museum was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

The grounds and buildings there were covered in 750,000 lights and it was an absolutely spectacular sight. We enjoyed time in the museum and seeing Frank Phillips’ lodge all decorated for Christmas.

Painting at Woolaroc, Woolaroc, Oklahoma

Woolaroc has many incredible pieces of art.

The next morning, we indulged in breakfast back at The Mercantile. It’s my favorite meal of the day and The Mercantile is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to eat it. Steve got the pancake breakfast this time. He says he thinks they are served with three big scoops of flavored butter to hold them down, as they are so light and fluffy, they might just float away without it.

Pancake breakfast, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The pancake breakfast at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

I love the farmer’s breakfast which includes eggs, tomatoes, breakfast potatoes, ham, bacon, freshly made sage sausage, and the most amazing, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuit … my mouth is watering just typing this … that I’ve ever had. Oh, and it comes with blackberry jam. Needless to say, I can’t eat the whole thing, but it is nice to try a little bit of everything and there is no need for lunch.

After breakfast, we walked upstairs to the bakery and checked out the cutest gingerbread Mercantile made by the bakers there. It was adorable! It was all edible, with the exception of a tiny string of lights and even included mini Ree and Ladd Drummond characters on a balcony. (We’re told The Mercantile will be adding a similar balcony to the building early next year.)

Pioneer Woman Mercantile gingerbread model, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This gingerbread model of the Mercantile is full of beautiful detail, including a preview of the soon-to-be constructed balcony that will overlook Main St.

We took one more quick stroll through The Mercantile and picked up just a couple more gifts (who can resist the World’s Best Plastic Wrap & Dispenser) and headed down the street to visit a few more businesses.

Plastic wrap dispenser, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This plastic wrap dispenser at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile really is the world’s best.

We were so delighted to finally meet, in person, the Trumbly family who own and operate Clifton’s Gift Shop just around the corner from The Mercantile.

Pendleton Blanket, Clifton's Gift Shop, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

We were honored to be given this blanket by Mr. and Mrs. Trumbly of Clifton’s.

We’d spoken with Teresa on the phone and were just honored to spend time with her and her family, hearing about the history of Pawhuska and learning about the Osage Nation. We spent more than an hour visiting and then, Mr. and Mrs. Trumbly presented us a with a generous gift – a beautiful Pendleton blanket. We were so touched by the gift and are honored to display it in our home.

They were also so kind to set up an impromptu meeting for us with Osage Nation Chief Jeffrey M. Standing Bear. After one last stop at the Waterbird Art Gallery, we filled up our drinks at Handy’s and headed home.

Until next time, Pawhuska, thanks for your genuine hospitality.


Have you been to Pawhuska’s Holiday Lights Parade? Tell us about it. We’d love to hear from you.