Jan 31, 2011

Guestroom Records

The city of Norman is a college town filled to the brim with cool art galleries, bars, great restaurants, music venues, indie shops and a ton of other stuff that any young hip go-getter can stand behind. While there's plenty of material to choose from, I feel the need to highlight a place that's very near and dear to my heart: Guestroom Records.

Guestroom Records is an Oklahoma hipster* institution, serving the general cool faction of the state since it first opened back in 2003. It's hard to go anywhere in the OKC metro area without seeing one of their stickers on the back of a car or a Guestroom t-shirt being worn by an impossibly beautiful girl with glasses and cute bangs. Hell, I even have a friend who's lawnmower has a few Guestroom stickers on it.

The permeation of Guestroom's image is certainly no accident. Owners Travis Searle and Justin Sowers started Guestroom in college as a humble record distribution enterprise. In less than a decade they've managed to open two stores (the other being in Oklahoma City) and are seeing their sales rise in a time where most other record stores are barely getting by. The guys have cultivated an incredibly loyal clientele of music lovers through love of the game, and good ol' fashioned business sense.

If Size Records is the diggers paradise, then Guestroom is for those with a well planned record shopping agenda. Their catalog is impeccably organized, digitally inventoried, and voluminous. Guestroom reliably carries new releases, and has an excellent track record for keeping the classics stocked on the shelf at all times.

Guestroom also runs a record label from the store under the same moniker, and has put out some wonderful records from locals like The Starlight Mints, Rainbows Are Free, The Boom Bang, and Shi++y/Awesome.

Ten years ago, I used to take vacations just for the purposes of finding a decent record store. Now when I travel, I don't even bother. Between Size Records, and both Guestroom locations all of my record needs are fulfilled inside and out. Whether searching for obscure collectible rarities, or just making sure I have a run of the mill copy of Meat is Murder I can rest assured that my record consumption is taken care of on a very local level.

What I find more comforting however, is that both shops have a deep involvement in our local music scene. Sure, business is business, and there's money to be made, but I can honestly say that my town's record stores care about, and help foster the local counter culture.


* I mean hipster in the non-pejorative sense, as in general bohemian types.

Jan 28, 2011

And This Week's Snapshot Answer is...

The Kenton Mercantile in Kenton, OK! Congratulations to the folks who answered correctly...

This little treasure located in the panhandle is just about as old timey and Americana as you can imagine (although they do have wifi!).

The info on Travelok.com says it all:

"The Kenton Mercantile, otherwise known as "The Merc," is one of the best little cafes and general stores in the Oklahoma panhandle. One of the last old, small-town general stores, the Kenton Mercantile serves as an anchor point for sightseeing around Kenton and Cimarron County. Stop at The Merc to stock up on food, refreshments and supplies for your trip and camping needs.

The Kenton Mercantile also serves as a small-town museum featuring dinosaur artifacts, unusual jar and bottle collections and the largest collection of dinosaur toys in the five state area. In addition, group tour services include self-tour information on local sites and a pre-arranged tour to historic Robbers Roost.

The Merc also offers homestyle cooking, postcards, souvenirs and "Kabins" for rent. Dine at the Kenton Mercantile and feast on hamburgers, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, chili, stew and hand-cut french fries."


Jan 26, 2011

Snapshot: 01.26.11

Alright dispatchers, its time again for another snapshot! Can you tell us where we were when we took this shot?

Jan 11, 2011


It's been gray, snowy and cold in Oklahoma for the last couple of days. Not exactly the type of weather one would typically idealize for a road trip, but us Dispatchers are prone to cabin fever (that is unless we're in an actual cabin) and hitting the road tends to be the only cure.

We've mentioned a few of our favorite go-to places when we need a quick getaway, but none come up quite as much as a little place called POPS on Route 66.

The 66 foot toll soda monolith lights up at night...

Ok, so I'm obviously kidding when I call POPS little. Since opening a few years ago on Route 66, POPS has developed itself into one of Oklahoma's biggest and most widely recognized tourism destinations.

For those not in the loop, POPS is a hyper-modern gas station that carries hundreds and hundreds of different sodas. Everything from the big name standards to the wildly obscure (see the Judge Wapner Root Beer below) can be found stocked in the many coolers within. POPS also houses a restaurant that serves up sandwiches, burgers, salads, and other traditional diner meals.

While these elements could easily play out in a tacky tourist trap fashion, POPS takes every precaution to make sure its name is revered in the highest regard amongst travelers of all kinds. For starters the building itself mixes the old timey Route 66 Americana template typical of Oklahoma, but funnels it through an incredibly modern architecture style that's not likely to be found at any other gas station (or anywhere else for that matter). The restaurant, which in less competent hands could be treated as an afterthought, is pretty freaking delicious and staffed better than a lot of the high-end eating establishments found in the city. The place is always meticulously kempt, both inside and out and the actual layout of the place is eye-catching, yet tasteful.

While POPS has all of this going for them, the real star of the show is soda. We're talking root beer, cream soda, fruit flavors, novelty sodas, colas, pretentious sodas, sodas that make you say "huh?", organic sodas, synthetic sodas, locally made sodas, sodas of every color, creed, shape, size, taste, and variety you can imagine... POPS has it all.

I am a man who certainly appreciates novelty, and POPS has a way of fulfilling that need quite sufficiently.

Rain Man's favorite soda?

Snacks for the old at heart

As an Oklahoma City resident, POPS more than anything acts as the perfect short term afternoon road trip when a change of scenery is needed. It's only a twenty minute drive away, and it's always easy to find someone willing to go with. Everyone comes home full, and has a few crazy treats to take home with them. What more could you ask for?


Jan 3, 2011

Holidays at Boiling Springs State Park

The Woodward Countryside

It's January, and the holiday season is quickly fading into the recesses of our collective memories. Not a moment too soon for the scroogey types out there, but I personally feel a little sad once the Christmas tree is packed away, and the egg nog cartons are bled dry.

There's just something comforting about twinkling lights, crisp winter air, and Santa's image plastered across the landscape. I'm unapologetically in love with the aesthetic, but must admit to absolutely despising the non-stop consumerism that comes with it. Christmas should be about spending time with the one's you love, while taking the time to truly appreciate how privileged we are in our everyday lives.

For the last three years in a row Lacey and I have forgone shopping malls and obligatory gift giving and opted instead to get a little peace and quiet by ourselves at an Oklahoma State Park. This year we opted for Boiling Springs State Park near Woodward, a serene little park known for its natural springs and abundant wildlife.

The plan for our Christmas getaways couldn't be any more simple. Its a perfect combination of sleepily lounging, cooking our favorite comfort foods, and maybe some exploring depending on how energetic we feel. The cabins at Boiling Springs are perfect for this plan, providing an adorable kitchen, a cozy fireplace, and a lakeside view which can be easily enjoyed from the comfort of the couch.

Deer are a common sight at Boiling Springs

The springs themselves are really cool, but I must admit we spent more time relaxing than exploring the park...

So cozy!

Pancakes with real maple syrup for breakfast!

While we spent most of the trip getting some much needed quiet time in the cabin, we did make a point to explore the very cool wind farms just a little north of Woodward. Pictures don't really do a good job of conveying how massive the turbines are, but take it from me, they're huge!

The turbines look quite majestic, particularly set against the wide open skies of the Woodward prairie. The vast amounts of rolling land harken back to the area's frontier days, and anyone who sees it will certainly be taken back to a different time and place.

Lacey cooked up an amazing Christmas dinner on our last night there. Here are a few pics just to make you jealous!

The holidays may be over, but that doesn't mean you still can't enjoy a similar break away from everything. I know most people really don't think of the winter as a great time to explore State Parks, but honestly its a fantastic way to get a little peace and quiet... especially during the holidays.