May 13, 2011

Treat Your Mom to an Oklahoma Adventure

Mother’s Day 2011 is now a memory but don’t let that stop you from giving your mom special Oklahoma adventures throughout the year.

A couple of years ago our family started a new Mother’s Day tradition and gave my mother and mother-in-law a day trip to a couple of special Oklahoma destinations. To avoid the crowds we chose the Saturday after Mother’s Day for our first adventure and headed to Ponca City, known for its rich, colorful blend of American Indian, Western and oil boom history.

Freshly made dishes, like these cheese enchiladas, make Enrique's Mexican Restaurant one of the best in the state.

To fuel up for touring the ornate and historical Marland Mansion, we opted to first have lunch at Enrique’s Restaurant, a legendary local eatery self-described as “the hottest jalapeno on the runway,” so named for where it’s sited -- right next to the runway at the Ponca City Airport Municipal Airport. Having visited Enrique’s on previous trips, we knew the delights of the restaurant’s robust menu of fresh, flavorful Mexican food and of watching planes land and passengers debark and saunter into the restaurant like they would from a car.

Enrique's handmade, homemade tortilla chips transcend the genre and are not-to-be-missed fare.

Enrique’s puffy hand-made corn tortillas are paradoxically both crunchy and chewy, and transcend the genre, especially when paired with the restaurant’s piquant salsa, and the flavorful chicken tortilla soup was another big hit with our family.

Just down the road from Enrique’s lies the Marland Mansion, built between 1925 and 1928 at a cost of $5.5 million as the home of Oklahoma’s 10th governor, oilman E.W. Marland. Touring the mansion was a fascinating and nostalgic trek for our mothers, who remembered the styles reflected in the historic mansion’s opulent furnishings.

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Known as the “Palace on the Prairie” and built by master architect John Duncan Forsyth in Mediterranean Revival style, this palatial National Historic Landmark feels as though it could be the setting for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Lavish embellishments and artifacts glitter and sparkle at every turn in the 43,561-square-foot mansion. We had fun imagining the dinner parties held in the luxurious dining room.

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Place settings that would have impressed nobility from any country.

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From the imported Waterford crystal chandeliers -- the crowning the glory to the ballroom -- to the 24 karat gold-leaf mosaic domed ceiling worth more than $1.4 million in the gallery level of the mansion, each of the mansion’s four levels revealed luxurious treasures beyond imagining.

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Chandelier gazing.

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Intricate ceiling.

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A grand hallway was stunning as were an elevator lined in buffalo skin, delicate hand-carved details in lime wood and oak paneled walls, rich tapestries and Sheffield plate wall sconces, ornate ceilings.

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Everything so beautiful and intricate that at one point we all just sat down and stared at the ceiling for a good long while. The necks tend to get a little sore from all that looking up. 

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And then we toured the bedrooms, many of them, ten in all.

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And this beauty was one of them.

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Grace at every turn.

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Marland’s office.

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There are 12 bathrooms scattered throughout the mansion. Lydie’s bathroom was particularly lovely. Lydie was Marland’s adopted daughter and after his first wife passed away, he later had the adoption annulled and Lydie became his wife.

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So many enticing little details -  note the special shower setting for tepid.

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The mansion itself is just a starting point for all there is to see. The grounds are lush and extensive and include an artist studio, oil museum, Lydie's cottage  and Lake White Marsh, named after Marland's yacht.

By all accounts our family had a grand time exploring these two Ponca City destinations, but the greatest treasure of all wasn’t found in the tasty food at Enrique’s or the lavish display of wealth at the Marland Mansion. It was the gift of time spent with our mothers, of seeing the pleasure they took in the sights, of the memories we created in our time together -- altogether totally priceless.

Enrique's Restaurant

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