Deep within all of us lies the call of the road. As Americans it comes natural; we love cars, exploration, history, and bizarre novelty attractions (just check out www.roadsideamerica.com if you don’t believe me).  Our great state happens to be a top notch place to fulfill every one of these time tested passions, and with such a diverse landscape you’re bound to end up somewhere that fits your picky inner Magellan perfectly.   Just grab a map, load up the I-pod, snag a few Big-Gulps and you’re well upon your way!

I recently decided to take a short trip along highway Highway 177 in the hopes of showing off my old stomping grounds to a close friend named James, who coincidentally has been in need of a little small town charm. We started our journey in Shawnee, a city that isn’t necessarily small, but is most definitely oozing with the previously mentioned charm.  I wanted to take James to the always excellent Hamburger King located on Main Street for lunch, but we showed up a little too early and had to find somewhere else to fuel up. Luckily for us, Shawnee’s overwhelmingly gorgeous Main Street has, among many unique things, an abundance of dining choices. We decided to check out Benton’s Café located at 126 N Broadway.  The food was excellent and the egg custard pie that our friendly waitress recommended made me happy that I had yet to start my new year’s weight watching resolutions.

            Shawnee had way more to do than our days worth of plans could allow, but we made sure to at least drive by the beautifully restored Hornbeck and Penthouse Theatre located downtown on our way out of town.

            The stretch of highway located on 177 South between Shawnee and Sulphur has to be one of my favorite drives.  Lulling hills give way to beautiful tree covered acreage and manicured farmland that go on for miles and miles. On this particular day the sun kept breaking through the cloudy horizon covering the miles of road with spots of light creating one incredibly dreamy landscape.

            On our way we stumbled upon Stratford’s Little Jelly Factory, a small shop that houses many homemade jams, jellies, preserves, syrups, candies, and much more. Inside we were greeted by a nice gal who pointed out some of their more popular products including a very interesting looking jalapeño jam.  I decided to go with the more traditional nectarine jam, which I must say, turned out to be rather excellent!

            Back on the road we passed an interesting sculpture of a large butterfly perched on a gigantic hand located in plain sight from the highway. I found this incredible piece of roadside art to be so fascinating, I ended up screeching my tires a little as I tried to pull over in time to take pictures – James may never trust my driving again.

            We arrived in Sulphur just a few moments later and headed directly to the Chickasaw Nation Recreation Area where we we’re able to enjoy the unusually quiet forest landscapes.  The cold air added an extra sense of calm as we watched the pristine springs ripple over small falls.  Nothing like having an enormous park all to yourself, even it is freezing out! After walking around for a bit, we decided to warm ourselves up with a short car ride to Sulphur’s charming downtown area. Despite having only eaten a few hours ago, we could not resist the temptation to stop by OJ’s Chili Creek Grill, located at 1611 W Broadway, for a little soup and coffee. I’m not afraid to say that they make one mean caramel latte, and even better chili.

            With very little cash and a few hours of driving I managed to have quite the memorable afternoon.  We drove home stuffed and happy, with a few new stories to tell. It’s always a pleasure to be on the road, and in the midst of adventure.

            We’ll be keeping the great road trip ideas coming next month, but if you have any travel tips that you’d like to share with us or any other feed back write us at Roadtrips@travelok.com. For more information on how to plan your next road trip adventure, make sure to check out the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department’s website, www.travelok.com or by calling the Oklahoma Travel Experts at 1-800-652-6552.