Category Archives: oklahoma

Quartz Mountain

I spent almost all of June working as a PR Assistant/Counselor at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain. I studied poetry there two years in high school and thought it would be a perfect job for my return from France. It turned out to be a great way to earn some money in a beautiful part of Oklahoma while working with some interesting people, even if being around teenagers for two weeks was a little stressful.

I got there about a week early with the other counselors to learn CPR, set everything up, and be subjected to hour upon hour of improv. Everyone working there was involved with the arts somehow, whether it was theatre, painting, photography, film, acting, choral, dance, writing, or orchestra. It was kind of strange, actually, to be around so many people that were pursuing their art as their profession. I usually feel odd saying I am a writer, but working with professional-aspiring opera singers or musicians made me feel almost corporate.

After that first week, the students and faculty showed up and the camp went from 30 to 300 residents. I was very impressed with this year’s faculty, and they even got Billy Collins to come for a few days as a guest artist. The students were just as talented as I remembered, even if that was easy forget when they were using their cellphones during performances or climbing the mountains in a lightning storm. I spent most of my days in the public relations office, which was very laid bad and low stress. Quite a contrast to being a poetry student where I spent all my time writing and critiquing.

While each day at OSAI felt like a week, it still seemed to go by very quickly and already feels as dreamlike as France. It definitely got me over my culture shock, though, and I think I’m fully readjusted to the States. Being a student at Quartz Mountain definitely impacted my decision to follow writing as my career, and it was nice to come back to a place that was so inspirational. Unfortunately, of all the arts taught at OSAI, I think that poetry is in the most danger of extinction. Who reads poetry besides the poets? However, the students are still talented so hopefully the literary arts will be maintained as a part of the program. I would hate for young Oklahoman writers to miss out on the same encouragement I received there.

If you want to get an idea of the OSAI experience, the yearbook video from 2008 is online. (I recommend pressing mute for the music.) Although it went by quickly, I feel like I met some great people and love that I got paid to spend a month in one of my favorite places in Oklahoma.

Biplane Expo

2009 Bartlesville Biplane Expo.

2009 Bartlesville Biplane Expo.

I remember being in the backyard when I was a kid and watching the colorful biplanes start to migrate to Bartlesville. First there would be just one or two, then it would be like the sky had undergone some sort of time shift and modern aviation had not yet been invented. That meant that it was time for the annual Biplane Expo.

Red biplane.

Red biplane.

So when I happened to be in Bartlesville for the final Biplane Expo, we picked a cool, but sunny morning to go out to the little airport and see the planes land and take off on the grass runway.

Biplane fueling.

Biplane fueling.

I guess that most of the pilots are getting older and that is why 2009 was the final year for the Expo. But they couldn’t have picked a more perfect weekend to go out on. Every few minutes a plane would take off into the nearly cloudless sky and the announcer would identify it to the crowd of wandering pilots, aficionados, and visitors like me.

Blue and yellow biplanes.

Blue and yellow biplanes.

I imagine it would be amazing to fly in a biplane and have nothing above your head except air, to look all around you with no glass between you and the earth. Then again, I might get vertigo. Because of this, I probably shouldn’t be the pilot.

Biplane flying.

Biplane flying.

A pilot there had one of the best names I’ve ever heard: Joe Champagne. And he was flying a biplane apparently owned by Roy Clark. But there were more than just biplanes, and there were a few experimental and small planes there as well.

Biplane landing.

Biplane landing.

Most of the planes were from out of state, and it’s pretty cool that biplanes were flown from opposite coasts and corners of the country. Despite their age, they seemed to be in impeccable condition, probably better than most commercial planes.

Biplane taxiing.

Biplane taxiing.

In addition to the biplanes, there were also some classic cars being shown off that were in town for Sunfest that was taking place in the park. We went by the festival later for some fried green tomatoes (a guilty, once-every-few-years pleasure).

Biplane flying in to the Expo.

Biplane flying in to the Expo.

I have a few more Biplane Expo photos on my flickr if you want to check it out. I got a little carried away with my photography, but there were just so many colors against the sky that I couldn’t resist.