Ask a typical American 'have you ever been to Oklahoma?' and you'll probably be surprised how many answer 'yes', but with the sign-off 'well, I've passed through on my way out West / back East!'. Actually, not such a surprise for one of the USA's Heartland States, and true throughout America's history.
In the 1800's, cowboys drove cattle north through Oklahoma - from Texas to the nascent railheads of Dodge City, Abilene and Kansas City - along the tortuous Chisholm Trail. Aspiring settlers struck out West, rolling their wagons from the eastern seaboard, across Oklahoma in search of the 'promised lands' that were to become California, Oregon and Washington State.
As the century turned, aspiring oil barons wandered the Sooner State restlessly, making their claims and sinking their wells - searching for the 'gusher' that would make them rich, and creating the burgeoning market economy that would spawn, amongst others, the 'Mother Road'. Knifing through Oklahoma, Route 66 was and remains iconic - that much over-used term that might have been coined just for it. Today, the longest driveable section of the road runs through Oklahoma - part transport system; part living history and theatre.
But there's much more to attract real America enthusiasts here. From the oil barons' palatial homes and estates in Bartlesville in the far north, through the music-imbued and fast-growing downtown of Tulsa, to the academic and commercial powerhouse that is Oklahoma City, the Sooner State is vibrant, alive, still making history and well deserving of a visit - and not just a 'passing through' visit, but a fulfilling and fun-filled stay.
Native American and Cowboy culture, high art, great food and music - all served up by the friendliest and most welcoming of people - are all here. Indoor and outdoor pursuits abound - the ultra-sophisticated water sports facilities in Oklahoma City at one end of the spectrum, and rustic, family ranches still working the cattle trails at the other. Without a doubt, the Mother Road epitomises the USA, its history, development and restless spirit - but the story of Oklahoma? That's Route 66 - and then some!