This past weekend, I went on a relaxing cabin trip with several of my friends. We chose Beaver’s Bend as our destination, and despite all of the bountiful natural beauty surrounding us, we spent 70% of the time inside eating and drinking. Judge all you like, but we’re city slickers and better at cooking than hiking, and it was a great damn time regardless.
Of course, with any trip to Broken Bow, or any part of southeastern Oklahoma, there is a lot of driving through small towns that is involved. That is absolutely not a bad thing, as it’s the most beautiful part of the state. All of the gorgeous trees and quaint small towns made the drive more enjoyable than any other road trip I’ve taken for quite a while.
But I noticed a few archetypical details that have helped me craft a stereotypical list of what it must be like to live in southeastern Oklahoma. There are surely plenty of great subtle things I’ve missed, so comment with those, or just let me know I’m a pretentious urbanite asshole.
1. Your high school mascot is a mythical wild animal
According to the school signs observed while driving through this part of the state, the mascots are atypical. Instead of normal symbols to represent your community, like tigers and jet planes and racial caricatures (except you, Asher Indians), southeastern Oklahoma has a tendency to choose mysterious and fantastical beasts. The rivalry between the Atoka wampus cats and Antlers bearcats must be vicious.
2. You drive 10 mph under the speed limit in town
Even though the main street of your rural town is also a state highway with a speed limit of at least 45 mph, it’s a natural habit to cruise along as slow as possible, especially if the road is a no-passing zone. This does not apply if you drive a massive pick-up truck with one or more large dogs in your truck bed, in which case your driving philosophy is “the Autobahn is for pussies.”
3. Multiple hunting licesnses
The greatest part about living in the Texarkana region, aside from all the natural beauty, is the ability to kill it all. With quick access to Arkansas and Texas, it’s easy to reap the natural bounty and triple your seasonal limits. That’s a helluva lot of venison and wild turkey to eat, but as long as it’s not going to waste more power to ya.
4. You’ve picked up a hitchhiking escaped inmate
It’s nothing new for you if you were cruising down either highway 270 or 69 (nice), saw an upstanding young man in an orange jumpsuit and hoisting an outstretched thumb, and decided to give him a ride. Hopefully, he was polite, didn’t wear out his welcome, and never criticized your choice in radio station. Sure, because of the state penitentiary in McAlester, there are road signs everywhere warning you that hitchhikers may be escaped inmates. But you’re a kind and trusting enough human being and you took a chance on the gentleman with an improvised shank hidden in his sock.
5. Unconventional gas stations are normal to you
It’s not uncommon to find gas stations in any rural area that sells bait and tackle, but it is kinda weird when you really break it down that there’s a little shop where anyone can score petroleum, Doritos, and live bugs. There’s also all those Choctaw Travel Plazas with casinos attached, and it’s really strange to me that you can fill up your tank, get some heat lamp chicken strips, and lose your entire paycheck on video slots in the same little building.