Durant, Oklahoma and the “Fly Over States”

Durant, Oklahoma and the “Fly Over States”

We spent a few days in Durant, Oklahoma for a poker event my husband was playing, hosted at the Choctaw Resort and Casino. As the hotel concierge advises you as soon as you check in, there isn’t really much to do or see in this part of the U.S.

“What in the world brings you here?” he asks. I mention the American Indian heritage, maybe the possibility to go visit the nearby Wichita falls… but he’s like: “Nahh, don’t bother. There’s nothing to see about the former, and the second thing you mentioned, I’ve never even heard of it. And by the way, you should be careful, there has been some… “activity” around here. You know what I am saying?”

I shake my head confused. “Well, some people getting stabbed, you know…”

I don’t let him discourage me. There’s gotta be something to see. I take the car and head towards the town of Durant. On the map it looks decently big so I am pretty sure there’ll be something interesting.

A quick ride after, as my GPS states “you are arrived to your destination”, I find myself in the middle of a huge parking lot surrounded by chains: Dollar Tree, Game Stop, Petco, Subway and the inevitable Walmart. Around the shopping area, a few low budget hotel chains, a couple of gas stations and the ubiquitous net of big streets that look so impersonal and identical one could get lost driving on them even after years of experience.

Residential areas are scattered around the countryside, isolated from common services and gathering spaces. To feel part of the society one must drive and head to the nearest shopping area.

Choctaw Resort and Casino

I ask around: “Is there a healthy supermarket around here?” “Walmart, right there” is the universal answer.

Well, I guess I am in the right place then.

Choctaw Resort and Casino

I walk inside the biggest grocery store chain of America. It’s no worry; water I can buy everywhere and I know they have a small section of organic produce.

A bag of kale and 2 avocados after, my grocery is pretty much done. I venture around the isles: there isn’t a single item with less than 25 ingredients. Some packaged breads even get to a list of 40, most of which items I can’t even pronounce.

Choctaw Resort and Casino

I google Whole Foods. The closest one is in Texas, 1 hour and 40 minutes away. I decide not to go, as I imagine do all the other people out here.

I spent my days in Durant nibbling on organic Square Bars (I love that they’re gluten free and nut free as well) and on the non perishable food I brought with me. I always pack a lot of fruit and organic canned legumes, and this time, before leaving, I even baked some grain free cookies and tortilla wraps for the trip.

Choctaw Resort and Casino

“Isn’t bread just made with 3 ingredients?” my brother (who just got here from Italy) asks me. I explain to him he’s lucky for taking fresh food and local family run bakeries for granted.

Not every part of the world is that privileged. And many people don’t grow up with home made lasagna for lunch and vegetables from the garden for dinner.

Choctaw Resort and Casino

Healthy groceries and pretty places to visit aside, I actually enjoyed my time in Oklahoma. The facilities and the beautiful pool garden of our resort were killer, and it’s always humbling to take a moment and reflect on lucky we are to take our maca powder, acai bowls and black bean pasta for granted.

In many places of the States, where immense distances separate one town from another, the lifestyle isn’t quite as glamorous as we figure from across the Atlantic. And besides the over populated West Coast and the more European looking East Coast, there are still huge areas (the so called “fly over states”) where life seems to flow pretty similarly to what it must have been during the pioneer age.

Only now, instead of the saloon and the pharmacy there’s KFC and CVS.

Choctaw Resort and Casino

 

Choctaw Resort and Casino

 

Choctaw Resort and Casino

 

Choctaw Resort and Casino

 

Choctaw Resort and Casino

 

Choctaw Resort and Casino

You May Also Like

2 Comments

  • Elizabeth April 27, 2016 3:29 pm

    I am sorry you had a poor experience in Oklahoma. That concierge needs to find a new job. Way to sell us dude!! I am from Moore, south of OKC. We have many healthy options in the cities and college towns. We have a Whole Foods in OKC. But you are better off finding a Sprouts or Natural Grocers. There are Mom-and-Pop health food stores in the college towns. Which, yes, I realize is north of where you were. But, about 5 years ago I took a summer college course at Lake Texoma (which is pretty by the way) and there was a local health store in Durant. There are also places in Ardmore (west of Durant).
    Don’t give up on Oklahoma, we aren’t all cowboys eating beef. Next time come to a larger city. We’re just as fast paced and options-conscious as many other states.

  • ambra April 28, 2016 3:41 am

    Elizabeth, thanks so much for the feedback and for taking the time to write such an elaborate response!
    Were where you when I most needed your advice?! 😉

    I am sorry if my article came out a bit strong toward Oklahoma, that wasn’t my intention at all, and actually I would have loved to have the time to visit more parts of this state and head to Oklahoma City.

    Mainly my intention with this post was to reflect on how hard it is to find healthy food options in small towns that are isolated from the big metropolitan cities. I drove through Utah a few months ago and the sensation I had was similar. No matter how many times I asked, it was pretty hard to find restaurants that were aware of gluten sensitivity and that were able to accomodate multiple food allergies.

    Perhaps it’s the sense of distance one feels in a huge country like the US that impresses me. Coming from a small country like Italy, I am still not used to it and it’s always surprising to see the vast distance between one town and the next.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I hope to be back there soon and see the rest of Oklahoma!

    Ambra

Leave a Reply