NORMAN — We had the extreme pleasure of hosting an Australian travel writer in the past week.
Linda Bentley who hails from Sydney is a seasoned traveler. After she researched to find out that 90 percent of the international travelers to the U.S. visit just four states (Hawaii, California, New York and Florida), she set off on a mission to visit all 50 U.S. states in 50 weeks (one week per state) to give readers reasons to spread out their travel dollars. Samsonite is sponsoring her trek through the U.S.
Bentley traveled through Arizona and New Mexico before Oklahoma (she’s working west to east through the southern part of the U.S. during the winter months where the weather is more mild than the northern part of the country) and arrived in Norman on her second day in the Sooner State.
Thanks to our terrific community partners, we put together a schedule for her to visit the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Andy Alligator’s Family Fun Park and the National Weather Center with an overnight stay at the Montford Inn bed and breakfast.
I also made sure to include lunch/brunch at The Diner which was our first stop after taking a quick sightseeing tour through Downtown (and seeing James Garner’s statue and elementary school since she is a fan). When we saw Calvin Steves come into to sell some editions of The Transcript, I thought he would be the biggest Norman celebrity we would randomly encounter.
However, a little bit of Sooner serendipity struck. On our way from Downtown through campus on our way to the Sam Noble museum, she spied the football stadium.
We had a few minutes to spare so I pulled the VisitNorman SUV into the sidewalk/VIP parking area outside the Barry Switzer Center in hopes that we could get a picture or two of the stadium before anyone noticed that our vehicle did not have the proper pass.
Unbeknownst to us, Sooner football coach Bob Stoops was walking up as we were getting out of the vehicle. Quickly, I went on the offensive and said that there was an Australian travel writer anxious to see the stadium.
Serving as a spectacular spontaneous travel ambassador, Stoops said he could do better than a picture outside the stadium and took us into the locker room and posed with her alongside the 2000 National Championship trophy.
Bentley enjoyed her time in Norman and in Oklahoma (you can read about her travels on the 50/50 Challenge Blog at www.thepackedbag.com) from the planned to the unplanned excursions.
We want to thank everyone who helped out with her visit from the friendly service staffs at The Montford Inn, The Diner, Victoria’s Pasta Shop and The Mont to the families at Andy Alligator’s who were happy to share the facility with some adults and from all the museum patrons who smiled (and were otherwise gracious) to the local celebrities who just happened to be at the right place at the right time to further enhance her visit.
Stefanie Brickman, CTA, is the communications manager of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau. The NCVB exists to promote the city, to attract overnight meeting, convention, sport and tourism business to the community, and to enhance and contribute to the overall identity and economic well-being of the city. The Vision of the Norman Convention & Visitors Bureau is to be the leader who proactively markets and develops Norman as the preferred destination in Oklahoma.