Family Fun at The Gathering Place – Tulsa

I took a great photography course several week ago, in which we walked around a cute little downtown area and practiced shooting in morning light. This particular class focused on taking portraits. And although I don’t really see myself going down the path of shooting portraits, I loved getting exposure to this aspect of photography.

Getting outside and taking photos during the class gave me a kick in the pants and much needed motivation to get out and practice. So, I decided I to coax my family on a weekend excursion for some forced family fun. I sometimes worry that we don’t get out enough, but I’m working to change that, which you can read more about here.The much anticipated Gathering Place Tulsa opened here a few months ago, but as of last weekend, we had yet to check it out. So I decided it was time go. I have been wanting to explore more in this town, plus, I felt it would give this #photognewbie an opportunity to practice.

But, full disclosure; we’re not one of those picture-perfect families you see on social media that is always going places and doing things and making those charming memories. We stumble and grumble around and it seems like it takes a minute to get into the fun groove. I don’t know why. It’s just our nature, I guess. #keepingitreal

I’ll be honest and admit that a part of me didn’t want to get off the couch. I don’t like crowds and I don’t like making a big effort to get somewhere. I also don’t like to park and walk long distances to get to someplace, especially if it’s a place in which we have to do a lot of walking when we get there. Unless it’s the State Fair. I will always make an exception for the fair.

Despite being a family of sometimes gripey non-adventurers, we went. We drove to the area and we looked for parking and we bickered about where to park and we missed turns and we got confused about exactly where to go. But we went.

We parked and walked for almost two miles. I tried to take pictures of Little B along the way, but she pouted and grumbled about two seconds in, and so I told her to just go on. It’s hard enough to figure out shutter speed, aperture and ISO when you’re a newbie and it’s just you and whatever nonhuman subject you are practicing on. But having your daughter pout and resist while your husband is waiting down the path and then people milling all around, well, that’s just too much. It’s a recipe for pissiness.

So I lagged along behind M and Little B for awhile, feeling all sorry for my sad, artsy, creative side. But then Little B apologized and M told me to step it up. So I got over it and decided it was too much of a beautiful day to be pissy with a nine-year-old.

We walked to nearly two miles along Midland Valley Trail among many runners, walkers and bikers. There are sports courts, skate bowl and BMX pump tracks

The park is huge and massive and overwhelming. It’s also beautifully done. Little B played for a bit on the toys and was adamant about finding swings. We saw some odd looking swings but they were all taken. Even though she was incredibly impatient, she decided to hang around for a turn. Soon, a few other kids came up to swing, too. But it quickly became clear that they weren’t into taking turns, nor were their parents interested in teaching them about taking turns. Or maybe they were all just really unaware of social norms. Either way, the kids jumped in front of Little B when the swing became available.

Infuriated, she stomped back over to us when she realized the type of kiddos she was dealing with. Isn’t the playground a wonderful teacher of life lessons?

I tried to explain to her that this is what life can be like. Sometimes in life, someone takes your swing. It happens.

Still, she was very (and rightfully so) angry, so we promised to go find a park with swings. (Note – upon further exploration of the Gathering Place website, I see there were other swings that we weren’t aware of. Live and learn.)

We ended up at a local playground where she swung for 20 minutes and I took 545 photos. She was just as happy, if not happier, in those 20 minutes on playground swings than in the two hours on our big family outing. I was just as happy taking photos on a small playground than I was taking pics at a huge, scenic, family destination. So, as per usual, we started with expectations of one thing and ended with something quite different. (Kind of like our North Pole Experience a few years ago.)

Big excursions with set expectations typically end on a simple note with quiet and contentment. That’s just how we roll. And that’s how we like it.

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