EPOTM Dam Run, Stop 4: Langley – Mayes County Field Notes


Four key events set the stage for a perfect visit with Donna Kuek at the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley.  They were, in no specific order:

  1. The previous day’s weather had been blustery and overcast. A chill kept our windbreakers zipped. At the GRDA, however, blue skies rivaled the beautiful Grand Lake water, reflecting a few white clouds on it’s glassy surface. Sunny, 63 degrees, 5 mph wind…glorious.
  2. Our previous night’s Mexican food dinner was a third choice (our first choice restaurant with all the raves on Yelp was out of business and the second was closed). I’m sorry we didn’t visit the grocery store and cook our own food. Ziggy the Creepy Clown in an arcade game by the restrooms put us over the edge.
  3. But, The Chicken Coop‘s breakfast was as good as the previous night’s Mexican food was “not-so-good.” The cherry on the cake was homemade raspberry jam on our biscuits, delivered with a smile by a waitress wearing pink camouflage. And of course, the “Chip Shot Cowboy” prints on the wall certainly didn’t hurt.
  4. Our team was so exhausted from our previous day’s travel we actually turned the lights off in our Pine Lodge Resort cabin at 8:37 p.m. Hence, we were fairly well rested the next morning.

All things considered, we were having an Oh, What a Beautiful Morning! start to our day.  


Pulling up to the GRDA Education Center is like pulling up to a space station in the middle of the Sahara Desert.  It’s size, approach and refined interiors lay in stark contract to the general Langley townscape.

_DSC0242Greeting those who walk into the large front doors, Donna Kueck’s demeanor was perfectly suited to orient and educate our team.  She shared GRDA history, talked about the building, the lake lifestyle, volunteer docents who work every summer educating hundreds of tourists interested in the Pensicola Dam, and more. Donna was a walking GRDA encyclopedia, calmly responding to our rapid-fire FAQs.

And, she gave us the best gift we could have possibly wished for: a suggestion to “make sure and see the GRDA History video” set up in their viewing room.

Even now, as I’m writing this sentence I cannot wipe my smile away.  Narrated by an Oklahoman who fancies himself an entertainer with a capital “E,” the movie was mesmerizing from the introduction until the credits rolled.

_DSC0181Please consider this post a public service announcement: IF YOU STOP AT THE CENTER, YOU MUST WATCH THE MOVIE.

Donna’s view from her desk is breathtaking.  You can hear her talk about the various sites she’s witnessed across seasons in our video at the top of this post.

_DSC0137Through the ceiling high panes of glass she takes in a daily dose of lake life.  I can’t imagine another state job offering such an amazing visual within the workspace.

_DSC0150However, I can’t imagine too many nicer state employees than Donna either.  I’m grate for all she taught us, and grateful for her willingness to be our Langley conversationalist.

Next week, you’ll see another perspective of the GRDA from someone on the Disney side of the dam.  And in three weeks, we’re going to print a special Mayes County post specifically covering themes and messages we detected across all our Dam Run sites. Until then, we hope you visit the “Grrrraaaaaand Lake O’ The Cherokeeeeessss” as soon as possible.

Thanks, Kelly



Field Notes Post Script:

Langley Oklahoma town website -> Langley OK.  Oklahoma Historical Society info on Langley, and the GRDA.  Necrology page for Howard Langley. “He lived and died with faith in God, and in man’s destiny.”

If you haven’t seen the article covering our project in the May/June issue of Oklahoma Today, check it out!

In a few weeks we’ll be recording a podcast on the OKC Show, a production introducing listeners to people who make OKC “the hip and happenin’ place it is.” We’ll let you know when that’s posted.

We’re headed to one site this Friday: Yukon, OK! Evidently, we’ll be conversing with a guy who’s grandaddy founded Warr Acres and also has guitar and cigar stores.

April and Rachel are swamped because it’s wedding season.

Kelly got her final grades in 12 hours before they were due (a personal best!). And…we’ll see you soon. BYE.




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