As a digital clock counted down the hour we had to escape, the five of us scrambled to find clues in the books from a glass cabinet, underneath the baskets sitting on the ground and on the map of Oklahoma City that hung from the wall. I had seen puzzle rooms featured in a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, so when Yelp told me that Oklahoma City had a couple businesses that ran these puzzle rooms, I brought it up with the other Noble Summer Research Scholars in Plant Science and one of our intern friends, and we decided to check it out. We were led into a room that needed a key code to unlock the only door out. We were told that clues we found would help unlock lockboxes, which would hold more clues to unlock more lockboxes until we eventually found the code to get out. I had signed up for the easiest level room, but even so, it proved impossible for us to solve.
Left to right: Noble Summer Research Scholars in Plant Science Ben, Debotri, Johanna and Jessi, and Forage Improvement Division intern Andrew at Trapped, where they had been trapped in a puzzle room for an hour.
Afterward, we drove to the Museum of Osteology, which displays skeletons of animals (including humans) from across the world. I stared in disbelief at a display in the entrance of the building. Behind a sheet of glass, maggots crawled in and out of the eye sockets of an animal's skull, looking like something out of an Indiana Jones film. A sign explained that these maggots were eating away at the animal's fleshy remains, cleaning the skull so that it could be put on display. Suddenly squeamish, I hovered in the entrance, deciding whether it would be worth it to pay the entrance fee and go inside. Finally, I decided to go for it. We'd traveled all this way.
From left: Johanna, Debotri and Jessi standing in front of a giraffe skeleton at the Museum of Osteology.
I'm glad we did. The museum, although housed in a rather small building, boasted at being the largest bone museum in the country. After strolling around the museum's two floors, I can believe it. It was so interesting to see how tiny a cat's skull is beneath its layers of fur, to marvel at the intricate architecture that makes up a bat's wing and the smooth mechanics of a snake's skeleton that allows it to slither as it does. After a little more than an hour of strolling around and taking pictures with the displays, we drove our car downtown, hoping to get up close to the Devon Tower, which had been luring us from a distance all day long.
An exhibit at the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City.
Ben parked the car in front of a meter downtown, and we paid for 30 minutes worth of parking. We walked a couple of blocks toward a park area, where we saw a giant glass cylinder that turned out to be a botanical garden. I mentally added that to the list of places we need to go to if we ever come back to Oklahoma City. Across the street from the park was the entrance to a glass building right next to the tower. We walked in and marveled at the view the glass dome ceiling gave of the tower. Looking up, I felt a wave of vertigo as well as a desire to go to the top of the tower. Another item to add to the list.
From left: Jessi, Johanna, Debotri, Ben and Andrew in front of the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City.
We finished our trip with dinner at Sheesh Mahal, an Indian restaurant at the edge of town. Knowing what would taste best, Debotri ordered for us and we had a nice family-style meal before heading back to Ardmore. I can't wait to come back.
Jessi Hennacy is a 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Plant Science from Columbia, Maryland. She is a junior at Duke University, majoring in Biology. Her summer project is studying the expression levels of different ammonium transporters under different soil nitrogen conditions.