Saturday, January 5, 2013

Oklahoma, Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plains...

What do you do when you have one more day of Christmas break and you have seen all the Redbox/dollar/regular movies acceptable for kids, it is about 40 degrees and grey/cloudy outside, you have a ton of cleaning to do, decorations to put away and thank you notes to write?

Obviously you hop in the car with all the kids and drive north to Oklahoma. Yeah, maybe you don’t, but I do. I can come up with anything to avoid cleaning! This morning I was reading a book on historic day trips from the Dallas area that the hubby gave me for Christmas.

One of them was to Fort Sill and Mt. Scott in Oklahoma, north of Wichita Falls. At this point it was about 11:00 a.m. I decided that we needed to go to a mountain of some sort. Why not? So I looked closer, to the Arbuckle Mountains due north. I landed on Turner Falls, located in Davis, OK. This seemed like an easy road trip, less than two hours and straight.

“Go get in the car, we’re driving to some mountains.”


I was met with blank stares and incredulous, gaping mouths.

“Oh just go get in the car. Spontaneous Mommy craziness.”


I grabbed some snacks, gloves and hats and off we went.

We made it all the way to Gainesville before needing to take a break and grab lunch. Not bad for our crew of ladies. Being the generous, last weekday of break Mommy that I was, I stopped at three different fast-food joints for lunch. Yeah, that doesn’t happen ever, so savor it younglings!

So we soldiered on, over the Red River, past the behemoth casino, through the prairies that gradually gave way to rolling hills and then rocky cliffs.

We started watching for different license plates as we drove. We passed a lot of Texas and Oklahoma, predictably, but then we passed a truck with Alaska on the plate. Pretty far from home.

We saw a ton of Kansas and Nebraska and even a Colorado then the next plate we saw was South Carolina.

“Wow, they drove here all the way from South Carolina,” said the oldest as we passed the car.

South Carolina got that response? Not Alaska? Okie Dokie!

We pulled off the freeway and down the snaking drive to Turner Falls State Park. I forgot how beautiful the Arbuckle Wilderness was. The surroundings were the most barren I had seen them, being winter, but the rocks formations and bare trees mixed well with the dark green evergreens and the occasional white glints of snow.

After the obligatory photo at the entrance to the park, we headed in to see what mischief we could manage.

We paid and forded a couple of small water crossings in the family truckster before stopping to hike the rest of the way to the falls. Let me clarify that “hiking” was a loose definition at this point. They have paved a sidewalk that we walked on most of the way.

We passed the Stone Castle on our way to the falls, the former home of a professor, built in the ‘40’s. It is under semi-renovation and a lot of the structure still needs it. Crumbling cement covers the native stonework on the steps that lead almost vertically up the hillside.

 The castle consists of a main building and several patios and outbuildings connected by more steps. A garage at the top of the hill, about 100 steps up from the main structure, was worth investigating. The problem was, once we got up there, we smelled a skunk. A fresh skunk. Our trip downhill was a little quicker than up.

The girls had a blast climbing in and out of the narrow passageways and dark staircases. They pretended they were prisoners and that the place was haunted. A bit of ice still coated the roof so it was a bit treacherous. Still exciting. And my screaming calves today are proof that we covered every inch of the hundreds of steep steps!

As we got closer to the falls, we were paralleling the river. The crystal-clear water was full of trout. A few guys were fly-fishing at the falls. The girls had fun watching the technique but then almost gagged when they saw one man's line of caught trout and the heads of another man's already-cleaned catch.

“I. Am. Going. To. Be. Sick,” the middle child stammered, clutching my arm.

“I want to go up there,” pointed the oldest. I followed her finger to a cave about 50 feet up, past ice and crumbly rocks.

“No way,” I said. “Not this time.”

The youngest child took off to play on a playground at a picnic area nearby. I think this could be a great place to camp and hike as it warms up a little. We may plan a return trip.

As we walked back to the car, a kingfisher dove down from some trees to get a fish from the steam. It was neat to see such a unique bird and watch it hunt. It was a good day-much better than watching insipid shows featuring whiny kids and predictable plots.

The trip back was faster than the trip up and soon we were back in the great state of Texas, just in time to watch Texas A&M beat OU in the Cottonbowl. Guess we stole their mojo while we were up in Oklahoma! Then again, maybe it was just Johnny Football! Gig 'em!

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