Category Archives: Oklahoma

Oklahoma Part II: Keystone State Park

We arrived at Keystone State Park before noon on a Friday and hooked up in the spot we had selected the day before during our recon visit. It just so happened that another rig had pulled up minutes before us, and they were hooking up in the spot next to us. We felt lucky to be parking in our first choice location. We had three particular places we wanted to visit in Oklahoma: Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Shawnee (where Mike’s mom was born and raised). Since Keystone was conveniently located to each of those cities, we decided to spend our whole month in one spot. Moving and setting up are a bit more of a hassle during cold and freezing weather, so we figured it would be less stressful to get ourselves situated and leave it that way. The rules of the park were such that guests could stay for 2 weeks in one site. If they wanted to stay longer, they had to complete an application request to the Park Ranger. If guests were well-behaved, the Park Ranger would approve the request for 2 more weeks. After one month, guests could stay for an additional two weeks in the park, but they would have to move to a new site. We only wanted to stay for 4 weeks, so we concentrated on being well behaved. We needed the ranger to approve our request when time came for it to be submitted.

We were only 20-minutes from downtown Tulsa, and we were able to explore many parts of that city during our stay. I’m partial to downtown, so we visited the Blue Dome District several times. It is an entertainment district on the edge of the city center. We had dinner down there a couple of times, went bowling in an old warehouse that had been converted to a bowling alley, and I got my hair cut at a salon in the area too. We also took the dogs to a fancy shopping center named Utica Square, and ran regular errands in the suburb of Broken Arrow.

We took one day to drive to Shawnee and visit Mike’s family. We met two of his aunts and one of his cousins for lunch at Cracker Barrel. After our meal, they took us on a driving tour of the town. We cruised through downtown and made two stops along the way. We got to see the church where Mike’s parents were married, and the depot where they used to drop mail when the post office train came through town. After our tour we went back to Aunt Joann’s house for more visiting. She had a gigantic fenced back yard so Piper and Cessna were very excited to have some quality play time with no restraints at all! We enjoyed lots of fun family stories, old photographs and fresh made cherry cobbler before we got back in the car and made the return trip to the Monaco.

I made a small side trip back to Texas during this leg of our adventure. My aunt Martha Jo passed away, so I flew to Houston for the funeral. Mike stayed in Oklahoma with the dogs and the coach. After the funeral, I stayed one extra night with my friend Becky and got the chance to see my tennis buddies from two of my teams. I actually never even made it to The Woodlands, so there were tons of people I didn’t see. However, the small amount of time I did have with part of my family and some of my friends was wonderful (despite the circumstances).

I flew out of Tulsa to Houston Hobby, but when I left Houston I flew back to Oklahoma City. Mike made the two-hour drive in the Honda with the dogs and picked me up at the airport. We checked into a hotel and had plans to spend the weekend exploring the city. We spent our first afternoon walking the dogs along the ‘riverwalk’ in the historic Bricktown section of downtown. The next day we went to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art because they had a Dale Chihuly exhibit that I wanted to see. After we got some culture, we got the chance to visit with more of our friends! My friend Gayle and her husband Jim have children that live in OKC, and just happened to be visiting at the same time we were in town. We met up with them at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar for drinks, snacks, golf and Nascar. It was so much fun to catch up with them. After we left Gayle and Jim, we went to visit with another set of friends. A former colleague from my downtown days is now in charge of downtown OKC. She and her husband live in a wonderful historic neighborhood just north of downtown. We stopped by their house for a drink and a quick visit during the Oscar pre-show. We had planned to spend the next day visiting the National Memorial Site, eating at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, and then seeing the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum before driving back to the lake. However, when we woke up the next morning snow was falling and the weather was predicted to get worse as the day progressed. We cut our visit short and drove on back home to get off the roads before they became too dangerous.

During the rest of our time at this stop we enjoyed the park with long walks and campfires. Mike tried to fish a couple of times, but it was always too windy and cold to be much fun. Of course, it was February and Oklahoma is cold in the winter. We had a large collection of snow days at this stop too. There were many days that we stayed hunkered down inside-  dressed in lots of layers and huddled under blankets. We read lots of books and watched lots of television while we waited for breaks in the weather.

We knew it would be cold during February in Oklahoma, but that is as far south as our route would allow this winter. We had some very nice and warm weather during our stay... but the view from our front windshield looked like this on a bunch of days too.

We knew it would be cold during February in Oklahoma, but that is as far south as our route would allow this winter. We had some very nice and warm weather during our stay… but the view from our front windshield looked like this on a bunch of days too.

The snow was pretty to watch from my warm bedroom window as it silently blanketed the campground.

The snow was pretty to watch from my warm bedroom window as it silently blanketed the campground.

Our side-trip to Oklahoma City was cut short due to weather. We got there on Saturday and planned to stay through the end of the day on Monday. When we woke up on Monday morning, a light snow was falling and it looked like the road conditions were going to deteriorate throughout the day. We decided to get dressed and grab some free breakfast at the hotel, and then get on the road. This is what our drive home looked like. I was bummed we didn't get to see all the things on our list while in OKC, but happy to arrive safely back to our spot before noon that day. After we got home, we didn't leave the house again until three days later!

Our side-trip to Oklahoma City was cut short due to weather. We got there on Saturday and planned to stay through the end of the day on Monday. When we woke up Monday morning, a light snow was falling and it looked like the road conditions were going to deteriorate throughout the day. We decided to get dressed and grab some free breakfast at the hotel, and then get on the road. This is what our drive home looked like. I was bummed we didn’t get to see all the things on our list while in OKC, but happy to arrive safely back to our spot before noon that day. After we got home, we didn’t leave the house again until three days later!

One of the Chihuly exhibits at the OKCMOA.

One of the Chihuly exhibits at the OKCMOA.

This masterpiece was in the modern art section of the OKCMOA. I'm sure there are many art aficionados smarter and better educated then I am that could explain the brilliance behind this creation. I would be willing to listen. Couldn't get there on my own.

This masterpiece was in the modern art section of the OKCMOA. I’m sure there are many art aficionados smarter and better educated then I am that could explain the brilliance behind this creation. I would be willing to listen. Couldn’t get there on my own.

A giant Chihuly sculpture in the lobby of the museum.

A giant Chihuly sculpture in the lobby of the museum.

We got to the OKC Museum of Art when they opened at noon on Sunday. Unfortunately, they were hosting a special private event for the sustaining contributors. Since the opening had been delayed by one hour, we went to the museum café for some mimosas to pass the time while we waited. The Sunday Brunch menu looked wonderful, but we had already eaten breakfast.

We got to the OKC Museum of Art when they opened at noon on Sunday. Unfortunately, they were hosting a special private event for the sustaining contributors. Since the opening had been delayed by one hour, we went to the museum café for some mimosas to pass the time while we waited. The Sunday Brunch menu looked wonderful, but we had already eaten breakfast.

There is a section in downtown OKC called Bricktown. They have built a small riverwalk reminiscent of San Antonio's primary attraction. This impressive bronze sculpture sits at the far end of the developed area.

There is a section in downtown OKC called Bricktown. They have built a small riverwalk reminiscent of San Antonio’s primary attraction. This impressive bronze sculpture sits at the far end of the developed area.

The ducks at Keystone Lake grazed around our camping spot as if they owned the place. They did not care about how close we were when they descended on us. Piper was beside himself.

The ducks at Keystone Lake grazed around our camping spot as if they owned the place. They did not care about how close we were when they descended on us. Piper was beside himself.

Hopefully, this is the last shot of the Monaco in snow... at least for 2014.

Hopefully, this is the last shot of the Monaco in snow… at least for 2015.

Since the weather was so harsh, we ended up with the campground all to ourselves during much of the month we were there.

Since the weather was so harsh, we ended up with the campground all to ourselves during much of the month we were there.

We found this armadillo during one of our afternoon walks. Poor thing must have been blind AND deaf because he never noticed the 150+ pounds of furry dogs barking and clamoring to attack it from the end of their leashes.

We found this armadillo during one of our afternoon walks. Poor thing must have been blind AND deaf because he never noticed the 150+ pounds of furry dogs barking and clamoring to attack it from the end of their leashes.

It happened that the weather was glorious on Valentine's Day. We had plans to go do something in town, but opted for a lazy day in the sun instead. Mike fixed my hammock for me, then he tested it with a good nap (just so he could confidently stand behind his work).

It happened that the weather was glorious on Valentine’s Day. We had plans to go do something in town, but opted for a lazy day in the sun instead. Mike fixed my hammock for me, then he tested it with a good nap (just so he could confidently stand behind his work).

Woodward Park was a beautiful green space in Tulsa.

Woodward Park was a beautiful green space in Tulsa.

Looking east over the Arkansas River with downtown Tulsa far off in the distance. This is one of many vistas we were able to enjoy from walks at Keystone State Park.

Looking east over the Arkansas River with downtown Tulsa far off in the distance. This is one of many vistas we were able to enjoy from walks at Keystone State Park.

I thought this historic depot in Shawnee was such a beautiful building.

I thought this historic depot in Shawnee was such a beautiful building.

Mike and Dina in front of the church where his parents married more than 53 years ago.

Mike and Dina in front of the church where his parents married more than 53 years ago.

Mike's aunts Joann and Glenda.

Mike’s aunts Joann and Glenda.

Isn't this the most beautiful church!

Isn’t this the most beautiful church!

This sweet little frog looked like it needed a hug.

This sweet little frog looked like it needed a hug.

There is only one riverfront restaurant in all of Tulsa, which surprised me. But we found it! I didn't really expect the Arkansas River to look like this either... thought there would be more water.

There is only one riverfront restaurant in all of Tulsa, which surprised me. But we found it! I didn’t really expect the Arkansas River to look like this either… thought there would be more water.

There is a nice walking/biking trail along the Arkansas River in Tulsa. Starts near downtown and moves out toward the suburbs.

There is a nice walking/biking trail along the Arkansas River in Tulsa. Starts near downtown and moves out toward the suburbs.

A typical view from morning walks at Keystone (on days when there was no snow).

A typical view from morning walks at Keystone (on days when there was no snow).

The boat ramp covered in ice.

The boat ramp covered in ice.

The boat ramp on a warm day - looks a little different, huh.

The boat ramp on a warm day – looks a little different, huh.

There were several rental cabins at Keystone State Park that looked like they could be a fun get-a-way for those who aren't really into camping.

There were several rental cabins at Keystone State Park that looked like they could be a fun get-a-way for those who aren’t really into camping.

Oklahoma Part I: Eufaula Lake

When Mike made our first reservations in Oklahoma, it was only for a couple of nights at a KOA along I-40 between Checotah (Carrie Underwood’s home town) and Henryetta (Troy Aikman’s home town). It was going to be a long drive out of Arkansas through the winding mountain roads of the Ouachita National Forest. He knew we would be ready to stop driving for the day as soon as we got west of Fort Smith and into The Sooner State.

The park was small and loud because it was directly on the interstate. Hooking up was a bit of an adventure on this stop. Mike was having issues with the electrical supply so in order to stay out of the way, I hooked the dogs up outside and walked alone down a path to Lake Eufaula – which was the northern boundary of the park property. There was a chicken coop on the way to the path. I knew good and well that navigating my way past that ‘attraction’ would have been a giant headache with Cessna and Piper in tow, so I wanted to see if I could find an alternate route without having to control them during my exploration.

It was a nice peaceful walk down to the water, but once I got out of the woods and into the open air – the northern wind was howling like a hurricane was blowing in. It didn’t look like we were going to enjoy any part of that lake shore in the near future. When I got back to our camp Piper was waiting outside and Cessna was nowhere to be seen. I figured she had started barking and Mike had put her back inside. I went to check and she wasn’t anywhere in the Monaco either. I looked back outside and she was, in fact, gone from her end of the leash. Crap.

Mike and I split up. I went toward the highway. Since Mike is smarter than I am, he went toward the chicken coop. There she was… trying her best to find an opening in the fence that would allow her access to the hen house. After we got her back home, we both went back over and combed the area for a large collection of feathers. I was dreading the chance that I might have to tell the owner our big dog had just made a feast of one of her cute little chickens. Luckily, her quest had been thwarted in time.

As we sipped our ‘first night martinis’ at sunset, we decided we would spend the next day doing some recon of other RV parks in the area. This one was just a little too far from Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It had been a good stopping point after the drive from Arkansas, but it wasn’t somewhere we really wanted to be for two weeks.

We ended up finding a great spot at Keystone State Park, just about 20 minutes west of downtown Tulsa. After two nights along the highway, we got up early the third day and left the campground by 9:30. It was only about 90 minutes to the next stop, so we wanted to get there and get set up before we lost a whole other day to travel logistics.

Eufaula Lake, Oklahoma

Eufaula Lake, Oklahoma

This was the view of the lake at the end of the path from the campground.

This was the view of the lake at the end of the path from the campground.

The path to the lake shore from our campground.

The path to the lake shore from our campground.

These are the Silkies that Cessna wanted to eat.

These are the Silkies that Cessna wanted to eat.

The owner of the campground had houses for hens, roosters, ducks and rabbits.

The owner of the campground had houses for hens, roosters, ducks and rabbits.

We saw a couple of deer just off the road when we were exploring Lake Eufaula State Park.

We saw a couple of deer just off the road when we were exploring Lake Eufaula State Park. The park was beautiful, and they had space for us, but it was still too far away from other spots we wanted to see in Oklahoma.