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.
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.