Daytrippin’ Oklahoma

10407135_10153325236537778_1659617629434039012_nA quest for fun and adventure has us piling into the Escape for a roadtrip today. My niece, Faith, wants to acquire stamps from Oklahoma State Parks to fill her passport book. There are 34 state parks and every one has a unique stamp. Every 6 stamps earns her a cool token. It’s a fabulous summer project!

I live with my sister, Rene, and two nieces, Beth and Faith. Beth had this Thursday off from work so we made plans to visit our first park. We chose Natural Falls because waterfalls rock, the park is only an hour and a half away, and waterfalls rock…oh wait, I may have already mentioned that.

It has been pouring rain all week so I check park closings on travelok.com. All clear for take off! We head out taking Hwy 88 to 412 and East toward Siloam Springs. Around Locust Grove, we decide to stay on the regular road instead of taking the tollway. We are not disappointed; the scenery is lovely even as wet as it is, and the road is good. We do not have to “turn around, don’t drown” which would suck.

Some information I read on the net gave us to believe it was a 3 mile hike on a trail to the observation point, so I drive past the park entrance and into Arkansas to look for a place to eat.

Nothing looks good and we keep going til we find ourselves in historic downtown Siloam Springs. Yay! It’s a very pretty place….even in the rain!

We wander a bit and get directed to Barnet’s Dairyette for a lunch of chicken strips and fries. It is an interesting place, but noisy and the food is not so great.

After lunch, we go back to historic downtown for the most delicious and amazing coffee ever! Seriously, the best Vanilla bean macchiato in the land. At the Broadway Cafe.

No let up in the rain, and our phones randomly sound alarms warning us it may be time to shop for an ark. We all say “what the heck”, and return to Natural Falls. If it turns out to be muddy or flooded, the trip has not been a bust because, hey, BEST COFFEE EVER!

There is a $5 entrance fee, which I did not know about in advance. Not a big deal now, but at other times in my life might have been a deterrence, sad to say. Cathy, the friendly park attendant, gives Faith her park stamp upon request. We do not have to perform 10 yoga moves and play disc golf first, despite the rules listed in the passport book. Rene asks about the distance and condition of the trail to the falls. Cathy brings a photocopy map to the counter and uses a highlighter to trace out the route. “It’s about 150 yards on a plank and concrete pathway. There’ll be no mud, but Dripping Springs is more like Rushing springs today!”

We take an Oklahoma map and a book of State parks with us, drive around the Visitor’s center and to the lot for parking at the trail head. It is sprinkling and the temperature is comfortable but we take our one small umbrella to keep as much rain off our phones as we can.

Excitement is building! Beth says, ‘Who does this kind of crazy stuff?” And I say, “Aunt Gabby!” Raindrops bead up on our glasses and we are soaked to the skin in the five minutes it takes to get to the observation platform, but we are having the best time together!  The waterfall is gorgeous! Next we take the path to the high bridge, and that’s a good view. And afterwards we descend to the base. Halfway down, the air temperature drops about 10 degrees. We have goosebumps and the falls roar in our ears here. We take some more pictures and head back to the Escape, sopping wet and very happy.

On the way home, Beth wants to stop in Chouteau for Amish banana bread. Excellent idea! It’s a wonderful end to a terrific day!

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Zion

These pictures stop my heart. I must go to Zion!

Moss and Fog

Zion6

If you haven’t visited one of the 59 magnificent National Parks in the USA, you should plan to. There are so many beautiful places that you might not even know exist. Let’s skip right to the Z’s: Zion National Park. What a stunner. Founded in 1919, the park features some of the most beautiful (and most treacherous) hikes in the world, including the famous Angel’s Landing.  Located in the park-rich state of Utah, Zion packs a gigantic visual punch, and is definitely on our Top 5 list.

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