Weekend Roadtrip to Sulphur, OK

In addition to an awesome visit to Little Niagara Falls, there were many other great spots on our trip to Sulphur and Davis, OK this summer.

Here are the highlights:

1. Sulphur, OK Historic Main Street – I loved the quaintness and nostalgia of Sulphur’s main street.  It makes me want to come back and stay in a little hotel rather than a cabin by the lake for a romantic weekend getaway next time.Historic Main Street in Sulphur, OK

Historic Main Street in Sulphur, OK
Having fun jumping over "logs" at the murals painted on the buildings.

Having fun jumping over “logs” at the murals painted on the buildings.

An Old Theatre - Pure Romance

An Old Theatre – Pure Romance

2.  Movies in the Plaza – Enjoying a movie outdoors is a great way to end a summer day.  Sulphur, OK shows family-friendly movies shown every Saturday night at dusk throughout the summer. Make sure to bring a lawn chair or blanket.  But, no need to bring snacks as popcorn, ice cream and other snacks are available.  The snacks are cheap and there is no admission for the movie.  The Plaza, located at 3rd and Muskogee is easy to find in historic downtown Sulphur.

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Waiting for Popcorn at Movies in the Plaza in Sulphur, OK

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3. Turner Falls – A classic spot in Davis, OK and just minutes from Sulphur.  The water is cold and there will likely be crowds, but it was a great time.  Lots of shallow areas for kiddos, too.  This is a true natural beauty nestled in the Arbuckle Mountains.

Turner Falls, OK

Turner Falls, OK

4. Making S’mores – A camping trip isn’t complete without S’mores.

5. Chickasaw Cultural Center – this alone is worth the drive.

Honor Garden

Honor Garden

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Stomp Dance at the Chickasaw Cultural Center

Stomp Dance at the Chickasaw Cultural Center

 

Chickasaw Cultural Center

Chickasaw Cultural Center

6. Taking a Nap – There is something inviting about the cool grass under a shady tree on a hot summer afternoon.  It just beckons me to slow down, relax and perhaps shut my eyes for a few minutes.

Taking a nap in the great outdoors

Taking a nap in the great outdoors

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Little Niagara Falls, Oklahoma

Waterfalls, wooded forests, clear streams, hiking trials, beckoning wildflowers – what a weekend.  My family and I had the pleasure of spending a long weekend in Sulphur and Davis, Oklahoma this summer and were amazed at the beauty and fun offered in the area.  Tucked inside the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Little Niagara Falls was one of our favorite spots.  The crystal clear waters of Travertine Creek flow over shallow ponds perfect for younger kids.  But my 11-year old cousin has a blast jumping from the 10-foot falls into the deeper areas.  Just be prepared for COLD waters; since it is a spring-fed creek, the water is mighty cold.

The Falls at LIttle Niagara.

The Falls at LIttle Niagara.

I’ve seen pictures of Little Niagara running dry over the years, but the recent rains have meant the reopening of the falls.  You can see from the pictures that is plenty of water this summer.

Little Niagara has plenty of water this summer (June 2013).

Little Niagara has plenty of water this summer (June 2013).

The falls are also a great spot for a picnic lunch.
Who knew that Little Niagara Falls was just a 90-minute drive from Oklahoma City?

Of course, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area has much more to offer than just Little Niagara.  My family also explored the Travertine Nature Center, including a short hike.

The nature center was a great for the kids.

The nature center was a great for the kids.

The nature center was much more than a welcome respite from the summer heat.  There were exhibits, including a massive snake skin, a centipede and a bid-watching area.  I was especially excited to find some good Oklahoma bird watching books for the kids.

Glad we didn't run into this snake on our hike.

Glad we didn’t run into this snake on our hike.

Prairie Trail Loop at the Travertine Nature Center.  It's hard to tell, but the rocks are over a creek.

Prairie Trail Loop at the Travertine Nature Center. It’s hard to tell, but the rocks are over a creek.

We took the short 0.6 hike on the Prairie Loop Trail, it was a great hike with the kids.  In fact, we only had to carry them for the last few yards!  Of course, to their credit, it was stinking hot that afternoon.  Luckily, most of the hike was in the shade.

Love the wildflowers on the trail.

Love the wildflowers on the trail.

Walking the trails 2I hope that you have a chance to enjoy this beautiful gem in Sulphur, OK.  I’m already looking forward to our next trip to Little Niagara Falls.

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Downtown In December – OKC rolls out the winter welcome mat

I love the month of December in OKC – there is SO much today, particularly downtown.  I’m most excited about the Free Museum Sundays.

Dec. 2 – Oklahoma City Museum of Art,
Dec. 9 – American Banjo Museum
Dec. 9 – Red Earth Museum & Gallery, with an open house event
Dec. 16  – Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum

This is a great chance to take the kids exploring on a budget.  I’m also looking forward to free water taxi rides on the OKC canal and strolling through the lights in the newly renovated Myriad Gardens.

And, if the wonderful weather we have been having continues to hold up, what better than being in the outdoors.

What are you and your family going to be doing this month to celebrate the holiday season and stave off the cabin fever?

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St. Louis Zoo Review – What a Great Place To Take the Kids

We recently visited the St. Louis Zoo and I have to admit – I was ultra impressed.  I have a fond spot in my heart for the Oklahoma City Zoo, so it’s hard for me to fall in love with another zoo.  But, the 90-acre St. Louis Zoo may have just outdone the OKC zoo.

There were many exhibits that the kids and I loved, such as the underwater tunnel at the Sea Lion exhibit – Sea Lion Sound.  When you walk under the tunnel you can see the animals swimming all around – what a fun and exciting way to enjoy an already wonderful exhibit.

We also spent a lot of time at the River’s Edge exhibit – the zoo’s first immersion exhibit, showcasing multiple species including our family favorite, the elephants.

The best part of all of this is the cost – admission to the zoo is free.  Yep, free!  Of course, it’s such as great zoo, making a donation is a great way to express your thanks.

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Labor Day Weekend in OKC

Labor Day weekend – a wonderful end cap to the summer season.  A time for family, friends and campfires.  Well, no campfires this summer – with a hot dry summer OKC has been under a burn ban for months.  But, there is still plenty of time for a family get-together.

We decided to check out Andy Alligator’s Water Park in Norman, OK this weekend.  At 105 degrees, the weather sure cooperated.  While small, the park has a lot to offer families.  My kids were particularly fond of the lazy river.  I think they were just thrilled because they could actually “swim” on their own, all the way around the river.  Even my one-year-old (OK, he’s almost two).  But, secure on their little puddle jumpers and they are good to go.

There were also three fun slides in the main area that were fairly kid friendly.  A little much for preschoolers, but certainly good for the elementary set.  On the west side of the park were a few other slides – one that used a tube and one that used a mat.  The slide that used a mat was the best thing in the park, according to our group of 9.  The wait for a mat did seem a little long, but once you hiked to the top of the slide, you could quickly see that it would be worth the short wait.  Four guests at a time could race one another to the bottom – what’s more fun than that?

All-in-all, I would say the day was a big hit.  We all came home tired and ready for a nap.  OK, maybe I was the only one ready for a nap.  But, we did all have fun.

The next day of our extended weekend was spent at the Arts Festival at Oklahoma City Community College.  Again, the day was a scorcher, but still a lot of fun.  There was live entertainment, festival foods (think Indian Tacos) and lots of fun and interesting art.  Of course, with 5 kids in our party, we spent the majority of our time in the kids tent.  For $1 per kid, they could play to their heart’s content.  Elliott particularly liked the sand pit.  Amelia, however, is drawn to arts and crafts like a moth to a flame.

She tried her hand at clay creations, bead work, water colors, coloring and a glue/sequined masterpiece.   By the time the kids were done in the tent, we actually had little time left to explore  the art.  But, we did manage to go through at least 2 or three tents.  Next year, perhaps we will go a little earlier in the day.  Or, even better, we will  go Sunday night and watch the fireworks!

I hope your labor day weekend was as fun as ours!

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Rush Springs Watermelon Festival

Today the family and I spent the day at the Rush Springs Watermelon Festival, in Rush Springs, Oklahoma. Was it hot – yes. but not as hot as it’s been in years past. Was it fun – absolutely!

The first stop we made at the festival was at the carnival rides – Amelia couldn’t wait to ride the dinosaur “coaster”. That excitement lasted until about 3 seconds into the ride, at which point her expression was anything buy joyful. Poor thing! By the third round, she looked a little less terrified, but still not very happy about the ride. Up next, the tilt-a-whirl. Again, it was a ride that looked more fun from the sidelines. Our cart turned and turned – it was the perfect cart – if you were into that sort of fun. But, for Amelia, the end couldn’t come quickly enough. Oh well, on to the watermelon seed spitting contest!

I know, a watermelon seed-spitting contest sounds like a wildly good time, right? Well, okay, maybe not, but still something you don’t see every day. From what we could tell, each contestant gets two watermelon seeds to spit across the stage. We watched a gentlemen spit a seed over 12 foot. Next to go was a 10 year old little girl, who only spit her seeds 6 feet. I guess in the speed-spitting arena, this isn’t too far. At least not according to the older man sitting next to me who informed me that she wasn’t good at all. I didn’t expect trash-talking on the sidelines of a watermelon seed spitting contest, but I guess every sport has groupies.

It wasn’t long before Amelia was ready to move to the next watermelon hot spot – the prize watermelon tent. The had perfectly shaped melons garnering the top-three spots. There were also ribbons for the three largest watermelons. Anyone want to guess what the biggest melon was? Hint – it weighs more than Troy! At 214 pounds, the blue ribbon winner was definitely the largest I had ever seen. In fact, it was a full 100 pounds larger than last year first place melon! Who knew!

We stopped by lots of booths that afternoon, sampling salsa, drinking root beer from a jug, and trying to find what little shade we could. The University of Oklahoma was there with the Sooner Schooner. The OU Rufneks were even on hand with Boomer and Sooner, the OU horses. What a great photo opportunity for the kids. Elliott was super excited to pet the horses and sit in the Schooner!

Elliott on the Sooner Schooner Amelia, Mom and BoomerDad, Elliott and Amelia enjoying watermelon

Finally, it was time for the best part of the festival – enjoying a giant slice of watermelon. The best $1 I spent at the festival. We sat under the shade of a tree and let the yummy watermelon dribble down out chins. Elliott and Amelia couldn’t decide if they wanted to use the flimsy plastic fork or just lean in a take a bite. Either way it was delicious. We even ran into Amelia’s preschool teacher (Ms. Julie) and her little kids. They joined us for watermelon slices then we all headed over to play on the tractors. There were tractors of all sizes and the kids enjoyed climbing up and “driving” the monster machines (another great photo opportunity).

Elliott having a good time driving Amelia and Elliott driving a tractorElliott on a John Deere Tractor

 

By this time, the kids were getting a little restless. We stopped by the playground to play, but even that wasn’t enough to keep them playing. They were just ready to head home. So, after piling back in the car, with our watermelon goats milk soap and all the other goodies we picked up, everyone was ready for a nap. On the way out of town, we stopped and bought watermelons from the back of a pickup. It also seemed like everyone in Rush Springs has a garage sale on the festival day. I can’t blame them – the festival likely doubles the towns population for the day. Of course, I had to stop at a sale or two. I’m a sucker for a lemonade stand – so when we stopped for lemonade from a group of little boys it was obligatory to shop their garage sale, too. One more roadside produce stand and I was done for the day.

Overall, the day was a success. Next year, Troy and I are going to go early and run in the Watermelon 5K. I’m planning to make an entire day of the event, watching the entertainment, maybe spitting a few seeds for sport, shop the Rush Springs Main Street and hitting the endless line or garage sales heading out of town. There is just something special about small town OK, I always want to go back for more.

Amelia and “Ann” ready to go home Elliott is ready for a nap!

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up next – San Fransicso!

It’s time to plan our next trip.  Yes, already.  Looks like this time it will be parents only.  Troy and I are planning a weekend getaway in San Francisco, CA.  I’m really looking forward to some quality time away with the man of my dreams.  Walking in the shadow of the golden gate bridge, sampling some new dishes, riding the cable cars – all the touristy things.

We’ve been looking at hotels this weekend, trying to find somewhere that is a) conveniently located, b) clean, c) within our budget and d) available.  It’s surprisingly harder than it sounds.  The hope is that we can use our Marriott rewards points for our hotel stay.  If you aren’t already using Marriott or Hilton rewards but are interested in signing up, let me know (please).  I can send you a link and then we both get bonus miles.  I’m a miles kind of girl – that’s how we were able to go on our family vacation or Europe – using airline miles.  We’ve also used miles to go to Greece, London, and Hawaii.

I’ve spent a lot of time in San Fran over the years, but I love the city so I am always looking forward to going back.  What are your favorite attractions in San Francisco?  I’m open to suggestions on what to do this trip (did I mention it was sans kiddos).

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Freedom

Independence Day is truly a reflective holiday – one that makes me think about all the great things that this country offers us and the sacrifices made by so many great men and women.  Freedom truly is priceless.  Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to live our lives in the wonderful place I call  home.

I think about the tenets of this great nation, such as due process and the idea that accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty are gifts from our founding fathers.  So often I hear people that seem to ignore that the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” is one of the things that sets our country apart.   I see people giving up freedoms for “security”, people taking for granted the basic ideals on which our country was founded.

On this most humbling holiday – I want to reflect on all that I love about the US of A.  To be thankful for the freedoms and rights granted to me as a citizen.  I hope you used the time to do the same – wherever you celebrated.

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My Kids Were Mistaken for Canadians

One rainy afternoon, after visiting Sacre Coure and the Montmartre are we decided to visit the Rodin Museum and Gardens.  I was excited to see The Thinker!  But, Elliott wasn’t as excited as I was.  He was just hungry.  There was a café across the street from the Museum, so we stepped in for a bite.  My French isn’t great, but I could get enough to tell that they were not serving lunch at this hour of the day.  Standing at the intersection, we had four roads to pick from to find a new restaurant.   Par for the course that day, we choose the wrong road.  While every street in Paris seems packed with cafes and patisseries, the road we went down was desserted!  We walked about 500 yards before we found anything.  Keep in mind, we have a hungry baby (and momma) on our hands and it’s raining on us the entire time.  After getting seated we peruse the menu and settle on the most appealing dishes.  When the waitress takes our order, we find that (shocker) they are only serving drinks.  On to the next spot, but of course, it’s packed full, no room for us, and there is NOTHING else in site.  So, we traipse back to the subway station, giving up on the Rodin and decide we must find food.  We get off on the stop by our apartment and stop at the first restaurant we see.  Closed.  Next – closed.  One more and I am ready to call it quits and head back to the apartment for sandwiches.  But, ever-persistent, Troy wants to try one more place.  To my surprise, not only were they open, but they were serving food, too!  Praise the Lord!  They even had a high chair, the first one we had seen the entire trip.  Sounds like a small thing, but after corralling Elliott for each and every meal, a high chair was a welcome site.

The restaurateur, Georges, was a gracious host and his daily specials menu board had my mouth watering.  Amelia must have felt the same way – she wanted to order the rabbit for lunch and the duck for dessert.  Thinking Duck Confit might not make the best dessert, Troy ordered the duck for his dish and Amelia had the rabbit.  I settled on a seafood risotto and mom had the tuna.  It was all great, but Troy’s duck confit was definitely the home run!  The hostess then came over to ask how things were and where we were from.  She had bet her husband (Georges) that we were American, but he said not way, they have to be at least Canadian.  He based this on the fact that our kids were such adventurous eaters.  She then asked if she could bring the kids dessert and then surprised us with warm chocolate chip cookies.  A perfect end to a perfect meal.

The owner’s story was so romantic.  They had met when she was on holiday in Paris, from New Jersey.  They met, fell in love and the rest is history.  Of all our meals in Paris, that was the most memorable.  The food, the fellowship and the timing were all perfect.

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A Change in Priorities

I’m always up for an adventure, for a reason to visit somewhere new.  For work or for play, I am happy to see the sights of new location.  But, now that I have two little kids, traveling without my family just doesn’t hold the same allure that it used to.  When I had to travel for work this week, I looked for the quickest way to get the trip done and get back to my little ones (and the mountain of work waiting at the office).

Fortunately, United now offers non-stop service between OKC and San Francisco. The outbound flight is the first one of the day and the inbound flight is the last flight of the night.  With the family in OKC, I ended up taking a flight out and back home on the same day.  Leaving at 6:00 am and coming home at 9:30 PM made for a long day, but getting to kiss Amelia good night made it all worth it.

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