Sunday, April 7, 2013

Oklahoma-Getting back to nature.

Go out and find it-What an amazing, empowering task, circle something of interest on a map and go find it. It is what freedom is for me, the idea that any place on the map is accessible, all you need is time, money and did I mention time? This road trip was different than any previous tour we've taken. Instead of the zoo, aquarium, gemstone and ghost hunt idea-this was camping and just falling off the map with kayaks on various lakes.

We stayed at Lake Murray for two nights and I got to enjoy the idea of being off the map and yet still realizing how much the older I get I appreciate the simple necessities we take for granted. My back did not like the cold ground, my body was looking forward to warmth as when you camp there is no escaping the elements-but still we loved the whole experience.

I enjoyed and yet reluctantly kayaked in the wind in cold, realizing that all it took was a fall in the ice cold water and a dangerous situation would occur. I enjoyed watching my son do the work, not because I was lazy or unable but because it was nice to see him cook and build a fire with a sense of confidence that made him seem older than his years.  He cooked an amazing steelhead trout-who would have thought that steelhead trout thrive in Oklahoma-okay they don't, we brought our own and learned that you can buy too much food for a camping trip. Also who would've thought fish can be edible after four days in a cooler, we reluctantly ate the fish although it was kind of tasteless after being on ice for the week.

It took me those two days of camping to be appreciative of a hotel room but it also took that time to get away from the rush and stress of my daily life and get back to nature. I sat on the ground and actually listened to the birds and watched the water, part of the time sketching and much of the other time just listening and feeling every cool breeze. I was that child again, the calm peaceful child that was so enamored with nature and the absence of the rushing around.

The next day, the most amazing thing was the freedom to be able to drive up to the top of Oklahoma, instead of that long drive seeming like a chore, it was a priveledge I didn't take lightly. I couldn't wait to get to the mountains, the woods, the wild out of the way places. We looked for places to camp but instead the idea of a hotel seemed wonderful so we stayed near Lake of the Ozarks in a nice warm hotel-I slept on the floor to pretend I was still camping-I'm kidding. Another aspect of being away with my son, we had actual conversation uninterrupted by our electronic devices, we talked about life, religion and the stars. We actually layed on the rocks and watched for shooting stars-he kept missing them but I saw a few.

Near Grand Lake, I sat down and wrote and sketched, again it was that feeling of the world stopping, of hearing everything around and enjoying the absence. I was excited about getting to our next lake, Eucha lake-another crystal clear lake with a fast running stream that ran into it. I watched the water and listened to the sound that never gets old. We didn't catch any fish but again, I studied the clarity and color of the water and was inspired. I love the fact that we had vague ideas of where to go but nothing specific-we stopped and fished where ever we felt like it.

We learned about some local color and because of some scary story we heard, decided instead of camping we would find another hotel-I was okay with the idea but we both laughed at the story and how it definitely swayed our plans. We kayaked on the lake and enjoyed how clear and beautiful the water was-still didn't catch anything but it was peaceful and relaxing just the same. The sunset is the image of Lake Eucha as the river feeds into the lake.

We stayed near a place I saw on the map and just wanted to go see-my son wasn't interested but we went anyway. The name of the state park was Natural Falls State Park. It was worth every moment-the first photograph is the falls as we could see it from the top and than you get to walk down to the bottom and view it from below. My son went from uninterested to very excited-he wanted to walk all the trails and he literally wore me out but I'm not going to admit it to him.

Here is the waterfall from the bottom of the falls, the amazing thing about this waterfall area is that the water was literally pouring through the openings in the rocks. The sound was incredible and the landscape was breathtaking, especially since it was off the beaten path and you would never know it was there unless you found it on a map.

The next lake we went to was Tenkiller-I had heard it was one of the more beautiful lakes in Oklahoma, we weren't disappointed. The water is clear and the landscape around it is just amazing, there are mountains surrounding the lake and the wildlife is everywhere, we listened to the crows and after finding several places to camp-we ended up getting a cabin, which was more than adequate and very enjoyable. We started a fire and after discovering lighter fluid made a great fire and cooked a ridiculous amount of fish. The cliffs were surrounding the lake and we couldn't wait to kayak. I have done several sketches and paintings as I was so inspired.

The water was even clearer than previous lakes we had been at. There are cliffs that go deep into the crystal clear emerald green water. I think the fish are laughing at us as we were skunked again and we threw everything at them. We stayed into the sunset and while he fished from shore, I took more pix of the trees in sunset and felt like I had gotten my eye for photography back, the images just seemed to create themselves, I just had to frame them correctly.

We enjoyed a wonderful night in the cabin and planned for the next day to visit broken bow and a family member that lived nearby. The morning before we left I got to see a bald eagle fly which was an awesome sight and so close I didn't even need my binoculars. I loved the ride down toward Broken Bow and we were able to fish in a trout stream-finally he caught one, maybe the curse was broken, but probably not.

On Broken Bow lake, I believe it was the most clear yet, I was actually laying the lure on the bottom, again no fish but we were told that the fish were starting to get active on the north side of the lake. I also got to catch a trout in the spillway but still the lack of being able to find fish was wearing on both of us. One quality of a wonderful trip is the idea that getting back does not upset you as you have been so relaxed and off the map that getting back seems appropriate. The feeling of being relaxed and calm followed through the next few days and I was able to paint almost from memory of the amazing trip and we are already planning our next place to explore. Until the next blog-get out there and explore.

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