Be Open to Not Having a Plan

Not only does Oklahoma have a special place in my heart because both of my parents grew up in small Oklahoma towns, it’s also home to my alma mater (Boomer Sooner)! It may be surprising to some, but Oklahoma has some truly beautiful natural landscapes. I remember being young and going on a lot of drives through the sprawling countryside and it’s honestly a really lovely view on a roadtrip.

While it is mostly plains, they have a lot of interesting waterways and of course, their famous red dirt. It was a bit weird to discover that this entire state only has two spots in the National Parks system. And one of them I passed within 20 miles of a million times on my way from home to college! I decided it was time to make a day trip to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

I guess it’s because of how comfortable I am with visiting Oklahoma, but I did next to no research for this trip. I’m big on planning, but for some reason I let myself become the tagalong on my friend’s trip. I was surprised how busy it was for a Friday, but it was summer so we ran into a lot of kids off from school. After visiting the visitor center, we walked the local flower park and spotted the state flower Indian Blanket.

The four of us, made up mostly of new friends I’d just made on the short roadtrip, decided to try a real hike before taking a dip in the many pools of water. The flowers had not been enough. The main probably with this was I had come completely unprepared. I had no water, was wearing jean shorts, and hadn’t showered before I was to go trekking into the summer heat.

We meandered through the Antelope and Buffalo Springs, checking out the different areas of the water fun, before we found the Travertine Creek trail. It was about a three mile hike, there and back, with hidden views of the spring and giant pools of water. I’m not going to lie, I wanted to nix the hike and jump in the cool natural springs.

I’m not good without a plan. I guess you could say I’m an easygoing control freak – I will be easygoing until things run out of my control. But I was with new friends and everyone was having a good time. And I honestly love hiking! So I stuck to the back of the pack and practiced patience. There are worse things to happen out of someone’s control. This was a simple summer hike. With a promised treat within sight!

The end of the trail led us to an awful smelling sulphur spring, and I was pretty glad at the group’s agreed disappointment. Now we could head double time to the swimming fun! In fact, we didn’t even make it all the way back to the super populated springs and instead took a side trail that led us to a big pool with a pretty cool waterfall.

We shed our clothes and hit the water fast. Even though it was freezing – seriously, in the middle of July! – I was so excited to be swimming. Not going to lie, there was a lot of debris and weird nature in the natural pool, but I was so glad to be swimming instead of hiking in the heat, I didn’t care a bit!

A few of the locals had spotted our waterfall and kids began lining up to slide down it. With them came the parents, who we chatted with about the summer break and where they’d come from. We were the only Texans, but I was surprised how many small town folks had made the hour drive to the Chickasaw Area. Then I remembered what a beautiful spot it was and how many swimming areas there were and it made sense.

We swam until our fingers pruned and got out shivering. It was a nice little hike back to the car and the promise of stopping for Mexican food before returning home had my mood a complete 180 from hours before. Everything had turned out great – I just need to remember to be open to new experiences!

Being in Four Places at Once

There’s nothing better than heading to work on my Friday with a car packed full of adventure. Knowing I’m going to start my travels as soon as I clock out is the best way to start a weekend, believe me.

Driving, sleeping, adventuring – this car is ready!

While planning this roadtrip with my dad, he kept talking about Four Corners for weeks in advance. More familiar with a brewery by the same name, I had no idea what he was talking about but knew to plan it into the trip.

The Four Corners Monument is the point where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet. This means that if you stand in the middle of this intersection…you’re actually in four places (states) at once! Such a cool idea to me because I’m constantly worried about spending my time wisely and wishing there was more of me to go around.

Ah, look at me doing so much with this life.

After checking out the local Navajo craft booths we settled back into the car. Heading into Colorado, we made our way to Mesa Verde National Park. I got my stamp for my National Park passport and we explored some of the ancient cliff dwellings.

Our main purpose here was to hike the majority of the park and try our hand at working with the varying levels of elevation. We took the Spruce Canyon trail which included a lot of informational highlights, including some old petroglyphs from the Pueblo peoples.

It was hot and a little trickier than expected trying to navigate steep footholds and hidden cliffs, but well worth the effort by the end. I actually managed to lead a nearby couple who couldn’t figure out one of the rock steps to continue on the path. The zigzagging ascent to about 7000 feet was such an accomplishment though! My first “mountain” had been hiked.

All the closeups include me looking ROUGH!

After sweatily checking out the gift shop amidst happy families, we then trudged back to the car. We were tired and ready for a hearty meal, a shower, and a long sleep. That resulted in stopping for American fare in Mancos, CO and checking into our Airbnb.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve read Into the Wild but it tells the tale of a kid who left it all behind to live off the land in Alaska when he finds a bus to make into his shelter. So part of the allure of Mancos was getting to stay in this converted Volkswagen bus! I­t­ had a full bed and kitchenette inside. (I was so tired I didn’t take any pictures – what a dummy!) As a side note, I one hundred percent recommend anything written by Jon Krakauer.

From one automobile to the next!

There was a cute fire pit nearby for cooking also. They had a shower in the nearby artist garage as well as a compost toilet! I thought everything was so cool and interesting. Let’s just say my dad took a bit longer to come around. Even though we’d spent a tiring day driving many hundreds of miles, it didn’t bother me that bedtime involved retiring to a bus.

I always said I wanted to try everything!