Nov 30, 2010

Robbers Cave

Looking down at Robbers Cave State Park

Welcome back Dispatchers!

I know we haven't been as consistent on the blog lately, but things have been pretty crazy around the office and otherwise. Luckily the holidays are here which means we have a little extra time to finally get back on the road.

Speaking of Holidays, Lacey and myself just spent a few days with friends at Robbers Cave State Park getting some much needed post-Thanksgiving R & R.

Robbers Cave is a very cool place - once used as a hideout for outlaws like Jesse James and Belle Star, Robbers Cave now serves as one of Oklahoma's most popular State Parks. Nestled in the pine covered hills of south east Oklahoma, the park itself is a wonderfully peaceful place perfect for relaxing.

We spent two nights in a cabin drinking Choc Beer (brewed just a few miles away in nearby McAllester) playing board games, watching bad movies on HBO, and taking the time to get out and explore a little. Most importantly though, we got to spend some quality time together, hanging out without the distractions of our normal lives getting in the way.

At The Gates!

Hiking around the rocks in the main part of the park was a blast. The brisk late-fall air filled our lungs as we explored the beautiful, yet often bizarre, rock formations that line the trails. The fear of snapped ankles didn't stop anyone (well, except Lacey) from trying out their best Spider-Man moves on the rocks, stopping only occasionally to perch on a ledge and check out the view.

I'm not sure why, but it seems to be a pretty common human experience to feel a sense of accomplishment on the side of a cliff.

Food was, as usual, a major part of our trip. We had brought plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers with us for the purposes of constructing some amazing pot pies, but after our hike, no one was in any mood to cook. We decided to head down to the nearby town of Hartshorne to see what kind of food we could scrounge up. We stumbled upon "The Ole Corral Restaurant", a charming local diner that served up some of the best chicken fried chicken we had ever tasted. Needless to say, naps were required by most afterwords.

After a little recuperation, we ventured back out into the wilderness for a short walk before sunset. The forest looked somber in the cold dusk light, making a perfect setting for a little self reflection.

We walked to the nearby lake and played around on the swing sets that overlooked the water while geese flew overhead.

The cabins at Robber's Cave are incredibly cozy, containing all the comforts of home, but in a rustic setting. Lacey cooked up the previously mentioned pot pies while the rest of the gang roasted marshmallows in the fireplace. James ate a s'more for the first time in his life, and everything seemed right in the universe.


Nov 18, 2010

Mid-century Mecca

Roman Nose State Park lodge

Five years ago my husband and I purchased a 1956 ranch-style house and I became slightly obsessed with mid-century architecture. So when Austin and I recently had the opportunity to tour the renovated lodge at Roman Nose State Park in Watonga, I was in heaven.

The original 20-room lodge was built in 1956 and 27 new rooms were added in a south wing in 1985. Fast forward to 2007 and Tropical Storm Erin created flood damage and structural issues that required demolition of the entire south wing.

A situation that began as a flood and emergency declaration turned into an opportunity for the state park to create a modern lodge that incorporates the natural landscape of the area, the park’s history, and conveniences that today's travelers expect.

The lodge was renovated in the footprint of the original structure and includes 20 rooms plus two ADA accessible suites. The on-site restaurant, banquet room, meeting room, lobby and patio have also been completely remodeled in keeping with mid-century modern decor and finishes.

In addition to the lodge, the park itself has an interesting history. In the late 1800’s, the area now known as Roman Nose State Park was a winter campground of the Cheyenne tribe. Today it is named in honor of Chief Henry Caruthers Roman Nose, who – with his family – lived in the canyon from 1887 until his death in 1917.

Roman Nose State Park opened to the public in 1937 as one of Oklahoma’s seven original State Parks and has several structures that were built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps and are still in use today. There is also an 18-hole golf course that was the first canyon-style course in Oklahoma, plus 10 cottages and an ADA accessible cabin that was donated by the Lucent Technology Pioneers group.

The official ribbon cutting for the lodge took place yesterday along with a ceremonial blessing of the grounds by Lawrence Roman Nose, great-grandson of Chief Henry Roman Nose.

Watonga and the state park itself are very sentimental to my family and I'm so happy to see the lodge restored in such a modern and thoughtful way. I hope you will take some time to plan a getaway or make the short drive to check out the new Roman Nose lodge. Whether you're a fan of rest and relaxation or mid-century design, it is well worth a visit.

-- Lindsay
Photos by Brandon Snider and Keli Clark.

Nov 4, 2010

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon State Park entrance

Red Rock Canyon State Park is one of my favorite fall road trips. I grew up taking day trips with my extended family to check out the turning leaves, enjoy the crisp air and munch on a potluck picnic.

Located in Hinton off of I-40, it's a nice hour-or-so drive from Oklahoma City which is just long enough to feel like you're getting away without causing travel fatigue. While the town of Hinton has changed and expanded quite a bit in recent years, I'm happy to report that Red Rock Canyon is just as wonderful as I remember it as a child.

The entrance to the park looks pretty unassuming, but once you pass the cool retro sign and small gift shop and park office the road quickly turns steep and winding as you work your way down into the canyon.

Drive down into the canyon

Once inside the park, nature literally surrounds you and there are many breathtaking scenes to soak in. I'm not much of a rappeler or hard-core climber, but there are several bluffs designated for rappelling if that's something you enjoy. Meanwhile, I follow the non-gear-required trails to work my way up onto the canyon walls.

Here are a few more pics from my recent visit:

Small lake beside a bluff

Group camp nestled in the canyon walls

Step grooves allowing hikers to get up on top of the canyon walls sans climbing gear

Can you read the subliminal message in the grass?

A man was mowing some areas of the park the day I visited and I stumbled across this artistic expression and it made me smile. Can you see the shape of Oklahoma carved out from his riding lawnmower? He even remembered to add the small dip in the southeast corner of the state. Idabel and Broken Bow would be proud!
Cool tree and moss spotted up on top of the canyon wall

The leaves had just started turning yellow when I was there last week so you may still be able to catch the peak foliage this year. Even without the leaves changing, this canyon landscape is enough to inspire and rejuvenate you.

-- Lindsay