Sunday, July 08, 2007

Visit to Oklahoma

Appa and I headed out to go to Turner Falls, Oklahoma, this warm and sunny morning. The drive was extremely pleasant, especially when as we neared the Texas-Oklahoma border. The road rose uphill and went downhill, presenting a wonderful view of the green fields, lush trees, cows, horses and hills in the distance. The TX-OK border is separated by the Red River (really red!) Within few miles of entering OK, flashy neon lights announced the casinos on either side of I-35. However, the remainder of the journey was for the most part characterized by more greenery and a lovely view out to the distance.
We reached Turner Falls, OK. From the look-out point:

We decided not to go into the park (primarily because we didn't think we would be there long enough to justify the $10/person admission fee). Instead, we headed north on US-77 to reach OK-7 E to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. We stopped by at the information center. It was open even on a Sunday! The park ranger was very helpful; he gave detailed information on the area's attractions, accompanied by a map with directions.
First stop: Vendome/Flower Park. Here is the spring which spouts out sulphur rich water:

It used to be a popular destination in the early 20th century, and apparently several trains used to arrive daily, carrying people who visited this spring in the town of Sulphur.

Then we entered the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. We headed straight for the "Little Niagara" Falls. There were a lot of people in the water area, and also in the surrounding picnic spot. Since I don't have a picture, here's what I noticed:
1. All the people where either white or Native American.
Ok, maybe 1 African American
2. 50% were definitely obese, 25% overweight.
3. The place was thick with the odour of beef (slaughtered cows! enough of these convenient euphemisms people invent to forget the disgusting way in which these animals are murdered!!) being barbacued.
It was so bad that Appa and I ate in the parking lot, sitting next to cars, and breathing asphalt and gasoline rather than the foul smell of dead animals.

We walked around in the little trails. Here are pictures of some magnificent trees:

Then we drove on to the Nature center. We found out very interesting facts about the place. It's got a huge aquifer underground, which is where all the springs come from. It's an eco-tone, a region where the eastern woodlands meet the mixed-grass prairie.
We then drove on to Pavilion Springs, and also discovered a pedestrian underpass that lead to some interesting discoveries: this butterfly and this dragonfly (it refused to stay long enough in one place for me to zoom in...this is the best picture I have) Click on the image to open in new window. Look for the iridescent greenish-indigo thing sitting on a leaf. That's the elusive dragonfly.

We then found our way to the Veteran's Lake. The road to the lake was flanked by green, dense woods on the right, and open grasslands populated with various kinds of grasses, small plants, and purple and yellow flowers on the left. We were able to take some pictures from the picnic spot at the lake. Here you can see some examples of the grasses and wildflowers that characterize the prairie ecosystem, as well as a few shots of the lake itself:-

We negotiated our way out of the Chickasaw area to re-enter it at a point further south. This road leads right into The Lake of the Arbuckles. People can load/unload their boats onto their pick-up trucks here. See example:

The Lake of the Arbuckles appears to be a popular spot for people to swim, boat, fish, burn their skin; all the things Americans seem to be really fond of.

We then drove out of the Chickasaw and turned on to US-177. Except that it wasn't labeled, and for the longest time I had no idea if we were on the right track or not. We passed by small houses, cow and horse farms; but no stores, no gas stations, and no signs indicating what road we were on!!! I was beginning to worry that I had gotten us lost when we finally hit OK-53 W. Yet another pleasant farm road to drive on with blue skies, green lands and white clouds.

We headed onto I-35. Few miles into Texas, the storm hit. Such heavy rain, one could barely see anything. And there was so much water falling that it wasn't draining off the road fast enough. Thank goodness we weren't on any of the farm roads in OK!!!!! These roads go uphill and downhill, and don't really have drains. So in a heavy downpour, sufficient water can accumulate to drown a car. If we had been caught in the storm on the farm roads, I guess the only thing to do would have been to wait on the shoulder of the uphill part of the road until the storm passed and the water ran off the road!!!

In any case we waited out the storm in the Gainesville Starbucks, aided by a espresso fudge brownie and a cup of hot coffee. And once the storm passed, Home sweet home.


Anonymous said...

I knew that you would transport me there right away! Was there with you and fluffy briefly when I called and could feel the speed of your driving!
Enjoyed your racy "right-up" and excellent pictures!! Ups and downs are what it takes to make Life Beautiful! Enjoy and Celebrate!!

KAT said...

Supaaar! Great pictures.....but where are you and G. chitappa?!

tnc said...

The falls and lake and greenery look really nice...btw, do I find a hint of frustration at the American way of life?

Have fun...

Songbird said...

Kool! Very vivid and enjoyable read Preets.

Akasuna no Sasori said...

Lovely pics Preeti. Brings out the simple classiness of countryside America