Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I'm just an Okie from Muskogee (and Lake Wister)

At the beginning of this year, Chris and I were talking about how there are many fun/interesting/adventurous things to do in our state that we've never experienced. We love to travel and make an effort to do so often, yet we weren't taking advantage of the great experiences right in our backyard. Because of this, we decided that 2014 would be the year that we would have Oklahoma adventures! You can read about our first Oklahoma daycation here.

We have a list of Oklahoma adventures that we hope to experience this year (or soon), and one of the items on the list is spend the night in a cabin in the Ouachita National Forest in southeastern Oklahoma. Chris came across a Groupon deal for a cabin on Lake Wister (just a bit north of the Ouachita National Forest) and snatched it up quickly. We decided this past weekend would be a perfect time to use it!

We invited Chris's parents to join us on our little trip, so we made a plan to meet them in Muskogee, Oklahoma for lunch. Chris and his parents all took the day off from work on Friday so that we could have two full days of Oklahoma fun! 

The Honor Heights Park in Muskogee is absolutely beautiful! We planned to meet Chris's parents at 11:30am, but we ended up getting there just after 11:00am. The park is HUGE . . . complete with a lake, a tulip garden, a butterfly house, a gift shop, many picnic areas, a waterfall, and a playground. We let the kiddos play for a bit while we waited for Meme and Papa to get there. 

Both of the kids were so excited for our road trip!

It was pretty chilly this morning, as well as WINDY. There's always a good bit of wind in Oklahoma, but it was particularly windy this day.

This certainly didn't stop the kiddos from having fun, though.

My sweet boy loves to play!

See how Brianna's hair is just blowing? It's a constant problem for us!

After they played for a while, we walked out on a dock in the lake to watch the geese and ducks. Gorgeous view!

Brenson was so interested in the geese and ducks, but scared at the same time. Silly boy!

Meme and Papa arrived while we were on the dock. I had Meme snap this family photo for us as soon as they got there.

We spent just a few more minutes out on the dock, then headed to find a place to eat lunch.

We decided to eat lunch in the Tulip Garden, but to get there we had to walk through the gift shop. Outside of the gift shop was this great guitar that the kids loved. Apparently, there are guitars like this all over Muskogee? That's what someone said, but I didn't fact check it :-).

This sign says, "An Okie from Muskogee" just like the song. Of course, after we got back in the car to head to Lake Wister, I played "Okie from Muskogee" about 5 times. Then Chris made me stop *grin*. There are so many songs about Oklahoma, and I'm going to make an Oklahoma themed playlist before our next trip.

The Tulip Garden had a pavilion with picnic tables where we ate a sandwich lunch that we had packed while we enjoyed the beautiful tulips.

I mean really, so SO pretty!

Brianna loved seeing all the tulips in bloom. I wish I had taken a photo of the whole Garden area so you could see just how many flowers were there.

Brenson was fascinated with these giant whirly-gigs. Of course, with all the wind this day they were spinning like crazy.

The butterfly house wasn't open for the season quite yet, but you can see part of it in the background of this photo.

In front of the butterfly house sat this serene fountain.

The kiddos kept leaning over in to it so they could touch the water. I was just sure that one of them was going to tumble in.

This is me and Meme standing in front of the butterfly house. We were told in the gift shop that the butterflys would not be there until after Mother's Day.

After lunch and exploring the Tulip Garden for a bit, we walked back over to the dock to feed a few pieces of bread to the ducks.

The kids loved this, and the best part was watching the ducks try to get the bread before the fish got to it. It was quite entertaining.

Brianna would break off the smallest pieces of bread to throw in the water, while Brenson was throwing half pieces in!

We fed ducks back in September with my parents and Brianna got bit by a duck. I didn't think she'd remember this, but she sure did! She told Meme and Papa all about it.

Before leaving Honor Heights Park, I wanted to see the waterfall that I had read about. It is probably much prettier in later spring or fall, but I'm still glad we drove over to see it.

A perk to having Meme and Papa with us? I have someone to take our family photos!!!


We had to park the cars and walk to the waterfall, so on the way back to our cars the kids wanted to sit on this stone bench.

Brianna decided she wanted to ride with Meme and Papa on the way to Lake Wister, so she rode in their car and they followed us down there. It took about 2 hours from Muskogee to get there, but the drive was lovely. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was great, and it was just an overall pleasant drive through the countryside.

I'm not used to seeing mountains in my state. We don't have mountains up where we live.

Obviously, these are not huge mountains, but they are still beautiful!

We arrived at our cabin at about 3:00pm. We had no idea what to expect as far as the cabin went, but we were {pleasantly} surprised by how clean and kept up it was. It was small for sure (only one bedroom) but perfectly fine for one night.

The living and dining area (there was a pretty fireplace behind me)

Looking from the living area into the kitchen

The hallway . . . the doorway to the left is the bedroom and the one on the right is the bathroom

The bedroom

After unloading the cars and getting settled a bit, we headed to the lake to do some fishing. Brenson was beyond excited to fish!

He was so cute . . . he acted like a fishing pro even though he's only been one time before (back in the summer).

Meme was helping Brianna fish. I don't have a fishing license, so I took photos and relaxed in the sun.

Brianna kept begging Meme to cast her own pole, so eventually - against my advice - Meme let Brianna cast and of course Brianna acted all wild and hooked Meme's finger. Sigh. Thankfully, it wasn't anything major.

The wind was ferocious on this side of the lake, so it was pretty terrible fishing conditions. No one caught anything, and we gave up after just 45 minutes or so.

At one point, Chris took Bren and walked around to another area to see it the conditions were any better over there. They weren't, but as they were walking back I caught this photo. I adore it!

So sweet!

Brianna decided quickly that she was done with the fishing, and that she wanted to play on a playground not far from our cabin instead. So, after our fishing attempt {and fail}, we headed to the playground for a bit.

Of course my child wanted to climb on top of this cave/rock thing.

Oh no, poor Papa! Ha!

Chris was still focused on fishing, so he took Bren and headed to another part of the lake. Papa wanted to see the dam, so he, Meme, and Brianna loaded up in their car and went to see that. This gave me a chance to go back to the cabin, organize a bit, and relax by myself for about 30 minutes. It was SO nice! I rarely get time to myself, and when I do I'm certainly not just laying in a cabin relaxing. It was the perfect little break for me.

Chris got our campfire going as soon as he and Bren came back from the lake (which wasn't long . . . the wind was just making it miserable). I love the smell of a campfire in the crisp, fresh air!

We roasted hot dogs for dinner and ate outside by our campfire.

Then, we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores . . . My very favorite thing about camping! I LOVE s'mores!

This was Bren's first taste of a s'more and he's a fan!

Brianna actually prefers plain marshmallows to s'mores, but I'm trying to convert her.

There's just something about roasting dinner over a campfire . . .

I have a method to making the perfect s'more, and I'm pretty sure I ate 3 of them this night. Eeeek!


I wanted Meme to get our family photo by the campfire, but the fire ended up getting cut out. I still like this photo, though.

We were having a great time!

After the sun set, it got very chilly outside so we headed in and made out beds. Bren slept in our pack 'n play in the bedroom (where Chris and I slept), and we made Brianna a palette on the floor in the living room. The couch pulled out into a bed for Meme and Papa. We put both kids down in the bedroom until the adults were ready to go to bed and that worked out well. We didn't do much after the kids went down . . . just watched TV, visited, and had a few snacks.

We started off the next morning bright and early. We cooked breakfast in the cabin before packing everything up and heading out.

The kids were waiting patiently on the front porch for us to get everything loaded and ready to go.

We had seen on a map of Lake Wister that there were a couple of hiking trails, so we set out to do that on Saturday morning. It was a cool morning, so there was a bit of fog on the lake. It was beautiful, though.

Thankful for this time with my family!

Papa gets a bit annoyed with me and all my photo taking, but he cooperated for this one. :-)

The trail ended up being a complete mess! There was really no trail at all . . . just a ton of brush, briar, and bramble. We really tried to make the best of it, but it was especially difficult with littles in tow.


The trail ran right next to the lake. The only way we knew we were even on the trail was by these white dots on the trees. It was really pretty ridiculous.

Brenson especially was not having a good time. He wanted to be carried the whole time which was difficult to do when walking through briars and thorns!

Brianna was being a good sport about it, but we were all less than thrilled for the most part.

I took this photo because Brenson had picked up this cedar tree branch and would not put it down. I thought it was cute that he was hauling it around. Well, about two minutes after I snapped this pic, Brenson had a HUGE meltdown. He didn't want to walk, he didn't want anyone but Daddy to carry him, and he was just DONE. He cried until we got back to the car (which ended up being about 15 minutes). He was probably a bit young for a trail hike, but especially for one like this. Lesson learned.

This is a terribly unflattering photo of me, but we were excited for our hike! Too bad it was such a bust :-(.

Even after we got back to the cars, Bren was NOT happy.

As we were leaving the lake area, we stopped for a potty break and let Brianna play on yet another playground. Bren fell asleep almost as soon as we put him in the car, and after his meltdown on the trail, we just let him be.

The conditions were still not good for fishing, so we headed toward Poteau instead. We thought we would eat lunch there, but it was only about 11:15am when we got there. Since we didn't fish that morning, it threw my itinerary off a bit. So, instead of eating in Poteau, we decided to drive about 30 minutes to Fort Smith, Arkansas for lunch.

Chris used to work a lot in Fort Smith, so he wanted to eat at a BBQ joint there called Whole Hog BBQ. Also, Bren had never been to Arkansas before, so we thought that would be fun to add another state to his list.

We all enjoyed our lunch at Whole Hog!

This is a funny pic of Bren, but I like that you can see his cup :-).

Brianna is a great eater, and this was no exception. It was good eatin' for sure!

Our last stop before heading home was the Arkansas visitor's center right outside of Fort Smith. I wanted to get a photo of the kids by the Arkansas sign, so this was a great place to do that.

After the Arkansas visitor's center, we headed to Wagoner where we parted ways with Meme and Papa. We got back to our house at about 4:00pm on Saturday, leaving us plenty of time to unpack and get a little rest before going to bed that night. 

We loved seeing southeastern Oklahoma and spending a bit of time in the "mountains". Chris and I are both already talking about what we'll do when we go back again :-).