Monday, July 19, 2010

Roadtrippin'....again (Part One)

And the little summer adventures continue. For those keeping track, we have crossed off exactly 19 items on our summer bucket list so far, with 31 still to go. Yes, I added more things to it since I first showed you the picture of the list, and I do actually think we might be able to cross most, if not all of them, off by the end of the summer. We've still got a little over one month left in our household until a certain little someone has to report for kindergarten duty. {Insert big mama crocodile tears here.} By golly, we will be making the most of the time that is left!

So this past Wednesday, we went on another roadtrip adventure. And in true Valerie fashion, it spontaneously expanded into a bigger adventure that enabled us to cross three items off our list instead of just one. Ah, multi-tasking...

First off, I have to offer up thanks to the fabulous Jonni Baloney who tipped me off to this first destination. I'd never heard hide nor hair of this place, but it was briefly mentioned on her blog, and after a little bit of googling, I was sold. I told my cousin's wife about it and my mom and my aunt, and soon enough, we had a nice little group of almost 20 ready for some summertime fun.

But shame on you, my friends who already knew of this wondrous place, for not ever telling me about it! I can see how you'd want to keep it to yourselves as it is rather awesome, but come on...

Okay, back to the story...

Wednesday we packed it up and caravanned almost an hour and a half northeast of town. Right before we arrived, the drive got awful pretty, and I swear, you'd have thought you were in New England instead of Oklahoma. Beautiful green rolling hills, soft pastures full of cattle, brilliant blue skies -- it was quite idyllic. And when we turned into our final destination, it was even prettier. Talk about a perfect destination for a hot summer day!

We arrived at the infamous Blue Hole, paid our $5 per carload (hello, bargain), and found a good spot to park.

For those of you not in the know as I previously was, the Blue Hole is a hidden gem in Oklahoma, but it's been around a long while. It's a bonafide swimmin' hole, just like you might find in some Norman Rockwell painting. A creek runs through this patch of private property, and the owners dammed up a section of it for a large swimmin' hole. The water is clear, clear, clear like a swimming pool -- this is the most wonderful thing about the Blue Hole to me, since there is no way you will find this gal dippin' her toes in any of those brown Oklahoma lakes where who knows what could be lurking beneath. It was so clear with no murky grass or nastiness, no snakes to be seen, and the deep part of the "pool" is a gorgeous dark blue/turquoise color. It is a rock-bottomed creek, so that was all sorts of fun for the gaggles of little boys in our group. There are also several spots where the creek is flowing and super shallow, where you can walk across, where there are little natural waterfalls, etc.

I'm not lyin', ya'll. It was nothing short of a little Eden in Oklahoma.

Now, be warned. The water is ice cold year-round, which, of course, was perfect for us since Wednesday found us with the heat-index near 113 degrees. You also need to know that if you need to go to the bathroom and you are female, you might want to go ahead and take your own roll of toilet paper. There is a bathroom, but because some other nincompoops decided to be rude and flush rolls down their toilet and stop it up in the past, you have to trek up to the office to borrow some paper and then trek out to the bathroom, and then trek back to the office to return the paper. Good times. So take your own toilet paper when you go. If you're a male, you could probably just find a hidden spot in the trees and be good to go. Much easier.

There is also a concession stand which was great! My cheeseburger was delish, and my boy enjoyed his corndog and sno-cone. Plus, it's not expensive. And actually, the office/concession stand has several hummingbird feeders hanging off the end that were teeming with hummingbirds! The kids especially enjoyed that. And I forgot to actually write down the hours of operation for the Blue Hole, but I remember right, it was something like 9-6 most weekdays and 9-9 on the weekends, maybe?

(Can you see the minnow swimming in the picture above?)

I made a checklist of other things to keep in mind for future trips there --

*Take your own inner tubes or rafts or whatever. I had thought ahead enough to grab the two inner tubes we had in our pool, but they were cheapo $2 ones from Wal-mart, and they didn't last more than an hour or two with those boys and all of those rocks. So I need to invest in the thicker, more expensive ones.

*Take some camping chairs with you. It is heaven to pop one in at the edge of the water and dangle your feet. If I had taken a good book with me to read, well, I would have been set!

*If you happen to have little dollar-store nets for your kids, that would be fun, too. There are little schools of minnow swimming everywhere, and it would be so fun to try and catch them.

*Next time I go I will also take a giant safety pin and pin my car keys to my swimsuit. It'd be so much easier than constantly having to remember where I set them.

*By all means, wear your watershoes. Thankfully I found a pair for my boy, but now I'm thinking I might go back and buy myself a pair (I can wear the largest size in girls, lucky me). The rest of us were constantly losing our flipflops in the current and having to chase them downstream (ouch!).

*Most importantly, stick lifejackets on all of the kiddos. Even if your kid can swim really well. There are lots of places with little currents, and so many pockets to explore, so you'd be worrying less if everyone was wearing one.

*I also had bandaids, etc. on hand, with all of those rocks, etc., and all of those little boys meant surely someone was going to get a scratch or two, which they did.

*Oh yeah, remember what I said: don't forget the Charmin Ultra. You can thank me later.

*And if you're white as the driven snow like this Indian princess, you grab your favorite big floppy sunhat to wear with your most Ellie Mae lookin' dress, and you don't give a hoot about what you look like, especially if you look like you just walked off the set of Eclipse and especially if standing next to your gorgeous brown son might make you look even more pasty white than you already are, but you forget all that and just enjoy the day...

See? I'm such a nice gal, not only sharing this little secret gem with you, but also telling you what you should take with you to make your experience the best. If you really wanted to keep the whole thing on the thrifty side, you could pack a cooler with drinks, snacks, lunch, etc., and all you'd have to pay for would be the $5/car entry fee and the gas to drive out there.

It was a fantastic place, a place that will now be a part of our annual summer traditions for sure. We were there for a good four hours or so before we packed it up to head home...or so we thought...

(To be continued...)


Kristin Ann said...

Though I lived in OK for a time, I had never heard of the Blue Hole. It sounds the like perfect summer spot.

By the way, I LOVE your cute sun dress!

Angie said...

I HAVE to take my kids there! Thanks, Valerie!

Country Dreaming said...

Looks like fun and what we learn all the time!
Great day for all.


Rhonda said...

Ooh, I can't wait for the next installment! I've never heard of the Blue Hole either. I'll be sure to check it out now. Thanks for the tips!

{courtney} said...

I've been to the Blue Hole a couple of times. The first time was with a youth group and I thought it was a blast. I went again a few years back and although the nature was fantastic, I must admit that I was more than a bit judgmental regarding the rest of the daytrippers. A little lot more Hillbilly than Beverly Hills...maybe it was just a bad day?

Happily Ever After said...

LOVE IT! We will have to veture that way some time with the fam -- We Nortons' have always wanted to go to the Blue Lagooon in Iceland, but this looks like a fabulous substitute!