Roman Nose State Park 2017 Mini-Sister Trip

                                                                             Note: The log part of this site will be boring to anyone except the two of us who made the trip, but it helps us
                                                                                    remember the details of our sister trips, and so it is included. You are most welcome to read it, however.

October 3, Tuesday

We left Oklahoma City a little after seven. The overcast sky was beginning to get light as we headed out of town toward Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, Oklahoma, This sister trip would be abbreviated because we're saving our week-long vacation for June to the upper peninsula of Michigan. Kathy will join us for that one, but for this short trip, it’s just Chris and me. Three nights at a state park I haven’t been to for several decades and Chris hadn’t seen at all seemed like a good way to mollify our impatience. We passed by wind farms with huge wind turbines that stretched to the horizon. By the time we went through the little towns of Peidmont, Okarche, and Kingfisher, we were practically there. Roman Nose State Park is only about eight miles north of Watonga, which is pretty small, too.

Signage was not too good and we overshot our exit out of Watonga and before we knew it we were west of the town and had to go back. It’s a good thing we had GPS service then. Inside the park, however, except for the hill where the golf course is, there was no reliable cell service, not even at the lodge. During our short trip, when I wanted to call Warren, we would go to their parking lot. Signs were no better either in the park, and the trails, as we discovered, were not marked at all.

We did manage to find the lodge and got a small map of Roman Nose that we used the rest of the time. We found it invaluable. It was the only way to tell where we were. Luckily the state park is small, so even if one got lost driving in the park, one couldn’t get too lost. Hiking could be a very different matter, however, and we had to pay attention which direction we were going when we were on a trail.

At the lodge we found out that there would be no paddle boats until Friday. Bummer! We drove to the spring area and took a hike and saw Big Springs. It was nice there—sort of peaceful with the little waterfalls and a picturesque bridge. There were supposed to be two other springs but we didn’t see them. I got winded so we didn’t look any further.

As we drove around we got a view of the two lakes. Boecher Lake is the smaller one we came to first, where our cabin is. Near the shore of the lake, we saw three teepees that evidently can be rented. I hope they don’t rent them for much because all they had was a floor. Nothing else at all, so it would be basically like renting a tent you didn’t have to put up. They were kind of scenic, however, sitting on the shore of the lake.

We drove further down the road and took some photographs of Lake Watonga. It was considerably larger. The water in both lakes did not look very clear at all, and was more or less brown, except when it was calm and reflected the sky.

We went to our cabin which we couldn’t check into until three. But we sat out back on the patio and looked at the wonderful view. I think it was the only cabin right on the lake. It was the only cabin equipped for the handicapped, which we didn't need, but we really wanted to be close to the water. Especially with the weather forecast of a very rainy week. At least we were able to sit on the covered patio, stay dry, and watch the rain, talk, and look at the lake.

After we sat there for a while, we drove to the lodge and had a great meal of fried catfish and hush puppies with cole slaw. We planned to take most of our meals at the cabin, though we were both trying to lose weight and were determined to not undo the progress we’d made. It was an excellent dinner, and we had a nice waitress named Gayla, who took good care of us. It was probably more calories than we should have had, but it would be our only meal at the lodge until we ate there again after we checked out on Friday, but before we went home. After our meal we went out on the deck at the lodge and I had another cup of coffee. There was a view of the lake, and it was a pleasant place to have my after dinner coffee.

On our way out from the lodge, we ask the desk clerk if the General store close to our cabin would be open at all until Friday. We were informed that they would not be. We would get used to similar stories while we were at the park. We began to think October, which I guess is often considered off-season, may not be the best time to take our sister trips.

We went for another drive and for a short hike at Turkey Roost. We collected some firewood along the way and on the drive back to the cabin, too. We piled enough sticks on a beach towel in the back seat of the car to have a dandy fire. The hatch back still had our luggage in it. We unloaded the wood at the cabin and piled it in the fire pit, then drove back to the lodge to check in.

We checked in at the lodge and then moved into our cabin. It was nothing fancy. The kitchen was not set up for much cooking even though the web site said it was fully equipped. No serving bowls, no cooking pans except a sauce pan and a larger pot, a skillet, and a cookie sheet. One dish cloth and one dish towel. But then we were going to have simple meals, and fairly light, and we are good at improvising. The cabin was basically two rooms with a bathroom off the bedroom. Two beds, one of which was a hospital bed. We wouldn’t trade the cabin for any in the park, though, because it was the only one on the lake. The cabin itself was nothing to write home about but it would work. They were going to hear about their deficiencies on their comment card however.

We made a grocery list and went to Watonga to get the groceries we would need for our stay. Apple Groceries was the name of the store. It’s on Main street. We probably got all we needed for the rest of the week. Basically stuff for salads and some fruit, milk, eggs, and half-and-half for my coffee. Can’t live without that.

When we got back to our cabin it still wasn’t raining like they’d been predicting for the evening. So we sat out back on the covered patio for a while. We didn’t eat any supper because our lunch was pretty substantial.

About seven fifteen we doused our wood in the fire pit with charcoal lighter and started it burning. When it got to burning good, we moved our chairs down close to the fire and watched it for a long time, until it was reduced to glowing coals. Although we weren’t really wanting to eat anything, it would have been a great fire to roast marshmallows over. Our wonderful fire lasted until well after nine. It is always nice to end the day with a camp fire like we did when we were on vacations as children.

We were tired and didn’t stay up after we came in to play games or anything. Chris hadn’t slept the night before. She rarely does the night before we leave for a sister trip. We went to bed fairly early.

Wednesday, October 4,

It wasn’t raining when I first woke and looked out the back door, but by the time I made coffee, took a shower, and dressed it was pouring. But we were sort of expecting it. We figure with the forecast we heard, any time it wasn’t raining, it was a bonus. At least we got our great fire the night before. I boiled some eggs for the salad we would have later for lunch, while Chris toasted a piece of bread and made tea for her breakfast.

We watched it get light on the patio. We were so glad the patio had a roof because otherwise we may be stuck in the cabin for who knew how long. At least we brought along cards to play hand-and-foot, and dice to play farkle, a game that Eric taught us at the Lake of the Ozarks years ago.

While it rained we played three hands of hand-and-foot. We opened two windows to get a cross breeze and listened to the dripping outside. It was fun.

We then drove to Watonga to get a pan to make spoon bread and a couple other items that were not at the cabin—like a fly swatter. We had looked up on line something to do in the rain, and found a museum in an old Victorian house, called the Furgeson Museum and planned to go there while we were in town, but they were closed, even though the website said they were open. We also went to the grocery store to get some tea bags for Chris for hot tea. If we were going to be rained in a lot of the time, she would need more than the few she brought along.

By the time we got back it was way past noon so we pitched in and made the spoon bread and a wonderful salad. It was a great meal. Warren is not crazy about spoon bread and Chris and I both love it, so we always have it on our sister trips. It’s wonderful hot from the oven with butter, salt and pepper, a perfect companion for a big salad.

Recipe for Spoon Bread
3 cups milk
3 large eggs, beaten good with fork
1 cup corn meal
1/4 cup butter
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar

Boil corn meal in 2 of the cups of milk, stirring with a whisk. (reserve 1 cup to add later), boil for 2 minutes.
Take off heat and add the cup of milk you reserved.
Add butter and stir until melted.
Add the beaten eggs slowly as you stir vigorously with whisk.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix with whisk or spoon.
Pour into a greased 9 X 13 baking pan and bake at 350 for about 20 to 30 minutes, but only until a toothpick comes out clean and the top begins to get golden.

We decided we would go check out another trail since it wasn’t raining, but when we went by the General Store, someone was there, so we dropped in and asked if we could take a paddleboat ride. They said, sure, since they were there anyway. We took it out and just about wore ourselves out paddling, but probably burned a lot of calories. We just took a half hour ride and were so tired we decided to go back to the cabin and play hand-and-foot again instead of going on to the trail. It started raining soon after we got back to the cabin. We played four hands, and then it was back out to the patio again. The rain had slowed to a trickle.

As we cleaned up from supper, which was strawberries and yogurt, we decided to go back to town and get some firewood since it wasn’t raining. We bought enough for two nights just in case we can have a fire the next night, too.

We came back and had a nice campfire again before we turned in for the night. This time with five dollars worth of hickory wood, which was the only wood they sold. Any wood we would have gathered today would have been soaked.

The moon, big, golden and full, was really pretty before a cloud obscured it. The pictures we took didn’t do it justice. But that is often the case. It is hard to capture much of any experience with a camera. Nothing can take the place of being there, but at least pictures can spark memories.

October 5, Thursday

I was up at six and writing with my coffee at hand for a while before Chris woke up. After showering and dressing, I went out back just in time to catch a sunrise with some pink streaks. I felt lucky to have one morning with some color at dawn

When we checked the weather, it looked like it was going to be clear all morning, so we took out around eight to hike and maybe to the springs again to see if we could find the other two and take more photographs.

We took the trail between the lakes first and got in a pretty good hike. We followed deer tracks in the mud for a long way. The trails are not marked at all, and the map we had, which we left in the car was woefully inadequate, too. But it was a nice hike that took us to the top of a rocky overlook of the two lakes and the trail we had just walked on. It began to sprinkle rain near the end of our hike.

Our shoes were so muddy when we got back to the car, we sat under the hatch-back door and scraped as much as we could get off with sticks, then came home and sat on the patio and cleaned them off as best we could with what we had available.

After cleaning our shoes we decided we were rested enough to take another hike. This time to see the springs we had missed when we went there before. Chris thought she knew where they might be. We were so glad we gave it another shot because we found the trail to the other two smaller springs, but they were actually prettier. We didn’t see any wildlife except a bunny and a crow. I took some videos there.

We watched for rattlesnakes all along the path, which was probably only a foot wide in places. We were also glad we took along our walking sticks. We wouldn’t have been able to negotiate some of the passages over slippery rocks and damp earth. We made it fine though and got back to the cabin again about eleven.

Around twelve we fixed a wonderful salad again, and had some leftover spoon bread. We were so full we decided we would not have any supper that night. It wouldn’t be hard, especially if we could have a fire.

We made a quick run to town again and back and then played two games of farkle because it was raining. Sometime before four in the afternoon it almost quit raining, and we sat on the patio for a long while and watched it drip drip drip instead of eating supper. We needed it to stop for our fire. Around six the rain appeared to have quit. The lake was still and we could see reflections of the trees on the other side of the lake from us.

By six thirty it was raining again, light albeit, but it didn’t look promising for a fire. We went in a little after seven and decided to have our last fire the next morning.

We made a cup of cocoa for me and tea for Chris and played hand-and-foot until time for bed. The next day would be our last day and it was supposed to be sunny or at least not rainy. Maybe we could get in a little more hiking, or possibly a paddle boat ride or a horseback ride. We were undecided. We were going to ask at the General Store about how much it would cost to go on a trail ride, but they weren’t there.

October 6th, Friday

We were up well before dawn, dressed, had our morning cuppa and were out lighting the fire when the first bits of rosy light peeked through the clouds. It turned out to be a rather nice sunrise. It was nice to have a fire in the morning. We stayed outside and minded the fire until it was reduced to coals and the sky was light.

We went inside finally and packed our bags and the kitchen stuff and put them in the car. We went by the General Store to see if they were open, but they were closed. Again.

We ate dinner of catfish and hush puppies again at the lodge dining room and it was just as good as it was the day we came. After we left the lodge, we went to the General Store again and they were there. We asked about trail rides, but it was too muddy, they said, so we took another paddleboat ride. It was nice and sunny and very pleasant because we didn’t get in a hurry. The girl said we didn’t need to get it back on time. I think she felt bad that they weren’t having trail rides that day.

Too tired to do any more hiking, we played farkle again at one of their tables at the General Store, and then decided to go on home. We’d pretty well had the Roman Nose experience. We’d hiked all the trails that were short enough for our 70 plus bodies, done all the activities that we could, and we were tired. It was a nice little trip, and it was also nice to go home again..

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