Friday, June 12, 2015

Cray Cray May & Exploring Oklahoma!

Hello friends! Sorry it's taken so long to update this blog. From record rain to near-record tornadoes, we've had a CRAZY May.

I just thought this one was funny.

Yeah, I think it's safe to say that everyone wants to kill Puddle Ducky!  I must say, from a forecast perspective, May was a BUST. Oh man were the models off a lot! That's because we had storms in the morning and that can make or break a forecast...usually, it broke it. And OH man, those warm front tornadoes...grrr. June 1st hit and's summer time. I think we're all cool with that.

Weekend Getaway

Since I was a little tied up during May, my BeyoncĂ© and I decided to go on a last minute weekend getaway. A few months ago, Galen Culver featured Little Niagara in one of his "Great State" reports. Ever since, I've wanted to check it out and go on a long hike. I love to swim, bike, run and dance, while Michael is all about lifting weights. One thing we love to do TOGETHER is hiking. This sounded perfect.

After asking around for places to go, we checked out a suggestion given by one of Michael's fellow firefighters...Echo Canyon. I called up the Tuesday before our weekend getaway and thankfully, a room had just opened up!

I asked Galen for suggestions about Little Niagara. One suggestion included a restaurant recently featured in a "Discover Oklahoma" episode called "Smokin' Joes Rib Ranch." Michael's favorite food is we obviously had to make a stop in Davis along the way!
I LOVE the sign in the background.
Ooops. I dug in first and then remembered to take a pic.
I had the "small" basket of pulled was HUGE! Michael had the large plate of ribs. I was a big fan of the fried okra dipped in ranch. Why ranch? CAUSE I'M AMERICAN. I highly suggest eating here some time!

Next, we headed east to Sulphur. The drive from OKC to Sulphur is around an hour and thirty minutes.  We passed through the town, past the Artesian (we visited later!) and through the Chickasaw National Recreation Area to get to our little resort. The gates opened to Echo Canyon and we followed a rocky path to the main house.

Along the way we passed rows of peach, nectarine and plum trees as well as rows upon rows of blackberries!

We stayed in an amazing roomed called the "Rose Palace." It had two beds, a large jacuzzi tub, flat screen tv, microwave, mini fridge, balcony and fantastic AC!

After settling in we decided to hit the trails! We started across from the Ranger Station and hiked east passing Little Niagara. Eventually we stumbled upon the Nature Center. Vickie is a big fan and gave us a wonderful tour of the Nature Center. I even held a Beyoncé stayed far away! Haha.

Vickie swore us in as Junior Rangers! She gave us lots of hiking advice. We headed east towards Antelope Springs.  Along the way, we came  upon a private-ish spring. We decided to take a dip! With a heat index in the upper 90s, the 68 degree water felt cold at first but fantastic!  After a quick swim, we felt incredibly refreshed and our skin felt softer. Supposedly the springs have nourishing minerals.
Our spring :)

We refilled our water bottle with fresh spring water!

Once we reached Antelope springs, we drank water right out of the source! Vickie told us the water filers through miles of rock underground so it's safe to drink. It was cold and tasted great! You should definitely try it out if you are hiking at Chickasaw National Park.
This is their food pic. I forgot to take one...I just dug in!

We hiked back and got ready for our fancy dinner. Joe is the owner of Canyon Park and not only did he build the place with his own hands, he also cooks dinner for the restaurant! We enjoyed top of the line beef and Alaskan Halibut (flown in!).  They have a signature hibiscus drink made of juices from fruit on the property with a splash of champagne. Yum!
You can see more than a dozen bison at the Bison Pasture Trail!

The next day we had a delicious two course breakfast including a fresh blackberry coffee fave! We went for a 4 hour hike and saw deer, turkey and bison!  It was hot but we took another dip in "our" spring.
Of course we had to see The Artesian Hotel!

When we came back we had a couple's massage at the Aloha Spa. Definitely try out a massage! I regularly get massages but I've never tried a hot stone massage. It was INCREDIBLE! We felt so relaxed. The bartender handed us a drink after our massages...heaven!

Before we left the next day, Joe let us pick as many fresh blackberries as we wanted! We filled up two huge ziplock bags of fresh blackberries. I'm still eating them this good! In conclusion, at the very least, check out the Chickasaw National Park. It's free and beautiful!  I would hike there all year long. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, stay at Echo Canyon. We will definitely be back. Joe and Carol were very attentive and friendly hosts.
We stopped at the Chickasaw Cultural Center on the way home...what a beautiful facility!

Side note, if you all have any great hiking suggestions in Oklahoma and neighboring states...please let me know!

Training Update

For the first time in several years, I did not participate in the El Reno Triathlon...storm season was just too exhausting and hectic!  I started my training plan by Coach Ryan Ellis through Conquer Training...he's been with me from the beginning!  I am trying my best to eat clean, which is tough when you have a big sweet tooth like me! I will share some of my healthy recipes some time if you are interested. I think my next race will be the Guthrie TRI in July. I've never TRIed that one before (get it? HAHA) but I hear it's fun!
Enjoy the rainy weekend!

Everyone enjoy this stormy weekend and remember, you can do more than you know! Challenge yourself and try something new!