Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend with Mark

After three weeks of life in Sulphur by myself, it was nice, to say the least, to have a visit from Mark. He flew in on Thursday night---I drove down right after work to the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport to pick him up. Because it was already 7:30 pm by the time I picked him up, we decided to stay in Denton, TX. Denton is about 30 minutes from the airport and about and hour and 45 minutes from Sulphur. We enjoyed the brand new Marriott we stayed in (for my STAMPS Lincoln followers--picture the trendy Marriott that we stayed at in St. Louis). For dinner, I introduced Mark to Pei Wei...a Noodles and Company with an Asian theme. That night in the hotel we rented Adventureland and enjoyed the somewhat predictable, but cute, movie.

We got up in the morning and I was uber excited to run on the treadmill in their workout room. Four miles later, I felt rejuvenated---running in air conditioning! Adding to the fun, were the TVs attached to the treadmills. Animal Planet helped to pass the time running--as well as to learn all the things we did wrong training/not training Soba. After checking out we were on the road, with a quick stop in Chipotle.

We drove back to Sulphur, put some things in my apartment, and went out to the park to explore. Until this weekend I hadn't been out to Buffalo and Antelope Springs and was very eager to explore this part of the park with Mark. The two springs are about 3/4 of a mile walk from the Travertine Nature Center. We headed down the path in the 100+ degree weather, happy to be exploring together.
Not too far down the path, Mark heard rustling in the trees and with his own set of eagle eyes, spotted an owl in a tree. It was pretty hard to capture on the camera, but if you look through the tree trunk, you can see what looks like a Horned Owl looking at us. We watched him, as he watched us, and we finally decided to continue exploring.

Before long we came to a tranquil crossing. The water felt wonderful as we splashed it on our faces....instantly cooling us down. Mark felt so refreshed by it, he even gave a little leg kick!

We continued onto Buffalo Springs.

And a short distance later, Antelope Springs.

From an online NPS history book of Platt National Park came the following excerpt which describes Buffalo and Antelope Springs: "In the eastern end of the park along Travertine Creek are two natural springs of considerable volume, flowing over 5,000,000 gallons per day of pure natural water. It is said that these were named from the herds of antelope and buffalo from the surrounding prairies which formerly came there to drink.

Buffalo Springs boils through a bed of sand in a most interesting manner. An extensive development of the adjacent area has been undertaken by the National Park Service, so that it now includes a natural stone basin for the spring, a barbecue pit, and ample parking space and picnic grounds. Buffalo Springs marks the eastern end of the park and the terminus of the trail and road system.

Antelope Springs, a short distance away, bursts from a group of conglomerate rocks in the hillside. This spring flows at the rate of 2000 gallons per minute, and is probably the most popular spring in the park. Nearby picnic grounds and a parking space have been developed."

After our walk, we headed back to the house, got our things for the night and headed to Norman for the night. We enjoyed a great dinner at Red Robin (who doesn't love the bottomless fry basket?!?!), and then went off to explore the University of Oklahoma campus. I had driven through parts of the campus, but hadn't explored it on foot. I was eager to have my explorin' partner with me and to head off. Mark and I really enjoyed the campus.

The campus is pretty large and quite green with it's grass and the trees.

And even though the sun was setting (it was almost 9 pm!!!--I LOVE THE SUMMERTIME!), I insisted we take photos with the OK Sooner.....

For those who don't know what a Sooner is a short excerpt from Wikipedia (yes, I know, no boos please!)...

"The term Sooners was used to describe settlers who entered the Unassigned Lands, located in the current state of Oklahoma, before President Grover Cleveland officially proclaimed them open to settlement with the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889 on March 2, 1889. The name derived from the "sooner clause" of the Indian Appropriation Act, which stated that no one should be allowed to enter and occupy the land prior to the opening time and that such people would be denied rights to illegally claimed land.[1]

Sooners were often deputy marshals, land surveyors, railroad employees, and others who were able to legally enter the territory early to mark out choice pieces of land for themselves or others.[2] Some sooners crossed into the territory illegally at night and were originally called "moonshiners" because they entered "by the light of the moon." These sooners would hide in ditches at night and suddenly appear to stake their claim after the land run started, hours ahead of legal settlers.[1]

The term Boomer relating to Oklahoma refers to participants in the "Boomer Movement," white settlers who believed the Unassigned Lands were public property and open to anyone for settlement, not just Indian tribes. Their reasoning came from a clause in the Homestead Act of 1862, which said that any settler could claim 160 acres (0.65 km2) of public land.[3] Some boomers entered and were removed more than once by the United States Army.[citation needed]

Those who observed the official start of the land run and began the race for free land often found choice sections of land already occupied by sooners or, in some cases, by boomers. Problems with sooners continued with each successive land run, with as much as 50% of available land taken by sooners in an 1895 land run.

Litigation between legitimate land-run participants and sooners continued well into the 20th century, and eventually the United States Department of the Interior was given ultimate authority to settle the disputes.[1]

In 1908 the University of Oklahoma adopted "Sooners" as the nickname of their football team (after having first tried "Rough Riders" and "Boomers"). Eventually Oklahoma became known as "The Sooner State.""

During our tour of the campus, we came across this statue: MV-HA-YV (A person who teaches) by William W. Haney, Jr.

Of course, we both had to take a picture next to it. I love cool statues.

We enjoyed another new Marriott (this time in Norman) and also enjoyed the treadmills in the morning. I fit in 7.5 miles on the treadmill and relished every air conditioned moment of it. After Jimmy John's and Starbucks we headed back to Sulphur. On the way I gave Mark a tour of two other parts of Chickasaw NRA that he hadn't been to: Guy Sandy and the Point.

After the tour, it was then LAUNDRY time....not very romantic or exciting, but necessary. Mark did get to experience the Sulphur laundry mat with me.

We then opted for another Mazzio's picnic in Flower Park, followed by a walk around Veteran's Lake. Veteran's Lake is a 2.45 mile loop in Chickasaw NRA. I'm pretty fond of it because there's usually a breeze there, it's not very crowded, it's shaded, it's on the lake and tranquil....oh, and perhaps my favorite: I always see some cool form of wildlife there. Veteran's Lake is where I first saw a live armadillo.

We hadn't walked far when Mark looked over and saw a real armadillo! We were so excited! We hadn't brought our good camera with us because we didn't want to carry it....but we could get so close to it that we didn't even need the zoom lens! It was definitely an up close and personal experience.

I worked today and so Mark joined me as a "Bring-a-Significant-Other-To-Work" Day. He was a great help in assisting with the development of our high school science lesson plan on minerals in the springs.

It was also exciting because we both finally got our NPS Chickasaw Passport stamp! I still can't believe that I left my NPS passport...and I was very happy to see it with Mark when he came on Thursday. I now have all the Passport stamps for Oklahoma!

Sadly, Mark is en route as I type--headed back to DC. It was a terrific weekend. Thanks for coming out to Oklahoma Mark! I love you!


Jonny T said...

Looks like an awesome trip! Me next! Me next!

Love the history and wildlife mixed in the trip synopsis!