This Independence Day was one to remember! A small tribe of 6, close family and a couple friends going hiking in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Indiahoma, Oklahoma. We started the day at 5:30 A.M., left our home near Oklahoma City at 6:30 A.M. and began our trails in the car toward Indiahome, OK to meet our friends.
It was a beautiful morning which made a relaxing drive. As our 8 year old daughter slept in the backseat, we quietly listened to SIRUS XM radio and admired the trees and open fields as the morning sun shone across the land. We were looking at about a 2 hour 14 minute drive to Indiahoma, but the time seemed to fly by. After two toll roads, we arrived in Indiahoma and met our friends at the Love’s Gas Station right off the highway on Exit 45. From there, our 2 friends had a good friend that met us there too, his name was Steve; from the gas station Steve led us out to a great spot in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and ended up being a fantastic tour guide. He was very familiar with the trail we ended up taking due to coming to that spot many times over the last 10 years. He was a photographer of the Wildlife Refuge and even sold his photos of the wildlife and land in the Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
On our hike, we saw lots of small animals, some larger animals, animal tracks; tracks of bob cats, deer, buffalo, elk and cows… and since there had been so much rain in Oklahoma over the last couple months – record breaking rain fall – everything was so lush and green. Some flowers that are not typically seen had popped up because of all the rain we received. There were so many beautiful plants and flowers along the trail.
Heading west on the trail, our “tour guide” Steve pointed out various rocks particularly the abundance of quartz, and also told us that gold was prevalent in the streams. He also named many flowers (as did my horticulture genius friend, Wendy!) and told us names of mountains as we passed alone side them or headed toward them. A couple of those mountains included, beautiful Elk Mountain to our left, and Crab Eyes Mountain in front of us.
“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.” ― Jon Katz
We stopped to take a break in a fabulous patch of yellow spring wildflowers, hydrated up, ate a little trail mix and continued on our way. Our last stop before turning around was in a little quartz garden about 3 miles from the point of the trail we began at. There I got to snap a few pictures of a brightly colored male Mountain Boomer lizard resting on a nearby rock. On our way back it was noon, the sun was beating down and it was HOT. Since we were not admiring all the new things we saw on the way out there, we reached our return destination much quicker.
We were surprised there was not more tears and complaining from our 8 year old, she was such a trooper! 6 miles total – with some encouragement, a little piggy-backing on the way back, and a good pair of Keen hiking shoes she was a great hiking companion.
After getting back to our cars we drove to the Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center to look around, and then continued our journey into Medicine Park, Oklahoma; a little town in Comanche County near the wildlife refuge. There seemed to be many activities going on, and cute little shops displaying merchandise for sale outside in front of their stores. We wanted to look around, but first thing first; we were famished. We ended strolling into a nice little place called The Old Plantation Restaurant. We waited 20-25 minutes for a table, but the food was well worth it! We enjoyed each others company, laughing and talking about the hike among other things.
When we were done replenishing our energy, we walked around Medicine Park town checking out vendors and neat things they had for sale. Our friend Wendy even bought a local wine from one of the dealers. From there we had a plan to go swimming at Lake Lawtonka in Lawton, Oklahoma, just 7 or so minutes from Medicine Park. At that time we said our “farewells” and “thank yous” to Steve in Medicine Park as he did not plan to join us.
Even though it was starting to sprinkle we thought we would still have the opportunity to take a Lawtonka dip, however, that changed when the rain really started to down-pour and the lightening and thunder began. Better luck next time I suppose. We took a two car convoy back to our meeting spot at Love’s, then decided to just head back to Oklahoma City. It rained heavily most the way there, but cleared up as we got closer to home.
As tired as we all were from a long day of hiking adventures, we decided we could just not let America’s 239th birthday pass us by without seeing fireworks! It is just not American, right? So, after getting a little rest, taking a warm shower and grabbing a light dinner, we got dressed and went to a nearby park in Midwest City, Joe B. Barnes Regional Park, for their Tribute to Liberty July 4th extravaganza. We arrived at 9:40 P.M. just before the fireworks display started, and had front row seats on the hood of Wendy’s car that was parked on a residential street adjacent to the fireworks launch pad. The fireworks show was incredible! I am so glad we chose not to miss one of the most traditional things to do on Independence Day in America.
A side funny note: I realized that the shirt I changed into before going to see the fireworks said “Canada” on the front with a maple leaf; a t-shirt I got on a business trip to Niagara Fall, Ontario Canada a year ago. At least I rocked some red, white and blue glow bracelets! I was not completely unpatriotic looking that night.
☮✌ Happy 4th of July everyone! If you are in America reading this right now, I hope you had a fun and safe night celebrating America’s day of independence. ☮✌