Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Winding Stairs

Thursday morning we hit the road to begin our trip to Oklahoma. Just across the Texas/Oklahoma border, we came upon the turn for the Red Slough ("red slew"). This wildlife preserve maintains 5,000 acres for the enjoyment of birds and other wildlife.

We got there in the early afternoon, after a lunch at a very authentic Mexican place called Papa Poblano's, where the tortilla soup was just right. The hour of 1:30 p.m. is neither dawn nor dusk, and therefore is not the ideal time to view the birds. Still, we did have one bit of very good fortune. Dave Arbour, the park biologist,
happened by. He was very kind to us. He took us in his pick-up truck, and drove us to places we would not have been permitted to drive ourselves.

Thousands of marshbirds and shorebirds were everywhere. Some were familiar herons and egrets, but some where things like anhingas and ibis that would usually be much further to the south. He took us by an alligator nest, where we watched the female warily watch us. He identified for us bird after bird. It was a great afternoon.

We drove late that afternoon into the rural environs ten miles to the west of Broken Bow, to our cabin on the Glover River. We had to drive three miles of rural road, much of it gravel, to get to our cabin. My favorite part was when the tiny bridge was out and we had to go through an inch or two of water to ford a creek.

Our cabin was amazing--like something out of a design magazine. We had a great view of the river, and all the amenities of home sans telephone and the internet. We drove into town, where we went to a restaurant called Abendigo's. My salmon was delicious at this very nice yet informal place.

Friday morning we arose at 4 in the morning to go link up with our fishing guide. My wife had had a good experience taking her father on a guided trip in Kansas lately, and was eager to try bass fishing again.
The guide was,like everyone we met this weekend, extremely nice. He took us in his bass boat out onto
Broken Bow Lake. As it is the off-season for fishing, we had the lake nearly to ourselves. Broken Bow Lake is this gorgeous mountain lake, with super-clear water and wooded islands. The parks people forbade development along the lake, so it is nearly pristine.

My wife caught three bass and two goggle-eye, I caught one bass, and the guide caught four, all of which we released. I learned a lot about bass fishing I did not know. Mostly, though, my wife and I enjoyed being on the water as the sun came up, in the cool of the morning, in a picturesque locale. We also enjoyed driving around the Beavers Bend resort area, with its trout streams and spillways.

We spent the afternoon back at our cabin. The cabin came with a canoe, so we rowed down the very still and low Glover River. Then we turned in to read and to watch television.

On Saturday morning we rose fairly early to go see the Red Slough in the morning. We saw a number of birds, though fewer than when Dave had toured us through Red Slough. The slough is amazing--tons of marshes filled with giant American lotus flowers. The sound of birdsong was everywhere. The herons flew away when they saw us coming. We hiked around small Bittern Lake. We stopped on an observation tower, where we had an excellent vantage of an alligator swimming.

On Saturday afternoon, we drove roughly eighty minutes up to the Talimena Drive. This drive is on top of one set of mountains, with the Kiamichi mountains visible on one side, and the Winding Stair on the other side. We had long trip getting there, as we got stuck behind a huge wide load truck carrying a machine.

The drive was nearly empty--just a few motorcyclists. We stopped and gazed at lovely mountains, and felt the breeze. We hiked the Kerr Arboretum, a self-guided display with tree-identification signs.

Soon after we drove from the Kerr, we encountered a gorgeous cub bear. He was so cute! He was gangly and gallumphing and uncertain of what to make of us. We got to see him for a few minutes, until he wisely wandered into the woods. We drove on the trail some more, and then went and had lunch at a hometown place in Talihina.
That evening I fished a bit, during which I enjoyed the little water snake who swam by, and then we read books.

On Sunday morning, I got up early, wandered down the river a bit, and fished. Carp were striking the surface of the water every few minutes. I saw a cute nutria swim by. I caught a nice little buffalo fish, and then called it a morning. We drove back to Allen, picking up locally-grown watermelon in a rural Oklahoma town. We then were glad to be home, having had a really great trip. Our dogs had been expertly dog-sat, which was far preferable to putting them into a kennel. It was a great weekend.
During our whole trip, people were incredibly nice, attractions were without crowds, and everything was extremely reasonably priced. We'll go back to Oklahoma again.


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