Travel Guide: Lake Murray & Turner Falls, Oklahoma

Hey guys! It’s been awhile since I put out a Travel Guide so I figured I would let you in on our mini sort-of staycation in Ardmore, OK. Just a little under 2 hours north of Dallas-Fort Worth, this spot would serve as our anniversary getaway (3 Years Y’all). Mr. Norris and I recently made our way into Okie country to check out the scene at Lake Murray and boy am I glad we did. With its’ Caribbean-like waters and newly-renovated cabins, we felt like we had escaped to our own private oasis.

After settling into our cabin, we made our way down to the docks to sign up for the sunset cruise that evening. For $12, this seemed like an easy excuse to get out on the water. After feeding a few carp and one koi fish from the docks, we made a point to walk around the resort property. Cozied up to the shoreline is the 28 million dollar recently renovated resort. It has clean lines, an industrial feel and the landscaping makes the property stand out in all the right ways. This would be a fantastic setting for a wedding or even a family shindig!

After heading to a swim beach (Marina Beach) to toss the football around and listen to a little Bluegrass on the Beats, we set up our camp for the night and headed out to grab a quick bite before the boat trip. Every search kept leading us back to Cafe Alley and what a treat. The service was perfect and the setting was in this restored warehouse full of rustic charm. The staff had great recommendations and the manager even stopped by our table to make sure we enjoyed our meals.

I had the Cook Shack Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Iron Skillet Cornbread….ummm let’s just say that delicious is an understatement. Russ had the Mustard Crusted Pork Chop with Apple Onion Compote and the Mac n Cheese. We left with a piece of the famous Carrot Cake to have by the fire later that night. It was smothered in candied pecans and I am still thinking about it.  Here’s a look at their dinner menu.

We made it back just in time for our Sunset Cruise with Lake Murray Watersports. Larry, our driver and owner of the recreation facility near the resort, gave us an inside look at the lake that was created in the 1930s. His establishment, which is located a short walk from the resort, is open to any and everyone looking to get out on the water. You can rent kayaks, canoes, jet skis or sign up for a round of mini golf. For a small fee, the kiddos can go jump on trampolines or take a ride down the slide in the bay.

Larry took us out on the crystal clear water for about an hour and half . We had the opportunity to view Tucker Tower, a geological museum, and the Nature Center. We got a first hand look at Lake Murray’s famous “floating cabins” and Larry even took us for a short ride around the marina to check out some of the fun houseboats that are docked there. We ended our ride on the pontoon boat by watching the red sun set over the west end of the lake. After stoking the campfire and then shortly thereafter devouring the carrot cake, we decided to hit the hay!

Day Two, we woke up bright and early and started en route to nearby Davis, Oklahoma. Our plan was to spend the day at a natural attraction known as Turner Falls. Just a short 20 minute drive north of Ardmore, this leg of our journey was a piece of cake.

After winding through a plethora of roads into what can only be described as a canyon of sorts, we made it to our destination. After parking the car, we started our trek to Dr. Collings’ Rock Castle. Built in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains during the Great Depression, this castle is believed to have been part of a bigger plan for a dude ranch  but due to the sign of the times, the building has remained an abandoned tourist attraction.

After snapping a few photos of the castle, we made our way down to the 77 foot waterfall that stems from Honey Creek! It was a sight to see from far away but as we made our way closer, I was in awe. How could I have not known about this place? I could only imagine how beautiful it must be in the fall when all the leaves are changing colors. We swam for a long while before deciding to find a spot to settle down for lunch. We had packed sandwiches and lemonade for a small picnic by a creek though there were lots of options for food to purchase on the property.

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After lunch, we jumped in the car and decided to take a ride around the campgrounds. We wanted to see the aerial view of the falls and maybe even hike a few trails. We headed out on Butterfly Road and we managed to get a birds eye view of the stream system that feeds into the waterfall and the aerial view of the water going over the edge of the rock face. There were caves and rocked paths that would make for the perfect engagement shoot. Just saying!

Before we headed back in the direction of Dallas-Fort Worth, we snuck in some time at the Blue Hole.  There were slides, diving boards and a huge swimming hole for everyone who was hanging in the park to enjoy! I am happy to sat that our $12 admission fee was well worth it!

Our last stop was on our way out of the canyon. We made it to the overlook to grab a few pictures before I realized that people were zip lining over the falls. How neat, right? Has to be expensive, right? Nope, for $12, I braved the ridiculous heights for an amazing view of this part of south-central Oklahoma. My stomach felt like it was in my throat but it was totally worth it. Kind of like a rollercoaster.

After hanging hundreds of feet in the air, we jumped in the car and began our trek back to Dallas-Fort Worth. We stopped at a QuikTrip on the way and grabbed ourselves a few Red Box movies to enjoy on the couch later that night.

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It really was the perfect getaway. We got to get out of town for a few days and make it back in time to throw our laundry in the washer, order some pizza and relax on the couch! Watching the sun set over the plains of Oklahoma during our drive back wasn’t half bad either! We are really looking forward to heading back here in the fall! Stay tuned!

Guess what guys? In just a few short days, Russell and I are headed out on another adventure. This time we are heading to Yellowstone National Park! If you have got recommendations or suggestions, please feel free to comment below! Don’t forget to check back for more Travel Updates!

Senior Portrait Session: The Tucker Twins

Hey guys! Happy Friday! This week on the Blog, we are highlighting the Tucker Twins Portrait Session at Beaver’s Bend State Park in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. I had the great pleasure of meeting and photographing one half of this duo, Raina, back in the spring. You can view that session with her puppy dog, Pumpkin, here. Since then, I have been itching to get this sweet girl in front of the camera. Luckily for me, Raina and Brooklyn found themselves in need of Senior Portraits and knew just who to call! I was over the moon when Raina reached out to ask about having their photos done in the fall. As the summer months went by, Raina and I kept in contact discussing their vision for the shoot while impatiently waiting for the leaves to change in Hochatown.

Overall, the girls were pretty laissez-faire about what they had envisioned though they did throw a few curveballs at me. Their requests were simple, they were both hoping for rain and they wanted to incorporate smoke bombs and smores! All of which was going to be a challenge but I was up to it and so were they. When we started shooting, I was sure that the girl’s dreams of a rainy shoot were out the window. It was a beautiful fall day. It had been all week. Russ and I even managed to get a kayak trip down the Lower Mountain Fork the day before. After scoping out a few different areas with good light, the girls threw me one last request. “Any chance we could take a few pictures in a canoe?”, they asked. Insert me jumping for joy! I was stoked. I love water shots. I love the way the water plays with the light and how the prisms bounce color and flare  highlighting the golden arch of fall in the Ouachita Mountains.

Once the girls finished up with hair and makeup, we headed to Beavers Bend Paddle Floats to jump in the canoe. I was totally blown away when they got out of the car. Both of them looked so great. Brooklyn was wearing a sheer maxi dress, black booties and her ombre made the oranges and reds in her dress pop every so beautifully. Raina showed up in an olive green mini, black knee high boots and a black and white striped top. I was so surprised by how different they both were but how comfortably they complimented one another. As the girls paddled around the cove and swim beach, I got in chest deep to capture the magic that was unfolding before me. As the sunset over the Ouachita Mountains, we made our way to the second shoot location.

We stopped by a dirt road for a few good lines and eventually made our way down to a pavilion area so my hubby could get to work on building us a fire for our smores shot. We decided to try our luck with the smoke bombs before we lost the light. This was soooo fun! Raina and Brooklyn brought white, blue and orange bombs and stated that they preferred the shot to be in a wooded area. These girls were specific about their vision and it was much appreciated. We scoped out an empty creek bed and decided it would be the perfect place to set off the bombs. We tried the white first and after we put out a small fire, we had gotten the hang of how to set up the second one. The colors were so vibrant and the girls had posed in juxtaposition which made the shots that much more dramatic. Though we scared half the park with the smell of sulphur, the images turned out beautifully. Word to the wise when it comes to using smoke bombs, read the instructions, have water available and be ready to think fast. Before you know it, the smoke dissipates so make sure to have your models ready and willing to move on a clear path.

We blew up the last bomb and made our way to the pavilion to change outfits. As we began our way back to the campfire, the first crackle of thunder made its debut. Turns out, the girls’ dreams were coming true. We were going to get rain! I quickly turned my reflector into an impromptu umbrella and we made our way to the firepit. Both of them showed up in carefully worded t-shirts, flannel and jeans. Even with the rain dampening their perfectly coifed hair, these girls braved the lightning to get a few cuddly campfire photos. We burnt a few marshmallows and then closed up shop.

At one point, Raina kept asking me about her makeup and I couldn’t quite understand why. She looked great. It wasn’t until after the shoot that I realized that my makeup was ruined, mascara running down my cheeks and my hair was a mess. What can I say? To get these shots, I had to be willing to swim in a river, run from the flames of a smoke bomb and get soaked to the bone in a full blown Oklahoma thunderstorm. All in all, this was seriously the most fun I have had on a shoot. I love that these girls provided such a heavy-duty challenge and I am grateful that they trusted me to capture these images. They say you should put your dreams out into the universe and that they will come back to you in greater folds. This shoot is proof that no matter the obstacle, one can always rise to the occasion and sometimes, even surpass it!