Travel Guide: Fall Break in Broken Bow, Oklahoma

Hey guys! You guys are all probably thinking, “Hasn’t she already done a Travel Guide for Broken Bow?” Well yeah, I did, back in the spring, whenever everything was green and it was warm enough to lay out by the waters. Well, this go around is a little different.

We managed to make our way back to the Hochatown to see the Ouachita Mountains in all their fall glory. Everyone we had talked to said that the Talimena Scenic Byway, a road passing through the Ouachita Mountains into Arkansas, was a must-see for those wanting to soak in all the colors of October! For those of you planning Fall Break, this should be on your list. Or even stop by this summer, the lake is great.

For us, Broken Bow plays the part of a retreat. We all know that Dallas Fort Worth can feel like a concrete jungle at times so we feel lucky that we found this oasis in the southeastern corner of the Sooner state. There is just so much to do.

You can go horseback riding, kayak down the Lower Mountain Fork, head to the Girls Gone Wine Boutique or the new, Beaver’s Bend Brewery or even try your hand at zip lining with Rugaru Adventures! We’ve hiked the trails at Beaver’s Bend State Park, toured their Historical Museum and even partaken in some Big Foot Hunting (totally joking though this is a thing). Whatever the rhyme or reason, I feel like you could custom design a trip to this part of the country to suite your needs. You have the option to rest and relax by the lake or take on a whole new kind of adventure. The options are endless.

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Where and What to Eat:

  1. PIZZA at The Grateful Head! This is seriously some of the best pizza I have ever had. My favorite is the Tree Hugger. Those whole olives, spinach and cherry tomatoes make this a must-eat in Hochatown!
  2. Anything from the Moon Tower Bar and Grill. CHOPPED winner, Tabb Singleton has opened a bar and grill near Broken Bow Lake and this menu is worth drooling over. I snagged the  MTBG Loaded Fries, braised beef short rib, herbed potato fries, Wisconsin cheese curds and brown gravy. Imagine Poutine Fries topped with hearty short ribs…mouth watering. Russ snagged the Mountain Fork Burger, an 8 oz American Waygu Beef burger, small batch bacon, beer braised onions, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, sunny side up egg, choice of mayo or mustard or both on a brioche bun. Both were out of this world.
  3. The Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich from Adam & Eve’s Coffee Shop. This was the perfect lunch stop. We snagged 2 of these bad boys and headed down to Paddle Beaver’s Bend to grab our kayaks. Halfway down the Mountain Fork, we busted these guys our for the perfect lunch on the water.
  4. Hochatown BBQ!! Just go ahead and order one of everything. The pork and brisket were sooooo good. Add some potato salad and few jalapeños and you’ve got yourself an excellent dinner for a great price.

PHOTOGRAPHERS:

For you photographers out there, Beaver’s Bend State Park plays the part of your dream back drop. I managed to sneak in a Senior Portrait Session with these two lovely ladies while I was visiting the area. We rented canoes, blew off a few smoke bombs and even made smores by the Lower Mountain Fork River. To see the Tucker Twins Senior Portraits, head here.

GOLF:

Cedar Creek Golf Course at Beaver’s Bend was most definitely the highlight of the trip for Russ. I kept joking that I was gonna start offering Golf Mini Sessions for guys who want to work on their swing. This course is beautiful, but I will admit that it was find to hard the ball. The foundation of the Ouachita Mountains consists of a lot of white shale so looking for a white ball in a bed of white rocks can be a little daunting though the scenic views down each fairway were worth every penny. The views of the lake are phenomenal and we saw our fair share of wild life, including a 12 point buck!

Traveling in Oklahoma in the Fall is somewhat magical. Just a short 3 hour drive from Fort Worth, this trip is worth taking. We love the outdoors. Having grown up in the lush greenery of Pennsylvania, this trip is my opportunity to bask in the autumn leaves and get all nostalgic about how much I love nature. The ever-changing weather also provides the most magical sun rises and sunsets. Our view from the deck at Lakeview Lodge is the perfect place to chow down on the complimentary breakfast and watch the deer run around the lake. I always make sure to snag a few extra muffins and cereal to pack in our bag for hiking snacks.

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 HOW I GOT THE ITCH FOR TRAVEL JOURNALISM & WHERE ARE WE HEADED TO NEXT:

In the spring of 2016, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Carolyn Anderson, a landscape photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania. After our chat, I made it a point to try my hand at capturing the highlights of our adventures. We traveled so much in 2016. Our East Coast Girl’s Trip was my first attempt at Travel Journalism and since then, we’ve traveled all around Colorado, through the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and to Broken Bow, Oklahoma in the spring. This year, we have visited Reykjavik, Iceland and Edinburg, Scotland and recently, Yellowstone National Park, so keep your eyes out for the next Travel Guide!

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IS THERE SOMEWHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE RUSTIE NAIL TRAVEL TO? LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS BELOW!

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!

Travel Guide: Kansas City

This past week, I had the opportunity to check a few more states off my list when I visited Kansas City! My brother and his favorite lady moved here about a year ago and it was past time that I check out what Kansas City is all about. Our first stop after flying into MCI was the National World War I Museum in downtown. From the top, you have an amazing view of the metropolis.

Our next stop was to walk around in a shopping and dining district dubbed Country Club Plaza. This area had so much to offer. Fine architecture, elaborate fountains around every corner and an assorted array of florals line the ornately decorated streets. We spent time walking near a canal and then proceeded on to lunch.

Where to Eat? Located on a corner lot in Country Club Plaza, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue was our first choice. Every blog and website suggested that Kansas City BBQ should be on the top of our list so I trusted my brother’s judgement when he said that this place had the best Burnt Ends in town. And, he wasn’t lying. I had the Corn and Half Chicken. I recommend asking for the spicy BBQ sauce too. It was lip-smacking good, especially on the lamb ribs!

We spent that night ordering Pizza Hut and watching scary movies on the couch but the next day, we were determined to have an adventure. We headed to Black Hoof Park, a recreation area located adjacent to Lake Lenexa, a 35 acre, deep water lake. The dam and spillway at the park are an architectural feat. We spent time walking my brother’s pups around the lake and photographing the flora. We managed to see a few fishermen and even a kayak out on the water, something I will have to remember for the next time I visit.

After the park, we headed to a Mexican restaurant in Gardner, Kansas for lunch. Fronteras had a $2.50 Margarita Special and an appetizer plate that my bro and I scarfed down in a matter of minutes. We spent the afternoon sitting under the cabanas on the patio laughing about our crazy family and planning our next adventure.

That night, we headed into downtown Kansas City. Our first stop was Manifesto, a speakeasy with some premium bar drinks. My favorite was the Beautiful Red Bell, a gin martini that tasted exactly like a red bell pepper. It was delicious! Lit by nothing but candlelight, this place has a 1920s vibe and some classic drink choices.

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After drinks, we headed into the Kansas City Power and Light District. We strolled through the massive venue and then made our way to dinner at the Yardhouse up the street. After throwing back a few Boulevard Heifewiezens, I munched on the Ahi Tuna Poke Stack and a few of my brother’s girlfriend’s nachos! Everything was really yummy!

I was told over and over that the Kansas City sunsets were beautiful. And, I bet they were. I just kept napping on the back porch every night and missing it. But, I did get to catch the sunrise on the morning that I left. 4:45 came bright and early and with it, a gorgeous display of color and a gracious reminder of time. How fast it flys by and how lucky I am to have the opportunity to stop and enjoy it every now and then.

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We have got a lot more travel guides coming up in the next few months but I don’t want to ruin the surprise just yet. Where would you like to see The Rustie Nail head to next? The beach, a national park maybe or an amusement park you’ve been dying to check out! I love hearing suggestions on where to head to next. Leave you’re comments below!

Texas Tulips: A Girls Day in North Texas

A few weeks back, my bestie and full time petal pusher, Tiffany of Wanderlust Floral Designs, headed out to the U-Pick Tulip Farm in Pilot Point, Texas. Just north of Denton, you can find this traditional Dutch tulip farm. Truth be told, this was our 2nd go around at this particular farm. Last year, we headed there bright and early but were soon swarmed by Spring Breakers. To check out our last trip to the Tulip Farm, click on this link. I’d like to say we prepared better this year but I’d be wasting my breath. Though we managed to beat the crowds, we happened to go on a particularly dreary day.

Thank goodness we brought our coats because the sun chose to hide behind the clouds most of the morning. It was chilly!! Luckily for us, overcast makes for some pretty great floral photos.

The colors were so vibrant and the variety was insane. They must have had 50 variations of tulips in every shape, color and size. From fringed parrot heads to to willowed lush petals, we found an interesting array of Holland’s best known blooms.

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We strolled the rows and rows, picking one of each kind it seemed like. I was going to bright and lush. I love the way they float from a vase. Tiff was more interested in the pastels. Her arrangement felt a little earthier than mine which I am always envious of. Tiff has a way with picking the right bouquet. She knows which sizes and colors are going to coordinate well together. You really do need to check out her work, she has been up to some pretty exciting things this season. Follow along on her Instagram at @wanderlustflorals.

 

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Did I mention it was chilly? Ya, and muddy. Very, very muddy. We may have beat the crowds, but we didn’t get any better at planning. Case in point, check the shoes yo. Neither one of us dressed appropriately for our girls day. Word to the wise: Check the weather.  By the end of our romp around the farm, we were soaked and caked in mud. We got a good laugh out of it but ended up stopping at Ross to buy a new pair on the way home.

 

 We witnessed photographers out on shoots with little girls in their Easter hats. You could easily see the potential for an amazing backdrop. Seriously, could this place get any more adorable?

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At $3/cover and $2.50/stem, this place can add up quick. But, we agree, it was totally worth it. We soaked up the aroma and beauty of this little piece of heaven in North Texas and we will be back again next year!  For more information on how to visit Texas Tulips, head here to www.texas-tulips.com.

My name is Angelina Norris. I am natural light photographer based in Dallas-Fort Worth, with roots in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. I specialize in family and lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on play. I believe that the best portraits are a combination of  genuine intimacy and playful experience. I live for the opportunity to test out the waters of new shoot locations and discover new places all around the globe. Photography Services start at $300. If you would like to book your unique portrait session, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com.

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