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: 9 Day Colorado Road Trip

Hey guys! We are hitting you with another Travel Guide. This time around, I am going to take you behind the scenes of our epic 9 day road trip around Colorado. Back in June, my husband and I had the opportunity to hit the pavement and make our way around Colorado. I wanted to take you behind the guidebook and share some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of this kind of adventure. If you are a traveler or planning to travel in the Denver vicinity, this trip is one for the books so don’t miss out.

From the minute we got off the plane, I was captivated by the beauty of the Rockies. It would be my first time traveling in Colorado and to say I was stoked was an understatement. During our trip, we hiked a glacier, tried our luck at whitewater rafting in Clear Creek, climbed the stairs at Red Rocks, saw a Rockies/Yankees game in Denver and amongst many many other things, explored the haunted history of the infamous Stanley Hotel. Below, I have highlighted our itinerary and hope you find yourself feeling that stab of wanderlust!

Day One: DENVER TO IDAHO SPRINGS

We flew into Denver out of DFW and drove to Idaho Springs. About an hour outside of Mile High, we climbed to 10,000 feet and visited my high school buddy, Matty. We could not believe the views from his front porch. After settling in and touring his cabin and teepee in the woods, we made our way to Clear Creek and white water rafted a Class 3. Though the water was 32 degrees, we had the time of our lives. We even ended up randomly being paired with fellow Yinzers. Steeler Nation! To boot, the company provided us with a CD of high quality images of our adventure. After squeezing out of our wetsuits, we headed out for dinner at Mountain Prime. After having gotten in the workout of a lifetime rafting the river, the Blackened Tenderloin Stroganoff was the spot on. 3 beers later, I was pooped. The elevation really does get to ya. I was out like a light the minute we got back to Matty’s.

Day Two: IDAHO SPRINGS & MORRISON

We woke up and headed to St Mary’s Glacier. It was an easy hike to the most picturesque place. There was a family snowboarding the glacier…in JUNE. I was so glad that I brought my camera along to capture the view. Though I heave hoed my way up, it was totally worth it. This 1.5 mile hike only takes about 2 hours round trip. Next activity on the list, get ready for Red Rocks. We were going to the see the Lumineers in Morrison. This venue is an experience everyone should have. I laughed until I cried and the cheesecake was amazing until we had to hike up the hill. Again, this elevation got the best of me. Red Rocks was immensely beautiful and the acoustics that resignated from this group was out of this world! At one point, the Lumineers made their way into the crowd to perform “Skies are Blue” and they were only about 10 rows in front of us! It was an amazing night.

Day Three: LEADVILLE, TURQUOISE LAKE, & BRECKENRIDGE

Wake up and jump in the car. We headed to Leadville, the highest incorporated town in America. We took a 2 hour train ride up the mountain. At 12mph, the ride was so relaxing. The sun shining down on us and the slow ride made for the best afternoon. After the train ride, we made our way to Turquoise Lake to snap a few photos and then headed to Breckenridge. We met with my cousin, Scotty and his family for dinner at Fatty’s Pizzeria. We had a few drinks and headed back to the condo that my cousin had put us up in for the next couple nights.

Day Four: BRECKENRIDGE

We woke up early and headed to the Summit to fly fish. My cousin, Scotty  is a legit flyfishing guide. You can book your tour with him here. We only ended up catching 5 fish all day, though he probably caught 2o. We started in a stream to learn the basics and headed to a gully at the top of a mountain for lunch. The views we’re just out of this world. On our way back to town, we stopped at one more place, South Park, so we could have our picture taken as Kenny and Cartman. After fishing, we headed out for dinner. This was our one luxury during our entire trip. We went all out to thank my cousin for such an incredible time in Breck. The Blue River Bistro was out of this world. I had the Ruby Red Trout, a pecan encrusted filet of fish carmelized in an onion vodka buerre blanc and served with gruyere risotto. I dream about this meal sometime. The drinks were perfect and it was so nice to catch up with my cousin over a great meal.

Day Five: GRAND LAKE, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK & ESTES PARK

We woke up and headed to Grand Lake. Our plan, put on lots of sunscreen and then rent some kayaks at Mountain Paddlers. This quaint and more importantly, adorable town is settled near an entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park so we knew it would be a perfect place to stop and soak it all in. We made our way out on the lake but within 20 minutes, it started to thunderstorm. Though Russell’s first time kayaking was a bumpy ride, we both had a blast!

After stopping for ice cream, we entered Rocky Mountain National Park. In a million years, I couldn’t have imagined the sites I saw on that 2 hour trip over Trail Ridge Road. I even managed to snap a few photos of a guy proposing on top of  the mountain. That’s up on the Blog next! We were happy to find out that the access to Trail Ridge Road had literally started that week. During the winter, the path is impassable but lucky for us, we made our way through all 4 seasons as we climbed the 14,000 feet. We saw hundreds of elk, moose and deer and the flowers were endless and unimaginable. RMNP will forever have a place in my heart. After touring the park, we headed to our hotel, the Castle Mountain Lodge in Estes Park. We jumped in the shower and headed out for beers at Estes Park Brewery and had dinner at Smokin Dave’s BBQ. There, we had the Not-So-Teeny-Wahine which included ribs, chicken, brisket, pulled pork, 4 sides and cornbread. We got our doggie bags and they rolled us to the car. We ended the night watching the sunset over the rocky mountains.

Day Six: THE STANLEY HOTEL, ESTES PARK & MARY’S LAKE LODGE

The next morning, we headed to the infamous Stanley Hotel. For those of you who don’t know, Stephen King’s novel, The Shining, is rooted in the haunting stories of this historic place. We had the great pleasure of touring the hotel with Scary Mary. We highly recommend booking with her. Book your tour at the Stanley Hotel by heading to this link. She has done her homework and knows all about the Stanley & the hotel’s haunted misgivings. Fun fact: the Stanley family made millions being the fore running photographer in the new century. The tour was fun and creepy and it’s a must for those of you with any interest in Colorado’s history.

After our tour, we booked a 4×4 Jeep Tour into RMNSP with Green Jeep Tours. It was bumpy but oh so beautiful. I even found a place to move to, should we decide. We also passed the most beautiful church on our ride, San Malos Catholic Church. That evening, we headed to the Stanley’s sister hotel, Mary’s Lake Lodge and had dinner in their signature restaurant. I had the Mountain Man Meatloaf, a bacon wrapped wild boar, elk, venison, antelope and bison meatloaf served with mashed potatoes swimming in a wild mushroom bordelaise. Add a few glasses of the hotel’s signature malbec and a Penguin Stanley Cup Championship, we were golden. I ended the night watching Game of Thrones from our clawfoot tub!

Seven: RED FEATHER LAKES

We woke up and traveled to Red Feather Lakes to meet Scooter, my husband’s buddy from PA. He put us up at the the Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch. We stayed in a cabin overlooking the valley and a stream leading into a lake. It was amazing and so quiet. We literally sat around the fire and ate all night. It was awesome. There were horses nearby and as the sun set over the mountains, we made smores and brats over the campfire.

Day Eight: DENVER

We started our trek back into Denver through the Poudre Canyon and met with my good buddy, Dave. That night, we headed to the Rockies/Yankees game. Russ managed to snag us some impossible seats and we managed to watch the sunset over the mountains. What a stadium and what a game, it was a perfect night to catch up with my buddy and have a few beers at the ballpark! After the game, we headed out for a bite to eat at Machete Tequila + Taco. At $4 a pop, these bad boys are worth the walk. I had the Langosta and the Arrachera con Chile Relleno, both = bomb.

Day Nine: HEADED HOME

Up and attem for the Voodoo Doughnuts I had heard so much about. OMGEEEE, these were so delicious. We grabbed the Memphis Mafia doughnut and the Rapper’s Delight Collection of the Dirty Old Bastard, Marshall Mathers and the Maple Blazer Blunt Doughnuts. At a whoping $4.20, our breakfast satisfied without breaking the bank. We had just enough time to head downtown and check out a mall. As a tradition, we snagged a photo album to put all our adventures in. And then, we then jumped on the plane and cried ourselves to sleep. Seriously, best vacation evvva!!

 

If you have questions about our trip or how we planned, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com. I would be so happy to help you put together your next big adventure. Keep wandering!