We were on our way to the cow chip tossing festival in Beaver, Oklahoma. The morning of the festival, we loaded up the kids in the Suburban and headed out on the long drive to the Oklahoma panhandle. It was a hot windy day – conditions I am certain were not so favorable for tossing cow chips, but nonetheless we were determined to see this.
We drove past the Glass Mountains and were talking about how cool they looked out there in the middle of nowhere and I commented that even though I had driven by them a million times, I had never stopped. So we turned around and went back and discovered that there is a lovely little parking area and one of the "mountains" has a trail with rails and steps built up the side of it. There aren't a lot of mountains in Oklahoma so I use that term loosely. They're really mesas or plateaus, flat topped hills, but it sure feels like a mountain when you're climbing up the side of it, rails or no rails. We made it to the top and true to Oklahoma, the wind came sweeping down the plains and nearly blew us off. The kids loved it – took some good touristy pictures.
There has long been a debate whether they are the Glass Mountains or the Gloss Mountains. It seems that they are the Glass Mountains but a mistake was made on a map calling them the Gloss Mountains and there's also the story of the British man camping there one night that awoke one morning and upon noticing the appearance of the shiny landscape said, "Why, it looks just like 'glaws'" (Imagine British accent here). So now you know the story and you can quit arguing about it because you're both right.
We got back in the car and headed onward to the awaiting cow chips. We saw a sign that said Alabaster Caverns was near. Tonya, being from Oklahoma City and not very familiar with northwest Oklahoma, had never been, so of course, we had to make a side trip. We went to the caverns and decided to take the tour. If you've never been to the Alabaster Caverns, it is definitely a trip worth making. It's great fun for all ages and you learn a lot, too. It's truly an amazing thing to be standing there in a 46 degree cave where an inland sea used to rush under the plains of Oklahoma. And the bats were pretty cool, too. The tour lasts about 45 minutes to an hour and it was only $8 for adults and $5 for kids and kids under a certain age are free and the tour guides are very knowledgeable and entertaining. You get your geology, anthropology, archaeology, zoology, and history all in one fell swoop.
By the time we got done with the caves, we knew there was no way we were going to make it to Beaver in a timely manner, so we ditched the plan of tossing cow chips and decided to just have a totally unplanned adventure. We had lunch at an incredibly unremarkable restaurant in Freedom and drove around to take in the sights the tiny town had to offer. Its downtown has been modeled after an old west town and we hung out at the jail for a while.
We headed toward Alva and had to stop and play at Hatfield Park. It's one of those what Tonya calls "Death Trap" parks with all the old fashioned toys that maim little kids – you know, merry-go-rounds and see-saws – the fun stuff that they pulled out of most modern parks. My kids love these old parks and we've actually made it a mission to play in as many old parks as we can find. So we also stopped and played at the park in Carmen after we scared the bejesus out of our kids by pretending to leave them at a cemetery.
Mean you say? Well, not really. They were being pretty annoying with all that "where are we going?" "when will we be there?" crap so we went to a little place that we knew about – you can barely even call it a cemetery. I mean, technically it is because there are people buried there, but only like 12 and there aren't any big ornate headstones, just some flat markers and there's a chain link fence around it. No trees, nothing. It doesn't even look like a cemetery so it's not even scary looking. We told them to go on up there and we'd be right there and then all I did – I swear – was turn the car around and they totally freaked out. But they didn't ask one more annoying question the entire trip and I bet the next one is pretty peaceful, too.
We made up for the whole cemetery thing with some mediocre frozen custard and all was well in the world. We don't know where the next road trip will take us, but you can be sure it will be an adventure.
Until next time, keep on keepin' on…