Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 4- Oklahoma City/Palo Duro

For being right on a main road, I got a decents nights sleep with the sound of traffic roaring by. The sound of rain helped too I'm sure. I awoke to hear the faint sound of Rosie's voice, was she talking in her sleep? Was she talking to someone at our site? Eventually I realized she was on the phone, it was around 8-8:30am here and I thought it was too early to get up. However, I did have to finish the blogpost from yesterday so I clicked on my phone and began writing. After finishing yesterday's entry, I asked if Rosie was ready to get up and shower; what a lovely amenity here at an actual campground. We packed up some of our things while letting the tents dry out a bit, I tied them up against a nearby tree so they wouldn't blow away. The showerhouse was really nice, each was a private bathroom with a door into a sink, shower, and toilet. We took our showers, got dressed, and proceeded to pack everything left into the car. Rosie went to blow dry her hair while I figured the sexy Amish library teacher look was sufficient. While she was in the bathhouse, I finished packing up, and had a little snack. Our plan was to drive to downtown Oklahoma City for lunch, there was the Bricktown Brewery which sounded like a good choice so that was where we would go. I stopped in quickly to the office to give our signed receipt, while Rosie dumped our trash. Off we drove to the city, about 20 minutes. The first sight of Oklahoma City reminded me of Dubai with the gorgeous contemporary glass skyscraper. We found a lot to park in for only $5 right next to the brewery, sure beats the $26 we paid at one lot in Nashville! Inside the brewery we sat right down, I ordered a turkey, bacon, avocado sandwich with shoestring salt and pepper fries. Rosie got a buffalo chicken and bleu cheese sandwich with ham, and fried okra. The food was excellent, and the service of our waiter matched it. We mapped that the botanical gardens were about a 10 minute walk, so we decided to leave the car where it was so we wouldn't have to pay for parking again. Our stroll out of Bricktown brought us to the streets of modern Oklahoma City. We spotted a huge waterfall at the corner of the street, this must be it! The grounds were beautiful, a place surely I'd eat lunch at daily if I worked at a somber cubicle nearby. There were waterfalls, and flowers all within the well kept landscaping and sidewalks. The gardens were within a sunken lake, there was still some water where coi fish swam and ducks and geese hung out, but not nearly as much as once was. We walked around taking photos and trying to find the enterence to the botanicals. In that process two men walked up to us, one asking if I wanted to take his photo, sure? He went on and on about his pendant, and then after the photo asked if we would like to purchase it for $20. Thanks, but no thank you! We continued on with our search of the enterence, when we found it on the opposite side of where we came in. Inside, there was a gorgeous glass dream catcher and a friendly woman at the front desk. We told her about our trip and like any mother told us to be careful. Inside the greenhouse was warm, but not as hot as I thought it would have been. It was like stepping into a tropical forest in another country. The lush greenery took over the walkways and the exotic flowers fought for the attention of your eye. We took photos of all kinds of orchids, and cacti, greenery, and even a chocolate tree! As we walked higher and higher up the flights of stairs in the greenhouse it grew warmer and warmer. The humidity and my leather cowboy boots were not meant to be. On the top floor, where there was a skywalk all the way across the greenhouse, there was a huge fan in which I stood in front of for quite some time. A few butterflies flew around the facility but never landing in my sight to capture a photo. After seeing the whole garden we decided to head out, again the woman told us to have fun and be careful! The once chilly, windy city we walked there in now felt refreshing and comfortable. We continued to explore the grounds down by the water before heading back to the car. At the car we tried to figure out our next move and plans for the night. Oklahoma City with their brick buildings, was very different from Nashville and Memphis with all of their neon lights. It is a breath of fresh air to visit such different places. I am very happy we stopped in Oklahoma City since we saw and ate some pretty good things, but we were thinking we would be heading out pretty soon with lack of things to do before nightfall. Looking online, and at the maps we calculated that Palo Duro (which Brett and Matt told us to go to instead of Amarillo) was only 30 minutes off track. A half hour to see a small Grand Canyon? I'm in! I looked on the website and it showed camping so I called the number, 45-50 minute wait time, how?! I put the repetitive recording on speaker and stuck it on the dash while I uploaded photos from the day to the computer. Finally, someone came to the line and that is when I realized why the wait was so long. I had called a reservation center for all parks of Texas not just Palo Duro. She told me to call the park directly for same night reservations. What a waste of 30-40 minutes. After three rings, I was speaking with someone to make a reservation for the night. Primitive camping was $12, if you wanted a campground with showerhouse, electric and water it was $24, entry to the park on top of that was $5 a person. I decided to go with the upgrade so I could charge the laptop (which was now at 12% battery since the car charging wall converter got fried when coffee got in it plugged in.) We had about a 4 hour trip, but made it in much less with the flat roads of Oklahoma and Texas, oh and the fact that the speed limit is 75mph! The day in Oklahoma City was cloudy and overcast, but we were thankful for no rain. As we edged closer and closer to Texas, the clouds dissapeared and blue skies and sun warmed up the car, having us put the AC on. I am not sure why anyone would live in this part of Texas, there was literally nothing. Flat, and then otherworldly looking terrain filled our view before getting off of the exit for Palo Duro. At this point, we were just on what looked like a country back road and yet the speed limit was still 70pmh. We got to the park well before its closing time of 8:00pm. Got our site number and map, and off we drove into the canyon; yes the canpgrounds were down within Palo Duro, so cool! The long paved road took us down within with hiking trails, view spots, and campgrounds all around us. As we got further and further down we realized our horrible 3G service had turned into none, I had told my Mom we were here, but couldn't respond further. We got to our campsite and debated setting up, or trying to take some photos near the top since the sun would be setting soon. We decided to drive back up, at the top I told my mom we wouldn't have service while camping or within the canyon. We took some photos and again, drove down back to the campground. We set up our tents, I cooked my first Mountain House meal of the trip, and paired it with a Redds apple ale which we had picked up a 6 pack earlier at the gas station. So this is what camping is supposed to be like! The gorgeous red rock surrounding us and kicking back in a chair eating and drinking. Rosie sat and wrote in her journal for awhile and once the sun set and got dark enough I started playing with my camera. I took long exposures of the stars, then I experimented with lighting up my tent to get photos that way. It would have kept me occupied all night, but once I got a few shots I was happy with I retired the camera and moved to the computer. We moved our chairs to where it was plugged in so I could upload the photos while it was still being charged. It was somewhere around 11:30 when the bugs tormenting us could no longer be tolerated and we headed into our tents. Rosie continued to write in her tent, while I blogged for a little but grew too tired to finish. I lay with my glasses on for a little while staring up at the stars, I knew it wasn't going to rain tonight so I decided to camp without a rainfly on. It was really gorgeous to be able to just open my eyes and see the stars. I would do this periodically throughout the night, just open my eyes for a split second to gaze at the stars above.

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