An Oklahoma Hidden Gem

I was more or less a home person growing up. My family didn’t do much traveling. For us it didn’t seem like a yearly thing, and most of the trips were relatively local, in other words, neighboring states. Oh there were the once a decade trips to California for several weeks to visit my grandmother’s family out there, and the one trip my mom and I took to Florida to visit more family, but for the most part were limited to Six Flags or Silver Dollar City weekend outings. We weren’t lake people, so unlike people that are, we weren’t gone most weekends during the summer. Bottom line is I never really had this zest for travel, or being away from home. My world was always very small, and I was mostly fine with that.

As an adult who took longer than most to settle on a career, and I use the term “settle” loosely, I spent most of my years without the funds to change my travel habits any. You tend to do the things that are most important to you and travel just wasn’t high on my list. In 2005 my best friend Corey and I took a road trip to the mountains of Montana. I was in school, between jobs and working towards my current IT career, so I had the time. We went into Canada for a few hours which was, at the time, the first time either of us had ever been out of the United States. We had a fantastic time, and for the first time I got a glimpse of a world bigger than Oklahoma and Texas at an age where I could really appreciate it. I wasn’t in a position then to expand on that, but the seed was planted.

Four years later, well into my new career I purchased a Pontiac Solstice, a small two seat roadster. I had been inspired by a book I had read at the time called “Ghost Rider” by Neil Peart. It’s his story of enduring great tragedy in his own life and how eighteen months of travel soothed and healed him, to a point. It’s a fantastic story of resilience and recovery after suffering some of the greatest tragedy any human can. As a touring musician, Neil had traveled the world for two decades at the time and was well versed in travel. He also had the resources to essentially travel with no real plan or destination in my mind. The journey was more important. After getting the Solstice I was determined to go on my own journeys, albeit in it far smaller increments. Like a week at a time. Point the car in a direction and go. Stop when I wanted, Go when I wanted. No plan.

Although I never actually took a single trip in that car, I did some research into places that I could get to in a day or two. One of those places was a little town in the southwest part of Oklahoma called Medicine Park. Located just outside of Lawton, it’s a charming little place with Native American flair and history. There are several places to stay down there, and you can walk the town and enjoy the shops and dining.

So fast forward a few years. My new wife and I had decided to get married on a beach and Jamaica was the location we picked via Western Caribbean cruise. So last year I boarded this boat to experience many firsts. An exquisite seven days later and I had several amazing adventures in other countries than my own. That seed planted in 2005 was now germinated. It took all I had to get off the boat when we returned to Galveston. I wanted to see and do more.

This past July I added the Northeast part of the United States to my list of places I’ve been, the highlight being the three nights we spent in Cape Cod. That trip deserves its own post, and I will create that in the near future. I’ve now created a list of places I want to go. I, half jokingly, refer to my Network Engineering job as something I do to earn more gas money to get me to my next adventure.

Which brings me back to the point. Over Labor Day weekend, my wife and I took that trip down to Medicine Park and over to Mt. Scott. It was a short trip, but thoroughly enjoying and relaxing. We made our way down I-44 in a about an hour and a half. I would’ve preferred to “shunpike” and taken some of the smaller roads, but we were in a bit of a time crunch. We dined at a place called the Riverside Cafe’. The meal was quite tasty, and we were seated next to a window that gave us a splendid view of Medicine Creek. We were able to view the geese navigate the creek as well as turtles and some fish. After lunch we walked the town and stopped in some of the shops and galleries. There’s a fanciful little gallery that I believe was called the Red Door Gallery. It displayed and sold some beautiful Native American art and jewelry. Each little shop has its own charm. My favorite was Mrs. Chadwick’s bakery. Great place for a scoop of ice cream plus some of their own creations.

Medicine Creek

After the short walk through the town we made our way back to the car and hit the road west for the short jaunt over Mt. Scott. Named after General Winfield Scott, near the Wichita Wildlife Refuge, Mt. Scott rises to a height of 2,464 ft. and is the second highest peak in the Wichita Mountains. There’s a three mile road that ascends the mountain and reaches the peak and its lookout area. While this didn’t really qualify as the curvy road I’ve been aching to drive, it still offered quite a view in both directions.

Once we reached the top and parked it was time to enjoy the prime fruit of the journey, the view. Looking to the east the first thing noticed was Lake Lawtonka and its blue waters. Medicine Park could be seen as well. The weather was perfect for viewing and you could see for miles. The Oklahoma Plains were in full view.

Looking east down on Lake Lawtonka and Medicine Park

Looking to west you could see the other peaks and into the refuge. The rock formations were astounding. You can also see the new windmill farms to the north and west. Certainly not a natural view. I have mixed feelings about them. While I’m all for finding cleaner ways to power our lives and harnessing the ever present Oklahoma wind seems a great choice and I do love seeing them, I also can’t help but think they muck up the natural countryside. More parts of nature touched by the hands of humans.

Looking west over the refuge

As I stated before we were on a time schedule to get back home and so made our way back down the mountain following three of the many motorcycles were surrounded by for the whole time down there. I imagine that’s a fantastic way to experience that part of the state. The drive back home was smooth and in just a few short hours the trip was over. While the trip was small, the trip’s rewards were immense. Cross another place off of my list, and I’d venture to say it’s a place we’ll return to again.

Sitting on top of the peak