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Arbuckle Wilderness and Lake Murray (July 12, 2010 - 9:13 a.m.)

I just updated my book list to include the three most recent books I've finished.

It's been a pretty good month so far. The holiday weekend for the Forth of July went pretty well. Rachel and Justin came over on Sunday and I cooked out for them. We had a nice day together, but Rachel had to go to work on Monday, so they couldn't stay very long.

So far, none of the recent job interviews have resulted in any success. The most promising one turned out to be a disappointment, as the people at UPS decided not to choose me. I thought that was my best interview yet, too. That one happened the day before we left for Oklahoma on our "mini-vacation."

We left for Oklahoma Wednesday morning. We had a small cabin rented at Lake Murray, but we couldn't check in until 3pm, so we went on up to Arbuckle Wilderness first. Turns out we had been there before, a few years back, when Rachel lived at home. That was trip where we stayed in two different places and also went to Turner Falls.

But we had a nice time at Arbuckle. The emus are kind of freaky up there. A lot of the animals on the drive through are very aggressive, because they know that the people in the cars have cups of food for them. Emus, which have very long necks and resemble ostriches, would stick their heads in the windows as far as their necks would allow. We had to roll the windows up so that only a few inches were open and feed them through that little space.

When we encountered the camels, that was also an adventure. To my recollection, Fossil Rim in Glen Rose doesn't have camels. At one point, Christi had two camels on her side with their entire heads inside the car. One got away with a whole cup of food, and she engaged in a tug-of-war with the other one, and only lost a small piece of the cup. Once again, the window got rolled up so we could move along.

They had these strange looking animals they called "zebus." To me they looked like llamas or alpacas with a poodle haircut. But they were very sweet and gentle and lots of fun to feed.

They also had what was either llamas or alpacas. I'm not sure I can tell the difference, but I remember llamas at Fossil Rim being much more aggressive and "drooly."

But the most adorable of all the animals (to me) were the little donkeys. They couldn't reach the window, so they would walk up to the car and point their mouths up to the window and just stand there with their mouths gaping open so I could drop pieces of the food in their mouths.

After the drive through part, we went through the gift shop to an area where you walk through, ultimately getting to a small reptile house. Unfortunately, we were met by a couple of wasps on the walk, which kind of freaked Stephanie out. Stinging insects are one of those stressors that she can't handle very well. The rest of that experience was not very pleasant, until we finally got out of the walking area and back to the car. There were some good times, still, wasn't all bad.

After Arbuckle Wilderness, we got back in the car and headed back south to Lake Murray, which is just few minutes from Ardmore. We checked into our cabin and went to find something to eat. Both the lodge restaurant and a nearby restaurant didn't open until 5 for dinner, and it was about 4:30. So we drove back into Ardmore to find a restaurant called "Ponder's" that we had seen a billboard for. The billboard featured Scotty dogs, and we have one of those, so that's why we decided to go there. Silly, eh? Well, it turned out to be a pretty good eatery, with very friendly, down home type service. In fact, we ate there pretty much every meal we had for the three days.

After we got back, Christi and I went up to an area close to the lodge and played a round of mini-golf. It was great fun.

Thursday morning, after breakfast at Ponder's we drove around the lake area for a bit and found a free public beach. After dropping Stephanie back at the lodge, Christi and I went to find Tucker Tower. Tucker Tower was intended to be a summer home for a politician, but never was fully completed. It is now a free "museum" with some odd exhibits inside (there is one case that has many types of insects in it), and several staircases, finishing with a spiral staircase that takes you to the top lookout level. It's very cool to visit and look at. It also leaks a lot and it was rainy on Thursday. I was wearing rubber crocs. I slipped twice and almost fell down the bottom three steps on one staircase, because it was made out of metal. Quite an adventure.

We drove around a little while longer, then went back to the cabin to get swimsuits and go back to the free public beach that we had found. Stephanie decided to come with us. We got to the beach (still raining lightly), and started making our way to the water. Stephanie slipped in some mud and fell down (pretty hard), but was okay. When we got to the water, the edge was rather rocky. I stepped out into the water and promptly slipped on a rock that was pretty slimy, and I fell down. After that, Steph had no interest in going out there. I found a way into the water, between the rocks, but there were still a lot of rocks on the bottom, plus the water was very dirty, being lake water.

So, we decided to try the pool at the lake lodge. We got there, and it was temporarily closed, because the attendant had seen lightning. She said that it would probably be open again in a few minutes, if things didn't get worse. So we waited in the car, much to Stephanie's dismay. But after about 15 minutes, the attendant let us in and told us that there was a storm coming up from the south, and she might have to shut down permanently for the day. So we swam in the pool in the rain, which actually stopped shortly after we got in. We swam for over an hour in there, and at one point, the sun even came out.

Afterwards, we got dried off, changed out of swimsuits and went in search of dinner. We were going to try this place close by called "Fireside Dining." We parked, got out, walked up to the door, looked at the menu posted outside, turned around, went back to the car and went back to Ponder's! Fireside had a 14-ounce steak for $29.99! I've never in my life had a steak that was worth $30. Never. I don't care how good it was. In fact, I can get all the meat I care to eat at Texas de Brazil for only $5 more than that! At Ponder's I got an 8 oz Ribeye for $11.95, with loaded baked potato and salad. And it was delicious! So there.

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in the cabin, reading, and watching the Rangers on TV. Their cable actually had Fox Sports Southwest on it, so Stephanie could watch the Rangers.

Friday morning, we left Lake Murray at around 10:30 and headed back home. We were anxious to sleep in our own beds again, but we had a nice, relaxing three day trip.

And now, I'm back on the job hunt.

That's pretty much all I have to report for now, except to say that Stephanie continues to behave pretty well (except when she was threatened by a wasp), and has had several servings of ice cream in the past few weeks.

TTFN, y'all!

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