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Oklahoma - What a place to enjoy! (Pt. 2)

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Reporter Olivier Rey "playing" with one of the featured guitars in Muskogee street art exhibit.
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This is the second installment of "Exploring Oklahoma with Olivier." Read part one here.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Boy! What’s better than going on a road trip, exploring this great state of Oklahoma during the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

On this second installment of “Exploring Oklahoma with Olivier,” our first destination is Tenkiller State Park!

Day 1

Sadly, nothing will go as expected. Mother Nature was the first to express her disapprobation with a forecast of thunderstorms and tornadoes in eastern Oklahoma on Saturday evening, delaying our journey of exploration until Sunday.

Day 2

Finally, the D-Day arrives. And after a nice three-and-a-half hour trip due to a detour at the wrong park (Burnt Cabin Ridge State Park) on the other side of Tenkiller Lake, we reached our destination. But the place was so overcrowded, and almost no choice campsites, we took a ranger’s advice to check out Greenleaf State Park, 20 minutes to the west.

From the small Tenkiller State Park to the wide open grassland area planted with mature trees of the Greenleaf State Park (awarded several times as the best State Park of the year), the second choice was definitively the best.

A view of Greenleaf Lake. (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report)

As always, after having installed the tent we started our first hiking in the park “The Family Fun Trail”, a 30-minute hike on the top of the hill that shows vestiges of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) including the ruins of loading docks, gas pumps, and even a pit toilet! The hike concluded with a nice view of the Arkansas River.

Looking out toward the Arkansas River. (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report)

It was already past 6 p.m., and we were getting hungry. So, we drove to Muskogee in hopes of finding a nice restaurant. However, on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the city seemed deserted.

During our short visit, we saw a very beautiful church made of stones and woods, the Grace Episcopal Church, the first Episcopal Church in Oklahoma Indian Territory built in 1905.

Another thing was interesting in Muskogee, you may know the Cow Parade, a public art exhibit featuring painted cow and others animals such as in Oklahoma City, here they chose a guitar style.

Already 7 p.m. and we still had not found our restaurant. It was time to head to Tulsa where we stopped at the Fish Daddy’s Grill House, a trendy restaurant in the southeast part of the city, at 10624 E. 71st Street.

After seeing fishermen all day we wanted to try some local fish.

We opted for a catfish and the Gulf shrimp ($10) for mem and an Idaho rainbow trout and Gulf shrimp ($12) for my wife. Both served on a side with a sweet potato topped with marshmallows.

A tasty meal was enjoyed at Fish Daddy's in Tulsa. (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report)

In addition, French music (from an unknown artist) was played through the speakers. The dinner was a real pleasure even though the trout was small.

To complete our dinner and finish our day on a sweet note we stopped at an ice cream shop, the STG Gelateria on Sheridan Road, Tulsa. This fine establishment offers real ice cream, with real ingredients, fresh milk instead of heavy cream. All the ingredients for a perfect ice cream.

We took raspberry and chocolate and raspberry and pistachio and it was a fireworks of taste in our mouths. The best ice cream shop in Oklahoma, for sure.

On our way back to the Greenleaf State Park, I spared three animals on my way, a fox (or something similar), an armadillo and a raccoon, be animal-aware on the road!

Day 3

After a good night sleeping under the stars, we opted for a nice breakfast of fruits, cheese and bread and an encounter with a turtle trying to make its nest. We packed our stuff and headed to last attraction of the park, the Ankle Express hiking trail of 18 miles on the east side of the Greenleaf Lake. The principal interest of the trail is the Swinging Bridge on the second mile of the trail.

The Swinging Bridge on the Ankle Express Trail. (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report)

After some difficulties to find the second trailhead, which was abandoned, we finally started the hike into the woods along the lake during two hours before going back. As the day was very hot, the shade of the trees was more than welcome.

Once again as observed at the Lake Murray’s trails (noted here) we didn’t see any others hikers. But Oklahoma is definitively a place of folks who like to fish! Oh, and we did bring a souvenir with us - a tick!

So small and so dangerous, ticks can carry diseases. The best way to remove it is with a tweezer, which we didn’t have at the moment.

We then drove to Muskogee for a second time to buy a tweezer at Walmart. To finish our visit here in Creek Territory we stopped at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, although the museum is small it provided interesting insights of the early life and struggles of the first five deported tribes, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.

The building built in 1875 is one of the oldest in Oklahoma still in use and had various purposes during its life.

A commemorative plaque is held on the outside wall of the building shows that the building has been sponsored by the Freemason of the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory, strange as nothing was mentioned in the historical description of the building. If one go inside the museum one will be able to see two mile-markers standing such as two pillars, one of the symbols of the Freemason – the twin pillars of Boaz and Jachin, of course.

Freemasonic pillars at Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee. (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report)

It looks like the quiet city of Muskogee has a complex and interesting past after all.

This latest exploratory trip may have kicked off with a few difficulties but what was discovered were a lot of pleasant surprises!

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About the Author

Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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