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DAVIS DELIGHTS: Adventure, food, history await visitors in Davis, Okla.

Heide Brandes / Red Dirt Report
A view of Turner Falls from 777 Zip
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DAVIS, Okla.- “NO WAY! We’re rolling uphill!”

I’m screaming and laughing at the same time inside a car as the vehicle, which is set in neutral, slowly begins to roll up a hill. We’ve parked at the bottom of the infamous “magnetic hill” in Springer, near Davis, to test out a legend, and so far, it appears the legend is true.

Along with Uncovering Oklahoma filmmaker Dennis Spielman and photographer Crystal Lewis McDermott, I’m in the Davis area to explore. We took a side jaunt to Springer after Dennis told us about a hill where you park at the bottom, but will allegedly roll uphill unexplainably.

I’m both ecstatic and a little creeped out about being in a car that appears to be slowly climbing up a slope. The explanations for this phenomenon range from the ghosts of poor souls hung from a tree pushing cars away from their death site to the more believable “optical illusion” theory. Many scientific articles say that the magnetic hill phenomenon – of which there are hundreds around the world – is actually an optical illusion that makes a downward slope look like an uphill slope.

At that moment, however, I was almost 100 percent certain we were rolling UP the hill, and I was having fun believing it.

Davis, located roughly an hour or so south of Oklahoma City on Interstate 35, is full of fun areas and adventures to explore. With a 2010 census count of 2,683 residents, Davis owes its existence to the railroads. Established in 1887 in Indian Territory by Samuel H. Davis, who relocated his dry goods store four miles south to the present town's site in 1890, the town’s post office petition of December 11, 1889, declared the settlement  as a “place that is very well known as Davis Store." The town became Davis and was incorporated on November 16, 1898.

Today, Davis remains a bustling community with independent stores, one of the oldest drug store soda fountains in the state, quirky shops and a playground of outdoor activity. Nestled close to Turner Falls Park, Davis offers visitors everything from zip lines, drive-through animal parks, a taste of history and natural sights among the Arbuckle Mountains.

ZIP THROUGH                                                                           

If you take the “back way” to Turner Falls along US-77, the 777 Zipline, located at 6250 US-77 in Davis, offers a different kind of ride than the traditional ziplines. Owned by Gary Fielding, who spent most of his life in church camp ministry, the “Soaring Eagle” zipline seats two guests at a time before being hoisting them in reverse to a view point 777 feet away to stop at a thrilling viewpoint of Collings Castle and Turner Falls at the park.

The release has the seated zipline racing back to the landing zone. While most ziplines use a harness system, Fielding said his seated zipline allows people who may otherwise not be able to experience the thrill to try it.

“You head up 777 feet right off of Highway 77 and you’re going to have a view of a 77-foot waterfall, and you’re going to do all that in about 77 seconds,” Fielding said. “This week, we are celebrating our first year anniversary. In fact, last Friday, we celebrated on 7/7/17. It’s not a traditional zipline. It’s a zipline that anyone can do. We’ve had people in wheelchairs that we’ve been able to help ride, we had people who were amputees that could get on and ride. I’ve had a lady who had (multiple sclerosis) who put ziplining on her bucket list and thought she could never do it. She got off and she was crying.”

Situated at the Curio Shop/Overlook of Turner Falls, 777 Zipline is among the safest designs in the world, Fielding said. The company that designs and installs the seated version has never had an accident.

“If you’re a little scared, I tell people to tilt their head back when you get to the top because the seat does tip forward a little,” Fielding said. “Tip back, look through your toes and look at the castle. But you’ve got two seat belts and they are electronically monitored. Soaring Eagle Zipline has never had an accident, and they’ve had 72 of these around the world.”

Costing $300,000 to install, the Fieldings entered into an agreement with the City of Davis to pay the City a yearly lease for the right to place the zip line at Turner Falls Park.  At the end of eight years, the Fieldings will donate the Turner Falls Zipline to the  City of Davis. 

For more information or to visit, go to www.turnerfallszip.com.

COFFEE AND PIES

No trip to the Davis area is complete without a stop at the Arbuckle Mountains Original Fried Pies and Coffee, located just off of I-35 at Exit 51. Serving up savory, sweet, fruit and cream fried pies, the restaurant has deep roots in the Arbuckle Mountains in Davis. In 1893, the current owner Nancy’s grandmother sold fried pies to the different ranches in the Arbuckle Mountains during the harsh, cold winters, and an Oklahoma legend was born.

We tried the Tex-Mex and Pizza fried pies, but couldn’t resist the chocolate and peach pies either. The pies are all fried up in 100 percent peanut oil and are as good as everyone says they are.

Gary Fielding of 777 Zip also gave us a line on a new coffee shop in Davis and offered to buy us each one of the famous ice coffee blending drinks there.

Beyond Blessed Coffee is located at 121 E Main St. in Davis and is owned by Donna and Kris Travis.

“We worked at Falls Creek (Bible Camp) for several years before we moved here to Davis,” Donna said. “We fell in love with the town and the community, and we decided we wanted to stay here. Kris had to take a medical disability. Right before that, a friend had given him some green coffee beans and told him to roast them. He fell in love with the hobby. After he had to take disability, roasting coffee kind of became the thing that took the place of work.”

On April 4, Beyond Blessed Coffee Roasters opened their doors in Davis and is now a favorite “hang-out” spot for visitors and locals.

“The town has responded phenomenally. I think green coffee is something not a lot of people have seen here, so to have the roaster here and to have someone who can talk about the origins of the coffee is unique,” Donna said. “We bring the education, and it’s a really neat thing. It’s a new way to enjoy something they’ve always known about.”

The coffee shop, which offers traditional hot and cold coffee favorites, iced coffee blends and treats, also gives each month’s tips to a local charity as a way to give back to the community. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/beyondblessedcoff.

Just down the street from Beyond Blessed is City Drug, a business that has graced Davis since the 1800s. The pharmacy is home to one of the few remaining original soda fountains that used to be popular in drug stores, and the tiled counter at City Drug is more than 100 years old.

Even as we wandered in, a group of teenage boys sat at the tables sipping on ice cream drinks, which is a common sight at the pharmacy, said owner Heidi Wright.

“Most people hang out here at the soda fountain. We have kids that come in after school and in the summer,” said Wright. “We have also our famous homemade pimento cheese sandwiches. We are one of the oldest businesses in town, and we date back to Indian Territory. We’re still in business, and we never had to shut our doors.”

Although City Drug has made minor changes in the following the years, the business looks pretty much the same since its inception.

DAVIS DELIGHT

Other notable places to visit in Davis include the Air Donkey Ziplines, the Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center at the southwest corner of Interstate-35 and State Highway 7 at Exit 55 in Davis, and across from the new Bedré Fine Chocolates Factory, and the Arbuckle Wilderness Animal Park, located at 6132 Kay Starr Trail, Davis.

Like many small towns along busy interstates, Davis offers more than a quick pit stop for gas. Take a little time to explore, visit some local shops and weave through back roads. Davis offers so much more than we were able to explore in a day, but for a couple of day-travelers, the town was a fun jaunt from the beaten trail.

For more information about Davis and the attractions, visit https://www.facebook.com/davisokchamber.

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About the Author

Heide Brandes

Heide Brandes is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than 18 years of experience....

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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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