Sunday, June 23, 2013


June 22, 2013

Technically our next staycation date wasn’t scheduled to be for another week, and the budget wasn’t looking good for that.  Nor had I done any real research on where we might go and what we could do when we got there.  The prospects were looking pretty glum. 

I had reconciled myself to saying our visit to Claremore last weekend to Dave’s RV for their annual open house would have to be the staycation for this month.  We’d had a good time, played some games, won some prizes, consumed free refreshments, brought home two free t-shirts for our usual souvenirs and counted our blessings for the fifth wheel we already had after we toured several.  It had been a relaxing day for us that had only cost the fuel money to get there and back and we’d actually done errands in that round trip, so zero extra dollars had been spent.

Just as I was going to bed last night I decided to check my daily calendar on my computer.  Generally I check it first thing in the morning, but the day had got away from me and I hadn’t done that yet.

The first thing that popped up was the Muscogee Creek Nation Festival at Okmulgee, OK was going on this weekend.  I made a mental note of it and decided to check it out more in the morning.

When I mentioned it to Gary this morning he mentioned that nearly the same distance the other direction from our home Glenpool was having their Black Gold Days.  Both events were more or less free.  Hmmmm, what could there be at these events we would be interested enough in to endure the heat?

After morning chores I pulled up the websites for both events.  Both had artisans displaying their wares, both had a carnival going on(with of course a fee for the rides), both were having races and tournaments of various sorts and both were having concerts FOR FREE.

Okie Dokie, that is my type of price, free is always good. Since neither of us is big into carnival rides that wasn't an expense we needed to consider. We only had chores/repairs scheduled for today, so maybe we could change the schedule and do a staycation day instead.  

I made the suggestion to Gary and he liked it.  Especially when he saw that the performers for Okmulgee tonight were Smokey Robinson and Natalie Cole!  Our type of music. 

The only conflicts we had was the Glenpool Black Gold Days was also having a concert of country western music, including a fellow that had been on American Idol for awhile, Josh Woods. We love Country/Western music too.  Then there was the fact back at the Okmulgee Creek Nation Festival there was a rodeo, which dh and I both enjoy.  Decisions, decisions.

So then we told Sean what we were thinking about doing the rest of the day and he told us he would like a day alone to do things by himself.  Okay, if we went to one or the other for the rest of the day it would give him his time alone, just as it does when we travel without him for regular vacations and us a day away, but which event.

Looking over the entire calendar of events for both, which were amazingly enough quite similar even down to the time each event was we finally decided on going to the Creek Nation Festival, it was about 6 miles closer and had some mid afternoon events we were interested in that Glenpool Black Gold Days didn’t have.

We quickly changed from chore clothes to “vacation” clothes, packed an ice chest full of food, filled our Brita water bottles with cold water and headed to the event that was just 10 miles away.

A word about the Brita water bottles here.  No I am not a representative for them or do I get any kick back from them.  I am, however, a big fan of them when traveling/vacationing. 

We were first introduced to them by  . As much as I love Walt Disney World I absolutely hate the taste of their water.  I cannot gag it down at all straight from a water fountain or faucet and I drink a lot of water every day, especially when traveling.  So when it was suggested by the great folks on the mouse list I immediately purchased one for each of us, I later purchased a back-up for each of us so we had two bottles each.  They have well proven their value to our family. These handy little bottles are a sports bottle that has a replacable water filter built into it.  Because I am sensitive to certain “ingredients” in some waters being able to filter the water before I drink it is a great thing for me.

While Okmulgee is only about 10 miles from my home it is on an entirely different water district.  Using the Brita water bottle with water from home and then refilling it as I need to is far cheaper than purchasing pre-bottled waters.  In fact many of those pre-bottled waters have minerals in them I do not care for the taste of.  Like I said I love the Brita water bottles.

Now end of the Brita commercial and back to our staycation day.

Our first stop was at the “Mound” as we call it in this household. It's actual the Creek Nation Superior Court building, but that's a mouthful, so we call it the Mound due to it's shape.  They were having a traditional archery cornstalk competition. We wanted to watch it for a while.  I’m not certain what I expected, but I was soon very bored, as in watching drying paint is more exciting bored.  Dh referred to it as watching a golf game of sorts.

We are both certain that had we known some of the competitors it would have been far more interesting.  I had packed our camera along hoping for some good photos. 

Because we did historical re-enactments for so many years we both expected the competitors to at least be dressed in traditional clothing since this was billed as a traditional competition.  Not unless the Creek Indians of old wore t-shirts and shorts.

Next stop was the Creek Nation Superior court building there on the same grounds.  We’d never been in it, despite living so close so we thought we would sneak a peek.  It was a typical government building, with a nice diorama in the front lobby.  It took us all of 5 minutes to study that and decide to leave there to go to the original Creek Council House Museum that is on 6th street in Okmulgee.

We have visited this museum on various occasions so our disappointment that they had already closed it up for the day was minor.  If you have never been to the museum I recommend it.  There is no fee for the museum and it has many Native American items worth looking at. 

There were suppose to be several Native American artisans with booths of items for sale there until after 4:00pm.  We arrived at the museum at about 2:30pm and nearly all the artisans had either already packed their wares and left or were in the process of doing so.  There were only four booths still open, but they had nice items, mainly Native American pottery and art work when we arrived.  We took our time to look at each of the four booths and then went in search of the music we could hear playing.

There is a small park just down from the courthouse and there was a free concert going on there.  We listened from our truck for a few minutes and then remembered there was suppose to be a gospel sing going on back by the Mound so we headed back that way.  We had no luck in finding it and decided that must have broken up early as well. 

In all fairness to everyone it was in the mid 90’s and the events were scattered out all over Okmulgee, which cut down the flow of visitors easily from one place to another.  I also understand that different venues require different locations.

Besides the events we were trying to attend there was a horseshoe tournament, a basketball competition, a mid-day segment of the rodeo, which we didn’t know about when were driving around mid day.  There were a lot of different venues, plus the carnival that was going on all day as well.

Well more than all day, this is actually a four day event and next year we will be trying to hit more of the events now that what we know what to expect.

Because we had not studied the calendar of events well before leaving home, and we were unable to get a proper smart phone signal to check the schedule we found ourselves sitting in the truck trying to figure out what to do around 3:30 pm. 

We were parked some distance from the Omniplex and had no idea what was scheduled to go on in that area at that time.  Despite the decent breeze that was blowing neither of us relished walking in the 93 degree temperatures through the large crowd at the carnival rides to see what MIGHT be going on.  Then to walk back to the truck, have dinner from our ice chest and then walk over to the rodeo that was scheduled to start at 6 pm.

I suggested we eat an early dinner to avoid the walk back to just eat.  Gary said he was definitely hungry so we ate our sandwiches and set in the air conditioned comfort of the truck for awhile.

I then mentioned that Burger King was running ice cream cones for $.50 each and that we were less than ¼ mile from a Burger King.  You guessed it we got ice cream, and took advantage of their facilities while we were there.

Maybe we just weren’t observant enough, but in the entire time we were at the festival we can remember only a handful of available port-a-johns scattered about all the different locations.  While we are not above using “hooters” as they are called at Rendezvous we were not anxious to use them with the long lines that were at every single unit we saw.  So we were both most thankful for Burger King.

The B.K. is next to the rodeo arena so it was simply out of the B.K. parking lot and into the arena parking lot to get parked for the evening.  This put us a lot closer to all the events we knew we wanted to attend than we’d been previously parked.

Note to self:  Next year take our stadium seats.  We entered the arena at about 5:30 pm and were there until about 8:30 pm.  The seating in the open air arena is metal bleachers with no back.  To say my fat back was tired by the time we left there is an understatement.  But it definitely was worth it.  The rodeo was a good one, not to mention it was FREE—there’s my favorite word again.

Even better, we got another free souvenir t-shirt.  They periodically threw t-shirts into the stands and dh caught one in my size for me.

We knew the rodeo was going to be a good one when it started out with a horse mounted drill squad riding to the song “Oklahoma Rising The sight of the four US flags later joined by the Oklahoma flag was a moving ceremony. 

The opening ceremony also included a version of “If Our FlagCould Talk spoken by the Master of Ceremony while “Golden Dreamplayed in the back ground  (the link is to a utube video of how I first became famiiar with this song at Walt Disneyworld in their World Showcase at te American Adventure The video is not mine, but it gives you a good sense of the theme of the entire show leading up to the song Golden Dream that is played at the end of the second video.  We are very proud of our country here in Oklahoma!
Despite the minor discomfort of no back support we truly enjoyed the rodeo.  The main rodeo clown was great entertainment.  Many of his jokes were old ones, or predictable, but still funny none the less.

Once the rodeo was over we hiked back to the truck to change out water bottles and put up the t-shirt.  We found our truck was totally surrounded by other vehicles, it was a good thing we hadn’t planned on leaving at that point. 
Instead we grabbed fresh water bottles and headed toward the open air stage we now realized was where the concerts were to be performed.  Since it was nearly 9:00 pm by this time we had missed the free concert by Natalie Cole, but we were told it had been very good. 

We noticed many people walking the same direction as us were carrying lawn chairs.  We soon realized why.  There was no stadium seating at this venue.  It was bring your own chair or blanket.  Neither of us thought to grab the throw out of the truck so we found ourselves standing for the entire Smokey Robinson concert. It was definitely worth it though. 

His voice is still clear and good, he told many funny stories and the songs brought back all sorts of memories from our teen years.  It was Motown at its finest.

We were told that these free concerts are part of this annual festival. Last year the two main headliners had been Gladys Knight and the Temptations. 

We are anxious to see who they book for next year.  We definitely plan on visiting all four days of the 40th annual festival next June.

By the time we left the concert we were tired, but quite pleased with our one day staycation that had cost us about 1 gallon of diesel and $1 for ice cream. 

Not a bad price for a full day worth of entertainment that included a good finals rodeo and live concerts. Not to mention another free t-shirt.
Jan who finised typing this up on Sunday and is still tired from ehr long day of walking around, but very glad she went to the Muscogee Creek Nation 39th Annual Festival in OK


Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Mrs. Frodo Goose, aka: Serenity set with her head drooping low against her chest.  She had been broody for over a month and no signs of a single gosling yet.  We the humans of the ranch had been impatient as well.  We dearly love the fuzzy little goslings and delight in their antics.

More importantly we were worried about Serenity.  It normally takes 28-35 days to incubate goose eggs but she had been broody for over 45 days.  A bird can brood itself to death and we really didn’t want to lose her.  She is Pigwidgeon’s daughter and we had just lost Piggy so we definitely didn’t want to lose her too.

We already had the small pen and coop designated for her and goslings, but now 10 days past due there was no sign of young life and Serenity hadn’t left the nest at all for over a week, nor had she shown any interest in the food and water we had put under the front porch with her trying to encourage her to at least eat and drink. 

We had given up hope and had been trying to tempt her off the nest with every treat we could think of.  We knew that a snake had been in the nest one night three weeks earlier and despite our re-homing him we had no idea if he had damaged the eggs beyond salvation or not.  She wasn’t about to give up, but we had.

Roaming the yard was Casino Muscovy, a handsome drake who no longer had other ducks of any sort to share his life with.  The geese treated him as an outsider and the guineas were far too silly to acknowledge him.  Only Piper Peacock occasionally chatted with him.  He often spent his days in such a glum funk we threatened to change his name to Eeyore.

Because we live in the woods pests of all sorts are a constant problem that must be dealt with.  We prefer natural pest control over all else.  Muscovies are tremendous at pest control.  Snakes, rodents of all types, scorpions, biting flies, wasps, mosquitoes the list that ‘Scovies like to eat is quite long.  But here we were down to one lone ‘Scovy.

After much family discussion we decided on a temporary lift on our agreed upon ban of no new animals for Mr. Casino’s benefit (and ours).  We talked it over with Cas and he told us in no uncertain terms he was lonely and needed a female or two in his life.

He dictated to me the following email which I posted on a local homesteading list on his behalf:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the list,

I am a lonely Muscovy Drake.  All my hens and male companions have gone to the big pond in the sky.  There are far more rodents, snakes, gohphers and biting flies here on the Rock ‘n Tree ranch than I a single male duck can handle.  Therefore, I have consulted with my human charges and convinced them it is time a few hens need to share this natural feeding bounty with me.  If you should know of some HEN (I want no competition thank you very much) Muscovies that would care to share their life with me please contact my female human, Jan at …

Thank you for time,

Casino Muscovy, Esquire

Within 30 minutes I had a response for not the two hens we had agreed upon but four at a reasonable cost. 

Two days later, on Friday afternoon, we went to pick up the lovely ladies you see at the right.  Ms. Cocoa is of course the chocolate colored one.  Henny Penny is the solid white lady.  Both these two already had names. 

We watched the mannerisms of the two pied ones for a bit and decided that the larger one was Faith (after all we all need more faith) and Hope is therefore the smaller one.

As soon as the girls were in the garden trailer and being driven around to the small coop the very despondent Mr. Casino sprang to life!  He was wiggling with delight all over.  His crown went up and he immediately waddled to where they waited to enter their new home. 

When the tail gate on the trailer was opened he leaped into the trailer to be near them.  Inside the cage they were in the girls were saying “A MAAAAAAN!”  There had been no drakes at their previous home.

Despite whispering sweet nothings in their ears Casino refused to join them in the coop.  Holding out for when he could be in a secure run with them. 

The secure run would be, hopefully, prepared the next day.  Because Muscovy hens can fly (our drakes are always too fat) we needed to roof the small section of the pen they would be kept in for 2-3 weeks before being allowed to free range with Casino.  We also needed to put an escape proof gate on that section and it was already nearly dark.

That’s when we heard it.  Anyone who has had a flock of geese where the hens hatch out naturally the cry that goes up from the rest of the flock when they see the first gosling for the first time.  “Congratulations” they scream to the wearied mother. 

“Nooo, it couldn’t be it’s been 45 days since she went broody” ds said as we rushed around to peak and see.  Before we ever got there we heard the high pitched voice of a newly hatched gosling.  Sweet, high and clear. 

Looking under the front door we watched as the little yellow and gray ball of fluff crawled out from under Serenity as she patiently turned her three  remaining eggs.

She gave me such a look, because I had been telling her for days I didn’t think her eggs were fertile and that she should come out and eat before she died.  She had stubbornly refused.

The look told me “I told you so!” as she neatly tucked the chirping gosling under downy chest.

“Houston we have a problem” I said.  We had just put four strange adult birds, that we had no idea of their temperament in the pen that had previously been dedicated for goslings.  “Now what are we going to do?”

Since it was almost dark and Serenity still had eggs to hatch we knew she wouldn’t leave the nest until at least morning.  So we had until the next day to come up with a secure pen for her and her offspring. There are far too many hawks, possums, raccoons, crows and other predators that would delight in nabbing such a tender morsel as a baby goose.

The problem was the little jabber jaws wouldn’t shut up.  It was broadcasting loud and clear “Here I am world!” As if it was talking directly to Mr. O. Possum and his predatory friends. 

We admonished Serenity to shut it up and she quickly tucked the gosling back under her. 

Next Jolie, the ever vigilant bird protector settled herself in for the night on the front porch, with Georgia in the bushes nearby.  We were pretty certain that between the Mama Goose and the two protective dogs the gosling would definitely make it through the night.  I am happy to say we were right.

Saturday we got up early and mulled over the problem of too little space for too many birds.  I proposed one solution, but Sean came up with a better one that Gary modified even further.

Sean headed out to feed and release the penned geese and nearly stepped on a six foot long rat snake headed toward Serenity and the gosling.  Serenity was hissing loudly as he beat back the snake with a stick and used his other hand to call his dad for help. 

They tried to catch the snake to re-home it several miles away, but the snake had other ideas that involved a small yellow and grey gosling.  An idea that did not sit well with the Serenity or the two men.  The snake ended up re-homed to heaven.

As soon as the blast happened Serenity quit hissing, she’d seen this maneuver before, then calmly rolled her three eggs over and tucked the endangered gosling securely under her wing.

During the day Saturday we removed the shanty from the end of the small run.  It was in such bad shape from having a tree dropped on it in an ice and wind storm we spent a lot of time picking up pieces, hoeing and raking to make certain that there were no bits of wire or nails that might hurt the birds.

We have decided to not go back into the bird business for certain so instead of purchasing new fencing to patch the fence where the shanty had stood Gary tore down ten foot of the fencing on what was previously our big pen and moved it to the small run. 

Ideally we would have loved to simply used the big run, but the same wind and ice storm that had destroyed the shanty had torn up the roofing and fencing on the big run horribly.  We had also had some large predator get in that pen with the flock one night and do grievous damage.  The birds refused to ever go in that pen now. So the little pen was our only option, unless I wanted to give up the garden I had already started planting.  That would be a no.

While the two men were doing the heavy lifting and chores that are difficult for me to do I was the “Go-fer” I was sent running anytime a tool was needed we didn’t already have on the work site.

Thirsty?  Lemonade was made and delivered frosty cold along with some salty snacks.  Starting to sweat?  I ran for the dew rags.  Need a different pair of work gloves, hearing protectors, any item they needed I went to gather.  I clocked many a mile all day Saturday. 

As we labored Casino sat in the shade chatting with the girls through the open coop window getting to know them the best he could from so far away.  Yet he refused to enter the coop when given the opportunity.  The drake enjoys his freedom for certain.

So by the end of the day the shanty was torn down and ready to be recycled or burned where applicable.  The fencing was up and we had recycled part of the barn tin from the shanty into a sliding gate of sorts for the newly created gosling day care center in the end of the pen.

Unfortunately we still didn’t have the roof, gates , sun shade or gosling “play pen” fencing up. 

An explanation about the gosling play pen for those who haven’t read my post Lessons Learned post.  Small birds are extremely adept at getting out of what seems to the human eye a secure pen.  Once they get out they are extremely fast and adept of out running adult humans. They will seek shelter under any feathered backside they see and most of the birds that those backsides belong to will fight you to protect those escapees.  I’m too old and fat for such antics any more. If you want to keep them where they belong you add an extra of fencing over the main fencing.  This second layer needs to be either small poultry netting or hardware cloth.  Even with that some baby birds will show you they can climb that stuff and still get out.  So you do your best and create their play pen area with keeping them as secure as possible while leaving them with their Mom.

Luckily goslings two through four had not hatched yet so Jolie and Georgia once again took up their post.

Sunday there was rain in the forecast but it never showed.  We worked hard at trying to complete the areas where goslings needed to be housed and Muscovy hens  needed to be able to get some fresh air.

Not to mention Mr. Casino was getting pretty put out about being able to see the girls through the coop windows, but not being able to really get to know them.  Bless his heart all the time we were working he would set outside the coop at an angle where he could view the lovelies on the roost in the coop and speak softly to them.  What good are other ‘Scovies if a fellow can’t really be near them?

Once again the dogs took their designated posts and the mama goose patiently set on her eggs, we were now headed for day 52.

Sunday morning started out with the aroma of a broken rotted egg coming from under the front porch.  Serenity quickly disposed of the egg, then turned her attention back to the gosling and the two remaining eggs.

We turned our attention to the chores at hand.  While the men put the sunshade over the playpen I started the laundry and baking for the day.  Once the sunshade was up I started adding the layers of wire to keep the little darling(s) in the play pen. 

Saplings were cut for upright supports for the roof for the Muscovy end and the work of putting the roof and predator proofing on began.  Sunday ended with the dogs once again on patrol and the Bird Pen A La Scrounge taking shape nicely.

Yep A La Scrounge.  Because we stay on a strict budget it was determined that this bird pen was to be created with what we had on hand.  We recycled fencing, cut saplings from the property, and the sunshade was an old tarp from another project a few years earlier.  The low gate on the play pen is recycled barn tin, and it is all being held together with, you guessed it baling wire.  Yep we live on a farm. We always have baling wire.

After dinner on Monday the men went outside to finish roofing the duck end of the pen and temporarily put up a gate to keep them secure.  The gate will be permanently hung on Tuesday evening. 

Finally the duck hens were released into the small run.  Casino was absolutely beside himself, not sure which girl to flirt with first.  He is one happy muscovy today.

Under the front porch the little squirt sits in the middle of its mother's back still waiting for those slow poke siblings. Surely they'll hatch soon,

Jan who loves her birds but sometimes thinks they are a lot of work in OK

Monday, June 10, 2013


Thursday, November 22, 2012

We could have not asked for more perfect weather for hiking the PetrifiedForest today.  This was not our first visit there.  We had been once around 1983 with our two children in tow.  This trip was taken at a much slower relaxing pace. 

We had checked ahead of time to see if the national park would be open for the holiday and were pleasantly surprised that it was.   As proven by the photos to the right we viewed many, many slabs of the petrified wood the foundations of Puerco Pueblo Ruins petroglyphs, and the PaintedDesert.

Our holiday was started by eating a big breakfast as we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at the camper and packed a picnic lunch for later on in the national park.

Our first stop in the park was actually at the gift shop to look at all the various pieces of petrified rock there.  We noticed we could have actually overnight camped in the gift shop’s parking lot for free if we’d been moving on that same day.  It looked like it was dry camping.  However, we had plans to spend the night at the campground and move the next morning. Since we also had plans that included the use of electricity we decided the campground was still a better option for us.

We followed a self guided route to the various areas, with much of the same people traveling at near the same pace as we were.  There were many families who had decided there was no better way to celebrate all we have to be thankful forby touring one of our nation’s most beautiful national parks.

One such family was a mother and daughter duo.  We chatted with them at nearly every stop.  They were traveling toward home as we were traveling away from home.  Therefore, they had been to be Grand Canyon the day before, which was our planned next stop.

We filled them in on the sites toward the east as they told us of sites to see to the west.  That is one of the great things about traveling, you meet people of all types across the nation.

The daughter, who appeared to be 9 or 10 years old was working on her Junior Ranger certification.

We had never heard of the Junior Park Rangers  before so they educated us.  It is a great way for children to study the  national parks at their own pace.  They are given a workbook of things to look for and activities to do to help them learn about the park and the history and nature of the park. They had a “passport” she was having stamped at each park they visited in their travels.  For those of you familiar with Epcot’s Kidcot passports  it was much the same looking passport.  

As we chatted with the two we watched as the young lady counted the rings on a downed petrified log.  Look for logs with different colors to represent the various minerals and metal ores in the area, studied the petroglyphs, counted the rib bones on the dinosaur skeleton and much more.  It made us wish we had children of her age in our party so we could enjoy all she was learning about HER park. 

After I returned home I googled to find out more about the Junior Park Rangers and found no mention of a fee for it. The list of participating parks listed there was extremely long.  If you have young people in your family it might be a perfect family activity for you.

Not interested in being a Junior Ranger, but would still like to investigate those national parks.  Then check out the list of activities in the Park Fun link  from the original Junior Park Rangers link.

No plans to visit a national park anytime soon?  Then how about an online game or two about the national parks?  Yes, they can be a WebRanger, just follow the hyperlink and start playing.

As we visited the park we had one continual companion, I'm certain it was actually various ravens/crows but it seemed every time we stopped there was one or more there at each place.  Toward the end of the day we were starting to become tired from all the hiking we had done during the day .  Remembering that the birds are cairns we started joking that they were waiting for tourists to fall over dead from exhaustion.  There is really a lot to see and do in the Petrified Forest.  By the end of the day we took to telling the birds "I'm not dead yet, move on."  Each time the birds would fly off.

There is much to see in the park, but I think I’ll let my photos do the talking about the various sites. 

When we returned to the camper we found it very warm.  The sun coming through the west window, combined with the furnace left running had made it heat up quite nicely.  In fact we had to cool the camper off before I could start our Thanksgiving feast of Ham and all the fixings.  Since we had done our actual Thanksgiving meal with our son before we left we saw no need for turkey or chicken. 

But we did find a need to see our son on Thanksgiving, it was after all a family holiday.  That’s when my brilliant husband set-up a Skype connection for us and talked my son through setting it up on his end.

We then timed our meals to be completed at the same time and “ate” together while chatting about what was going on at both ends of the connection.  While it was a bit of an unusual holiday meal, it was a wonderful one.  I must admit I was a little sad to sign off Skype, after seeing my son on the computer screen. 

All in all it was a very good day.  I would highly recommend spending Thanksgiving or any other days exploring the Petrified Forest

Tomorrow we move on to the Grand Canyon.  Jan who thinks everyone should visit all our national parks in OK

Sunday, June 2, 2013


May 31-June 2, 2013

For those of you who are following the “Secret Getaway” story line please know I haven’t forgot you and will be adding the next segment to that long site seeing trip soon.  I’m going ahead and posting about our “staycation” now because several fellow Oklahomans have asked me to.

As some of you already know I stumbled across a book in the library one day titled “The Great American Staycation  I read it and then reviewed it. As I read it I also thought about it and those thoughts formed into a plan.  This plan you can read about on my “Mind Your Pennies blog here.

This blog post is about actually doing our first attempt at a staycation this year.   I don’t mean the first time we’ve visited sites around home, I mean the first time we’ve truly treated it as a vacation.  There is a tremendous difference in your attitude when you tell yourself “I’m on vacation” rather than “Let’s do something.”

We plan on doing some sort of staycation every four weeks throughout the next year, up until we take our next big Walt Disneyworld trip, then maybe again afterwards. I’ll post those trips as we take them to encourage others to visit the great state of Oklahoma.

Following the suggestions in the book I started off by truly planning out numerous things to do on our vacation.  I cruised many websites and made copious notes as I went.  Being a freak about such things I did them in this fashion.

First I made a list in word of all the small towns and big cities within a 100 miles radius of us that I could think of.  These were listed alphabetically in bold blue, yep the list is color coded, you’ll see why as I go along.

Then starting with the town nearest our home I googled the name of the town and the words “calendar of events”.  Events that were happening during the weekend of May 31-June 2 2013 were added in green to the list.  The admission price was posted in red.

I then checked their tourism or city webpage for ongoing things like museums, historical homes, zoos, nature parks, historical sites and just about anything else I could think of we would be interested in.  These ongoing points of interest were added to the list in black, under the appropriate town/city.  With the admission price again being in red. 

As I worked my way through the various towns/cities I watched for other points of interest subjects I hadn’t previously thought of.  An example would be a Civil War battlefield let me to the Oklahoma Historical society webpage which listed NUMEROUS historical sites in towns I hadn’t thought to add previously.

I worked on this on Tuesday and Wednesday between chores and other projects, then Wednesday evening, despite being nowhere near finished with my research I printed out three copies of the 27 pages of places to go and things to do. These I dispersed between the three of us to look over and mark what we personally would be interested in.

After dinner, Thursday, we had a family meeting and settled on going to two towns about two hours north of us to visit.  We planned out our route and schedule, agreeing to leave the house around 6:00 am on Saturday for a one day staycation on Saturday.

I live in Oklahoma, if you have seen any national weather at all you KNOW what happened here on Friday.  The entire state was besieged with tornadoes and flash flooding, including the area we were planning on attending outdoor events all day Saturday.

Enter Bonus #1 of a Staycation: You can change your plans at the last minute without losing a lot of money or feeling deprived.

Had we been on a standard family vacation such weather would have left us with nothing to do, except hunker down and grumble.  We knew the area Bonus #2 of a Staycation and therefore knew ahead of time that the area for the huge outdoor picnic and festival we were planning on attending as part of our day would be at the very least boggy if not underwater.

So late Friday night we looked our list over again and changed our plans, without ever spending a penny on fuel. Instead of driving two hours north of our home we instead changed our plans to do things in Tulsa, a mere 45 minutes away, where we knew the town was still there and for the most part it would be high and dry.

We of course changed from a fairly hectic one day schedule to a very laid back day of relaxation.  This I believe would be Bonus #3.  Because we were not going near as far it meant we could sleep in later and move at a much more leisurely pace Bonus #4. 

So instead of leaving at 6 am we chose to leave at 9 am.  This was a very good thing because I was up until after two tracking the storms through our area.  It had been a long night.  A night that made me glad we were in our solid home rather than our fifth wheel when the 60-70 mph winds came through our area.   That would definitely be Bonus #5!

We started “vacationing” Friday night with our traditional vacation bedtime milk and cookies routine.  While we don’t normally eat after dinner at home, while vacationing we have either milk and cookies or ice cream every night before going to bed.

Saturday morning we all dressed in what we would normally wear on vacation.  This brings up Bonus #6—NO PACKING! 

Stepping outside after a stormy night the misty rain soaked pine trees of our property smelled just like a similar morning in Walt Disney World, only the walk to the transportation center wasn’t near as long. Bonus #7.

Even with the three hours of extra sleep I found myself making this comment as I was the last one to get in our truck to leave. “Note to self…do NOT put toothpaste from a brand new tube on your toothbrush without turning the light on in the bathroom.  You will end up foaming like a rabid dog at the mouth.”

I had accidentally, in my efforts to let my eyes get accustomed to being back open so quickly, put three times the normal amount of toothpaste on my tooth brush and soon had a very foamy mouth.  It took me several minutes to get thoroughly rinsed before leaving.  Yep, even stay at home vacations will give you something to be teased about in the future.

We sang a few verses of “C is for Cookie” as we started down the driveway, because that is something we do for every vacation trip.  Tradition, is important you know.  Only this time we weren’t pulling the fifth wheel.  I don’t think I’ll count that as a bonus because I love my fifth wheel.

Our first stop was Golden Corral in Tulsa.  You see when we vacation we generally at least once in every 2-3 week vacation trip eat an all you can eat breakfast buffet.  At Ft. Wilderness in Walt Disney World we eat at Trail’sEnd restaurant there at the campground.  So we opted to start our vacation day with a buffet in Tulsa as well.

We ate until we were stuffed, then sat and chatted leisurely over the meal.  Our schedule for the day was light and therefore relaxing.  Gary and I qualify for their Senior Discount and so it cost the two of us $14 for breakfast. Sean paid his own way all day because that is what he does when he travels with us on vacation. I guarantee you that was a lot cheaper than Trail’s End!

When we finally decided to leave the restaurant we decided on window shopping at Restore.  I know to some of you this doesn’t sound like a vacation thing to do, but for us it is. Our schedules are generally so tight we don’t window shop anywhere and none of us are clothes hounds.  We like to window shop for things we have planned for the future. 

Right now our big plans for Gary and I are to completely re-do all our outside decks because they are in very bad shape, including a summer kitchen.  While Sean is planning on building his own home this year.  So Restore was the perfect place for us to window shop, especially since we'd never been there.

We found many possibilities for things we had planned for our remodeling and building projects and spent a lot of time looking things over and discussing options.  Something we would not have normally done while at any building materials store.  Normally if we were going there it would have been with a list in hand, straight in and straight out.  So this was a relaxing visit for us of over an hour long.

While shopping for house parts may not be your idea of fund, you may love bargain shopping at outlet malls on your vacations.  This is basically the same thing, just a different type of item.

From there we went to our favorite movie theater in Bixby, OK to see not one but two movies.  Something we NEVER do.  Oh we will sometimes go see a single movie, but never two on the same day.  Because of things falling together just right we were able to pay for one movie each at the matinee price and see the second one free!—One of the perks of having friends with passes they couldn’t  use and a big reason we decided to stay in Tulsa for the day, the passes would expire soon.  The movies I did pay for were done on a mystery shop—which yes I do mystery shop occasionally when we are vacation if it’s something we want to see or do.  Why not get paid to have fun?

We decided to pay for the one movie and see the other for free because when visiting amusement parks we see numerous shows in one day.  The two movies we chose were: “Iron Man III” and “AfterEarth”.  If you click on the hyperlinks for those two you can read my movie reviews of them.  That took up several hours of our day and cost Gary and I another $15 for a total of $29 to that point.  

Plus $1.50 for movie candy ($30.50) I had purchased at Wal-Mart on sale on Friday and had in my purse.  We drank beverages from our packed from home ice chest prior to going into the movie.  Granted I’ll get that $15 back plus $5 more later, but for out of pocket total right now the $15 gets added in. This cost was at the senior citizen matinee discount by the way.  We used senior citizen discounts all day long and saved considerable money in doing so.  On any vacation you can save considerable cash by using whatever discounts are available to you, and we do.

We came out of the theater over five hours later, suddenly starved, so as we do when vacationing we looked for a quick service restaurant.  Normally we eat one table service and one quick service each day we are in parks on vacation.  Since we had eaten the buffet for breakfast that meant fast food for dinner. We pulled into Taco Bueno, spending just under $10 for the two of us to eat.  Again we used a senior citizen discount. This brought our total to $40.50.

I’ll admit we did do one errand, we stopped by the motor bank and made a deposit while we were out, but we did no extra driving to do so.  We did this because that was our travel account and we hadn’t filled up the tank of the truck before we “left for vacation” and would be doing it on the way home.  Bonus # 7—being able to re-fund your vacation money as you go along without a major hassle.

From Taco Bueno we did more window shopping.  Again for building materials and ideas for not only future projects, but future staycations. 

Yes, staycation ideas.  One of the things suggested in the “Great American Staycation” was taking classes on subjects that interest you.  Home improvement centers often offer free or near free how to classes, as do craft stores.  So we were checking their schedule of planned events.  We are constantly working on one project or another, so free training can be a big plus on these projects.

Another errand was performed while there.  We had a return with us and I returned the item for Sean for $12, which covered his one movie ticket and part of his meal cost, bringing his “vacation” costs down considerably.   He unfortunately doesn’t get near the discounts Gary and I do.  He gets AAA and ones from our his auto insurance company and that’s about it.

Because we had walked so much during the window shopping segments we joked as we meandered back to the car about being half way around World Showcase or we were climbing the hill into the Land in Epcot.  Everyone was relaxed and in good humor.  It had been a simple but very relaxing day.  Who says vacations have to cram packed with do this and do that?

For our night time treat we opted for hot fudge sundaes from McDonald’s at $1 each bringing our total to $42.50 for a day of relaxing entertainment. 

After we got home I realized another couple of bonuses Bonus #8, not having to hire a house or critter sitter. No starting and stopping the mail and other deliveries either.  We didn’t need to since we were staying in the “Patterson Bed and Breakfast” and of course  Bonus #9, we got to sleep in our own beds.

Sunday morning we got us late, 10:00 am for Gary and I and noon for Sean, had donuts for breakfast—another vacation tradition, then slowly slipped back into or normal life of chores and building a project.

This wasn’t exactly a whiz bang staycation, but it was so relaxing.  It was also under budget.  I had budgeted $200 for the weekend, with fuel and everything, once I get paid this trip will have cost us under $40 now that is Bonus #10!

Bonus #11 is NO UNPACKING!

In four weeks I will have a much more extensive list to choose from, be better budgeted for a more eventful vacation trip here in Oklahoma. I’ll do this by continuing to search calendar of events for that time period listing the June 30-July 7 in green (thinking about using a small amount of vacation time up to take advantage of the July 4 holiday).

I’ll remove  the events that expired this weekend from the current list.  Jan who says stay tuned for more Oklahoma staycations in OK