Monday, May 31, 2010

Raymond Gary State Park in Oklahoma

This has really been a nice trip what with staying in national and state parks.  Unlike private campgrounds, these parks are spacious and provide each campsite with lots of room.  

Anyhow, our last park for this trip is Raymond Gary State Park in the far southeastern corner of Oklahoma.  It is just a small park with a small lake but we love the campsites here. We will spend six nights here and then will head  back home to see the granddaughters for a couple of weeks.

Here is the view out my big side windows.  Gorgeous, huh!

 Bill even spent a bit of time fishing.

This park is a beautiful place to take long leisurely walks along the bank of the lake.  Walks provided many photo opportunities.  These are some  pictures Juanette took when we went walking.  I of course always seemed to forget my camera...

Don and Juanette's campsite:

While we were here we got a call from cousin Valerie that on Saturday in Lehigh there was going to be the annual Lehigh school reunion and that there would be Wheeler relatives there as this is where a lot of them grew up.  So we borrowed Don's car and went to Lehigh for the afternoon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Brushy Creek Campground at Lake O' of the Pines

While we are not right on the water's edge, we are up the hill and have a great view of the lake.

Basically we spent 8 lazy days here.  We explored Jefferson several times, but the temperature was quite warm so we did little outside exploring.

We threw out corn for the squirrels and birds and enjoyed watching their antics.  Ah, retirement is good when we can be so easily entertained!!!
Pretty soon moving day arrives again so we pack up and head to southeastern Oklahoma to Raymond Gary State Park.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Magnolia Blossom Festival and Steak Cook-off Competition - Saying Good -bye

Time to say good bye to Janie and Don.  

They are heading off to look for diamonds and Don and Juanette will follow us to Brushy Creek Campgrounds on the Lake O' of the Pines in northeastern Texas.    This campground is located about 12 miles from the town of Jefferson.  In years past we have have spent the Fourth of July holiday at Jefferson and are anxious to re-explore the area.  We will stay here for 8 nights.  

As we approached the Texas/Oklahoma line and the Red River, we could see this awesome bridge up in the distance.  At one point it looked like a bridge to nowhere.

On the Oklahoma side of the Red River was a turn out and boat ramp so we pulled into there for lunch.  This river must do some mighty flooding here for such a huge bridge to be needed.

Home for the next eight nights.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Magnolia Blossom Festival and Steak Cook-off Competition - Day 2

We all got up early on Saturday morning to go to a Pancake Breakfast hosted by a local church.

Filled up our stomachs - now we are ready to go watch the parade.  Can't remember the exact number of Steak Cook-off teams (87 or 89) but they all pulled their cookers in a parade.  At the end of the parade route, they then parked in their numbered space on the courthouse square.
So the parade was a bit long but it was fun to see all the teams and their enthusiasm.  Parade began with the Clydesdale horses.  Such beauties!

Of course the dalmatian was sitting up there as proud as can be.  He travels with the horses in their specially designed 18 wheeler.

Bill took a picture of each entry but I'm not going to post all those pics!!!  But here a few pictures of some of the more fun teams.

The winning team!!!

Once the teams set up, they started laying out their steaks to begin the seasoning process.  16 ounce rib-eye steaks.  Yum!!!

And then the cooking started.  Talk about great smells!!!  Wow!

We then decided we had better claim our bit of lawn to set up the lawn chairs.  Perfect - grass and under the magnolia trees.

We quickly realized that we needed to  walk  around and talk with the various teams.  Here we are asking about how this team seasons their steaks.  Each team seems to have their secret ingredients that they add. 


Soon it was time to get in line to get our tray, baked potato, salad, roll and drink.  There were five serving lines.  We were astounded that 5,000 people went through these lines in less than 45 minutes.  

Once you had your tray, you then went and chose a steak from one of the teams.  We are scurried around to get our steaks and then headed back to our spot of turf.   Now we are ready to try our steaks!  Incredible flavor and oh so tender.  What a meal!

After we finished eating we made our way over to the stage area to find out which team won.  There was a concert afterwards but we decided to head on back home as it had been a long day. 

This was definitely a festival well worth coming to and we hope to come back again some other year.  Good job Magnolia for making it all run so smoothly.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Magnolia Blossom Festival and Steak Cook-off Competition - Day 1

We had reservations to stay four nights at the County Fairground in Magnolia.  Nothing fancy, but it allowed us to be close to downtown and all of the festivities.

We were with Don and Juanette and Janie and Don came and joined us.  That is their trailer in the picture.

Janie and Don have a big pickup truck so we all loaded into it on Thursday night to go check out the courthouse square where the festival would be held on Friday and Saturday.  Lo and behold we discovered that the local television channel was doing interviews downtown to advertise the festival.  There was a Clydesdale horse and handler there as well.  

In talking to the handler, we found out where the horses were being stabled.  He said that if the pasture gate was open, folks were welcome to come in and meet the horses.

One of the handlers had one of the horses out on a lead and was working him in figure eights.  It was a gorgeous thing to watch.  Such a big horse - and he could change directions so smoothly.
And I of course found a barn cat to pet!

There was a semi trailer that carried nothing but the harnesses.  Guys were in there busily polishing all the brass fittings.
That evening we went downtown to go to the Gospel music concert.  Lots of concessions so we ate dinner there also.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Off to Magnolia, Arkansas for the Steak Cook-off

We leave in the morning to go to the southwest part of Arkansas to the town of Magnolia for their Magnolia Blossom Festival.  Bill heard of this while watching the Travel Channel. 

This festival will feature the 21st Annual World Championship Steak Cook-Off where 5000 16 ounce rib eye steaks are given to 80+contestants to cook.  $15 buys you a ticket for a steak and all the fixings!

We will meet Janie and Don there - friends from Port A in south Texas.  Should be a fun time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

We explored Pinnacle Mountain State Park, located on the northwest edge of Little Rock.  First stop was the Visitor's Center.

We hiked the Arboretum trail.

I love the tall pine trees.

Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas

We spent an afternoon visiting the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.  The museum was  very interesting and well worth visiting.

We discovered this pretty sculpture when leaving the museum.

The field of wildflowers were gorgeous!