Stop #14: Natural Falls State Park, OK
We were all quite excited for Natural Falls. Doesn't this look just lovely?
A day of playing in the water at the base of these falls sounded wonderful. We put on our swimsuits, loaded up a cooler with a bunch of fruit and sandwiches, and headed down the trail to the waterfall to spend the day swimming and playing. As soon as we made it to the base of the waterfall, we realized that we had a problem. Swimming in Natural Falls State Park is not allowed. Did I think to check into that before we spent an hour preparing for a swim day? No, no I did not. Oops. Sorry, kids.
We laid out our little blanket on the small viewing platform, ate a quick lunch, and headed back up the trail to the van.
Fortunately for us, we didn't have to drive too far to find a place to swim. We drove to a nearby river and searched for a place to park to let the kids play. I saw a sign that said something to the effect of "park here - $12 for a day pass." Seeing no better option, I followed the signs through a gate. As I was looking around for a person to pay or a booth or kiosk of some sort, I saw this to my left.
There was a lady sitting there with her dog. (I took a photo on the way out after she very likely absconded with my money). She noticed me reading the sign and walked over.
"How many people do you have in your van?" she asked.
"I'm sorry, is this where I pay?" I replied.
PSA: when speaking to a stranger, the correct response to any question is never, "I'm sorry, is this where I pay?"
PSA, part 2: if some fool ever asks you the question, "Is this where I pay?", the answer should always be a resounding and confident, "Yes, yes it is."
Her: "Yes sir. So, how many people do you have in that van?"
Me: "I thought it was $15 per car?"
Her: "Nope, we charge by the person."
Me: "Well, we have ten of us. How much is that?"
(In hindsight, I probably should have asked a few more questions at this point in the conversation. I mean, $24? There was no chance that their rate was the curiously random amount of $2.40 per person. But, I decided I'd rather be swindled for $24 than take my chances verbally dueling with the river's gatekeeper.)
Me: "Um, ok. I only have $22 cash."
I thought about asking if she took Apple Pay; but I reassessed my surroundings, the handwritten sign, and the distinct lack of technology of any kind. Then, I made an educated guess that the answer to that question would be "no."
Her: "$22? Close enough. Thanks."
She happily took my money, and we never saw the lady again.
After paying the river gypsy for parking, we found a nice little spot away from people and let the kids have their day in the sun. Aside from a bit of PG-13-rated public displays of affection from two scantily clad river people who were canoodling about thirty yards upriver (Photo not included. You're welcome.), the day was pretty great.
Also worth noting from our time at the river: a few forces combined here to create the monster you are about to see below. What are those forces, you ask? 1. Wind. 2. Water. 3. Far-too-infrequent haircuts due to quarantine. Without further adieu, I present to you one of maybe 3 selfies I've taken in my entire life: my river hair. It was...something.
After our time at the river, we stopped in Tulsa just long enough to drop off a few books at a lovely little bookstore, before heading on to Oklahoma City, OK. As I was waiting, I glanced up and noticed this section of books.
That's right. This bookstore has an entire "Cat Mystery" section. In case you were wondering how big of a deal Struggle Bus is, here's your answer: not big enough to take shelf space away from any one of the dozens of cat mystery books stocked at this store. If I write a sequel to Struggle Bus, perhaps it should be a good cat mystery so that I can get some shelf space in a book store.
Anyhow, on to the next stop: Oklahoma CIty, OK.