Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma…

One of the many things that we love about traveling, is all the National Parks we get to visit; and we loved the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.  We love the variety of experiences, historical lessons, and beautiful scenery that they offer, and we also enjoy participating in the NPS’s Jr. Ranger program.  The Jr. Ranger program is a feature that is offered in most (but not all) National Parks, where the kids can complete a workbook, about the park, in order to earn a unique-to-that-park badge, and sometimes an embroidered patch (our favorite).  We consider it part of our ‘road’schooling, as the kids learn and retain much more about the location that we are at.  The older kids have earned over 100 badges so far.

While I don’t usually ‘get into’ national holidays, we did have to participate in National Jr. Ranger day!  Since we had already completed the Jr. Ranger program at the nearest national park site, the Oklahoma City Memorial, we wanted to go somewhere new to us – so National Jr. Ranger day became an excuse to drive 2 hours south of Oklahoma City to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.  :)  I actually didn’t know it was National Jr. Ranger day until I saw something about it online that Saturday, so we got a late start, but that didn’t stop us!

The kids picked up their Jr. Ranger booklets first thing, and got busy!DSC_0307_021WWhile we were there, we also checked out the small museum that they have at the visitor’s center, and learned about some the history of the area.  They had a couple of tanks of local, live fish and reptiles, and lots of mounts of local wildlife.DSC_0351_065e

While we were in the museum, one of the rangers came up to me and said that she knew us!  I suppose I looked at her rather strangely, and probably even more strangely when she said, “I have your kids’ picture on my phone!”   She went on to say that she had been a ranger at the Oklahoma City Memorial last spring when we went there and did their Jr. Ranger program.  The rangers had been so impressed by all the badges that the kids have earned, that they had taken the kids pics… (with permission. we’ve had to sign a lot of photo release forms at national parks! lol).  After a good laugh about the ranger remembering us (and hoping that really was a good thing!), we then we drove out to Vendome Well…

DSC_0309_023 Vendome Well was drilled in 1922, and was said to have shot water 30 feet into the air.  A valve controlled the flow out of the well, and the sulphur rich mineral waters were/are thought to have health benefits; in fact, while we were visiting, some locals were encouraging the kids to get in the water because it was good for them. :)
The well became quite a tourist destination, with THIRTEEN trains a day bringing visitors to soak in the waters of the pools that were built to hold it’s waters.

There is a drinking fountain, of the well waters, there next to the well…
DSC_0312_026e Some of the kids were brave enough to try the water, but none of them went back for seconds. 😉

As I was taking pictures, Molly asked if she could stick her feet in the water, and I said sure.  She sat down and did so, and when I was done taking my couple of pics, I went over to ask her if her feet smelled like sulfer now.  I looked up from talking to her, and she was sitting right in front of a sign asking people not to wade in this area! Oops!  (don’t be grossed out tho – the water just runs under the parking lot driveway, and to a creek that you CAN wade in…it’s not like the town is drinking it! LOL!).  DSC_0318_032eSo Molly slipped her shoes back on, and we walked to the other side of the parking lot, where the well water flows into Flower Creek,

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where she took them right back off again, and started soaking in those sulphur-stenched waters…  :)
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Peanut didn’t want to have anything to do with touching any water that smelled that bad!

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We played in the water for about 15 minutes.  The kids did the parts of their Jr. Ranger booklets that they had to do here, and then we drove around the park for a bit, checking it out.  It is absolutely beautiful, and I was bummed that I hadn’t realized it was Jr. Ranger day earlier, so we could have gotten out the door sooner and been able to spend more time here!

Back at the visitor’s center, the kids turned in their Jr. Ranger booklets, and received the badges and patches they had earned…

DSC_0358_072eAt Chickasaw, the kids actually got THREE different Jr. Ranger programs to complete, but we only had time to do the one for this park.  They also got a wildland Fire management program to fill out, as well as a new (in Dec) 3 park Oklahoma Jr. Ranger booklet.

While we only had time to do one program, National Jr. Ranger Day was still deemed a success in our house since we earned new badges to add to the collections… DSC_0295_009wChickasaw was such a beautiful recreation area!  We would love to take the toy hauler down there and spend some time camping in the park…so much country, so little time!

Lilla Rose

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