This week we embarked on a much-needed family vacation to the prairies and mountains of Oklahoma. The beginning of June brought with it one week of vacation bible school, immediately followed by the annual Classical Conversations Parent Practicum. My brain was full as a tick by the time practicum ended. Mark had a particularly busy week at work — his birthday proved to be an especially busy day. We were all plumb tuckered out and ready for some fun! (Now that I’ve reached my southern colloquialism allotment for this particular post, I’ll move on to our actual adventure.)
Happily, this getaway mirrored many of the family vacations of my own childhood. Fort Sill, the Wichita Mountains, The Holy City of the Wichitas, museums, ice chests packed to the brim, and a lifetime of memories — what more could we want?! Part of the reason we chose this location was because of my own experiences…the other part is that we were limited by a three-year-old’s bladder and a five-year-old’s capacity to sit still in the car. Car-naps aside, those limits were both tested! Fortunately, we chose an extend stay hotel with free laundry amenities; I washed pee-pants and a urine-soaked (albeit waterproof!) car-seat cover soon after our arrival.
The Wichita Mountains are so unsuspectingly beautiful. From far off they don’t seem like much, but closer inspection reveals prairies bursting with color and gorgeous rock formations. It was exactly as I remembered…but better! The Holy City revealed a few forgotten surprises — the Ten Commandments section left me giggling with nostalgia. As a girl, I thought it was so neat to see and hear the story of Moses receiving the Torah up close and personal; it was so fun watching Asher experience it for the first time! Granted, it’s a roomful of dusty mannequins older than I am, but they’re tied to happy parts of my childhood.
The boys had fun following Daddy through the rocky paths and dirt trails snaking through biblical scenery. The chapel held an unexpected surprise when a little bird flitted and twitted about over our heads, then perched on the cross at the altar. Keane thought that was particularly hilarious! My heart swelled with joy watching our boys explore the lovely landscape. We’ll definitely plan a return trip when the weather is cooler. It was nearly ninety degrees by the time we reached the top of Mount Scott for a quick peek at the valleys below.
Before leaving the hotel room that morning, Asher said, “Mom, I really hope we get to see some buffalo in the Wichita Mountains.” I prayed aloud that God would allow us to see just one buffalo, and told Asher to wait and see if God would answer our prayer. We passed a few herds of longhorn as we drove…but no immediate buffalo sightings. It took a bit more exploring, but we came across one lonely buffalo, resting in the prairie grass! The boys were thrilled, and Asher immediately recognized that God answered our prayer. (For the record, they named him Buffy the Buffalo.)
Fort Sill was a treasure trove for Asher, although Keane was less impressed because he was sleepy. I was glad to have the assistance of a helpful attendant with a handy map to fill in my memory gaps. I remembered bits and pieces, but time had marred the details. Of course, everything was smaller than I remembered! We enjoyed the air conditioned buildings, but braved the ninety-nine degree heat to find a 155mm howitzer — one of the guns that my grandfather shot during WWII. Asher thought it was so special to get to see it! He was a trooper, combing through countless pieces of military equipment until we found the right howitzer. (I had no idea there were so many makes and models from so many countries on display at Fort Sill!)
There were so many occasions where Asher looked up at Mark and I to tell us thank you for taking him to Oklahoma. Keane enjoyed exploring the hotel room and watching the prairie dogs run around with each other. I enjoyed spoiling them a little more than usual with souvenir shopping…Mark just rolled his eyes and went with it! Watching the boys have special moments with Daddy made my heart smile, too. We returned home exhausted, yet full of sweet memories that we’ll talk about for the rest of our lives!