State Parks

Clayton Lake State Park

On my trip to photograph the Council house we stopped by Clayton Lake State Park to take some photos and look for a possible place to go swimming.  Clayton Lake State Park_ Expedition Oklahoma by Joy Franklin -6121
   This was a "drive by shooting"... I spent about 5 minutes at this park.  

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I love the change of landscape from the west to the east.  In the eastern part of the state we have magestic pines and the beautiful Ouachitas, while in the west we have the endless plains and the Wichitas.  

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I got out for a couple of minutes to take a few shots of the lake. It was a pretty day but it wasn't my ultimate destination. 

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A pretty, peaceful lake. 

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A week before I was in Kansas and Colorado.  

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The more photography I do the less I like editing in black and white.  I find more pleasure in a well exposed image.  

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And there you have Clayton Lake State Park.  



Ft. Towson

A little about Ft. Towson it was established early in the history of the Choctaw Nation on the Red River, not too far from present day Idabel and Hugo.   It is the site of a one time military fort.  It is one of the earlier forts in present day Oklahoma, established in 1824, it was held as a bastion against the neighboring Mexican border.  

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Oklahoma Historical Society on Ft. Towson

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Just the ruins of an old military post.  

Fort Towson in the Choctaw Nation-7087
Ft. Towson at the Digital Library of OSU Near the Kiamichi and Red Rivers the old Ft. Towson. It was used heavily during the Mexican war, for a center for troops.  Famous historical figures once graced  its grounds such as Jefferson Davis, Sam Houston and Davey Crockett to name a few.  

Old brick steps at Ft. Towson-7114
Nothing but piles of rocks and the story that history tells us.  

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Why are we as humans fascinated with the past?  Why are we fascinated by the pile of rocks that people left behind of their dwellings hundreds of years ago?  What drives us to preserve the past?  What will we lose if we don't ?   I've never "thought" about Ft. Towson, I've never contemplated where it was, until the day I went to it.  I know it now.  But it doesn't mean a lot to me. I'm not passionate about this old Fort, created by our Government.  

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Unlike Doaksville which you can access through the back of a cemetery af ew miles away, an important place for the Choctaw people, this place.  This Fort Towson, is getting a brand new visitors center.  The State of Oklahoma (probably backed by some federal funding)- is building a brand new visitors center.  Why?  Why not build a visitors center near Doaksville, why doesn't the Choctaw Nation own Doaksville?   

Fort Towson Ruins-7126
At the time Ft. Towson was abandoned photography was in its childhood.  We had black and white photos.  When Ft. Towson was founded, a drawing or a painting was the only way to see it or remember it.   

Fort Towson Ruins-7118
The old wells fascinate me.  The process people had to go through to get clean water to drink, by hand.   

1857 Cannon at Ft. Towson Oklahoma-7086
We can't get so caught up in preserving the past that we miss the future.   Perhaps photography is the same thing, we photographers preserve moment by moment of the past.   It is hard to focus on the future.  

Old Military Fort-7091
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Raymond Gary State Park

Just a few miles out of Ft. Towson, Raymond Gary State Park is on Raymond Gary Lake.

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Travel OK- Raymond Gary State Park

Raymond Gary State Park Oklahoma-7062
Looks like a good place for fishing.  This is a drive through posting.  We spent about 10 minutes here, and then continued on to find our next destination. 

Raymond Gary State Park Oklahoma-7063
Not a busy day at Raymond Gary State Park.  

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The birds were having a nice peaceful day..

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One more shot...  

Wildlife at Raymond Gary State Park-7080

Cossatot Falls

Off of Highway 278 between Umpire and Wickes Arkansas you will find the Cossatot State Park. While in Arkansas, my Son and I had a day out before our family reunion and we went to the Cossatot, near Umpire Arkansas.  We went down to the river first then backtracked to follow the gravel road the four miles to the Cossatot falls.  Now, I imagine the drought and heat has affected the falls greatly, as the sign point out that its a "rapids" and a butt kicking one at that.  Not to mention that the meaning of the word "Cossatot" is actually French for "Skull Crusher," and looking at the rock formations in this falls area I believe that at one time it would crush a lot of bones.  

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Welcome to the park... but before you get to the falls you turn off on a narrow windy road.  Kudos to the logging truck drivers, because that is something I have NO desire to do after driving these narrow windy roads.   It is interesting to think of all the people who once lived on this land.  

Howard County Road Arkansas-136
If you look down you can see how steep this road is.  We are in the Ouachitas.   

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I LOVE Arkansas, but the landscape of the Plains is so much easier to photograph.  Arkansas is great, but you can't see the forest for the trees.   I love driving these roads, probably because I know that as far back in the early 1830s many of my ancestors had made this home.  

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Raging.... I think not.  Well, not this August.  Maybe next year....  

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Imagine water rushing over these rocks, smoothed by centuries of rapids rushing over them.  Yes, I took a $2000 camera out in the water.  Yes, I'm stupid sometimes.  Yes, I fell down.  Yes, I lost my flip flops.  Yes, the rocks are painful to walk on.   Did I answer your questions?  Now when we returned Saturday evening, I left the camera in the truck.  Smarter much? No not really I didn't wear shoes on those rocks then for fear of losing them.  I'm too old for barefoot adventures.   

Cossatot Falls  (1 of 1)
I have to admit its, great fun.  A combination of rock climbing, waterfalls and swimming holes!  All things I like. 

Cossatot Falls Howard County Arkansas (1 of 1)
See my Son down there?  I was up on a rock taking this shot. 

Cossatot Falls near Umpire Arkansas (1 of 1)
Looking down the falls.  Hey, these rocks are mossy and slick!  My poor flip flops floated away down the Cossatot.  

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these rocks may look pretty, but remember pretty things can hurt you.   

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We really enjoyed the scenic beauty of the Cossatot Falls

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Note the scenic waterfalling from the rocks.  Pretend you didn't see the legs of my man-cub enjoying the rushing water. 

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There he is! He loves this! 

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Love this flower... 

Cossatot flower (1 of 1)
Beautiful, compared to the pale winter-like dryness at my home Arkansas was lush and green this August. 

Rowan at Cosstot Falls (1 of 1)
We will definitely be returning to the Cossatot Falls.   





The Little Sahara

Thursday I drove up to Waynoka to go to "The Little Sahara" state park.  This was the one park in NW Oklahoma that I haven't visited.  My intentions were to go up and hang around for an hour then go out and do more photography around the beautiful Cimarron river, which flows along magnificent bluffs in this part of the state.   I went up at my brother's invitation and he met me with his new "toy" - his four wheeler.   I, being a chicken, don't like four wheelers (perhaps I should say "didn't")  I don't ride roller coasters and am terrified of flying,  so I planned on going out and photographing these daredevils riding their ATV's, dune buggies and dirt bikes out in the sand briefly and going home.  

Steve in the Sahara
So with a seatbelt and not driving, I discovered that riding in this ATV was pretty fun! I took my camera with me despite the sand.  I ended up staying all afternoon- until sunset.  Yes, it is fun! 

Dunes Little Sahara
Beautiful with the setting sun in the light of the moon.  Another great remnant of the ancient permian sea that once covered most of Oklahoma.   

Four Wheeling Sunset
Riding off into the sunset.  

Flipped!  I missed him flipping... but I got him setting it upright again.  

Into the sunset Little Sahara

Stuck in the Sand
Stuck in the sand!

Steve on a Dune
setting sun in the Little Sahara.  This is one of the neatest places I've been. I  really can't describe riding over these steep dunes, which can be up to 75 feet tall, in the ever shifting sands.   

Dune Buggy
Go dune buggy, go!

Riding the Dunes
He's a little bit sideways..


The Castle at Turner Falls

Castle at overview
From the scenic overlook 

Castle Sign at Turner Falls
A little background...  

Stairs to Castle Turner Falls
Stairs to the castle at Turner Falls 

The castle at Turner Falls
It was a dreary kind of day,  a good day to go to a Castle in Oklahoma I guess.  

Turner Falls Stairs Down
and another view of the falls.  I had some exposure issues on some of these shots, which is why they were the last to be posted. 

Turner Falls GS
The falls in the background.  Beautiful place to see. 

Tree at Turner Falls
This is my favorite shot of this batch... I am not a botanist, I can't tell you what kind of tree it is. 

Leaves and Castle WF


More From The Great Salt Plains

Digging for Crystals in the Great Salt Plains, from April 1 -October 15th yearly.   Bring your tools, bring sunblock, and sunglasses.   Fun for the whole family.  We weren't prepared using used drink cups from the car, our bottled water and our only digging tool was a ice scraper and our fingers, but two hours later we had thoroughly ex-foliated our hands with the rubbing of the raw salt against our digging fingers.  The kids had quite a haul of their treasures and it was well worth the drive. 

  Dig Area

The dig area of the Great Salt Plains.   
  Row digging for crystals BW2

My oldest son initially refused to leave the car due to his intense fear of catching "malaria" from the swarming mosquitoes.  I convinced him that Malaria was not prevalent in Oklahoma.  I did forget to tell him about other potential pathogens passed on by the lovely little mosquitoes.  
  Crystal Great Salt Plains

This was the treasure still littering my house in January of 2011 
  Salt Plains Dig Area

The sunburns we brought home were part of the memories.  The salt filled my car.  The landscape is surreal.  11,000 acres of salt.   It is one of the most interesting places in Oklahoma.  The remnant of a Permian sea.  
  Digging The Salt Plains
     This area is dotted with others' selenite digging adventures. It felt like the wasteland.  

Justin Walking BW
My youngest heading to a new spot to look for more treasure. 

Great Salt Plains Jan 12

Truly an incredible place to visit. 

Dig Area Jan Edit

July Sunset at Foss Lake

Its grey, cloudy cold and dark out today, so I am going through my summer photos.  One of my favorite evenings of the summer was the brief spectacular beauty that we were given a glimpse of at Foss Lake during a week long family camping trip.  With rain everyday and a boat that wouldn't start there was a lot of sitting around the fire eating marshmallows, lots of marshmallows.  But for this one evening our not so beautiful camping area turned into a beautiful glowing sunset after a thunderstorm passed over.   

Sunset through the trees
Sunset through the trees at Foss Lake 

November Foss Lake Justin surreal
My youngest son walking towards the lake this summer. 

Foss lake Sunset in Yellows
Another view of the sunset 

Purples Sunset foss lake
It was just beautiful on this July evening. 


God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.  ~Martin Luther
Ali and Justin Foss lake
The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.  ~Author Unknown

Sunset foss lake yellow and blue
Fishing Foss Lake
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.  ~John Muir