A Window in Time - My Family Travels

   My cousin, Zack, and I have started this tradition of going on day trips to take photos. The first trip is to the Gainesville Zoo.  For our second photography excursion, we are on our way to Turner Falls Park in Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains. It’s November, the weather is chilly and the trees are changing colors. Cameras are clicking away as we photograph the picturesque surroundings. Honey Creek, a spring fed creek, meanders through the park creating landscapes full of potential. The park, heralded as one of the three geological windows into our past by the Turner Falls Park website, has Oklahoma’s tallest water fall at seventy-seven feet.  Near the top of the falls is a small natural cave. One of the entrances is so low to the ground we have to crawl on our bellies through the opening before it expands into a medium sized room. Another smaller cave overlooks the falls offering a bird’s eye vantage point. The scenes provided by the park could be from any number of wondrous places.

    Cedar covered shorelines render a sense of a different time and place. I can almost see hobbits running through the trees towards their canoes to escape the ogres, like in Lord of the Rings. Another example of a mysterious sub-current is the castle ruin, once the summer home of a Dr. Collins. The stairwells, rooms and fireplaces give the impression of ages past. Tall trees and moss covered rocks lend to the feeling. A stone table and benches on a balcony could’ve once seated feasting knights and maidens. While their semi-feral dogs wolfed scraps under the table. Stone stairs leading up the hill beckon me forward. A roadway resembling the top of a castle wall with square stones bordering the sides takes me further into the park. On a wider part of the creek higher up, where the sycamore leaves clog the water, there is a concrete dam formed in the shape of a stairway leading down away from the water. But over time, the water has prevailed, finding cracks in the dam and trickling over in chipped places. My vivid and romantic imagination runs wild in this place.

    Medieval scenes and awe-inspiring landscapes are not the only things Turner Falls uses to enthrall its visitors. Ghosts of summer fun, past and future, permeate the natural swimming holes. The Indian tee-pees by the creek invite games of Cowboys and Indians once again. But now it’s late fall in the park, too cold for swimming. Our purpose today is to take pictures. We are attempting to capture the essence of our surroundings. I want people to see photos of places I’ve been and feel they were there too. I want to show them things they might not ordinarily see, in ways they might not ordinarily understand.

    We see glimpses of wildlife in our journey through the park. There are fish dancing together in Honey Creek. We startle an opossum while walking down an old fire road, it rustles through the brush. At dusk as we are heading back through the park, deer are coming out to feed. The sun has set behind a hill and the moon has come out over a section of woods ravaged by fire. The trees are moonlit skeletons. The scene is somewhat un-earthly and bewitching.  Darkness settles as we wind our way back through the hills to the highway, now on our way to find something to eat for ourselves. The day may be over, but the memories will last a lifetime. The camaraderie with my cousin, strengthened today, will not be easily broken.

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