It was after 8:00 before I woke up. All the kids were still asleep but Stephanie was up. I looked out the window and noticed KK’s truck was gone, so I asked Stephanie if she knew where he went.
“He went to go get a newspaper and some beer. <pause> Okay, what he really said was that he was going to go get beer and if they happened to have a newspaper, he’d buy one.”
KK went 2-for-2 and the McCurtain Daily Gazette brought us up to date on all the area news.
Stephanie produced a huge breakfast for the family this morning. Copious amounts of bacon and eggs.
The entire morning was low impact, as we waited for Scott’s wife, Erin, to show up. Other obligations kept her away until today, when her parents, Don & Debbie, drove her down. They showed up before Noon and now it felt like the whole gang was together.
We quickly loaded up in a couple of vehicles to make a tour of the park. Our first stop was at the Visitor Center, where we found one of the more impressive wood carvings you will ever see. Not only that, but the mens room here contained more original paintings that I have ever seen in a restroom.
The center also includes a small natural history / timber museum. The part that focused on the history of the timber production in the area was especially interesting. There were many Civilian Conservation Corp camps in the area back in the 1930s. In fact, much of Beavers Bend State Park was built by the CCC.
After leaving the visitor center, we drove the winding roads until we reached the Lakeview Lodge. This lodge is only 20 to 30 years old, but is one of the more popular features of the park.
Erin has stayed there several times in the past and said it has nice rooms, but small. Every room has a balcony and a view of the lake. Can’t beat that!
We stopped for some photos near one of the dams after we left the Lakeview Lodge. We were again wearing our matching vacation t-shirts today, and as we were walking back toward our cars, another car emptied and they greeted us with “Hello King Family!” I believe that wearing matching t-shirts will make you appear more friendly to strangers.
We next went off in search of the Nature Center, which was built by the CCC as a Bath House. (We try to visit the Bath House in Pawnee Oklahoma at least once a year, so we found this interesting.) Unfortunately, the Nature Center was currently closed down
During the middle part of the afternoon, we relaxed around the lodge. People were reading, playing dominos and visiting. By 3:30, we were already thinking about dinner, since Don & Debbie needed to hit the road by 5:00.
Don is known as a true grillmaster. So not only did he get to drive his wife and daughter down to Beavers Bend, but he had also been nominated to grill the steaks while he was here. Talk about a warm welcome!
Don brought a supply of Chuckeyes (if you’ve never heard of that cut, you’re not alone) and Porterhouse. Now that I have tasted my own Don special, I can tell you that the hype is real. He knows how to run the grill.
During dinner, Marissa told Stephanie that Don makes the best steak ever*. Stephanie encouraged Marissa to tell the whole table, while my wife was grinning at me. The lack of conversation and the empty plates at the end are certainly a testament to Don’s cooking. Thank you, Don!
These steaks were so good that Mallory had to leave the table and lay down on the couch. She had eaten herself into a food coma. Is there a better compliment?
Around 6:30, I drove the wife and kids over to the swimming hole. There is a beach area designated for swimming and we were confused that we had been at Beavers Bend several days without visiting it. As luck would have it, some storm clouds blew through this afternoon dropping the temperature considerably. It was probably in the high 80s to low 90s. Why is this significant? Because the water temperature is COLD. We sure wished the sun was beating down on us after getting out of that water.
The rest of the gang showed up about an hour later. KK and PK ran hand-in-hand into the water, with PK screaming all the way. That might be my favorite memory of the trip so far!
Scott even ventured into the water and splashed around. We’re still working on Erin.
We wrapped up the evening with smores in the firepit. Now those cooler temperatures were not so bad to have around. We built a nice little fire and spent about an hour eating dessert.
When KK & PK said they wanted a relaxing vacation, today is what they had in mind. I’m glad we could accommodate!
* Later, after Don and Debbie left, Marissa tells me, “I really think you make the best steaks. You knew that, right Dad?”