Every once in awhile I get the urge to get in the car and go. Because I don’t have a lot of money, I can’t go far, but a good day trip away does wonders for my soul. A few weeks ago, I got that urge and I knew the only place that would calm that urge down was the Tallgrass Prairie in Osage County. I know that I have written a previous post on this place, but it’s worth another trip, thus another blog post. I just love the wide open spaces and the quietness of the place. I can see for miles, get back to nature and be at peace for just a little while. Oh, and let’s not forget the photographs that I anticipate taking while I am there soaking up all that solitude.
The photograph above is actually Oklahoma ranch land that butts up against the preserve, but that view is breathtaking and makes me pull over, get the camera out and start shooting photos every single time I drive by a place like this.
I decided that on this trip I would stop in Osage Hills State Park. A little side trip to start the day, nestled between Bartlesville and Pawhuska. I pass by the entrance whenever I make this road trip, but have never pulled in to see what it has to offer. I’m glad I did. Old rock building remains, hiking trails, a small waterfall and a lake were all included, just waiting for me to photograph it. I had done a little research on the park and learned that the park was built in the 1930″s by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. A group that was founded during the Great Depression to hire unemployed, inexperienced men in order to teach them job skills. Their handiwork is still evident in many of the structures that remain in the park.
Driving further into the park, I found nature trails leading to Sand Creek and its small but wonderful waterfalls. The creek was low enough, thanks to the drought we are having, that I was able to walk out to the middle of the creek without getting my feet wet and get a few shots.
I had one last thing to check out before checking out of the park. The lake. After following the signs, parking the car and climbing a small embankment, the lake came into full view. It was glorious! A couple of people were in boats fishing and seemed to be having a bit of luck. I left them to fish as I had found three row boats tied to the shore, just waiting for someone to rent them and take them out to the middle of that pristine water or in my case, photograph them as they patiently waited. The clouds and bright blue sky reflected on the sparkling ripples as I sat down to frame up my shot. As I photographed the boats, I kept thinking that this park would be a great place to bring the family for a weekend getaway. Ah, maybe next summer.
The day was ticking by so I knew I needed to wrap things up here and get to the Tallgrass Prairie. I wanted to get some sunset photos and needed some time to scope out the best location for getting those shots.
I didn’t have to drive too far into the preserve before I was met with the infamous herd of bison that live and graze on the prairie. To my delight, a mama and her baby were standing right next to the road. I parked my car and against most people’s better judgement, opened my door and got out, keeping the vehicle between me and mama. It was a hot day and the herd seemed pretty content to let me do my thing.
On this trip, I decided to take the road that I had never taken and found myself headed for the very small town of Foraker. It’s considered a ghost town by some, but when I arrived, I found it to be well inhabited. No stores, but lots of houses. I headed back to the prairie preserve to get my sunset shots. Along this road, I came across a pipeline. I had no idea that one of these ran through the Tallgrass Prairie, but there were working rigs lined up as far as the eye could see. These are big, loud and just butt ugly, but set against the expansive Oklahoma plains, they seemed to fit right in.
As I was shooting these shots, I realized that the clouds were thickening and the sky was getting dark. I looked to the west and it was black. Looks like sunset photos would have to wait for another day. Instead I would be taking pictures of an approaching storm. Pretty cool – but wasn’t ready to mark a photo of a tornado off my bucket list just yet. I could see some lightning and heard rumbles of thunder in the distance so I decided to head back toward the entrance of the preserve and head home. I passed a truck load of teenage boys that had parked on top of a hill and were out watching the clouds roll in. They were going to get wet, was my prediction. I drove a little further and parked the car. I got out and watched them watch the storm. Pretty amazing! And I was right. As I took these photos, it started to rain – heavily. I retreated to my car but the crazy teenagers stood out in the great wide open, cheering on the much needed rain.
So ended my day to Osage County. Another great trip and several “keepers” for my portfolio. Here’s a couple more of my favorites from this shoot. Hope you enjoy them and as always,
Safe and happy travels!