Monday, January 7, 2013

A Family Adventure

My parents took my sister and me up to Lake Murray State Park in Oklahoma for the weekend. We've never gone on a trip in January before, so it felt kind of weird to be going somewhere when the air was so chilly around us. We had a lot of fun, though, and I am glad we got to take this brief little trip. Plus, it came right after I began this blog, too. And, boy, do I have a story to tell you this week!

Since Lake Murray is in Oklahoma, I got a special treat on Friday evening. I got to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game on their home television network, Fox Sports Oklahoma. I was thrilled speechless because, next to the Dallas Mavericks from my home state of Texas, the Thunder is my favorite NBA team. My Okie boys are young, energetic, super talented, and a lot of fun to watch! If you've never seen one of their games, you seriously don't know what you're missing. Best part about seeing their game on Friday was they won by 24 points! Plus, I got to hear coach and player interviews that I wouldn't normally get to listen to. What a delicious treat!

On Saturday afternoon, my parents, sister and I went down to the lodge and walked around by the docks for a while, where I took gobs of pictures. When we came back into the lodge, six or seven elderly gentlemen were lounging on a couple sofas, each eating a banana while watching college football. Too bad I didn't get a photograph of that one! It would have been a hilarious shot.

Afterwards, we went to check out this cool stone water tower, called the Nature Outpost, that's up the street from our cabin. My sister and I decided to go from there to hike on one o the nature trail through the woods. That's where the real adventure began.

As we were trekking through the woods, I would pause every now and then to take several pictures, shifting my heavy backpack to a more comfortable position before heading off again. (This was the first vacation I've had my new camera, and I was eager to test it out.) My sister even jumped up and down on this rickety old bridge for a priceless shot. Soon after that, a large, friendly black dog with a bright orange collar joined us on the trail. It was a great companion, but it didn't know any commands. We tried 'Come here' and 'Sit', and even whistling didn't work when it decided to scramble ahead of us. It came back once, but it didn't return the second time. We never saw or heard its owner, nor did we learn the dog's name as it didn't have a nametag on its collar. It was a sweet dog, and I got a couple of photos of it to put in my scrapbook (and, yes, my blog!).

That's when our leisurely walk through the woods morphed into a huge misadventure.

The trail forked off several times, without a single sign to guide us at these particular forks. Next thing we knew, we were lost. Granted, we were still on a trail. However, we didn't hae a clue where we were anymore--besides in Lake Murray State Park. We kept walking on the trail, hoping to find where it turned back or see some signs that would direct us back to the water tower or the lodge or cabins or any place we recognized. I had joked before about if we had to survive on the Christmas cookies and three inches of fruit punch in my backpack, we could be on my favorite show, I Shouldn't Be Alive. At this point, after not seeing a sign for a while and being out who knew how long--and needing to go to the restroom really badly!--I was really wishing I hadn't said a word about needing to survive.

Sending up silent prayers for God to get us back to the cabin safely, we kept going. Eventually, we happened upon a road--a blessed road!--and saw the sign for an even longer trail than the one we were supposed to be on. Deciding against the eight-or-so-mile hike, we chose to stick to the road that headed directly for the lake. We thought surely we'd be able to see the docks that are behind the lodge from the edge of the lake. No such luck. When we got to the lake's edge, we didn't see the docks, the lodge or the playground equipment that was near the docks. We knew the general direction we should go, so we trudged across the sandy lakeside, figuring we'd happn upon the docks eventually.

There were dozens of ducks floating near the water's edge on the lake. All the ducks were looking at us and chattering amongst themselves, as if reporting to God where we were. We took this as encouragement that God was watching over us. Glancing to our right, we saw a sign for the trail we were supposed to be on. We decided not to go down it, for fear we'd get lost again. Instead, we continued following the lake's edge . . . until we came to a dead end. The lake surrounded us on three sides at this point. Apparently, we had come onto a small peninsula. Instead of swimming through the freezing water, we trekked back to the sign we saw for the Buckhorn Trail. For a while we didn't see anything familiar and worried that we would take a wrong turn. Finally, though, we began seeing familiarities. A log fallen across the trail. A bridge with a missing board. And signs--blessed signs!--that pointed us back to the water tower where we had begun this crazy adventure.

When my sister and I finally reached our cabin, where our parents had just finished cooking dinner, we discovered that we had been gone for over two hours. We had expected to only be gone for about an hour, and it felt like it was a lot longer than the two hours it took. It's a good thing we decided to hike before dinner instead of afterward. If we would have gone with our original plans, we would have been lost in the dark. Not fun. God was truly gracious in His timing as He brought us home in time for dinner and kept us from being trapped in the woods after the sun went down. We were (and are) definitely blessed beyond words.

It was quite an adventure to remember and will make a great story to tell the next generation in future years. We've already gotten a huge laugh out of it, as have our parents, now that we're safe. The best part is, neither my sister nor I ever panicked. We just came up with a plan (sticking to roads and lakes when we found them, and signs or unmarked trails when we didn't) and kept our hearts focused on God. We were glad we were together when we got lost, and truly grateful that God was faithful to bring us safely home.

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