I just came back from about three nights in Oklahoma.
In the summer, we had decided to revisit the River’s Edge Cottages after our trip in July. Our November trip would take us back to Watson, OK. Only this time, instead of just going with Justin, we went with Brian too. Since there were going to be three of us, and this wasn’t a “romantic” getaway like our trip in July was, we decided to rent one of the family cabins, which is made for more than two people. We made reservations at the Bear Cottage. The Bear Cottage is meant for a family. It has two separate bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. So it was perfect for our party size. I had rented the cabin back in July, knowing that they were going to fill up fast. The worst-case scenario was that Brian wouldn’t be able to go with us [He couldn’t give us a yes or no until a few weeks before], so it would just be Justin and me, which would’ve been fine. I could’ve had three nights without his snoring. The weather was going to be a lot cooler in November, and it would probably feel like fall there. And the sort of trip, where we could social distance pretty well to avoid any exposure to COVID. Plus if Brian came with us on the trip, we could indoctrinate him into our bubble, which I think would make Justin happy.
At first, as the trip came closer, I wasn’t even sure if it was going to happen. Thursday, before we were supposed to leave on Monday, my throat just started hurting. The weather had been special during the week in Houston, where it started in the 40s on Monday, and by Friday, it was in the 80s. Sometimes when the weather changes it irritates my throat and sinuses. I also do a lot of talking in school, especially since I’ve been teaching first grade in the morning, and sometimes that leaves me with a sore throat, as well. In normal times, a slight sore throat wouldn’t have really bothered me, but there are COVID times, and now even the slightest symptom of anything makes me freak the fuck out. I was worried about possibly getting Brian sick or infecting him as he confirmed he could go and my throat started hurting. Full disclosure, we told him about the sore throat and gave him a few options. He could either just go with Justin and I’d stay home. Or if he didn’t want to go because he was worried about getting sick, Justin and I could go. Or if he was okay with my sore throat, we’d still all go together. He wasn’t really worried about my sore throat, especially since I have no other symptoms or fever or anything, so he decided that he was in.
We meant to leave early on Monday, but early and Justin and I don’t really go hand in hand. We ended up leaving about an hour behind when we planned to leave and didn’t manage to pick Brian up until around 10 am. The drive to Oklahoma from Houston is about 7.5 hours, and that doesn’t include stopping for gas. We probably weren’t going to get there until it was close to dark. The drive itself didn’t start eventful. We listened to my amazing Amazon Music mix, and talked about a myriad of things, and ate pringles. But then shit started going crazy. It went mostly okay until we got to Daingerfield, TX. But then J’s car went a little bit batty. The car made this weird whoosh noise whenever he released the gas pedal, and then the battery light started flickering whenever he hit the brake, and for a while, we weren’t even sure we were going to make it to Oklahoma. As we passed through the last major city before getting towards the cabin, which was Broken Bow, OK, we started to get nervous because once you get through Broken Bow, there isn’t much of the trip left, but there’s a severe lack of cell service. Luckily, we somehow made it to River’s Edge without the car breaking down. We got there after the office closed, but they left our keys in their box outside, and luckily our cabin was maybe 400 meters, if that, from the office, and our car made it.
Unfortunately, since it was dark when we got there, my pictures of the inside of the cabin aren’t the best, but here is a tour of Bear Cottage.
The fireplace/living room, the table, and the kitchenette.
This was Brian’s bedroom. He also had his own bathroom.
Justin and my bedroom, the jacuzzi tub that Justin spent many hours in throughout the trip in, the shower in our bathroom, and the bathroom.
Not pictures because it was too dark to take a picture: the 5-person hot tub and the grill.
We got to the cabin pretty late, and by the time we had put all the food away, and unpacked some things, it was close to seven or so, and we decided to make some dinner. Justin and Brian went to the back porch to try to grill burgers, and I settled on the couch next to the fireplace, which is where I spent most of the four days that we were there, reading on my kindle.
I read a total of 10 books during the trip. Here were the books that I read:
Darius the Great Deserves Better: This is the second book of a series that centers on a boy named Darius. The first book in the series is about him visiting his family in Iran and about him becoming comfortable with his identity, his culture, and his sexuality. The second book focuses more on him learning who he’s truly meant to be and what he wants in life after he comes back to the United States. It’s a really good book, and I really enjoy this series. But you need to read book 1, to understand book 2.
Mind the Gap, Dash and Lily: This is the third book of a series. I was very disappointed with this book. I feel like the author[s] were just trying to use the popularity of the first book, which was just made into a Netflix show, to sell more books. This book wasn’t nearly as good as the first two books in the series. It seemed like it was rushed and didn’t even have a complete plot. I got to the last page and was like… really this is it? Don’t recommend it, but the first two are cute.
Frankly in Love: This was your average coming-of-age love story. I don’t really have anything bad to say about it. It was a cute young adult book. It gave an interesting insight into Korean-American culture. But it wasn’t anything special or awesome. It was just an average young adult story.
Monday’s Not Coming: A really dark, haunting, and disturbing book about a girl named Monday. Monday is Claudia’s best friend, and one day she just disappears and doesn’t come back to school to start the new school year. No one believes Claudia that something happened to Monday, and she is determined to find out what happened. Trigger warning for child abuse, racism, drugs, and homophobia.
The Thousandth Floor/The Dazzling Heights: Books 1 and 2 of a 3 book series. This series was written by Katherine McGee of American Royal Fame, though this series came out way before that one did. It’s about a futuristic New York City in 2118. This series is basically Gossip Girl in a futuristic setting. I enjoyed reading it and have already started book 3. But it’s nothing amazing or anything. I think the American Royals series is much better. But it’s an enjoyable series if you like trashy lit like Gossip Girl, The It Girl, and shows/books like that with a twist of mystery.
The Bride Test: I liked the first book in this series a lot more than the second. But it was still a good book. I enjoyed having an autistic narrator, and it was really interesting to gaze into his thought process. It’s rare to find an autistic love story. I also enjoyed revisiting the characters from The Kiss Quotient, which is the first book in the series. This isn’t a bad book or anything. It’s an enjoyable read. It just wasn’t amazing to me. Trigger warning for lots of sex and smut, if that is not your thing.
Daisy Jones & The Six: I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about this book, mainly due to how it was written. I enjoyed it. I didn’t mind the format it was written in, which was basically just a giant interview. I’ve heard the audiobook is better for some people because of all the different characters/voices, but I honestly didn’t mind the interview format. I really enjoyed learning about the sixties/mid-seventies through the eyes of a fictional music group because I’ve always been really into that time period. It’s basically like a Behind the Music in book form, which is something that appeals to me. I’ve always enjoyed reading band biographies and autobiographies. I really enjoyed this one. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read or anything, but it was above average, I gave it 4/5 stars. I mostly give books 3 stars, so a 4 star is a rare rating from me. Trigger warning for lots of drug use.
Break in Case of Emergency: This is a book about a girl named Toby whose mother died by suicide when she was younger. She never met her father and has been raised by her grandparents. Toby is convinced that she’s meant to follow her mother’s downward spiral and creates a plan to escape that life. Her father decides to come home, and he’s a gay drag queen, which is taboo to her very old-fashioned family, and during the time period where this book takes place. This book is basically about her finding herself, healing herself, and trying to put her life together. I can’t really say anything more without spoiling the book, which I don’t want to do. It was okay. Nothing amazing or anything, but it was an interesting look at a time that wasn’t that long ago, but was so different from what society is like now. Trigger warning for graphic suicide and mental illness.
Anna K: I read Anna Karenina many many years ago for a college lit class and do NOT recall most of it. This is a modern retelling of that book. I don’t think you need to read the original book to read this version of it, but reading a Wikipedia article or something might help. Jenny Lee did an amazing job of turning this book into a modern young adult novel. This is only the first half of the story, the original book is in 8 parts, and I would say Anna K definitely only tells about half of the original story. It’s basically gossip girl-think wealth beyond imagination, casual sex, drug abuse, cheating, ritzy parties- but it turns into a really good story. I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the character development and how much Jenny Lee stuck to the original plot while giving it a modern twist. I look forward to part two, which comes out in spring. Trigger Warning for sex, drugs, cheating, and mental illness.
Back to the trip… Justin and Brian went out back to make burgers, and I read comfortably on the couch in front of a lit fireplace.
Dinner wasn’t exactly a success for everyone. Justin left his good meat thermometer at home and had to use a shitty one that he had bought en route to the cabin. Also charcoal cooks very slowly. The burgers ended up being more rare than medium, but that was a win for me because I love rare meat, but I think everyone else preferred theirs to be medium.
After we finished dinner, I continued reading, and Justin and Brian played some Backgammon, which was part of a game set that Justin brought with him. Brian made us some delicious french martinis, which consisted of vodka, Chambord, which is a raspberry liquor, and pineapple juice over ice. They were good.
After a few games of Backgammon, Justin won all three of the ones they played, we all went into the hot tub and soaked for a little while and just chatted under the stars.
We came back into the cabin around midnight or so, and we all went to bed.
The next morning, for some reason, I woke up before everyone else. The weather was absolutely beautiful by my east coast standards, which meant it was in the 40s, and I decided to walk around the area and look for foliage. It was very cloudy in the morning, and there were pretty heavy thunderstorms on the radar for later that day, so my pictures didn’t get the best light.
Here are some pics of the cabin itself, in a better light:
I wandered by the river, over to a small pond, and found some hiking trails that led into the woods. I ventured on the hiking trails for a little bit, but I didn’t go too far on them because you should never hike an unknown trail alone, and also I have a terrible sense of direction and would probably get lost. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of foliage to be seen. Most of the leaves seemed to have been blown off the trees and were on the ground, but there were some. I bet it was absolutely beautiful with leaves a week or two ago. Here are some pics from my morning wandering.
My walk lasted about 1.5 hours and then I went back to the cabin. The boys were up by then, and Brian made breakfast. He made pancakes with sausage and it was delicious.
Honestly, I read for the entirety of the day. The boys had lit a fire in the fireplace. I collapsed on the couch, under a blanket, and just read. Brian made some rum apple cider, which was delicious, and the perfect fall alcoholic beverage, and I just read. Brian did some reading too.
Justin decided to take a bath. He used some of the bath bombs I had ordered from Lush, and he was in the jacuzzi bathtub for something like an hour and a half, drinking booze, and playing Pokemon Shield with his pro-controller in a Ziploc bag and the switch itself on a chair while blasting Delain on his Bluetooth speaker. He was in heaven. He was in the tub for so long that I checked on him, at least twice, to make sure he was alive.
Justin made some steaks for dinner. But some of the steaks had gone bad during our drive to OK for some reason, so the boys had steak, and I was perfectly content with a bagel with cream cheese for dinner.
The storms started around sunset, which put an ixnay on my plans to go into the hot tub later. It was a pretty crazy storm. The rain was super heavy and seemed to come down in sheets. The lightning illuminated the entire sky, and the thunder sounded like it was right on top of us. There was crazy wind too. I even got a tornado warning or two on my phone, during the very rare occasions that my phone would decide to pick up 4g. We didn’t lose power or anything, though our supply of wood for the fireplace got soaked from the rain, so once the fire died, it was dead. And luckily, we didn’t experience any sort of tornado.
I spent most of the night drinking rum cider and reading, and the boys played Magic the Gathering at the kitchen table, which Justin enjoyed. He had been craving it lately.
I think we all went to bed around midnight.
I got up earlier than the boys again the next morning. It was a pretty cold morning. I think it was in the low 40s. I decided an early morning soak in the hot tub sounded amazing, so I put on my bathing suit and opened the hot tub. The hot water felt amazing in the cold air. I think I was in there for about thirty minutes by myself before Justin had gotten up and decided to join me. The two of us sat in the hot tub for a while and then went back inside. Brian had woken up by then. We ended up having eggs and bagels for breakfast. I made myself scrambled eggs with cheddar and a bagel. The boys made themselves bagel sandwiches with fried eggs and bacon. I don’t like bacon.
The storm left everything pretty wet and muddy, so there wasn’t much more exploring to be done. We spent our last day there reading and playing games. We all played a scrabble together. However, Justin and I have our own set of rules for scrabble. We play with a scrabble dictionary and we time each other two minutes to play a word. We use the dictionary because we will challenge each other’s words without it. We ended up not playing with our usual time limit because Brian was unfamiliar with our weird way of playing. Justin won, I came in second, and Brian was in third. We ended up playing only one game because Brian did not approve of how we played. We explained to him it was better with the timer and offered to play with the timer, but he was done with scrabble. I wanted to play scattegories, but nobody wanted to play it with me. Brian and Justin ended up playing chess together, they played two games, and each won one.
After their chess game, Justin ended up taking another one of his epic jacuzzi baths.
I continued reading. Brian read too.
I continued reading for most of the night. We had hot dogs for dinner. Then we FINALLY made s’mores that night. I thought we’d end up making a lot more s’mores than we actually did. After dinner, we drank some more. We had more rum cider and some shots of something that was pretty strong but didn’t really taste like booze.
The sky was really clear that night, so I went outside with my binoculars and looked at the moon, and tried to spot constellations and planets. I definitely found some constellations that I could identify, I saw Orion, Cassiopeia, and the Big Dipper, at the very least. I wish I had had cell service so I could’ve used a night app to see more. I also spotted Mars.
It was really cold that night. It was in the low 30s. I personally find those sorts of temperatures really refreshing thanks to my NJ blood, but the boys thought it was cold. Justin and I decided to have one last dip in the hot tub. It was perfect. Very cold temperatures and a very hot hot tub. Brian did NOT want to join us. He claimed he was too tired. I wish he had at least joined us in it, for the last night, but whatever. After we soaked in the hot tub, it was about midnight. Brian had decided to go to sleep and Justin went to sleep shortly afterward. I wasn’t really that tired, so I stayed up until about two am, and read in front of the fireplace until the fire burned itself out. Then I went to sleep.
The next morning was check-out time and also Thanksgiving. We packed up all of our stuff and cleaned some of the stuff left in the kitchen. I wrote in the journal that they leave in every cabin, so you can record your thoughts or talk about your trip or whatever:
The drive home was pretty easy. We really didn’t hit any traffic and Justin’s car behaved. We mostly listened to music, in silence, and stared at the windows at the scenery. We stopped at Katz’s Deli once we got back into Houston, and ordered some Turkey Dinners. We took them back to Brian’s house, and we all ate together and told his mom about our trip. Brian’s mom also told us about some of the cool places that she’s seen in her travels, and some of them sound really cool and might be possible future road trips.
Then Justin and I drove home and the kitties were extremely happy to see us.
It was a really fun trip and a nice break from reality and the craziness. It was also awesome to experience actual fall weather and colder temperatures. I think and hope that Brian had a good time with us. We had a really good time with him and it was really nice to have somebody else join us on one of our adventures. Considering COVID gets better, J and I are thinking of going on a road trip to California in December 2021 to visit some friends there and maybe check out some of the national parks. I hope Brian decides to come with us on that one too.
And well that’s it for this trip. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you celebrate, and stay safe!