Saturday, July 2, 2011

Private Paradise

Ten miles from the main drag in Geary is a treasure that few have discovered.  It is only about an hour by car from Oklahoma City, but yet as remote as you can imagine.  It is a small spot of water - clear and alive.  Human traffic is sparse, quiet, and respectful.  You might have seen the plain wooden signs pointing out the direction of the lake, but without willful planning to visit those waters, you would never catch a glimpse.  It is American Horse Lake, and one of the best kept secrets in this state.

My first visit to the lake was a camping and kayaking adventure.  Camping is primitive - no facilities whatsoever.  Every campsite has an indecent offering of prickly sandburs to make flip-flops unbearable.  It is also rough on puppy feet, so consider this fair warning.  The kayaking though...the kayaking was spectacular.  The water was rivaled only by the starlit sky of a new moon that made flashlights unnecessary.

Since that weekend, I have been addicted.  I have cravings for that water that can only be satisfied by loading the boats and making the short journey.  A few years ago, there were three spots in the road to the lake that were washed out by flash floods.  Our caravan loaded with kayaks tried desperately to go off-road and find a passable route to reach our destination.  Twice we were successful.  When just a mile and a half separated us from the clear waters, our vehicles were defeated by the deep gully that divided the road.  It might not have been too far to portage the boats, but we knew that the return trip would be torture on our weary arms.  There was nothing left to do but turn around and drive back to the city, dejected and disappointed.

Today, the roads have finally all been repaired.  Every couple of months, when the craving dominates my thoughts, I load up the boats and head to my private paradise.  I roll the windows down and fill my lungs with the non-city air.  Every meadowlark I pass widens the smile that stretches to my eyes.  Anticipation replaces daily stresses.  By the time I park the car by the small boat ramp, I am already deep in my therapy. 

What is it about the lake that entices me?  It's the complete lack of man-made sounds, with the exception of an occasional trolling motor.  It's the smooth travel of fish and turtles, many feet below the surface - yet, still visible from above the waterline.  Maybe, it is the canyon below the dam that I have yet to fully explore.  Or, it is the quicksand area on the northeast side where herons and egrets rest and bullfrogs make their families.  At night, it is the call of the Chuck-will's widows, coyotes, screech owls, and wild boar that empowers my senses to overtake my mind.

There are sun-bleached skeletons of trees rising from the water and telling of lives before the area was dammed.  Turkey vultures adorn the white branches like a candelabra.  Kingfishers launch their dives from these same platforms.  Yellow-billed cuckoos and painted buntings flit through the cedars above red foxes and armadillos.  Red-eared sliders sun below the singing cardinals.  Whole flocks of wild turkeys fly clumsily overhead and common water snakes catch small catfish in the shallows.  If I'm lucky, I will catch a glimpse of the roadrunner that I can identify by his sound alone.

American Horse Lake is a wonderland that gives my soul new energy.  If you get the chance, come experience the enchantment that this spot beholds.  Just do me one favor - let's keep this place our little secret.


  1. Hi Nancy,

    I saw that you were recently added to the Blog Oklahoma ring and wanted to say hello. I started an OK blog not too ago as well. It looks as if I'll learn a lot about great places to visit through your site - keep it up!


  2. Hi, Nancy! Man, I'd love to be at American Horse Lake right now! I look forward to exploring it some time soon. Is it a good swimming lake?

    It was great seeing you last night!