Monday, September 2, 2013

A Joyful Visit to “Turner Falls Park”

By Saeed Qureshi

Have you ever been to Turner Falls Park? It is reputed for having “Oklahoma’s largest waterfall”.  Tuner Falls Park is a marvelous tourist haven with a picturesque layout crafted both by Mother Nature and human ingenuity. The water of the Turner Falls flows all the way down through a narrow gorge confined between the lofty walls of mountains. 

This awesome tourist attraction is situated between the Oklahoma City and the State of Texas’s Northern border line. It was my first visit to this delightful valley along with my family members during the so called long holiday.

The enchanting enclave remains overcrowded during the summer and more often at the weekends. The mountains are not spectacularly high or imposing but combined with lovely zigzag terrain and rugged landscape it certainly offers a soul, refreshing and unique panorama. 

The main valley should not be more than a mile long with a small water stream flowing in between. The moment one covers the last road curve to enter the park; the lower side of the stream unfolds before your eyes.

The first glimpse is the swarms of tourists and fun seekers bathing and rolling in the ponds or small water enclaves. There are adults and there  are children all jumping up and down in the slightly greenish water that shouldn't be more than chest or knee deep.

Now this is the starting point of the road that snakes through the valley leading to the mighty rock over which the water plunges down from a height of 77 feet. This is what is known as the “Turner Falls” and this is paramount spectacle that brings the visitors to this breathtaking valley.

One may not depict it as a Fall in true sense of the word but still it is a Fall. Perhaps during the summer, the volume of water considerably recedes. However the brochure carries a warning that there could be “flooding during a heavy rainfall”

Starting from the main lake or the pond just under the falls, the Davis city tourism department has created a host of several other smaller lakes all over the stream for the water to accumulate instead of flowing down. This is an ingenious plan to accommodate as many tourists as would wish to stand and splash in the slightly muddy yet greenish water.

In one cursory glance one may come up with a sizable number of tourists standing or jumping in all the ponds from top to the extreme end of the stream near the main entrance to the valley.

All along on both sides of the  passage of the brook or at best a small rivulet, one may witness the rows of tents pitched with the accessories of barbecue grills, the swings, cushions and tables laden with food and drinks. When not bathing, the enthused and rather thrilled tourists would be busy in cooking on the barbecues, eating, playing or singing. Now that spectacle is enormously mirthful and an eloquent testimony to the picturesque surroundings and enlivening atmosphere at this resort.

And that is one part of the bounteous fun, captivating enticement and soul stirring charm interspersed all over. Let us now move up on the valley. Either you can drive in your car or else there is a shuttle service that plies between the parking space and a stop near the main falls. The second shuttle operates between this point to the second level. Thereafter you are on your own.

A fresh tourist cannot fancy as to what would be laid out at the second and the third level of the park. Well here is a wonderland that is reserved for camping and hiking trails besides the swimming galore in a rather longish flat flowing creek. On the second floor is the cave that is just over the top of the Turner Falls. 

From this cave one can see the main pond under the falls and the row of tents and the revelers. This cave called as outlaws’ resort is densely covered with bushes and foliage and one has to be cautious while walking through to reach it.

From here either you have to walk around a long circular camping sites or drive in your own vehicle. By a conservative estimate there should be a few hundred camps on both sides of this round, zigzag route. One may describe it as a city of camps and tents spread all over.  Though this road is partly gravel and partly paved, yet one can comfortably drive through all this passage.

You will watch the families busy in all kind of fun generating activities ranging from dancing, singing, playing music to cooking and eating. The tents or canopies are put up either in the open grassy space or under the shady trees. One may find the faces of the tent dwellers shining with a lively exuberance and a glow that depicts the inner peace and genuine happiness because of the break from the monotonous city live and by having an embrace with nature.

Pets are no allowed and it is great relief. In camping the life is somewhat demanding and the care of pets would be an ordeal. Moreover the animals can cause further pollution and it is therefore a wise decision to ban the pets.

However there was an irksome sight as well. You would see the tourists and camp dwellers queuing up before the makeshift toilet booths. Granted that there cannot be foolproof and or ideal sanitary arrangements like in settled areas or cities, yet still one would wish and expect that some better, respectable and cleaner facilities could be provided. The toilet boxes placed all over camping sites are reported to be overflowing with human refuse and excrement.

 I saw the desperate campers lined up before these cabins to answer the call of nature. The privacy that one observe in homes or in offices is nonexistent here. The women and the men alike would be standing to take their turn. The one inside the cabin may take longer time to relieve and those waiting outside would be hard pressed to get in. Such is the bizarre scenario at this park that needs to be rectified.

On may suggest that instead of placing the toilet booths, it would be more preferable and rather productive to provide bigger permanent or make shift rest rooms with running water and flush system. The number of such permanent lavatories can be determined by the Park administration. 

It would be cost effective and a respectable mode of facility. This camping site remains functional round the year. However, when the presence of tourists is less some of the rest rooms can be closed.

Nevertheless, overall this resort offers a great fun and unique enjoyment for the city dwellers.  They can take a break from the stress and boredom of the urban life and live in the wilderness for a while. Here they can be at home with the wonderful serene Nature and enjoy a blissful, rekindling solitude.  

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