Hiking Wolaroc

[Apparently I wrote this more than 2 months ago but neglected to hit “Publish.” Oops.]

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Welcome to Oklahoma.

Well, isn’t that what you expect to see in Oklahoma?

Last Sunday, I needed to get out and about. The weather was the perfect, so we headed to Wolaroc, the former country home of local oil baron Frank Phillips. Phillips is of Conoco Phillips oil company fame. So there you have it: in stereotypical fashion, I’ve mentioned buffalo and oil in a post about an Oklahoma attraction. Next, I’ll be discussing cattle ranching and Native Americans. Well, I suppose there is a Native American reference coming up.

Wolaroc was Frank Phillips’ estate. Apparently he hosted all sorts of celebrities from the day there, including all those famous cowboys from Western movies. Wolaroc’s slightly rolling wooded hills are a bit rocky, and there are plentiful sources of water dotting the land, hence the name: Woods, lakes and rocks. Creative guy, that Frank.

Mr. Phillips established an exotic zoo on his land, and these animals are still there today. The main attraction is a herd of semi-tame buffalo that roam the estate, but animals from zebras, to emus and ostriches, various deer and exotic mountain goats. Oh, and prairie dogs. (Yet another Oklahoma reference.) On the grounds, you can tour the Phillips home as well as a huge museum of Oklahoma and Native American artifacts. There is also a petting zoo.

My husband and I weren’t there for any of that, however. We headed past the parking lots to the hiking trails at the back of the property. While the rest of the ranch was busy, we had the trails mainly to ourselves. As we rounded a bend on the 1.5 mile Warrior Trail, we heard a sudden rustling in the grass ahead of us and the eerie high-pitched sound of an animal. Something was having something else for dinner.

In front of me, I saw a gray shape rush across the path in the grass on the other side of the trail. I thought it looked like a squirrel, but as we got closer, my husband said, “It’s a snake!” We paused for a moment to figure out what the snake was eating, and there were more noises as the snake tried to devour its dinner: a pale frog. Suddenly I realized what the noises were: the rattle that the snake had been shaking ominously from its tail just three feet in front of us!

“It’s a rattlesnake!” I shouted at my husband. Remembering how quickly it had moved across the path, I decided to move quickly down the trail. I looked back at my husband, who instead decided to try to take a picture, crazy guy.

Here was our little friend, shooting daggers at his unwanted dinner observers:

Mr. Rattle

We finished our hike on another one of the trails, cautiously aware of our vulnerable ankles for the rest of the afternoon.

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