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Lake Murray as seen from the main floor of Tucker Tower

Recently, Sonny JJ attended a music camp in Oklahoma at the beautiful Lake Murray Lodge. The newly renovated lodge is located within the Lake Murray State Park, Oklahoma’s largest and oldest state park, encompassing a massive 12,500 acres. The State Park is set around Lake Murray and is located near Ardmore, about an hour and a half drive from North Texas. Getting on I-35 N makes it a straight shot until you get off at exit 24, Lodge Rd/ Scenic 77. The Lodge and park are located just a couple of miles inwards.

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Entrance to Lake Murray Lodge

The Lodge sits on the shores of Lake Murray with nice views from the lobby and many of the rooms. It also has cabin rentals, but these are set away from the lake. There is a central watersports complex with kayaks, paddle boats, stand up paddles, canoes, etc for hire. We saw a small miniature golf area as well. There are plenty of hiking trails nearby and Sonny JJ was able to take a horse riding excursion. Additionally, a pool is located nearby where he and his friends splashed around in. The website states there is a new playground for younger kids to use. On site, there is a restaurant which was closed at the time of our visit. There are ballrooms and meeting rooms, which is where the children practiced and performed.

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Water sports complex at Lake Murray Lodge
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Cabin rental at Lake Murray Lodge

Scenic route 77 hugs the perimeter of Lake Murray and provides easy access to various facilities around the lake while bestowing a nice drive. We saw entrances to campgrounds, beaches and boat marinas along the route. There was little traffic when we went on Friday afternoon.

\One place of interest for me was the Tucker Tower. Set along the shores of Lake Murray and on a cliff side. this tower was built in the 1930s as a summer retreat for Oklahoma governors. It was never actually used in this fashion but has served as a geology museum and now a nature center.

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Tucker Tower, Lake Murray
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Tucker Tower, in profile

The tower was built as a part of the Works Progress Administration, the WPA. According to the History Channel, it was a new program, launched by FDR, as part of the plan to lift people out of unemployment following the Great Depression. The program ran from 1935 to 1943, and the unemployment rate dropped from 20% at start of the program to 2% by its end, thanks in part to WW II. At its core, WPA employed unskilled workers to carry out public infrastructure projects thus providing them employment. A staggering 8.5 million Americans gained work through this program in its time!

The actual Nature Center is at the base of the cliff and the tower is accessed through the center. Admission to the center is free and donations are welcomed. The Nature Center provides information on local flora and fauna. Since it was past noon and the children were already famished and grumbling, we did not linger to visit the Center. But what little I saw appeared interesting.

Through the center and up a short walk hillside resides the tower. The main floor of the tower had information about the program that helped to build the tower, the details of the tower engineering, etc. Further up, there are stairs, then a spiral staircase, that lead two stories above to the very top floor. Here, there is a small walkway that offers stunning views of the landscape. We visited around noon, so there were few visitors and we had the whole tower nearly to ourselves.  There was a notice mentioning wasp problems along the spiral staircase but we lucked out.

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Fireplace, main floor, Tucker Tower
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Main floor room, seen from the fireplace, Tucker Tower

From the tower, we drove to Marietta, about 15 mins away, where we lunched at La Roca Mexican restaurant. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside was busy and bustling and the food was full-flavored. I had the poblano stuffed chilli relleno, made vegetarian, while the kids had vegetarian fajitas and soft tacos with beans and cheese.

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Our booth at La Roca
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Grilled fajita veggies

Lake Murray is an easy weekend getaway from Dallas, and it has many activities to keep everyone in the family engaged. I guess we will have to plan a getaway sometime soon.

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Pretty in pink
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Lake Murray, seen from the Lodge grounds
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Lake Murray, seen from Tucker Tower
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Lake Murray, seen from Tucker Tower

For more information on Lake Murray, visit:

http://www.lake-murray.org/

If you are a history buff and would like more information on WPA, visit:

https://www.history.com/topics/works-progress-administration