On the top of our family’s list of new favorite stops in Oklahoma City is Riversports Adventures. If you give us an opportunity to do something adventurous together – we are all in. As part of our trip with Adventure Road, we took an afternoon to get sweaty and active at RiverSport Adventures located near Bricktown in OKC. You can see the downtown skyline in the distance. While it is not the background to rafting we’ve done in Colorado, it is pretty cool to have something like this in our state.Riversport-01My four guys could not get out on the water fast enough. Throughout the day the rapids are ‘turned down’ and you can go tubing.Riversport-02

Riversport-03Riversport-04I took one for the team and sat on the bank with the girls while the guys did the rafting. The girls weren’t quite tall enough, so we waited and watched. It wasn’t nearly as fun on the sidelines, but seeing the guys have a blast together was pretty great. We kept dumping water on our heads while the boys were getting soaked. Oklahoma is hot this summer (and every summer)! On the other side of the rapids is the Oklahoma River where you can flatwater kayak and stand up paddle board.Riversport-05The rafting adventures take about an hour and a half. After we watched the boys a bit, I took the girls over to the Youth Zone. The disappointment of not being tall enough for the rapids was subdued a bit by the activities they were tall enough to do. The Youth Zone area is only for kids under 48″ and is $10 a day (3 and under are free). It is such an amazing deal if you have little ones. There is also a free park next to the Youth Zone.Riversport-06Riversport-07Riversport-08Riversport-11Riversport-10The day we went the girls had the whole Youth Zone to themselves. It was awesome!Riversport-13The Youth Zone also had a mini ropes course. The girls got to wear a real harness and lock in just like the big ropes course. Though they wanted up on the high adult course, they had a wonderful time on the youth version.Riversport-12Cutest little ropes course walker ever.Riversport-14Since Chris got to go rafting, I got to do the SandRidge Sky Trail while he stayed with those that did not want to climb. My 10 year old and I got on our harnesses, hooked in and started climbing. My son said it was like training for American Ninja Warrior. There were beams, bridges, ropes, ladders, etc. that you cross. The structure goes up 80ft with 6 different levels. If no one was waiting down below for us, we could have spent a great deal of time just climbing and challenging ourselves to try everything without holding on. So much fun. I want to go back.Riversport-18

Riversport-20For those that don’t want to climb all the way up (and those that do) there are a few high speed slides too.Riversport-21The highlight of the day for me was the zipline. The actual zipline across the river was fun, but the chance to do it with my son was the best part of the day. He has been waiting YEARS to do a high zipline, but he has never been tall enough. Friends have shot past him in recent years, while all he ever asks me for is a growth spurt. It is so hard to see your kid struggle with something and not have the ability to fix it. When we walked up to the zip line, I held my breath until we were sure he was tall enough. He was! Happy dance by mom!

Together we climbed the stairs to the top. As we reached the very top, he started to get nervous. It was a long way down and far bigger than anything he has ever done. His nervous excitement was contagious. He was in front of me, walked to the edge and jumped off. It was one of my favorite parenting moments. That steep climb up and soaring ride over the river was a long time coming. I’m so grateful I was by his side.

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I do not take days like this with my family for granted. Today I am strong and healthy, but that strength and health is not a guarantee. I know plenty of parents that would give anything to have one pain-free day with their kids. Running, jumping, climbing – the ability and chance to do these things are not guaranteed to any of us. While I am able, I am going to be as active as I possibly can with my crew.

I wanted to share a few of my tips for those of you that visit RiverSport Adventures. I’m always learning as I go when it comes to traveling with kids. Hopefully, these will help some of you!

My Tips:

  • Wear secure shoes (no flip-flops). We had flip-flops and had to make a quick run to the store to get better shoes. Most people wore Chacos or similar shoes. I would not wear running shoes if you want to do any of the water activities too.
  • If you got on a hot day with kids under 48″ bring socks. My girls really loved the Cloud Bounce, but you can’t wear shoes and it was pretty hot. They would have jumped longer if they had socks.
  • If you want to do the zipline, reserve a time as soon as you get there. We almost missed out on this.
  • Reserve you whitewater rafting time before you arrive. You can reserve a spot online so you are sure to get one.
  • Wear active clothes and longer shorts or yoga capris. I had on khaki shorts…not so great with a harness.
  • There is not a ton of shade on the actual activities. Pack sunscreen.
  • Food. There is a concession stand and restaurant on site. The parking lot is between the rapids area and the other areas. If you have special diet concerns, you could leave a cooler in your car. We have a little one that needed food we can’t find in most places. It was not an issue getting to her food quickly.
  • Be sure to read the rest of the Important To Know tips on the website.
  • The website has tons more info, I’d take time to read it all.

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  • ashley jensen - I had no idea this was in OKC! I am so glad you have been sharing your Oklahoma travels. Even after growing up in BA I still haven’t experienced a lot of activities OK has to offer, only a small few. I definitely have a list going since you have been sharing over the past couple years! Thank you!

  • Debbie C - This looks awesome! The feeling, for you and him, of him taking that long-awaited zip line must’ve been amazing. My eyes got a little wet reading about that favorite parenting moment!

  • Jamie - I seriously LOVE all of your travel posts. Like, I think they may have become my favorite kind of all. Your beautiful photography of these places coupled with learning about all of these new places, is just exciting to me! We are on the verge of being able to do more activities as a family now that the kids are getting bigger and it’s been cool learning about these things both near and far. So thank you!

  • Carrie Campbell - Looks like fun! I like that you take advantage of what your state has to offer. And that you share it with others so they can go too. :)

  • Debi - This is so cool! We would have to travel from Colorado to do this, but my kiddos would love it! Any tips on where to stay if we were to come to do this?

  • Marsha - What a wonderful post, Ashley. I’m so thankful for parents like you and Chris who enrich the lives of your children, even when it’s sometimes hard. It’s kind of how we were in our homeschooling days. My memories of that day are more vivid than the photos my husband took the day, or two, before they imploded the rest of the building. He wanted to detour on our way home from our son’s 5th grade graduation near Enid. The images on TV were hard enough for me. I didn’t want actually seeing it burned into my mind, yet it was historic. I begrudgingly agreed. I focused on holding our toddler and six month old close and looked at everything but the building as best I could. Thankfully, my memories of the building itself are mostly from the photos. I do remember the fences completely covered with trinkets, letters and notes (many scrawled on napkins and torn bits of paper), and more from people who came from all over the world, the makeshift memorial next to the YMCA, and the people all around. We’ve been to the outdoor memorial many times, but we’ve never timed it right to tour the museum. Honestly, I have mixed emotions, at best, of touring it. I saw enough on our television, in being there that one day, and in knowing a church friend who was part of the rescue and changed by it. We later lived in the town where the perpetrator was jailed and got to know the officer who apprehended him and the community who didn’t want to be in the spotlight for this tragedy. Maybe one day I’ll be ready to visit the museum and put into another perspective all that happened. Until then, I always seem to wander up to the church with the statue of Jesus crying, and cry myself.

  • Laura Piersall - This is awesome! I’ve seen this River Sports stuff being built over the last few years, but I’ve never stopped to explore. Thanks for showing me what’s in my own city! Haha.

  • AshleyAnn - Marsha – Thank you for sharing your experience with us. My hope is when others read the post on the Oklahoma City National Memorial that they will also read the comments and the experiences of others. I appreciate you taking the time to leave your story. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to visit the site and the museum after such a personal experience. Many tears shed here too.

We’ve been spending the last few days in Oklahoma City as a family. Chris travels to OKC weekly for work, but we never tag along. This time around we’ve make the short drive as a family as I worked with Adventure Road to highlight a few great Oklahoma destinations.

If you are born and raised in Oklahoma, you know there is a healthy argument over which is better – Tulsa or OKC. I’m going to stay away from that debate πŸ˜‰

One of the first places I wanted to take the kids was Myriad Botanical Gardens. Chris and I visited the outside area often while we were in college. As we began the tour inside the Crystal Bridge, I asked Chris if he remembered the last time we were on that bridge together. He didn’t. Boys.

I remember. We were attending the wedding reception of two of our friends. A whole group of us from college went together. Chris and I had just broken up – it was not fun to be at a wedding not as his date. Bleh. Two weeks later we got back together and the rest is history. This visit was much better.

MyriadGardens-01MyriadGardens-02We arrived early, but the temperatures were already rising so we started by touring the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. It is very humid inside, so waiting until later in the day would mean it would be extremely hot. The kids had no idea what to expect. Their reactions to being in “a glass tube” full of tropical plants was priceless.MyriadGardens-03MyriadGardens-04The walkway that runs from end to end up high is my favorite part of the Crystal Bridge. The white, glass, and green make me a bit giddy inside. It is an incredibly beautiful sight.MyriadGardens-05MyriadGardens-06Imagine a wedding reception in here! It was beautiful. It was a December wedding and there were twinkly lights everywhere. Stunning.MyriadGardens-07I like him.MyriadGardens-08MyriadGardens-09The kids thought this view looked like something out of Star Wars.MyriadGardens-11You can tell how huge the Crystal Bridge is in comparison to the people underneath it.MyriadGardens-12The girls participated in a Weekly Walk-up and got to make weather vanes. Each day there is a different activity from 10am-12pm. If you plan a visit, be sure to stop by that area. You can find a schedule of Weekly Walk-ups here.MyriadGardens-13MyriadGardens-15New to Chris and I was the addition of water features. After touring the Crystal Bridge, the kids were hot and ready to cool off in the water. I was a little jealous I wasn’t a kid!MyriadGardens-16MyriadGardens-18MyriadGardens-19

If you are traveling through Oklahoma, this is a great destination for a quick or long stop. As a parent, I recommend it if you are looking for a place for kids to burn a little energy. I would pack or pick up a picnic meal and take advantage of the beautiful location right inside the heart of downtown OKC.

There are also year round activities (movie nights, 5Ks, bike rides. paddle boarding, etc.). You can find details regarding what is offered on the website. My crew hopes to go back for a movie night and a concert on the lawn.

The Botanical Gardens outdoor grounds are free to enter, including the water features and daily activities for kids. The Crystal Bridge has a paid admission.

myriad-gardens-logo-3Outdoor Grounds: 6am-11pm daily

Water features: 10am-8pm daily

Crystal Bridge is open M-Sat: 9am-5pm, Sunday: 11am-5pm.

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  • Susan - Good post! And the shirt Chris is wearing is perfect! That made me smile.

  • anne eicher - I was just looking at your Explore OK posts yesterday! :) We are from Florida and visiting my sister in Oklahoma. We were trying to figure out what to do in OKC… we finally decided on the science museum.

  • AshleyAnn - Anne – I’ll be posting about the Science Museum! We could have stayed ALL day there. All of my kids loved it. You will have such a great time!!

  • Crystal Martinez - Thank you for sharing. I live in OKC, and have yet to take my child to the splash pad area. I’m glad I saw these (directed to this blog via Myriad Gardens FB page) . I’m very excited to make sure I pay a visit asap … Thanks

  • Rikki - Wow, this place looks awesome! I lived near OKC many many years ago, I can’t believe I never knew about this place.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness – what a very cool place!

  • Kaylan - I love Chris’s shirt! Any chance you have a link to where you got it? My husband needs one! πŸ˜‰

Thank you. I appreciate all your encouraging comments yesterday. I always tell Chris, “I have no idea why people read my randomness!” It made me smile to read WHY you actually stick around here with me. For those that said you feel like you know me despite never meeting in person – that means so much to me. I hope you feel that way! Thank you.

It had been a year since they were together, but they picked up where they left off. Maybe even a bit closer. After a year of serving on Mercy Ships, last week our friends stayed with us a bit and we soaked up a few days of our families being together. The youngest two of the families were a wonder to watch. What one did, the other did. A year ago only one of them spoke clearly and now they were jabbering up a storm together.

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One morning the three of us sat at the kitchen table eating breakfast. They were giggling about random things and I asked if I could share a special story with them. They nodded.

I began my story, being ever sensitive to their age and understanding.

Five years ago this summer they were born. One in China. One in Oklahoma. We were not matched with our daughter until she was 8 months old, but deep inside when I held my friend’s newborn, I knew I had a daughter the same age.Β  I told them about how I would rock one with tears streaming down my cheeks thinking of the other. For 14 months I watched one grow. I would pay close attention to her milestones and wonder about my daughter. In some strange way getting to watch my friend’s daughter grow eased a bit of the pain of missing out on those milestones with my own daughter. It was oddly comforting getting to have a visual reminder of the changes my daughter might be going through too. Bittersweet.

I shared with the girls how God comforted me when I was missing one by letting me hold the other. I told them how wonderfully created they each are and how special it is for me to see them together.

I poured my heart out and tried not to cry. When I finished, I smiled and waited for their response.

They looked at me, smiled and ran off to go play.

Evidently, the story isn’t quite so meaningful yet πŸ˜‰

I am so thankful for their friendship and thankful when my pain felt like an ocean I was drowning in God used an unexpected way to comfort me. I’m thankful for a friend that let me cry over her baby and didn’t try to ‘fix’ my pain, but walked through it with me instead. I’m thankful for two little girls that giggle and run off to play.

 

 

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  • ranee - Ashley,
    Your blog is probably my very favorite not because you’re the most popular blogger ever, but because you are real and share from your heart. I do feel like I know you (even though I don’t actually) and so appreciate not just your cute projects, camera tips, and adorable home, but the way you love your family and share your faith in what you write. I just read yesterday’s post and thought…this is why I like her. Thanks for blogging and staying true to who you are as you do it. :)

  • Kim B - I can just see this being one of those stories they will ask you to recite every time they are together and as they grow they will come to understand it more and more. What a beautiful reminder of Gods love and plans.

  • Carrie - Thank you for always sharing your heart. I remember when my daughter turned one and she was still in China. She was born on Christmas. I was a brand new momma wanting to hold her child. I cried. A lot. Thank you for your words. They speak my heart.

  • Ryan - This is such a sweet post, Ashley.

    On a sidenote: can we talk about how your daughter constantly looks like she just walked out of the salon? Best hair ever.

  • Romina MacGibbon - I still remember the day I came across your blog many years ago. It’s been more or less 6 years. I remember staying up late that night reading from newer to old post “catching up”. Ever since that day I come here daily to check on you and your family. I still love this blog as I did in the beginning. I love everything about it, and you inspire me so much, I believe it might be in things you don’t even know, like… I’ve been going to crossfit for one year already, getting up so so sooooo early and I think about you when I can’t do MU. Even my husband has joined, and my 2 year old comes along on saturdays. It is icing in my cake too. I dream of roadtripping with my daughter like you do with your group, I dream about having a table under a tree and a simple life, I would also love to have grandparents and build a coop with him. And I also wish you were my friend and I could sip tea with you while watching the kids play.

  • Autumn - So Sweet

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Last year, when I was pregnant with Mary Alice, Riley started talking about when he was in my tummy. I took a deep breath, ready for a huge conversation, and said, “oh honey, you weren’t in my tummy. You were in Aunt Emily’s tummy.” I was ready for hours of conversation. He said, “oh, OK.” And ran off to play. It’s amazing how they process information when they are loved and safe. So trusting.

  • Allison - beautiful!

  • Kelsey - Oh my gosh! I had the exact experience! My friend’s daughter is less than a week younger than my daughter. We found out about our daughter when she was 3 months old, but her birth mom wanted to breastfeed until she was 6 months, so for three months I had a daughter in my heart that I couldn’t hold yet (and was afraid I would never be able to hold if her birth mom changed her mind!). I cherished holding my friend’s little girl, imagining what mine would feel like in my arms, praying for my daughter-to-be. And now I love watching them play together and grow up together. I have a special affection for my friend’s daughter because of how God used her to connect to my little girl when I couldn’t be her mommy yet. Loved reading your story and hearing mine in it!

  • Emily Bartnikowski - That is an amazing story. What a wonderful gift to have such friendships in your life. Thank you for sharing.

    (also – I don’t like to type very much on my phone, but your instagram about 9:03 was so timely. My mom works in the library where the shootings in Dallas happened on July 7. By the grace of God she was in Florida and NOT in the library, so she is safe, but it was a crime scene until yesterday and today she returned. It was 9:03 in Dallas this morning. Thank you for sharing that, it meant so much.)

  • Jenny B. - Beautiful, Ashley. You just get right to the heart. I think that is what I love most about your writing. I don’t think I could have ever put into words the emotions you’ve described in this short post. You give clarity to murky things. It is most certainly a gift. Thank you for sharing it. <3

  • Kim B. - What a beautiful, beautiful story. What a blessing God gave you through your friend and her daughter. Love the reunion now.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Meaghan - I love this story – as I really do all of yours. Thanks so much for sharing with us and being open and honest. This one really speaks to me now.

  • Kara M - This is wonderful! I held my friends’ kids so tightly while waiting for my son. We just passed our year mark for when we met our son. That week, I would sit in his room late at night, holding him. I said, “can I tell you a story?” With bright eyes, he would say “YAH!” I told him stories that he couldn’t possibly understand at 2 years of age, but he would smile and even touch my face. Sweet kids!!