by D.J Wilson
“Spring Forward” reminds us that most of the United States has entered Daylight Saving Time, when clocks are turned forward, moving one hour of daylight from the morning into the evening. While critics believe this shift in time may cause disruption of sleep patterns, disturb recordkeeping and complicate busy schedules, most folks welcome additional daylight hours and will likely spend more time outdoors. Spring is a season of delight for many reasons, marked by changes in weather, environment and a further increase in hours of sunlight due to changes in earth’s latitude. Frost subsides and blades of grass turn from dull yellow to emerald green. New life flourishes as robins build nests in which to lay their eggs at mid-morning, and flowering plants take bloom. Gone, for now, are the dormant days of winter. Spring is arriving and the beauty of the season is our invitation to explore these and other fabulous places:
Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Sulphur, Oklahoma – Nestled in the foothills of the rolling Arbuckle Mountains, Chickasaw National Recreation Area is high on the list of attractive places to explore in south-central Oklahoma. The meandering Travertine Creek winds throughout the park, creating picturesque beauty and providing a place to enrich one’s soul. It’s no wonder that over one hundred years ago, American Indians referred to it as the ‘Peaceful Valley of Rippling Waters’. As Oklahoma’s oldest national park area, Chickasaw National Recreation Area contains diverse resources, including natural springs. The area sits in a transition zone, where eastern deciduous forest meets western prairies. This has created a unique environment for plants and wildlife. Offering an abundance of lush landscape and stunning creek views, visitors enjoy activities like hiking, cycling swimming, and camping. The area boasts exceptional bass fishing on the pristine Lake of the Arbuckles, with 36 miles of shoreline ideal for watersports. The peacefulness of the natural setting makes it the perfect backdrop for springtime relaxation or for a family picnic. While the park is open 24 hours daily, all year long, you’ll want to get a jump-start on your visit, as it becomes crowded during summer months.
Mackinac Island, Michigan – The Mackinac Island area covers 3.8 square miles of land and is part of the state of Michigan. Located in the Straits of Mackinac, approximately 7 miles east of the Mackinac Bridge, it is proudly called ‘the all-natural theme park of America’. The 500 friendly residents of Mackinac Island help to maintain the charm of the village, reminiscent of the early 1800’s and showcasing many Victorian-style architectural gems. Spring is an ideal time to visit to beat the summer rush. Visitors will want to dress warmly, as average spring temperatures range between 32 and 47 degrees. Bear in mind that even in the summer, temperatures in this region are moderate. Surrounded by water and accessible by boats and ferries, transportation within the Island is strictly by means of horse and buggy or by bicycle or foot. Explore the natural beauty of the Mackinac Island State Park and be sure to visit Fort Mackinac, a restored fort constructed by British soldiers during the American Revolution. The Island offers excellent accommodations, such as the award winning Grand Hotel which features tastefully decorated themed rooms from the Lincoln Room to the Hollywood Suite. Enjoy rocking on the hotel’s historically large porch overlooking beautiful Lake Huron. Visitors may have good fortune to observe majestic bald eagles on the Island. Abundant in the months of April and May, these migratory birds are sometimes known to spend the whole year on the Island near open waters. With gorgeous views of golden sunsets glistening on the lake, a trip to Mackinac Island is bound to be unforgettable.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area – Located about a two hour drive from New York City or Philadelphia, the Delaware Water Gap area is a lovely haven filled with rivers, lakes, streams, ravines and waterfalls. In 1965, Congress established the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to preserve history. The park gives sanctuary to 70,000 acres of land along the middle section of the Delaware River in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A 40 mile portion of the Delaware River within the National Recreational area is granted protected status under the National Wild and Scenic River Systems, run by the National Park Service. The river cuts eastward at the south end of the park, through the Appalachian Mountains at the scenic Delaware Water Gap. In the 1800s, resorts flourished in the area, making the Water Gap a lovely get-away location for city dwellers. Today, it is the perfect playground for those who love the great outdoors. The Delaware Water Gap is known for its natural beauty and guests to the area have a plethora of seasonal activities from which to choose, such as canoeing, hiking, camping, picnicking, biking, horseback riding and swimming. Visitors can enjoy a one day auto tour of the park to observe picturesque mountain and water scenes. Along the winding roadsides and peeking through the woods are native species growing in abundance. Wild geraniums, which bloom from April to June, display their rose-purple petals and beautify the scenery. For those seeking history excursions, a tour of Millbrook Village offers accounts from the past. Visit structures original to the town, such as a boarding house built circa 1850, and observe volunteers dressed in period costumes. The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a place where history and nature memorably converge.
Blooming crocuses in the meadows and woodlands serve as welcome signs of spring. Let us take pride in the beauty of the season and seize occasions to explore the best nature has to offer.