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Holiday Guide to Grand Lake

3:00 AM EDT on July 3, 2012

I'm pretty disgruntled over the fact that we've been screwed out of some major freebie vacation days in the past year. First with Christmas falling on a weekend, followed by New Year's, and now with July 4th on a Wednesday. Corporate America, you're really only giving us one day off work in the name of our forefathers? I'm pretty sure Thomas Jefferson would not approve. I'm also pretty sure he fathered a number of bi-racial children, and as an ethnically ambiguous chick myself, I must say I admire a man with exotic taste.

Whether you're cramming in all Independence Day festivities on Wednesday or waiting until the weekend to begin the real celebraish, you can guarantee that in the next five days,  nearly every 84% of all families in America will at some point barbeque by a body of water. In Oklahoma, the choice body of water, of course, is Grand Lake.

It seems like everyone, especially those of us in Green Country, has a crazy uncle with a cabin near Duck Creek, or a friend of a friend with a cruiser at Cherokee Yacht Club. Mary Fallin even endorsed the lake as her favorite vacation spot--you know, when she's not jetting to Vegas or the Scotland. And luckily for us, this year there's no blue-green algae to deter our plans....yet.

Anyway, for this post I figured I decided to take a look at how people holiday weekend at the Grand Ole Lake of the Cherokees.

The weekend starts with everyone loading into their Tahoes, filling their gas tank at Quiktrip, and heading across I-44, windows down, blaring Tulsa's super awesome Gen-X radio station. The tunes of Third Eye Blind will buzz and fade after about an hour or so into your trip, but luckily a cherry pie and a bathroom break at the "World's Largest McDonald's" will make you feel okay.

Once you arrive at your destination, a trip to the Walmart in Vinita is usually the first order of business. Cousin Eddie needs to pick up some Skoal, your grandma forgot to pack her anti-aging SPF 90 eye cream, and you have to pick up new life vests. When you get back to the cabin, you then finish cutting the grass, check for water damage, spray for ticks, charge your golf cart, sweep away cobwebs, put away the groceries, and air condition your cabin. By that point, you'll be too exhausted to take your boat out for a spin. So just roast some marshmallows and turn on "the Great Outdoors," you'll need to be well rested for the adventures to come tomorrow.

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By the time morning arrives you should have a cooler full of sandwiches, a cracked open Coors Light, and loaded the pontoon with your most cherished family and subjectively hated friends (feel free to swap those modifiers if needed). As a child, I was a big fan of riding on an inner tube pulled behind the family boat, so make sure your kids do that. I was pretty intense about it--my friends and I would choreograph synchronized routines that completely went to hell the minute a Donzi cigarette boat jetted by. Okay asshole, we're all on vacation--do you really need to get to the ghost town golf course Shangri-La that quickly? Is there some kind of tribal tattoo convention going on that I didn't know about? In my experience, the kind of people at Grand who go obnoxiously fast in neon-colored boats are the same kind of people who wear swimming trunks with flames on them and date former Rocklahoma queens.

After an hour or so cruising around, it will be time to tie up with some other lake dwellers and shotgun eight beers enjoy the scenery. The two most popular locations for such activities are Dripping Springs (pictured above) and Party Cove. Both hot spots are sure to include a bevy of your acquaintances, high urine to lake water ratio, and a triple-decker cabin cruiser complete with a disco ball and a surround-sound dance floor blaring LMFAO songs. You want to make friends with these people. They will have a Jimmy Buffett margarita machine on board. Repeat, they will have a Jimmy Buffett margarita machine on board. There's also a good chance they'll have a functioning indoor toilet.

Although Dripping Springs and Party Cove are both really fun (in a tailgate-y, frat-party-turned-redneck sort of way), I prefer Dripping Springs due to the built-in entertainment--aka the cliff. Some say that on the cliff there is an actual spring of water behind that one rogue tree--but according to urban legend, it's called Dripping Springs due to the tinkle you're likely to release on your way down. That's right, no trip to Grand Lake is complete until at least half of the people you came with get rowdy enough to leap from the rocky ledge into the murky abyss.

The other reason why I prefer Dripping Springs to Party Cove is that little dinghy that brings you beer and burgers on command. I like it because I'm often hungry and poor at planning ahead. The males I'm usually with enjoy it because the fine ladies driving those tiny boats look like they could have been Tiffany Tatro's Arizona State sorority sisters--that is, if they were all into mesh baseball caps and dark lip liner.

And...that's all I have. Usually at that point in the trip I pass out and don't remember much. This is always sad because I want to know who gave me that hickey.

Anyway, no trip to Grand Lake is complete with our the dreaded last day. It's when you walk around like a zombie and load up the Seadoos, change the sheets, and make that dreaded trip to the neighborhood's one overflowing dumpster. You and your friends then argue over who has to drive back home and for some reason one girl who is friends with your roommate starts to cry. But of course, it was worth it. Bask in the glory of your lobster-like skin tone until next time. You've got a solid month before you'll need to begin buddying up with your friend who owns a place in Gran Tara for Labor Day.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xCawoodstock

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