GORE — An Oklahoma couple found paradise hidden beneath the unkempt undergrowth of an old, neglected motor court.
Jane Honiker and Pat Carhart stumbled on the land five years ago where Blue Doors at Tenkiller, a resort they built up from the unkempt and neglected area, now inhabits.
Carhart and Honiker are building their paradise in the foothills of the Ozarks. They are also building community.
“The blue door? It means ‘welcome,’” Honiker said.
Honiker and Carhart, working together and through barter, cleared and cleaned the land. What was once a vestige of a bygone era has been restored to a paradise of fluttering butterflies and talking hummingbirds.
The place had been an old, abandoned motor court, decorated with decades of waste and uncontrolled growth, welcoming to only the toughest insects and animals in Oklahoma.
“Our mission statement is about the exploration of learning about sustainability,” Honiker said. “Because when we started we didn’t know a lot about sustainability, so we’re learning a lot about it.”
They revived the motor court, bedecking it with stucco cottages, blue-painted doors, organic gardens and outdoor kitchens. For Honiker and Carhart’s efforts, Blue Doors at Tenkiller was awarded two Keep Oklahoma Beautiful awards. The first award was for restoration, and the second was for their gardens.
The gardens, a prominent and unique feature of Blue Doors, are used to grow heirloom seeds. Honiker encourages their guests to carry the seeds home with them to start their own heirloom gardens.
“My goal is to teach people about the bees, the butterflies and heirloom seeds,” Honiker said.
The gardens are available to all who pass through the Blue Doors, providing fresh produce for the outdoor kitchens in the court.
A large teepee is used as a workshop and classroom space at the resort.
The cabins at Blue Doors include decor and paintings created by local artists.
“One person may be making pizza in the stove and another person maybe grilling and before ya know it, they’re all eating together,” Carhart said.
They offer a variety of classes oriented toward sustainability and wellness throughout the season. Classes include topics such as aquaponics, essential oils and perfume, fly fishing and beekeeping.
They keep a boat and kayaks on hand for rental use on Lake Tenkiller or free use on their small runoff pond. Carhart is working on a road throughout the more than 100 acres that surround Blue Doors.
“We have about three different masseuses that come in,” Carhart said.
For the future, he hopes to add a large fire pit to complement the communal feel, hiking trails for natural relaxation and bocce ball courts for sport.
“The next phase for Blue Doors will basically be building 12 more cabins going up that hill, overlooking the pond,” Carhart said. “We’ll end up with goats at some point, help keep some of the growth down.”
Carhart and his workers are building another pond, furthering the sustainability of Blue Doors. The pond will be used to grow bait fish and duckweed. The duckweed will be used as chicken feed, Carhart said.
Blue Doors at Tenkiller, open for about two years now, is a paradise in progress.