Hey people, let’s get this trip report over with so we can be in the moment again shall we?
First of all, I can’t believe I forgot about one of the most exciting and scary parts of our stay at Leslie Gulch. I meant to write about the profound silence there. One walk I took alone, the sound of my vest rubbing against me pants seemed deafening. (curse you nylon and zippers! Now I know why real earth folk wear natural fibers.) So the first night we are snug in our bags and suddenly we hear a noise like the sky is being ripped apart. I am ready for anything. Maybe a meteor? Could this be a good day to die? Or perhaps we’ll make first contact with aliens. The noise passed overhead and we stuck our heads out the tent door in time to see the second wave of these guys, so close to the ground it felt like we could get singed by the afterburners:
They came by about the same time the next night, about 10:30pm. The sound was so loud it was terrifying. I bet that for the pilots, ripping through the Owyhee canyon would be like a video game. They were lower than the canyon walls! Still, it scared the shit out of us.
Leaving the Gulch, we decided to go explore the Diamond Craters area and scout out Cow Lakes Campground. After the rains, the roads were less than ideal. Thankfully we have 4 wheel drive!! I wish I had gotten a picture of our car completely coated in mud. We bailed out before getting all the way there and came upon a waterfowl paradise. basalt lined pools in this stream were filled with teals, widgeons, and many more. Then we saw the Sandhill Cranes! They were so tall, they towered over the brush. My camera doesn’t zoom enough to get a good shot, so we just took turns with the binocs. Here’s what the cranes look like:
We were east of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge here. A few minutes later, we stopped at the grave of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. You may know him as Sacagawea’s baby, the only child ever depicted on United States currency.
He died of pneumonia at age 61 while traveling through this area.
Hitting the road again with a less than favorable weather forecast, we head for John Day country. The Owyhee area is known for its hot springs, including this stunner. But that will have to wait for another trip, when the roads are passable and the river is fordable.
The rest of the day looked a lot like this:
And we ended up in a sad motel in John Day Oregon that night, and ate bad Mexican food for dinner.
A new day, we checked out the new John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Visitor Center. This is an amazing museum, with a working paleontology lab inside. Visitors can peer in through a huge viewing window and see scientists working. There were also 6 uniformed NPS rangers available for our question asking pleasure. The “John Day Fossil beds” cover a huge area of eastern Oregon, and reveal millions of years of ancient history, “one of the longest and most continuous records of evolutionary change and biotic relationships in North America.”
It was too nice a day to spend indoors, so we hit the trail at Blue Canyon:
Later in the afternoon we headed for the town of Fossil, where we heard there is a public fossil bed where we could look for our own. There were a lot of leaves in here! We found a dawn redwood. This was more the boy’s speed than writing essays at the visitor center for a junior ranger badge.
Soon it was getting late. We had to find a campsite. we took a chance at some BLM land near the John Day River. This abandoned ranch/tree research station became our home for the night:
The wind farms have really grown in the Columbia Valley. It looks like an alien invasion of robot monsters. I guess this is where my green power program money is going.
I’m not totally comfortable with the wind solution to our oil troubles. The windmills are massive, ugly and scary. There’s a whole new road network now to service them, and new power lines. I’ve heard they confuse and kill bats. Just what we need as mosquito borne disease is certain to increase as our planet warms.
Several hours and a few DVD movies later, we are definitely in Western Washington.
Aaahh, back in Bellingham!
No place like home!!