Monday, September 7, 2015 – Labor Day
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, The Dalles



This morning we said goodbye to my brother Brian, as we continued on our separate journeys. What a beautiful, clear morning we had to resume our drive! Tom and I returned to Pilot Butte before leaving town and finally got a decent look at the nearby glacier-covered Cascades. We could see all the way to Mt. Hood, 93 miles away.

#########

From Pilot Butte

#########

Bend, Oregon, from Pilot Butte

We drove east out of Bend past the Prineville Reservoir and headed into the desert to the colorful landscape of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The John Day is divided into three separate, non-contiguous units in the John Day River basin: the Painted Hills Unit, the Clarno Unit, and the Sheep Rock Unit. We visited the first two. The Painted Hills was the closest of the three remote locations, about two hours east of Bend.

The multicolored strata of the Painted Hills badlands are stunning and almost otherworldly. This would have been a great setting for an episode of Star Trek!

We walked three short trails here: the Painted Hills Overlook Trail, a 1/2-mile round trip along a ridge with panoramic views; the Painted Cove Nature Trail, a 1/4-mile boardwalk taking you up close and personal around a little hill (you are not allowed to walk on the hills, as it causes permanent damage); and the Red Scar Knoll Trail, a 1/4-mile trail ending at a hill made of red and yellow clay.

#########

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Painted Hills Unit

#########

Jana at the Painted Hills Overlook

#########

Painted Cove Nature Trail

On our way out of the Painted Hills Unit, we stopped at a nice picnic area and devoured a giant sub we'd picked up at Safeway this morning, washed down with a Paddleboard Porter (delicious). It was warm this afternoon, in the mid 80s, and I finally got a chance to change into some shorts.

The most direct route from the Painted Hills Unit toward the Clarno Unit began via a twisting gravel road through private ranchland, with views down to the John Day River. After about a dozen miles, we turned at Twickenham onto a paved road, but it was still about another 40 miles to the Clarno Unit. As I said, these places are remote and disconnected.

#########

John Day River

#########

Our rental car on a dusty road

We stopped at the Clarno Palisades but opted to skip the planned hike. The Palisades were striking but would have been more impressive if we hadn't just been to Smith Rock yesterday, so we quickly moved on.

#########

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Clarno Unit

#########

Clarno Palisades

On State Route 118, we passed through a depressed-looking little community by the name of Antelope, Oregon, population 46, that has an interesting history. The town of Antelope was named “Rajneesh” for a few years in the 1980s, for Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, when members of his international cult moved into the small town and voted in the name change. After the cult leader was arrested and pled guilty to immigration fraud and had to abandon his nearby commune, the remaining residents of the town, both original and Rajneeshee, voted unanimously to restore the original name. Today there is a plaque at the base of the Antelope Post Office flagpole that reads: "Dedicated to those of this community who, through the Rajneesh invasion and occupation of 1981-85, remained, resisted, and remembered."

We continued northwest from Antelope and at the town of Maupin got on the Lower Deschutes River Scenic Byway. The road is a total of 36 miles and follows the picturesque Lower Deschutes River and Canyon along an old railroad grade. Only a few miles of the byway is paved.

#########

Lower Deschutes River

#########

Deschutes Canyon

From the Deschutes, we headed for The Dalles, our destination for the night, stopping alongside the road to admire Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams at sunset.

#########

Mt. Hood

We arrived at the Oregon Motor Motel in The Dalles (pronounced "the dalz") at 8:00, and just as we got the car unloaded, a torrent of water rushed down 2nd Street in front our motel. A water main had broken nearby. What timing! We didn't have running water for hours, and when it started back up, it was super muddy. At least we were able to flush the toilets, but drinking the water or even showering was out of the question even the next morning.

The nearby restaurants immediately closed when the break occurred, but Casa El Mirador was still open just a mile away. Dinner was delicious and the portions were huge! By the time we finished eating, the water main issue had caught up to this place too, and they couldn't serve any more drinking water. Still thirsty, we stopped by Safeway, but it was just after 9:00, so the store was closed (like almost everything in Oregon at that time of night). Luckily, we found a gas station still open and picked up a 6-pack of Black Butte Porter. Gotta drink something!


Continue to September 8, 2015

Oregon & Washington Journal Main Page

Tom Goetz's Homepage

Sign our guestbook

View our guestbook