9/26/12

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

As I write this post, I'm already at home, and so you will have to travel through time with me while I tell you what happened yesterday.  It's been a busy couple of days and this is the first chance I've had to blog about the last day of our trip.  I have so much to tell you before moving back to the humdrum of day-to-day life here at the Three Cats Ranch.

Yesterday, we took off fairly early because it was a full day of driving to see the parts of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument that we wanted to see.  The monument is divided into three parts each of which is some distance away from the other parts:  the Clarno Unit, the Painted Hills Unit, and the Sheep Rock Unit.  We saw only the Sheep Rock Unit and the Painted Hills Unit (which was the part I really wanted to see).

The visitor's center is at the Sheep Rock Unit, and it was 30 miles from where we were staying.  Before arriving there, however, we stopped at the Mascall Formation lookout.  If you click on the link, you can read more about it.  Here's what we saw:


The whole point of this exhibit was to demonstrate the uplifting forces and the erosion processes that have shaped the John Day region.  It's easy to imagine with the different formations you can see here.

There isn't much else to say about this except that it gave me an opportunity to take pictures of some of the sage brushes that were in bloom.



After that, we got back in the car and continued on to the Sheep Rock section of the park.  These were some of the formations we saw once we arrived at the visitor center.


This next image shows the formation for which this part of the park is named.  Below this image, is a picture of the sign explaining what you are seeing.


You can click on the explanatory image to make it larger and easier to read.  It is believed that the formation was named for the sheep that once grazed its slopes.


The Painted Hills section of the park was another 30 miles down the road, and so we stopped in the tiny town of Mitchell, Oregon, (pop. 106) for some burgers at the Little Pine Cafe.  One burger would have been enough for the both of us, but we didn't realize it until they were served.  The burgers were excellent, but the people were downright charming.  The woman who showed us to our table didn't actually work there.  She was just there chatting with the woman who was doing the cooking.  She took our order, answered the phone, and informed us that she was going to go off and read the electric meters.  That was in addition to the small business she owned down the street from the cafe.  She was an all-about-town kind of gal.



Then we went on to the Painted Hills.  They were as beautiful and as interesting as I hoped they would be.  This was the first formation we came to.


As we drove on a little further, we could see the larger landscape.


We walked the 1/4-mile loop of the Painted Cove trail, which reminded us very much of the Artist's Palette in Death Valley.


It's easier for me to just post images of the signs so that you can read for yourself what you're seeing here.


Smitty and Gracie liked this next picture best.


The loop took us up a hill where we could see the entire formation and loop walkway.  The area beyond the red rocks is a privately owned ranch.


This next image was coming toward the end of the loop.  I like the combination of the red, brown, and mauve soils.


These are our shadow selves.  I like to take pictures of them every now and then.  They only show themselves in the late afternoon sun.


After that, we returned to a formation we had driven past initially and walked the in and out 1/2-mile Painted Hills Overlook Trail where we could get a more panoramic view of the place. 


Here is the sign that will help you understand what you're seeing, if you're interested.


Mike and I are always amazed at the age of things.  33 million years.  Fantastic.





As we stood at the top of the overlook and turned around 180 degrees, this next image shows how it looked in the other direction.


I put this next image in for scale.  You can see our burgundy truck almost exactly in the middle of the image.


There were signs posted everywhere imploring people not to walk on the hillsides and damage the fragile terrain.  We believe this trail was made by animals.


And that was where we ended our day.  After that, we drove the 80 or so miles back to where our trailer was.

This morning we were up and gone early and drove home.  We stopped in Sisters, Oregon, so that I could visit The Stitchin' Post quilt shop, which happens to be one of my favorite quilt shops of all time.  I'll need to tell you about that later.  It is nearly midnight, and I'm ready for bed.  I will tell you more tomorrow.

For now I'm a little overwhelmed with all I need to do in the next couple of days to get organized and back into my comfortable rut.  The trailer needs to be unpacked, there are yards of fabric that need to be put away, and the sewing room is in a disaster.  The house is fairly clean since I cleaned it before we left, but it will be terribly disorganized as we unpack the trailer.  The tomato plants are looking good.  Neighbors and family picked the tomatoes while we were gone, and so there aren't too many ripe ones to harvest.  The plants have grown so tall that they are practically lifting the greenhouse off its pad, and so they need to be whacked back.  Most of the potted annuals are done in from lack of water, but a few can be salvaged.

It will all need to wait for tomorrow, however.  For now, I'm hitting the hay.

18 comments from clever and witty friends:

Lyndsey said...

Wow that scenery is spectacular. What amazing formations and colours. I have really enjoyed your trip. Thanks you so much for sharing.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

Beautiful! It's wonderful how areas that don't have plant life compensate by being gorgeous! I really like it when they put those displays up that explains everything you are seeing. I always take photos of them too.

Dana Gaffney said...

Welcome home! I'm glad you're back but a little sad to see the end of our travels. I hope you'll report on how Smitty acted to finally be free and home.

Vicki W said...

Oh, I want to go there!

Denise :) said...

Welcome, dear friend! It's fascinating to me that, even as much as I have loved the green treed landscapes you've shared over the last number of days, this tree-barren landscape was equally beautiful and engaging! As I commented earlier in your trip, the diversity of our great country's terrain is really one of its best assets!

Winona said...

Those painted hills are awesome. What a fantastic trip you have had. Get that cute Smitty to help you unpack. LOL

WoolenSails said...

Your photos are amazing and I can only imagine how amazing it is in person, what a place to visit. Look forward to your post on sisters and what goodies you got.

Debbie

Patricia said...

This is awesome, I really want to go see things like this. I'll get to the Grand Canyon, Vegas end, soon. I can't wait. Thanks so much for sharing such beauty!

Irina said...

Oh! I am reading your posts but I have so many interruptions! I felt I should comment and say that I am catching up but still have lots left to read...
Amazing photos and so many interesting things! I'm

Rachel said...

WOW. Just wow. Oh and I LOVE the shadow picture. How fun is that?

Diane Wild said...

How awesome. John Day reminds me of the Badlands in South Dakota. Glad you made it home safely.

Gloria said...

Thanks you so much for the photo vacation for me. I love your pictures. I thought to myself I bet the Lord had a lot of fun when he designed and painted this section of land, Truly beautiful.

Lee said...

Welcome home, and I'll ditto all the same accolades as everyone else - great photos, and interesting details. I love your posts.

BUT, did they really have to put toothpaste, chocolate & kitty litter all in the same sentence & all with the same ingredient? Ewww, lol.

kc said...

wow - spectacular & desolate, all at the same time...not to mention, GINORMOUS! what a marvelous adventure you've taken us on. nice to be home again!

Kate said...

Wow, beautiful place. Your trip has me thinking maybe we need to head that direction for vacation next year. Thanks for sharing!

Hope you are well on your way to getting the trip stuff put up and have some time to sew.

ana-ane said...

Son unos paisajes maravillosos, es increible la belleza de esas montaƱas.


Saludos

quiltzyx said...

What an amazing place! I like all the photos, but I think my favorite is the one with the red, brown & mauve soil, blue skies & the evergreen tree!

kate brown said...

You take the most beautiful pictures!! I dont usually enjoy looking at others pictures too much but I have just loved yours!! When are we going on our next trip? I am ready LOL