Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

John Day Fossil Beds

 On our Oregon vacation, pulling a 26' trailer, from the town of John Day, we headed north with the idea we would camp in the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument. Now we knew there were no campgrounds in the Monument as well as the beds themselves were closed thanks to the federal government shutdown, but we had done some research and found there was a bed and breakfast that had space for dry camping with RVs. We had called ahead, and they said it'd be fine.

The gravel road up was about 5 miles and supposed to be smooth. Turns out it had a lot of sharp curves, and wasn't totally smooth. We had one scary moment when Farm Boss braked sharply. It turned out the cattle guard didn't go all the way to the edge of the road and in his mirror he saw that our trailer was about to land in a hole that would have had us getting out jacks and who knows how getting ourselves out of it.

So, I had to get out of the truck and make hand signals so he'd know where he was safe as he drove back over it this time without the scare. With the truck and trailer on one side, I looked uneasily at the cattle-guard realizing I'd have to walk across it. They are metal bars with spaces between. Although you'd not fall in very far, it's not something that makes me comfortable. He knew that and hence was already back to help me across.

So after that, the road was good, the scenery totally spectacular as it had been all the way-- except when we pulled into their place, they were burning juniper brush. Because of my sinus problems and at one time asthma, I am someone who really cannot take smoke. We looked and it appeared anywhere they allowed camping would be in the path of the smoke; so, after explaining the situation to the owner, we headed back down the same road, more cautiously around the cattle-guard.

The landscape though on the road up and down was so good that it made the detour well worth it especially with all the fossil beds closed. They are well worth time if you are ever in that area. There are no dinosaur fossils because during the age of the dinosaurs all of Oregon was under water; but this is about the age of the mammals. There are fossils under much of that pretty rock, some already dug up and some will remain there forever. It is a geologist and archaeologist's paradise. Pretty good scenery for everybody else too.

We may go back sometime when the lighting is better although with the rain and misty quality, it gave a fantasy feel to the grandiose landscapes.

And finally we were on pavement and heading north with the John Day River to follow for awhile.


Tabor said...

Very interesting place and a place I would love to visit. Really enjoy the dry and dramatic dessert and throw in a few fossils and I am good for the whole day.

robin andrea said...

Love seeing these photos of eastern Oregon. So beautiful there. It would be wonderful to check out those fossil beds. It looks like quite a place to visit.

Rain Trueax said...

There is a good museum to explain it all when the beds and all are not being closed by government. You do feel you are stepping back in time to before man was around this area.

Celia said...

Magnificent area, your pictures brought back many memories. Kids, kids' Dad, and I camped down there on BLM land a couple of times long ago. It was a beautiful trip.

Tara Crowley said...

beautiful undulating landscapes with amazing colors. My one trip through eastern Oregon was a thing of beauty -- I had no idea. I hope to return.

Hattie said...

That is a place of unbelievable beauty. My husband did a lot of fossil hunting around John Day when he was a Boy Scout.

Dick said...

Beautiful country, beautiful photos. I grew up in Eastern Washington (Spokane area) which, just west of Spokane, is much like the high deserts of Eastern Oregon. They are quite different from the deserts of the SW but both are beautiful in their own, distinct ways.