Coming down from a high | Day 1 Photos

by Elouise

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The High Dessert in Oregon, on the way to Mitchell, Oregon – October 2015

Have you ever seen the high desert in central Oregon? The one many early settlers had to travel across to reach the West Coast? Without maps and only occasional guides?

No? Neither had I until last week. I’d seen wheat ranches in Oregon, sea stacks and beaches on the coast, snow on Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, lush forests and state parks drenched with green mosses, waterfalls, creeks running alongside mountain roads, puffins on the sea stacks, and spectacular sunsets. But until a year ago I hadn’t even heard of what I saw last week.

Ten days ago D and I flew out to Portland, Oregon for a visit with our daughter and her husband. It included a two-day road trip to the high desert to see the Painted Hills. Did you know there are painted hills in the USA? I didn’t. Here’s our first photo–a tiny peek as we approached the Painted Hills entrance on Day 1 of our adventure.

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Painted Hills is one of three units in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. We visited two of the three units—Painted Hills, and Sheep Rock.

The photos below are from our first day at the Painted Hills Unit. We arrived in the late afternoon on a picture-perfect day. Warm weather with a cool steady wind, dry air, and very few visitors.

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Can you find the spot where DAFraser zoomed in for this close-up? Also, look for animal trails and tracks. No humans allowed!

Here we’re on our way to a lookout at the top of the trail.
Notice the moon hanging in the brilliant blue sky!

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When we were walking on this path we stopped to listen.
All I heard was silence and the beat of my heart.
“…All nature sings, and ’round me rings
the music of the spheres….”

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Velvet tones and texture, stripes like a soft woolen blanket; colors of the West

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Polite signs like this kept reminding us to stay on the path!
In this case, turn around and go back the way you came.
Which we did!

End of Day 1, back at our motel:

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Wild turkeys on the road up to our motel, after chasing unwelcome cat away….

I’m glad to be home, and happily frustrated because I have Way Too Many Photos! Day 2 includes more spectacular vistas–very different from these. Stay tuned!

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2015
Photo credit: Elouise (top photo), DAFraser (all the rest), October 2015
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Painted Hills Unit