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Oregon Style Honeymoon: Day Two

Ready for some goddamned Oregon? This post has a few big photos, so tell your modem I said I’m sorry. Or you can tell your modem I said bite me. Whichever you prefer.

After going to the Oregon State Fair, our first night out of town was in Bend. This was sort of a spontaneous night we added at the beginning of our trip. I wanted to be able to see John Day Wilderness without having to blast through. So we booked a hotel in Bend to give us a head start. Because these weren’t super-advanced plans, and it was Labor Day weekend, Old St. Francis School was booked. We had to stay at a different hotel in downtown. And well, if you are staying in Bend, just be sure to stay at St. Francis if you can. It’s just makes everything better.

We were treated to a lovely homemade dinner by Tara and Scott, old friends of Dave’s who used to live in Portland. They love Bend and just bought a house. They told us stories of house training their doggie in the winter when it was SEVEN BELOW ZERO. Holy fricken crap. The doggie needed booties on her feet to keep from freezing. Wow. Bend is wonderful. But seven below? I grew up with that kind of cold. But I think I get more delicate as I get older. I’m DELICATE.

We did go to St. Francis for breakfast the next morning. Our new monsters came too.

When I’m on my honeymoon, I get to eat breakfasts like this.

I will be going back on my low cholesterol diet when the honeymoon is over.

Our objective was to see a couple areas of John Day, and to get to Prairie City for our next night. 165 miles. After doing a bit of research and looking at a couple maps, we decided to stick to route 26 to see Painted Hills and Sheep Rock. This meant we were going to miss Clarno Unit, and probably a lovely drive through Oregon’s remote interior. But we like having reasons to come out again.

As it turns out, 26 east of Bend is a lovely drive itself. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was thinking it was going to be flatter, more agricultural and more boring. It was hilly and forested and pretty, with significant mountains along the way. As we drove east, Dave recited places where he had camped as a child.

Painted Hills is not far off 26. Have you SEEN this place?

You can click on the photo above for enormo giant size. We got a new camera for this trip and I spent a lot of time fiddling with new features. Our new camera sadly puts my old handy little ultra compact camera to bed. But don’t tell Craigslist.

Want to see a panorama? You bet you do! Click on it!

We were there in the middle of the day, when the sun was high and the colors were a little washed out. But it was still amazing. The hills have no vegetation, and they seem to absorb light, while nearby grassland reflected light and glinted in the sun.

Do you realize that Oregon only has one national park? And this isn’t it? John Day Fossil Beds are a national monument. We only have two national monuments. We have no national recreation areas, and surprisingly, no national seashores. The Columbia isn’t even a national river. Seems like a crime, doesn’t it? A goddamned outrage.

A short drive from Painted Hills is Painted Cove, where you can walk between the hills on a designated path. The colors are other-worldly.

We could have spent more time hiking around, but we wanted to go see Sheep Rock and we still had many miles to go.

The Monsters seemed to be enjoying themselves so far.

Sheep Rock had a great, well-funded visitor center. I’ve been totally impressed with all the museums and visitor centers we’ve seen in our travels around Oregon. We watched a little video and took a tour of the fossil exhibits. Fossils are cool and all, but I’m actually more interested in geology and how the land formed. I would totally go take classes on geology if I didn’t have to be smart in science and math and stuff.

Not far from Sheep Rock is the Blue Basin. We took the mile hike in.

Here our new camera started to blow out a little. The colors were a light gray, green and blue, and they were washed out in the intense late day sun. Even if accurately rendered, the colors were hard to believe.

For the most part, there was a lovely lack of people at most of our stops. Painted Hills was probably the most crowded, but it was also very open and it was easy to get away from other visitors. Any short hike off the beaten path will get you 90% less company.

This is Oregon, yo.

The last bit of our drive that day was through Picture Gorge. This was a curvy and steep blast where the John Day River cuts through seventeen layers of basalt lava flows.

It was a fun but hair-raising drive, since there were giant campers and trucks peeling around the corners, with steep canyon walls on either side. We are in a zippy little car, and I’m not fainthearted, but it freaked me out a little.

Our stop for that night was Prairie City, Oregon. We stayed in historic Hotel Prairie, which was right in the center of this tiny wide spot in the road.

We had delicious goddamned fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner at Oxbow Restaurant a few doors down. They were thrilled and probably quietly scratching their heads when we told them we were on our honeymoon.

They were also huge Lebowski fans, and I was sorry that we would not be in town for their first Big Lebowski festival.

But we still had many miles of driving to get to where we were going.


  1. The Biscuits and Gravy at St Francis are unreal. I had them the last time I stayed there…

  2. Yay! Those pictures are freaking fabulous!

  3. Unbelievable pictures! Makes me want to see more of Oregon!

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