Bend to Fossil

posted in: Oregon Road Trip 2013 | 0

Today was a day for feeling peevish and then getting over it.

I didn’t really like where I stayed in Bend. The only really good thing about it was that it had a great view. When I arrived I met the owners, was showed the room, which had a separate entrance off the back of the house, and then left to come and go as I please. The room (a bedroom with en suite bath) was big but sparsely furnished. They provided a coffee maker in the room and brought a tray with breakfast (a muffin and some fruit). After breakfast the first day I spent the day out, and when I got back they hadn’t cleared the breakfast tray or cleaned the coffee maker. So I skipped breakfast this morning and got on the road early. When I told the host I was leaving, she was really nice and offered to give me a baggie with the fruit, which I declined. But that was the only interaction I had with her other than “hello” when I arrived. None of this is so terrible, but one of the reasons I like is that it gives an opportunity to meet local people where I’m traveling. If I’m not even going to have that opportunity, I might as well stay in a motel, where at least they’ll clean the room while I’m gone during the day.

It all sounds petty, and it’s not a big deal, but it set me off feeling annoyed this morning. Plus the wifi, which he only turned on when I asked about it, was turned off, so I ended up going to Starbucks for breakfast and coffee and to do my blog this morning. And that’s when I realized one of the main reasons I was coming to Fossil, to see the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, was going to be impossible because of the government shutdown.

I decided to set out to see Sisters, a small town about 20 miles northwest of Bend. It is a cute western town. Too cute. Annoyingly cute. Wooden sidewalks, swinging saloon doors, the whole nine yards. I tried to find a prototypical street to take a picture of, but every street was prototypical.

This faux-western town didn’t do much to cheer me up, although I did find one nice gallery and bought a unique raku vase for my collection. (I’ve lost count, but I think I’m up to six new vases during my trip.)

Heading out of Sisters after I found my car (which I couldn’t remember where I’d parked), I planned on heading toward Redmond and then to a few sites just north of there. But on the way, I saw a sign for Cline Falls, and I figured I’d check it out. Eleven miles down Cline Falls Highway, no sign of any falls.

On the road back to Redmond, I passed a sign for the Petersen Rock Garden, and I decided to check it out. Some might call it folk art. I think that’s awfully generous. Here’s a small sampling:

Five minutes later, still feeling peevish, I was on my way.

Next stop was Smith Rock State Park. But by the time I got there it was raining, plus I didn’t have the required $5 for the machine to buy a day pass. All I had was twenties, plus four ones, and the machine didn’t take anything larger than $10. Still, it was a very impressive sight.

So I left. Still peevish.

Next stop was Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint. Just about five miles up the road from Smith Rock, it’s essentially a viewpoint for a canyon with very sheer cliffs. While I was there, the rain stopped and the sun came out, both meteorologically and metaphorically.

The new Highway 97 bridge, built about 15 years ago, taken from the old bridge
The 1926 bridge that is now only for pedestrians
The railroad bridge, built in the early 20th century
The canyon formed by the Crooked River

Cheered at last by the sight of something worth seeing, and by the improved weather, I went back to Smith Rock, with a stop on the way at a grocery store to buy lunch and break a twenty. I had a picnic on a slightly damp picnic table and spent a couple of hours hiking and admiring the scenery.

Smith Rock from a distance
Up close, looking down from above the canyon

(I took a lot more pictures. I’ll have my complete album on Picasa web albums after the trip.)

I left Smith Rock at about 3:00, and I got to Fossil about 5:30. On the way I passed the Clarno unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, where there are actual fossils of plants from 50 million years ago. There was a sign indicating that it was closed, and the parking lot was blocked, but I stopped in front and climbed over the barrier and walked the quarter-mile interpretive trail.

The trail went up and around and down among all the boulders.
A leaf fossil
More leaves
A small tree trunk

Finally I arrived at Wilson Ranches Retreat, a B&B on a working cattle ranch, got settled in, and went for a bit of a walk.

When I got back, I met a few of the other guests, sat around chatting, and then went to Fossil (about 3 miles away) for dinner at Fossil’s best (and only) restaurant: RJs. It was just a slight come-down from the two fabulous meals I had in Bend.

They actually made a decent cobb salad, with fresh-grilled chicken.

Mileage today: 191.

Tomorrow I’ll hunt for fossils in Fossil, and I’ll take a drive around the area to see what I can see. I’m afraid I won’t be able to see the Painted Hills, as the road in will probably be blocked.

But I won’t be peevish about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.