Thursday, June 7, 2012

John Day Fossil Bed National Monument. The Drive To Redmond

The morning we left Clyde Holliday Oregon State Park at John Day, we found snow had fallen overnight on the nearby mountaintops of the Malheur and Ochoco National Forests.  Our thermometer shows 46 degrees, light rain and fog. I snapped this picture through the windshield:

A short distance from where I took this picture, we came upon two bald eagles perched in the top of a dead tree.  They were a beautiful site and we were close enough to get a good look at their white heads.  We were not quick enough to get a picture though.

We're driving west today along US 26 to Redmond, Oregon, near Bend. This area is mainly ranches along the river bottom land with craggy rock mountains nearby. Just beyond Dayville, we entered John Day Fossil Beds National Monument's Sheep Rock Unit.

Standing along the John Day River

Through the windshield
Approaching the roadway to the John Day Fossil Bed Site, we turned onto Oregon Highway 19 toward the Visitors Center. We hoped to have sufficient space to pull the rig in and tour some of the fossil beds.  Wrong.  The visitors center was quite small with no room to pull a big rig in.

So we continued along this road, which was a smooth asphalt one with plenty of good scenery. 

Yep, that's John Day River running through this scene.
Oregon Highway 19 is wide and smooth, but there's no place to turn around so we just keep going, letting Lady GaGa (the GPS) recalculate as we travel. 

This is the land of "Painted Rocks" -- called that for good reason.

Cathedral Rock (center)

When we finally reached a space wide enough to turn the rig around, we stopped, ate lunch, started the car and walked the dogs.  We also changed our mind about backtracking -- we'd come nearly 20 miles by this time. 

Oregon Highway 19 turned out to be part of an "Oregon Scenic Byway" with many scenic treasures.

The route we're on took us through Kimberly and then Spray, Oregon.  When the road forked, we Oregon 207 through hairpin curves and slopes before returning to US 26 at Mitchell.  It had been a delightful detour.

Between Mitchell and Prineville we caught our glimpses of snow capped mountains.  Ahhh.

We reached Redmond in late afternoon and stepped out of the coach into high winds and cold temperatures.  Our campground is convenient, Expo Center RV Park at Deschutes County Fairground, but oh, how I dread bundling into winter clothes for every dog walk.  Bitter cold.

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