Vacation List: Eastern Oregon
I’ve been away because I was on vacation. It was lovely; there were a few minor surprises, but they all tended to end the best way. I have a lot to say about this trip. I’ll probably run out of steam before I run out of information, but such is life. I stopped by the garden today and it is just plain burgeoning, so I will have to move on to current events soon. But I’m still excited from our vacation to the west, and here is my first list of thoughts from our trip:
1. Have you ever heard that Eastern Oregon is ugly? Put the thought aside — it comes from unenlightened people. I have no pictorial proof, sorry. You’ll just have to trust me.
2. I did not drive across southeastern Oregon on this trip. That is a little different landscape. I have seen it before, and still maintain that people who believe it is worthless or ugly are unenlightened, but I will not be talking about that section of the state.
3. Eastern and central Oregon from Highway 26 or I-84 is rad.
4. Going west, you drive across a bit of high semi-arid land before you get to the Blue Mountains. The endless sugar beets and potatoes of Idaho give way to more varied farmland — still potatoes and sugar beets, but more onions, wheat, corn, alfalfa, and zinnias. Zinnias, I’m not kidding. Awesomeness. Plus, I saw a bald eagle. I’m not one to pee my pants for seeing an eagle, but I am always pleased to see one in a new-to-me landscape. I saw many raptors during the entire trip, actually, but I’m pretty poor at ID-ing raptors in flight, so I don’t really know what they were. I suspect I saw an osprey. Man, I wish I hadn’t been driving so I could have ogled it more.
5. The Blue Mountains are beautiful. Really, really beautiful. And almost entirely skipped by our Oregon guidebook. Apparently, the author is unenlightened. Maybe he experienced a terrifying childhood event involving Ponderosa pine forests and stunning, low mountains with pretty little rivers in them. Who can say?
6. The towns along 26 appear surprisingly prosperous. Anyone who doesn’t feel like moving to John Day, OR after they see it must be crazy. And Unity, and Dayville, and all of them up to, oh, I guess Lebanon seemed a little run down, but not utterly so.
7. We did only fancy-pants camping on this trip. We didn’t bust out the tent once. The first night was spent in a big teepee at a state park. With electrical outlets and mattresses. And a little opening at the top where a sleepless baby can stare and stare and stare.
8. Oregon has a ton of state parks and they really nice. There is a fee for all of them, as far as I could tell, but the fees are low. And worth it. The state obviously invests a lot in these parks.
9. Oregon supposedly has no chiggers. However, H and I suffered multiple tiny itchy bite-type things after we sat in the grass on the bank of the John Day River for a long time poking around with a stick. They are suspiciously chigger-like. I hate chiggers so much that it’s almost a deal-breaker for me and eastern Oregon, but not quite. They finally stopped itching about two days ago. Before that they were maddening.