We spent last weekend in the wild-lands of East/Central Oregon, splashing in and out of swimming holes on the John Day River, scouting sun-baked fossil beds, and, in general, filling our hearts with fun.
Let’s go there for a minute.
Hot and bright by day. A chorus of cricket song at night. Not a single bar of cell-phone reception (vacay-ing in the wilderness shouldn’t be tampered with by outside-world contact anyway).
We whipped through round, caramel-colored hills to get there, but on a dirt road a few miles outside camp, plans changed. Plumes of smoke, coloring the air blue. Wild-land fire fighters biding time inside diesel trucks. Helicopters hauling big troughs of water. Mobilization.
We turned and retreated through a blackened landscape and chased the fading light west—later to find a new, downriver campsite by chance, in the dark. Nevertheless, it was a special place.
What I took away from the trip: the image of delicate leaf tendrils pressed into ancient fossil stone, the freedom and quiet of being the only tent in sight, and the strange way it felt to get woken up at night by the haunting sound of coyote howl. I wonder what Lefty thought, curled up out there in the dirt in front of our tent?
A panting dog, and the Painted Hills in the hot wind—exuding deep geologic mysteries.
Reelin’ em in, tossing em back.
Stone-cold fossil hunters.
Parched earths of the Precambrian.