Sunday Drives

Since moving to SE Oregon, hubby and I tend to do more Sunday drives than before. Usually our Sunday drives are because it’s a holiday and we want to get away.

Mother’s Day happened to fall two days before our anniversary this year. Hubby asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary. I said I wanted to travel a road I hadn’t been on before.

So Mother’s Day on Sunday, we packed up a picnic lunch, water for the dogs, loaded the dogs in the pickup and headed south.

Looking back the way we’d come.

Hubby had discovered a road that runs through BLM (Bureau of Land Management) which is public land from the end of the road that passes our property all the way through some hills and tail end of Steens Mountain to the road to Fields, Oregon.

We traveled that 25 miles in three and a half hours. The road was rough in places, but dry. Except where a creek crossed the road in one spot.

The first stop was to check out a canyon and bushes that were growing along it. There were cattle and Mikey decided to roll in a cow pie. We had to use up some of the wipes we had with us to clean him up in order to stand him being in the pickup.

The road continued up at a gradual climb. The juniper trees became thicker and thicker and a small creek ran alongside the road. We stopped at two springs just feet from the road to look. Hubby is fascinated by springs and wants to try and get one started on our hill where there seems to be more moisture in the ground.

Winding through the thick trees I noticed many of the trees, bigger junipers than I’ve seen before, were growing right out of what appeared to be solid rock. The hills on both sides of the road were solid rock and rock slides. Any vegetation had to find water in the cracks and crevices to survive.

One side of the rocky peaks we drove between.

Emerging from the trees there was a fair-sized meadow which we skirted and found green grass and a creek. Backtracking we went the other direction and came out along what had once been a huge lake. It was now dry with patches of grass and weeds growing in it. You could see that when the snow melted around the rim the water settled in the basin. The dirt was cracked. I couldn’t believe how large it was and that it was so high in elevation. Was it a volcanic crater at one time? How did it become a lake here, at the top of the hills?

the big dried up lake in front of us.

From the lake we headed to the top of a road that traveled down, down, down. Before heading down, we stopped and had our picnic lunch. The sun was warm, the bees were enjoying the lupines, and the dogs lay in shade of the pickup.

Harlie and Mikey .

Starting down, the sides of the road and up and down the hill were covered in wildflowers. Various yellows and first white, then yellow, and finally purple lupine. Hubby said he could smell them. I think my nose was stuffed up from the junipers…

Lupines

At the bottom we came out on the Fields road and headed to Hwy 78 and home.

Hubby laughed at me because several times as we drove toward home I said, “Best day ever!” Which it was a great day. But I remember saying the same thing when he took me up on the Steens Mountain to see the wildflowers one spring and then I believe I said it when we traveled up on the Steens for the fall colors, and when we saw some wild horses on one of our drives.

Yes, I have Best Day Ever, quite often! Do you like Sunday drives?

Sunstone Adventure

wild rose bushes with rose hips on Hart Mountain

Two weekends ago, we (hubby and I) and another couple started out shortly after 7 am to check out Sunstones in Plush, Oregon and go on a road we’d never traveled before.

Not even an hour into our trip we saw 4 wolves alongside the highway to Frenchglen. They took off up the side of the rim when we drove by. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to get a photo of them.

Our first stop was Frenchglen Hotel for breakfast. Breakfast is served from 7 to 9:30 am. They have three long tables with benches where everyone sits. Whether it is guests staying at the hotel or people like ourselves who stop in for breakfast. We always visit with the people at our table. This time it happened to be a father and son who have a Christmas Tree Farm in the Willamette Valley. They were telling us how someone took Jackrabbits from our area to the valley and they now are so plentiful they have become a nuisance over there. The rabbits like to bite the tops off of small tender Christmas trees.

From there we headed to Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge. We saw a few antelope- my photos aren’t very good. While there we took a road we hadn’t been on before and discovered a nice, but primitive, camping area and a really nice hot spring. Hubby and I walked over to check out the hot spring and found 2 men in the water. One was in his birthday suit! He ducked under water when I came around the corner of the enclosure! LOL

Antelope

On our way back to the main road, we spotted a fire starting on the top of Hart Mountain. There were people at the Hart Mountain Headquarters standing outside watching the fire. We continued on to Plush but could see the fire coming over the rim of the mountain and travelling along the ridge.

Fire on Hart Mountain starting

At the Sunstone site, we parked and each went our own way with either a shovel or pick. The wind was blowing like crazy giving us a good dirt shower. I managed to get one stone about the size of the end of my thumb but mostly just little pieces. We dug around there about 2 hours after having a picnic lunch.

Sunstones

After Plush we headed to Denio on a road that is the farthest south in the state. It was a nice drive. We saw some different scenery. I was the only one who wasn’t scared when we drove on an uphill grade that didn’t have a guardrail. In fact, I was looking down the side and relaying to them the pieces of cars I saw scattered downhill.

We reached Denio to find the restaurant Hubby had planned to eat at was closed. But just down the road the Diamond Inn Bar was open. It was an old, bar with the doors all open, locals sitting at the bar talking politics, and a big mutt named Texas sprawled on a small couch. We ordered food from their minimal menu and asked the owner questions about the area. The town had at one time been in Oregon but the residents petitioned and got it moved into Nevada. Because of less taxes. We asked the owner of the bar where he shopped. He said Boise, Idaho about 3 hours away.

From Denio we headed to Fields, Oregon where they still serve real ice cream milkshakes in many flavors. But by the time we arrived they were closed.

We made it back to our house about 8 pm. We were tired but had had a fun trip. I’m hoping our next adventure is to check out some hot springs we’ve heard of.