I just realized that while I wrote up the Eastern Oregon trip in email for family, I never posted anything here! I really need to get “post by phone” working for me.
A few weeks ago, Brian and I drove to John Day, Oregon, which is where a good part of my family lived. I grew up visiting my grandmother there, and John Day’s roads are steeped in memory for me. I was properly horrified when I did the math and realized that I hadn’t been here in 11 years! It had been bothering me that we hadn’t been to John Day since finally moving back to Oregon. Luckily, Brian likes John Day equally as much as I do, so he was up for it.
We got a late start on Friday, probably about 2 in the afternoon, and we were worried about being able to get dinner before all of the restaurants closed. None of the restaurants have websites, and from yelp, it sounded like most of them closed at 9 p.m. Yikes!
We left Portland, and it was 77 degrees. We decided to take the route along the Gorge rather than over Mt Hood. When we turned off at The Dalles, it was 100 degrees! It’s crazy how much it varies dependent on where you are in Oregon.
Hwy 97 looks like this:
Hwy 97, Central Oregon
There are some ghost towns we visit not too far from here and I had to stop myself from pulling over a bunch to take pictures. Here’s a church without windows and doors, it looked ooooold.
Old church on Hwy 97, Oregon
Even though we were worried about getting to John Day in time, we had to pull over at the Sheep Rock unit of the John Day Fossil beds. It was funny – I said we’d save the Fossil Beds for a trip when we had time to properly explore them, but we got a taste of most of the major areas of the fossil beds. Brian and I definitely love being flexible on road trips – we allow ourselves to get distracted and pull off the road at the drop of a hat.
Here’s what it looked like in one direction:
Brian At the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, Oregon.
And in the other:
Heather At the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, Oregon.
The visitors’ center was closed when we go there, which was a good thing or it really would have been granola bars for dinner for us. It was hot and windy here, and you need to watch and listen for rattlesnakes.
We made it to John Day with enough time to eat dinner. We found a “new” restaurant (well, it wasn’t there 11 years ago) called The Outpost and it was perfect. They were super nice, had some good microbrews on tap, had good food, and introduced us to fried pickles (yeah, I know it sounds weird. I was against it too. They were really, really good and I’d get ’em again in heartbeat).
The sun was setting as we left town. We were staying about 10 miles away in Prairie City. We were racing the clock again as the hotel clerk only worked until 9! The drive there felt like something out of a movie, with the sun setting over the Strawberry Mountain range to our right. It was hot, dusty and completely wonderful. We must go back for much longer next time! Here’s a bad iPhone photo I took of it at 65 mph (I wasn’t driving):
Sunset in Eastern Oregon.
We made it to Prairie City in time. I had a nice chat with a woman who liked my “Oregon Girls Rock” shirt and we checked into Hotel Prairie.
I’m not sure I can say enough good things about Hotel Prairie. An old 1904 hotel which was renovated in 2005, it was a piece of history. The owners did it right – they used local materials for the renovation, with lots of beautiful photography of local history on the walls. The lobby had a fireplace you could sit next to and read or knit. Brian didn’t tell me, but when he made the reservation, he reserved the best room in the hotel for us. It was huge and marvelous and not a single picture I took turned out. It was very clean and modern inside, and had framed quilts on the walls that must have taken forever to make as they were handstitched and extremely complicated. We settled in to read for the night.
Here’s a bad iPhone photo of the Hotel sign from our living room at Hotel Prairie:
Hotel Prairie, Prairie City, Oregon.
Alright, more later, I better get to work for the day.