Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

John Day Fossil Beds NM, OR

 We got all caught up on our yearly maintenance on our MH at the factory service center in Coburg, OR this past week.  We also got a few things fixed and had several other things checked, like shocks, air bags, brakes and slide outs.  We spent the fourth of July here as well and watched fireworks on TV from DC and Boston.  The fireworks here in the Coburg/Eugene area were at the local rodeo arena :)) and started right the bull riding, no bull, at 10 PM.  Too late for us to be out, so we stayed in the MH and enjoyed celebration of our independence.
We took off Saturday morning, the 7th and drove straight to Prineville, OR, home of the Les Schwab tire retreading factory.  No kidding!  Prineville population: 9,403, according to the sign coming into town.  We camped at the County RV Park, located at the fairgrounds in town.  It was a pretty nice RV park and had FHUs and lots of shade (translated, no satellite reception).  Sunday morning, we were up and on our way to John Day Fossil Beds NM, about 200 miles round trip in the Jeep.  Services at the local COC didn't start till 11, so we opted to listen to a couple sermons on CD from our COC in Va Beach. We brought about 50 sermons that Mike Lucas, our preacher there, had recorded and made available for anyone who wanted them.  When our opportunities are limited like this day, we opt for Mike "on the road".
 From Wiki:  The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument consists of three widely separated units—Sheep Rock, Painted Hills, and Clarno—in the John Day River basin of east-central Oregon. Located in rugged terrain in the counties of Wheeler and Grant, the park units are characterized by hills, deep ravines, and eroded fossil-bearing rock formations. To the west lies the Cascade Range, to the south the Ochoco Mountains, and to the east the Blue Mountains. Elevations within the 13,944-acre park range from 2,000 to 4,500 feet.
The Painted Hills unit was interesting.  Here are these magnificent hills of varying shapes and colors, in the middle of no where.  We drove around them for about an hour and drove on toward the main unit of the NM.  Here are a few more pics, all snapped by Nancy with her Sony HX100V.
 Not all of her subject matter was aesthetic I might add...
 We had a nice day to visit, so far, as it was around 80 and headed for 100 plus, finally.  I love hot weather.
 Her little camera does a good job, and as I've said before, as well as my Nikons.
 We arrived at the visitor center over off HWY 19 past Mitchel, OR and it was by now around 95.  Below are some of the unusual looking mountains we saw all around us. 
 Directly across the road from the visitor center was this 1800's ranch house.  It is owned and administered by the NPS, and it so happened that we lucked out and joined others in a tour of the ranch lead by one of the rangers.  Very interesting, and once again, educational, as the ranger shared many stories and photographsof the time and family who owned the ranch, up until 1975, when it was sold to the NPS.
From Wiki:  The James Cant Ranch is a pioneer ranch complex in Grant County in eastern Oregon. The ranch is located on both sides of the John Day River in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The ranch was originally homesteaded by Floyd Officer in 1890. Officer sold the property to James Cant in 1910. Cant increased the size of the property and built a modern ranch complex on the west bank of the river. The NPS bought the ranch from the Cant family in 1975, and incorporated the property into the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The NPS used the main house as a visitor center until 2003. Today, the Cant Ranch complex is preserved as an interpretive site showing visitors an early 20th-century livestock ranch. Here a few more pics of the complex.
 Above, one of the out-buildings.  Below, walking toward the barn in back of the house.
 Sheep Rock Mountain across the John Day River behind the house.
 The ranger desribing aspects of the ranch, a former sheep ranch before WW2 where more than 1000 sheep called home.  It was a large operation when wool was needed before and during the war.  But after the war, the demand fell off and the ranch gradually transitioned to cattle, and today it is still used by the family (5000 acres of the original 6,000).  It was hot!
 Pens where newborns and mothers rested before joining the herd.
 Below, part of the large area where shearing took place every spring.
 Above, the shearing area with the large device used for holding the large bags of wool right after shearing.  The bags were around 600 pounds when full.  Below, the old truck that they modified to suit their needs.  Note the position of the steering wheel, and the cutout back.  They actually used this in reverse gear most of the time as reverse was a low gear and more torque.
 The ranch house was built around 1917 and replaced the original smaller one for a growing family of four children and ranch hands.  It has been well preserved.
 How would you like to view this out your back door every day?
 Remember above when I said so far, with regard to the weather?  Well, on our return trip to Prineville, via the Thomas Orchards in Kimberly, OR, we drove thru some rain, lightning and wind bursts.  And when we arrived at the MH, it got really dark with the clouds around 8 PM and it hailed these marble sized ice balls all around.  Hopefully it didn't do any damage to the roof.
Well, that about wraps up our 200 mile day.  It was a nice day once again, seeing things we've never heard of, and unique parts of our beautiful country that some folks take for granted. We always enjoy the chance to see any part of this good old USA, thanks to our Good Lord.  So, till the next time, RVing Beach Bums headed further north towards Mt St Helens, WA.