Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sisters and Prineville

On the first day of our spring break trip to Eastern Oregon, we stopped in Sisters for lunch and checked out the cute little shops. We didn't stay long because the girls were driving me crazy touching everything they liked in each shop. On our way out of town we saw a couple of great metal pieces. This was our favorite, Cinderella's coach.

After Sisters, we headed to Prineville. Jess, one of our friends moved there from Eugene and has an adorable store she has opened called The Vintage Cottage. We wanted to see her and check out the new place. She refinishes furniture and other things which she finds at garage sales and second hand shops. Her prices are very reasonable and she has such creativity! If you are ever out there you should stop by and tell her I sent you.
Prineville is a small town but very cute and has some interesting things to see. There is the Bowman Museum which is inside an old bank. The girls enjoyed learning about how people made a living in the 1800's. There is the Cada Dia Cheese Dairy Farm which you can take tours of but we weren't able to fit it in. There is also some nice architecture to look at. I really liked the courthouse.

On Thursday we went to Steins Pillar in the gental slopes of the Ochoco mountains. Steins Pillar is a 350-foot natural skyscraper composed of rhyolite ash produced by eruptions from the Cascades that settled in an inland sea and compacted to stone.
Steins Pillar is just outside of town. You can hike up it in the summer.
K drew a smiley face in the snow on this post.

The Painted Hills of Oregon

After going to Steins Pillar we continued east heading toward the Painted Hills. I had heard they were pretty but I wasn't prepared for all the colors layered throughout the hills. I am sure in the summer the colors are even more intense. They say pictures can speak a thousand words, I will let the pictures do most of the talking in this post.

This picture of the girls and me is taken at the Painted Hills Overlook in the John Day Fossil Beds. The pictures don't do these hills justice. The reds and golds are so vibrant!
These pictures are from the Painted Cove Trail. There is a boardwalk all around this area with little signs that tell you all kinds of interesting facts about the area. The gist of it is that all these hills were made from volvanic ash fall over different periods of time millions of years ago. During different times the land had different climates ranging from tropical, jungle-like forest to deciduous seasonal climates to the desert like conditions it has now.
The warm red colors are from iron oxides. Yellows and oranges are a blend of iron and magnesium oxides. The lavenders are from rhyolitic lava. These colors are striking with the mix of blue lake and green plants.
The girls in front of Leaf Fossil Hill. It is covered in fossilized remnants of plants over 30 million years old.
My cute girls posing for the camera.
The roads we drove on were open range and there were lots of cattle milling about.
We all got a kick out of these cute calves with their mamas.
Jess told us to get gas before we left Prineville. We forgot, but luckily on our way to the paleontology museum we found gas in the VERY small town of Mitchell. The residents were very polite and helpful. We got gas and some cokes before heading out of town.
We saw this little store and were intrigued but unfortunately they were closed.
This house is for sale and right next to it was another ramshackle house being remodeled.
If you ever find yourself out this way, I recommend stopping in this town or at the very least, driving through it.
Noticed that the picture I took looks very similar to the one on this informational sign.
At the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center. It was gorgeous here. We learned all about this land from millions of years ago and got to see fossilized bones of animals that lived here. There were never any dinosaurs here but the animals that lived here are related to todays horses, rhinos, elephants, mice, and wolves just to name a few. We also got to see how a horse evolved over the millennia from a small three-toed animal to the horse we have today. K was totally in her happy place! She loves anything having to do with paleontology.
Saber Tooth Tiger skull.
Looking at fossils under a microscope.
K putting together pieces of a fossil.
We started our day at 9am and didn't get back to Prineville until 6pm. We headed to our friend Sue's house, near Redmond, to spend the night. She has an adorable vacation house not far from Prineville and she was a gracious hostess. She fed us a tasty dinner of soup with grilled cheese (I had a pulled pork sandwich) and made up the guest room for us to sleep in. I only got one picture while we were there and it was of the girls finished puzzle they worked on. And, really, who wouldn't want to give Johnny Depp a kiss, right?!!?
In the morning we got up, had a tasty breakfast and then headed on our next day of adventure and sightseeing.

A Little Backtracking

We really wanted to go to the Bowman Museum because Jess's daughter, who is K's age, said it was fun and interesting to see. So we backtracked to Prineville and went. The girls really liked it. I didn't take any pictures because, really, what do you take them of? The old fashioned phone? The old clothes? The gorgeous old furniture? So no pictures but there is a funny yet slightly embarrassing story.
As I said before, the museum is in an old bank and the old vault is still there. Placed inside the vault are old safety deposit boxes, typewriters, calculators and the such. Karen and I were in a different room looking at the progression of mouse traps over the years when all of a sudden we hear a strange moaning sound and the lights start flickering. It happens twice before I realize that L is not with us and she is probably the source of this noise. We find her in the vault pulling on a string hanging from the ANCIENT light. Every time she does it the building makes a horrible groan and the lights flicker. Needless to say, the women watching over the museum was not happy. We ushered L out of the room and made her stay next to us the rest of the time at the museum. You can't really blame her, though. We have always taught her to turn out the lights when she leaves a room. But I think it became fun for her when she heard and saw what pulling on the string did.

After the museum we headed to Redmond to check out Peterson Rock Garden. In 1935, a man named Rasmus Petersen, who was a farmer, started building a small rockery in his backyard as a hobby. As his freinds came to admire his handiwork, and brought more friends, he continued to build more. He found all of the rocks he used within an 85 mile radius of the garden. He used petrified wood, jasper, agate, thundereggs, malachite, lava and obsidian. He died in 1952 but his family still maintains the gardens.

This is the gift shop. Inside there were tons of rocks, crystals and thundereggs. There was also a room with a black light in it and rocks that glowed. The girls thought it was cool.
This rock fireplace was inside the gift shop as well.
This was a HUGE rock statuary with rock bridges going across what looks like a moat when they fill it in the summer time. All of these rocks were pretty but the owner said they are even more dazzling in the summer when the sun can bounce off of them.
There were lots of roosters, hens, and peacocks roaming around the property.
Karen really liked them and girls wanted to have one as a pet.

We Saw Big Foot on Our Way Home!!

On Saturday we loaded up our car and enjoyed a breakfast at the lodge kitchen before doing our final sightseeing on our way home. We passed Table Rock while headed to Christmas Valley.

Table Rock
A cool rock formation.
You would think that Christmas Valley would be pretty and full of Christmas trees but in actuality it is a barren and dry desert. Apparently a developer tried to make it a farming and retirement community in the 1960's. He put in a golf course, airport, lodge, rodeo grounds, and an artificial lake. He even went so far as naming all the streets with Christmas names like Mistletoe Road, Dasher Street and Candy Lane. No one ever actually moved there so it is home to only 979 people who grow and harvest hay.
We saw the sand dunes from a distance outside of Christmas Valley. It apparently is a huge tourist attraction for off-road enthusiasts. We drove to The Lost Forest but didn't go too far in because the driving conditions were not suitable for a minivan.
The Lost Forest is a unique Ponderosa Pine stand remnant of a once vast forest that existed thousands of years ago. They survive on less rainfall than is usually needed which is part of the mystery of the Lost Forest's survival. We all liked the way the tree trunks curved around as they grew.
Our next stop was Crack in the Ground, Oregon. My husband told us about this spot and at first we thought he was pulling our leg but it really is called that. It took us a long time to get there because the gravel road was so washboarded (is that a word?) that we could only drive about 10 miles an hour without shaking our fillings out of our heads. It was worth the drive though.
Crack in the Ground is just that. It's a 70 foot deep crack that runs into the ground caused by volcanic activity which created a tension fracture. It's about 2 miles long and the cool thing is that you can go down inside of it. I went in with the girls but we didn't get too far because there was snow and ice inside. I wasn't prepared to go too deep in those conditions. I would love to go back in the summer and explore.
Getting ready to head down.
The walls had cool texture to them.
This is as far as I dared to go. There was ice and it got rocky a little further in.
This is what most of Eastern Oregon looks like. Lots of sage brush, scraggly trees, sand, and rock formations. A lot of people think it is ugly but I found it lovely in its own way. Lots of greens, browns and yellows. I wouldn't want to live there but it was pretty to look at.
Our next stop was Fort Rock. It is the remains of a volcanic tuff ring with a broken rim. We were able to drive up to it and walk around. By this time of the day we were tired so we didn't walk too far in. I got some good panoramic shots with my camera but can't figure out how to paste them together.
This is Hole in the Ground, Oregon,which is a volcanic explosion maar located on the edge of Fort Rock Basin. You can hike down into it but again, it was getting too late in the day for hiking out into this area, plus there are rattle snakes in this region. Maybe some day we will come back when we can be more prepared and take a scenic hike.
How cool would it be to see the real thing? We got a kick out of this carving.
We drove over the Cascades to get home and encountered snow. It was coming down thick and hard. Luckily the roads were pretty clear and it didn't take too long to get down the mountainside.
There were a lot more things we wanted to do on our trip that we couldn't because of the time of year it was. There are caves to explore and waterfalls to see. I have kept a list so we can go in the summer to see all the sights we missed. And I think it would be fun to take my hubby since he's an outdoor enthusiast.
I hope you enjoyed the posts about our spring break. If you haven't been to scenic Eastern Oregon, I strongly suggest you plan a trip. It was interesting, beautiful and fun to behold.