I just got back a few days ago from an awesome 4-day road trip with my mom and am not ready for reality. Can I just stay on vacation?
I’ve been reliving all the beautiful places we saw the past few days while looking through my photos and am still just in awe. The world is such a beautiful place, especially the Western US (Okay, I’m slightly biased, I’ll admit). It truly is stunning, though, the difference a few hours of driving can make: Just 3 hours outside Portland to the East and I feel like I’m in a completely different place. Gone are the lush green trees, grass, and water. We drove past massive fields of wheat, where everything looked yellow and dry. Northeast of Bend, we explored the John Day Fossil Beds Monument, which covers almost 20,000 acres in Central Oregon. Of the 3 “units” the monument is divided into, we visited 2: Clarno and the Painted Hills.
I wasn’t as excited about the Clarno Unit as I was about the Painted Hills, but once we arrived, I was pleased we had included it on the trip. Huge palisades towered over us . The sight of them against the bright blue sky was just spectacular. We enjoyed lunch and a short walk to see the towers from other angles before venturing on to the Painted Hills.
The Painted Hills were amazing. I’ve read that the best time to see them is after a rain, if possible, because the rain activates the colors in the rocks even more. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any rain the first week of August, but they were still quite the sight. Depending on the way the sun was hitting the hills, they boasted different shades of reds, browns, oranges, yellows, and even purple. There were several areas to view, and we stopped off at all that we saw. There were certainly a lot more people at the Painted Hills than Clarno, but that was to be expected. What I didn’t expect was how hot and desert-y the climate was out there. It’s crazy that I’ve lived in Washington all my life and haven’t ventured very far East into Oregon yet, usually staying between I-5 and the coast. I really look forward to another trip to explore further.