Geology and fossils have recently sparked and interest in me, so for my birthday weekend I choose a road trip through central Oregon to the John Day Fossil Beds National Park. I knew it would be a long drive so we also invited our buddy KevyKev to keep things exciting.
Friday night after work, the three of us drove 225 miles to an off the highway State Park. Not our kind of camping, but showing up after dark and leaving just after sunrise made the stay easier. Saturday we continued to the Painted Hills unit of the Park where we explored, discovered and took pictures.
The Hills are 33 million year old volcanic and floodplain deposits of ash, dried mud, and silt. Some have been excavated by the Park where they found fossils of saber-toothed kitties, horned turtles, fanged deer mice, among other odd Eocene creatures.
The second half of the journey was to the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness were we had an awesome hike picked out that would take us up to a forest lake. We set up camp next to the trail head and enjoyed a night of stories and a salmon dinner. But the next morning brought rain and thick coulds that didn't look like they were going anywhere. So as a group we decided to skip the hike and continue on the road trip.
The High Desert Museum in Bend Oregon combines a zoo and a historical center, two activities where I could spend hours. We spent our time admiring the animals of the desert and the exhibit of Native American tribes of the area, and met an awesome Lynx named Snowshoe and his buddy Ochoco the Bobcat.
The rain really set in as we found our final camp spot. We found some back country roads on the rim of a large canyon where we eventually decided to ride out the storm. After we got the tent set up we were thoroughly soaked, so we spent the night in our undies, playing Uno and drinking rum out of the bottle. It turned out to be a fun night.
Thanks to KevyKev for joining us on this adventure. It's always nice to have another buddy to travel with. We hope to have him along on more trips this summer.