Once upon a time we used to do a lot of driving and camping trips in Eastern Oregon. We’d pack up kid and supplies, throw them in the old Mazda pickup, and take over. Winter and spring, we’d load up the car and go for a drive to get away from the pollen.
But…first kid’s school activities, then grad school, then work, plus well, work, then skiing, then Writer Needs to go to Cons…and we got away from the escape trips.
This weekend we decided to get out and go for one of our favorite drives, a loop through Prineville and the Ochoco National Forest, up past Big Summit Prairie to visit one of our favorite old campsites, then back through Mitchell to the Painted Hills, and onward to Mount Vernon and then up north through the north fork of the John Day River drainage to Pendleton. Goal–a little hiking, looking at flowers, visiting sites we’ve observed and loved for over 30 years, and looking for critters. Get away from Portland, wander around a bit, and just relax.
Originally we hadn’t planned to drive all the way up to Horse Prairie, but decided that such a nice day, with good timing, required a visit. The main road in was a bit washboardy, but still MUCH better than Southeast Portland offroad experiences (um, like 50th between my house and Woodstock Ave). The site has not been used for camping for some time now, but it’s still pretty:
And we saw all sorts of pretty flowers, including camas, balsamroot, and arrowroot.
We also saw an antelope herd.
They saw us, too, and engaged the typical antelope reaction:
Although the first time we camped at Horse Prairie, we watched as a small herd of nine antelope processed, one by one, to a single Ponderosa pine in the middle of the prairie, then onward to the treeline. But that was a very hot August day, we were camping amongst the trees, and we weren’t as close or on the road. Horse Prairie is about two miles long by a mile wide, and they came up from the far end of the long direction. We’ve also come across newborn antelope fawns and seen a herd as big as forty on this prairie. So it was nice to see them once again.
Along one of the forest roads I changed from light long-sleeve shirt to tankini top with my jeans. I needed that for the Painted Desert.
No matter what time of day I go there, the shades are always slightly different. By this point the temps were in the 90s so we beat feet for the Mount Vernon and the turn toward Pendleton. By that point, we just wanted to go…so we did. Crashed in the Red Lion, admired the Blue Mountains at dusk from the pool area–
then ordered room service in the morning, loaded up, and headed home.
A quick trip but pleasant–one of the first ones we’ve done in this Subaru (Addie-the-car as opposed to The Mighty Subaru). I was very pleased with the average trip mileage for the longest stretch of the drive, from Prineville to The Dalles, about 430 miles. From Prineville to Pendleton, it got 31.4 mpg, and 30.9 to The Dalles–a very strong wind was blowing up the Columbia River Gorge. This has been Addie-the-car’s third long road trip–hunting season last fall, then Miscon over Memorial Day, and now this trip. I like the way this Subie handles. Even in a strong Gorge headwind (lots of happy windsurfers and parasailers!) Addie-the-car was easy to control and steady to handle.
And I have some ideas about the development of Netwalk’s Children. I’ve been working on a worldbuilding short from Andrew’s POV for Netwalk: Foundations. I think I figured out the next part I’m going to write tomorrow morning.
Now I need to go do grading, housework, and weeding. Got our first picking of edible pod peas this afternoon…time to weed the rest of the garden.