So here's an extra "bonus" story with some photos and information that I couldn't quite fit into the other Eastern Oregon trip reports.
|Downtown Mitchell, Oregon|
After a fine afternoon and early evening at the Painted Hills, I spent the night in nearby Mitchell, Oregon. This tiny town had exactly two places to stay (three if you count free camping in the city park) and one restaurant. I really liked the "Old West" theme of their main street.
|Historic Oregon Hotel|
The place I stayed, and the cafe I visited for dinner were both great. I rented a room in the historic Oregon Hotel, a large house that has been converted into a lodging facility. The lady at the front desk was very nice and super accommodating. Although a little rustic, my room was large, clean and comfortable. And I loved all the John Wayne decor.
At the next door Little Pine Cafe, I enjoyed a delicious burger and a huge plateful of tasty french fries - more than I could possibly eat. The friendly lady that ran the place served my beer in a frosty mug. A nice touch!
The Oregon Hotel had a couple of these very creative signs in their front lawn. I also saw "no dog pooping" signs outside the restaurant next door, and on the windows of the general store. Doggie poo must be a big problem here.
|Sheep Rock towers over the John Day River|
The next morning I traveled to the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Reaching the south end of the Unit, this was my first glimpse after turning off the highway. That tall, pointed hill in the distance is none other than Sheep Rock. The beautiful body of water is the John Day River. This river travels the entire length of the valley floor.
The Monument's highway passes by a formation known as Cathedral Rock. This colorful, stratified hill actually blocked the John Day River, causing it to change direction nearly 180 degrees.
|Cathedral Rock and the John Day River|
Looking at the rock from the other direction, you can see the oxbow bend in the John Day River. Cathedral rock must be made of harder, more erosion-resistant material than the surrounding hills to force such a larger river to completely change its course.
|Elegant farmhouse at the James Cant Ranch|
The dry hills in this area provided ideal grazing land for livestock. The first white settlers were cattle and sheep ranchers. The James Cant Ranch, one of these early homesteads, has been preserved, and is now operated by the National Park Service.
|This farmhouse has nice views!|
The ranch is in a beautiful setting. The John Day River flows through the valley below. And the house and grounds have a front-row view of Sheep Rock. The grounds are nicely landscaped, with many varieties of ornamental and fruit trees.
|Lovely field of purple|
There's a huge barn, complete with the original sheep and livestock stalls. And a wide variety of old farming equipment is on display. A very interesting place!
Sadly, not much was open when I stopped by. There was only one other visitor the entire time I was there. Although the barn building was open, the ranch house appeared to be closed. No mind, photo opportunities abounded. Weathered outbuildings against the stark landscape made for some great shots.
|Some red hills here too|
The Sheep Rock Unit also had a fairly new, very impressive, paleontology center. Short on time by then, I only did a quick walk-through. But the place had some very impressive displays and lots of fossils. I'll allow more time to explore it fully on my next visit.
|A wild, scenic place|
The variety of landscapes and climates in this state never ceases to amaze me. What a wonderful weekend getaway - exploring a part of Oregon I've never seen.
In case you missed any of my Eastern Oregon trip reports, here are the links:
White River Falls
The Painted Hills
Also linking to: Sunny Simple Monday.