Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Diverse Beauty of Hwy 395 Through Eastern Oregon

I need a camera implant in my eyes.

There's no other way to capture all of what we're seeing along this amazing route. Leaving the divided highway behind in Pendleton, Oregon, Hwy 395 is a well maintained, two-lane highway, that has so far been a pleasure to drive.

Much of what we see is open landscapes of yellow-gold. Some is wheat fields, some is cattle range, some is grass lands. All of it is beautiful.

Breaking up the miles of see-forever-vistas, are mountain ranges with cedars, pines, cottonwood, aspen and more. We've been over 4,000 feet since before Ukiah, and the summits are just over 5,000 feet. The forests are beautiful.

Throughout both the flats and the ranges, the evidence of past volcanic and erosion activity makes the beautiful - spectacular. Ash flow tufts, large boulders, ridges and mesas of black, brown, red and gray are the accessories of this well dressed scenery.

Finally, the changing weather gives us even more colors and textures. 

And all of it is saved in our heads, not in the camera, because there are very, very few places to pull off the road and use it. Attempting photos through the windows is disappointing, not doing justice to what we see.

The drive from John Day to Burns now includes several miles of recently burned forests, barns, homes and bridges before the small town of Seneca. Tragic and devastating, and much more real than a news clip. Signs of clean up and rebuilding are already evident. The fire stopped at the top of the range, and the other side we found our first signs of Fall. Bright yellow Aspens with chartreuse bushes along the meandering river, and vines turned amber and maroon growing around evergreens. 

We stay one night at the Burns RV Park (no website). Level, gravel, clean and right on Hwy 20 - so road noise. FHUs with cable, WiFi and good AT&T service. There are two other rigs when we arrive about 1:00 and all 47 sites are filled when we go to sleep.

Our longest drive since June, we travel 151 miles to Lakeview, Oregon. It will be our last stop before crossing into California. Most of the drive is open range land with gray-lavender scrub brush. It is a rough area, flat and straight. 

On the map 15 miles north of Lakeview is a large lake, Lake Abert. Today it is a surreal red, white and blue arena spread out over several miles. The blue is the very small amount of remaining water. The red seems to come from algae or bacteria, or perhaps from the surrounding rocks which also have the same color. The white alkali dominates the area. Another month without measurable precipitation, and the lake will be completely gone.

The highway here is "exciting" with no guardrails around narrow turns and strong winds blowing (of course) down the mountain and toward the lake over the edge......and the scenery is once again beautiful. Huge ridges of dark rock rise above the road with large pieces that have broken off dotting the landscape on both sides. The rocks that made it to the water are now white, looking very different from their "siblings" that are still dark brown and red.

We're at the Junipers Reservoir Ranch RV Park for three nights. Antelope, coyote, hawk, prairie dogs and lots of cows greeted us.


View from our door, Junipers Reservoir Ranch

14 comments:

  1. One thing we always have out west is amazing views! I have to just watch and take photos as we travel because I might miss something. Enjoy your new stop:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The entry door screen really distorts the view out of the passenger side so photos on travel days aren't happening thus far :-(

      Delete
  2. Yep, drive by photos rarely are worth the trouble! Good description though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lisa :-) Wanted to be sure I didn't forget it.

      Delete
  3. The John Day area is on our bucket list, were near there a couple years ago on our way to the Oregon coast but it was blazing hot--105° and we decided to travel on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They say there are a few triple digit days every year but Spring and Fall are amazing. You'll love it here - lots of cowboys!

      Delete
  4. So sad to hear about Lake Albert. Your longest drive of 151 miles is just my style of traveling. I'm not always able to make that happen though. You've done a better job than I. Your "exciting" highway would have me trembling with the white knuckle syndrome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're doing 158 tomorrow but then we have a week at our next stop and the weather looks to be ideal. Fortunately we had the road mostly to ourselves or that stretch would have been worse - I was so glad it was less than ten miles, and there was beauty in front of me for distraction :-)

      Delete
  5. I agree, "drive by" photos are less than satisfying, but sometimes I just can't help myself! Your descriptions are lovely, though.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can't believe I'm so far behind. See what one little trip does to me. However, your pictures are still great even though you're taking them as you move along. I have to do that more times than I really want.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always feel that way when we don't have internet for a couple days!

      Delete
  7. Love that area. Your words are picture enough to bring back memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gaelyn :-) We are loving this route.

      Delete