Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vacation Memories – John Day Fossil Beds – Part One

Our recent vacation was spent in the center of the most amazing beauty in Eastern Oregon. We had driven past the turn-offs for the John Day Fossil Beds many times as we drove to and from the deer hunting site where my sweetheart and his family have hunted for many years. Most of the time it was just a sign on the highway, but last fall it took on new meaning as we travelled – we wished we could spend a few days there to explore that part of God’s creation up close. Our time there has changed the way we will see it as we drive through there again in the future. We will never see it the same again!


Not far from the sheep farm at the base of Sheep Rock (shared here), we stopped at the Thomas Condon Interpretive Center. This center gives a great overview of the history and information about each location of the area. We could have taken much more time there but we chose not to focus on everything – we wanted to move on and see more of the area that day. Almost as soon as we walked through the doors I was amazed by the incredible fossils and the research that shows the handiwork of God through the centuries – layers and layers of volcanic flow have changed the landscape from lush forests to a rather arid climate. To the skeptic, this place gives proof that another way of life once existed here.




We were intrigued by the work room where fossils are carefully handled, cataloged and made ready for display or storage.


The ‘work board’ nearby explained what they were working on that day.


After a brief stop at the Interpretive Center we were on our way again to see more. A ways down the road we came to an unexpected modern wonder – a traffic light – in the middle of nowhere!


After waiting a while for a green light and our turn to cross the one-lane bridge (where construction is going on to replace an old bridge) we were moving again toward sites we couldn’t have imagined.


We hadn’t gone far before we were overwhelmed by the beauty and the wonder of creation once again.


Cathedral Rock – correctly named – loomed high above our heads. The layers of color almost took my breath away.




Rock formations displaying incredible colors and shapes were everywhere we looked.


The road continued and the colorful rock formations greeted us again and again as we drove on. Here and there the countryside was dotted with farms and homes. I wondered what it would be like to live in this remote, quiet, absolutely gorgeous part of our state. A ways down the road we came to a small town. Stopping for a snack and a bit of fuel in our tank, we were greeted by some of the friendly folks who live there. Everywhere we went people waved and smiled as we passed by. (I love the friendliness found in small town America!) This house captured my attention as I watched an older lady mow the big yard – patiently, methodically walking behind the mower. Nearly all of the buildings in this part of Oregon have steep-pitched metal roofs to ‘shed’ the snow in the winter. They are long-lasting roofs that serve a purpose and provide cover and shelter during the long winter months.


As we left the little town of Monument and continued on our journey we were intrigued by the homes and ranches ‘sprinkled’ throughout the valleys along the way. We were so glad we had decided to make this trip in Springtime – everything was so green and beautiful.



In the middle of all this beauty we came to a viewpoint where we stopped to see The Sunken Mountain Landslide.


It was easy to see where the mountainside had changed many years ago. As the highway climbed higher up a nearby mountain we could see the landslide from another perspective.


We arrived back at our little cabin-on-wheels early in the evening – thrilled that we had been together and that we had seen such amazing beauty everywhere we went. We wondered what incredible surprises would come our way the following day. As our day came to a close we rested in peace – with quiet hearts - in a place we knew had changed our lives forever.


  1. Hi Adrienne! thi must have been an amazing trip!! I love all the pictures!!! I was born in a little village in the Alps, so every mountain picture fills my heart with joy!!!


  2. What a beautiful and fascinating place Adrienne! I hope some day I can get out to Oregon and see some of this beauty myself. Cathedral rock is spectacular!


I am grateful that you stopped by to visit me. Your kind and gracious comments are appreciated and treasured.