Due to horrible amounts of traffic on freeways, I try to take backroads. I did so want to take my youngest dog child, but knew it would be too hot for him, so he stayed home with his elder sister.
I had always heard of Fort Rock but never happened by close to it. I had to amble about seven miles from my path. At the base of it, there is a little parking lot with restrooms and a volunteer who lives in a trailer to prevent vandalism, and to give visitor information. Can’t you just imagine the graffiti artists? It’s called a volcanic tuff ring and is 4,460 feet in diameter and 200 feet above the surrounding area. In the very small town, there is a small store and some buildings that look like a western town, and there is some very expensive gas there.
Back out to the main road and I commenced to go to Silver Lake. It is also a small town. The Cowboy Dinner Tree was not open, and one needs reservations for dinner anyway–and a very large doggie bag.
I was driving through town and noticed a big monument in the cemetery. I stopped to see who had such a big monument, and it was for 43 people who died in a fire, Christmas eve, 1894. All 43 names were on the monument with ages to the day. They had about 200 people for a party over the store. Someone bumped a gas lantern, and it instantly went up in flames. People trampled each other and couldn’t get the door open because it opened in, and they were shoving against it. Anyway, a cowboy guy rode 100 miles to Lakeview for the doctor, changing horses along the way when he found various ranches. He arranged for horses for the doctor when they came back through, and they made pretty good time, but I don’t know how much good he could do back then. I read that they set up a scholarship fund in the doctor’s name for any student from there who wanted to go to college. I had never heard of the fire, but I imagine the old-timers did.
Then on to Summer Lake. All the towns are small. You get gas whenever you find it. They had a nice rest area where you can stay 18 hours if you want. Outside of Summer Lake was a little one-room type of school complete with bell tower, but no trespassing allowed. I liked the high school at Paisley, which was the next town; it was an old school, and had some character. They have a few stores, but it’s eastern Oregon, the Outback.
It was a long haul between some places, but by and by there is a cut-off to a little place called Plush. After getting gas and leaving Plush, one is headed for the mountain. After the paved road runs out, there is a small campground with five or six spaces and pit toilets, but clean. Then miles of gravel road, up and up the washboardy, unkempt roads, steep, six percent grade. Terrible road to take a car or trailer on. Eventually, I came to the visitor center and some caretakers live in cute, old, stone houses there. All their equipment is there, gravel trucks and such. They have a new looking road grader, but I decided they must not know how to use it. No one was in the visitor center, but they had bulletin boards and pamphlets. Another four miles of rough road and one can go to another campground, strangely laid out, but plenty of space between camps, about 25 sites. I couldn’t see anyone from my space. They are first come, first serve. There were no big rigs there at least, I don’t think they could get there in one piece.
No cell phone service, no water, no electric, they did have a smelly pit toilet in some places, but I had my popup privy. I had a nice little creek next to my camp site, with a little waterfall. Around the corner from here is a hot spring which people seem to like, but I wouldn’t get in there for anything, water was very hot. I stuck my hand in. They have a nice rock wall built around the thing. I did not see many birds, it was the wrong time of year. I heard birds, but they were in bushes. Heard a coyote.
I walked over to look at the hot spring, and a guy had walked over from another site, and commenced to tell me he had been there a few months ago, when it was very cold and was snowing some. He heard someone hollering. It went on and on, and he finally went to investigate, and some guy was crawling along the ground, naked, because he had broken his leg in the hot spring, and now he was freezing to death. The only thing he could figure was that the guy got his leg hung up in the little ladder that goes down into the hole. So, he had an old sleeping bag with him that he didn’t care about, and got the guy into the sleeping bag. Another person had come to help and ended up taking the guy probably all the way to Lakeview, 100 miles. The guy I was talking to said he never did hear any more about it. I thought, boy, howdy, I’m glad I didn’t find some guy like that with no clothes on.
I did not see many pronghorns either, but a few. They are so fast, it’s amazing. So, I got some rear-end pictures. When they hear a car, they are on their way. I like pronghorn, they always seem to be smiling.
What should take maybe an hour, took me three hours because I don’t like to throw rocks all over my trailer. When I headed back down, I could see some of the little lakes and big ones. There were lots of roads with no gravel, but they also had some pretty good sized mud holes, so I chickened out of going in those places even with four-wheel drive. Might be better in July, but then the tourists will be out in force.
This looks like a nice, peaceful place to live. It was nice and green over there still, with lots of water.
On the way back, and closer to home, I stopped at Salt Creek Falls, but if one goes down to the bottom, one should probably take a lunch and have a lot of time to get back up out of there. The falls are 286 feet, and the pool is 66 feet deep.
At times I consider getting a bigger trailer than my little teardrop. And I’ve looked at a couple that I really liked. But to go places like I went on this trip, I was really glad to have my little “Moose Dog Manor.”