WEEK NINEEEN: FANCY SHEEP AND WILD GOATS

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: East Central Oregon and Snake River
Pups Across America! - Madeline and Working Pups
Favorite Photograph - Mouflon Momma
Camper’s Corner - Crooked River Ranch RV Park, Crooked River Ranch, OR
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: East and South

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: FMCA Conference at Deschutes County Fairgrounds, Redmond, OR
Stop: Crooked River Ranch RV Park, Crooked River Ranch, OR
Stop: Clyde Holliday State Park, Mt. Vernon, OR
Stop: Copperfield Campground, Oxbow, OR



Sunday
Short Trip
Mid-morning we packed up and followed Gary, Kathie, and Madeline in their motor home for the half-hour drive up 97, turning at Terrabonne and on to the Crooked River Ranch RV Park. Here we had a couple spacious, adjoining sites that looked out into the gorge. We spent the next few hours giving BALY and our car a thorough cleaning, getting rid of the dust of five days parked on gravel.

Kathie _ Gary Kathie and Jan
Cleaning Time Clean BALY

Madeline Shoot
Later I did an informal shoot of their too-cute pup Madeline, and then we walked the quarter mile to the local restaurant for dinner.

Shooting Star
Back from dinner we sat outside in the star-filled darkness enjoying the evening sights and sounds of critters in the distance. Jan brought us all seven years good luck by spotting a shooting star.

Monday
Steep Sheep
After a couple of cups of coffee, I was out the door before dawn to hike the trail down into the gorge. It was a nice hike in the cool morning with only the sounds of the running creek and the birds to keep me company. I took a few photos along the way, and after about 45 minutes I’d reached bottom, level with the water. I turned back, retracing my walk, this time climbing all the way. About two-thirds back up, I sensed something and turned to my right. Above me, no more than 30 feet away, was a momma Mouflon sheep and her almost full-grown lamb. We stared at each other as I realized that the lens currently on my camera was a 15mm fisheye—just about worthless for this type of shot, even at this close range. So not looking at the ovine pair, I slowly took off my backpack to change lenses all the while talking to momma, asking her to stay put for just a little while longer. When ready to shoot I found that they had moved up a little to higher ground but were within camera range. So I stood there taking pics as they grazed and slowly moved along their higher trail as I slowly paralleled their path back up topside.

Mouflon Sheep

As I reached the top of the gorge, I realized that I might be able to get above them if I wandered back along the top of the gorge. Almost back to camp, I had given up hope of seeing them again when coming around a bend there they were! Everybody was startled and they quickly scampered away.

Monday Morning Marketing Call
After breakfast and a shower, I had my weekly marketing call. All was well, so the call was brief. We packed up, said goodbye to Kathie, Gary, and Madeline, and headed back south toward Redmond. We took 126 East to Prineville where we stopped and bought provisions. Blueberries were still in season so we bought another quart for $3 (man, my antioxidant level must be off the charts. :’>>>). Next we headed east on 26 and drove through the Ochoco National Forest. The cloudless day was warm, only softened by a slight breeze.

Mitzy Shift Jerry Silhouette

Pain
About 40 miles along, we turned north for six miles on a narrow, twisty road that lead to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Painted Hills. As the name implies and our pictures prove, this area has some beautiful hills that looked as though they were hand-painted. Even in the harsh light of mid-day, the colors shown through. Recommended stop if you are anywhere close.

Painted Hills Break Painted Hills

We got back on 26 East and in light traffic made our way through Mitchell, Dayville, and on to Mt. Vernon where we pulled into our roost, Clyde Holliday State Park.

Tuesday
Cowboy Breakfast
After a nice walk along the stream that borders the park, we loaded into the car and drove the two miles to the Silver Spur restaurant in Mt. Vernon. We both thoroughly enjoyed this cowboy hangout. I ordered the skillet breakfast with kielbasa—just wonderful. There was enough for another meal plus chunks of meat for treats for the Kids.

Cowboy Hats
From here it was west on 26 for 24 miles in the still-chilly morning. We stopped at the Dayville Mercantile that had everything from cowboy hats to charcoal grills. Speaking of cowboy hats, Grandma Jan bought a cowboy hat, kerchief, six shooters, and marshall’s badge for grandson Austin to go with the cowboy boots she got him last week. We stopped short of buying him the toy rifle, as I could see some poor bystanders (probably me) getting whacked with it.

Dayville Mercantile Dayville City Hall

Change in Direction
I’d researched a day trip that sounded quite interesting. However, after discussing it with the owner of the general store, she explained that most of my planned route was gravel roads with a big portion being only passable with a 4X4. So, I quickly calculated a friendlier route, and off we were driving five more miles east on 26 before heading north on 19. In just a short half-dozen miles, we were in another John Day Fossil Beds National Park location, surrounded by more painted hills. After stopping at the Visitor Center, we slowly wound our way through the park being almost the only people present. At Kimberly we picked up highway 402, which we took through the fields and among the hills to Monument, then Hamilton. At Long Creek, we headed south on 395 traveling through what’s left of Fox and on back to Mt. Vernon.

Critters
It was a good day for spotting and photographing critters because along with lots of cattle, horses, mules and dogs, we saw coyotes, quail, and deer along our way that I shot as drive-bys out the passenger window as Jan drove the car. Check out the pics.

Grazers Male Quaill
Mule and Barn Wily Coyote Blackberry Eating Buck

Wednesday
I took the Pups out before dawn on the trail that parallels the creek. Within a couple of minutes we had stirred up two families of quail and watched as a herd of deer bounded away in front of us. I had a client meeting regarding some upcoming training, and after that successful call we were back on the road, heading east on 26. Within ten minutes we passed through the village of John Day with the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness on our right. At Prairie City we headed northeast along the scenic (code word for curvy) Highway 7. We passed through the Whitman forest and by Phillips Lake on into Baker City, the biggest town in the area. As we filled up with fuel at a truck stop, I asked the man behind the counter about a campground in the area. My plan was to stay here for a couple of days to see the recommended Sumpter Valley Dredge and take a scenic tour to the north and west. Normally, I’d have researched this ahead of time, but the usually excellent Verizon signal I used to access the Internet had been zilch the last few days. I checked the coverage map and Verizon shows no signal at all from central Oregon east and south and into parts of southwest Idaho. Therefore, when the man told me there was nothing around that would accommodate big rigs, I took his word for it and followed his recommendation to keep going east. So we got on Highway 86 and headed through Richland and Halfway and on to Oxbow at the edge of Idaho. We pulled into the gorgeous Copperfield Campground and set up.

John Day Scenery

Bummer
Signs along the highway told us that Highway 39 was closed due to flood damage. That was a shame as 39 heads deep into the western side of Hells Canyon and also connects with other roads that go north and west. Oh, well, there is enough beauty in the roads we could travel to fill a very large bucket.

Snake Drive
Late afternoon we took the Element north along the Snake River on the Oregon side, heading into Hells Canyon. The gravel road was curvy and narrow, but traffic was light and the scenery was wonderful. We ran across cattle in the road and lots of deer alongside it munching on the endless bushes chock full of blackberries.

Thursday
Down By The River
A little after dawn I walked the Pups down to the Snake River, which borders the campgrounds on two sides. Fly fishermen were already wading in the water, trying to catch some trout to go with their breakfast eggs and toast. Most of the tenters were waking up, starting fires, and making coffee to start the day of their next journeys.

Day Trip
A little after 7:00 a.m. the four of us were once again in the Element heading north along the Snake River. However, this time we were on a wider, paved road on the Idaho side of the water. The further into the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, the more majestic it got with steep cliffs getting steeper and fast-moving water moving faster. Early on we spotted a young fawn by the side of the road probably temporarily separated from its mother. After about ten miles, I asked Jan to stop the car so that I could get out and shoot a waterfall alongside the road.

Shy Fawn

Goat Sighting
As I was walking back to the car, Jan told me to turn around and look up. A few hundred feet above the waterfall stood the unmistakable white shape of a mountain goat munching on some bushes up high on the rocks. I slowly opened up my camera pack, added my 2X extender to my lens, set up my tripod, and then took some photos of our new white friend who was kind enough to wait for my set up. He stayed in place and continued eating with one eye keeping track of my actions and intent. Boy, was that fun!

Mountain Goat

Dam Canyon
We continued on, right and left around the curves, finally passing over the Hells Canyon Dam back into Oregon. A little further on we reached the end of the road (literally) at the Hells Canyon Visitor Center where we visited with the two ladies behind the counter. They were pleased we saw the mountain goat (somewhat rare, especially this time of year) and confirmed that black bear were around and also the elusive bighorn sheep. Therefore, on our return trip we strained both our necks and our eyes and carefully watched for both. The trip back was just as pretty as the trip in. Alas, we saw no bears or sheep, but a bald eagle posed for us in a tree, eye-level to our auto position. Wonderful trip.

Hells Canyon Bald Eagle

Trouble Shooting
The day before, about 30 miles from our Oxbow campground, the “Engine Warning” indicator lit up on the dashboard. Jan slowed down a little and she closely monitored the gauges, which thankfully stayed within normal operating ranges. We decided to continue on, and we made it to camp no problem. However, warnings such as this should not be taken lightly, so after our return I pulled out the manuals, checked out the trouble code, and called the CAT helpline to confirm the appropriate next steps. The fault code was a possible injector problem and although not urgent, it was potentially serious, so I found a CAT dealer in the Boise area and booked an appointment for next Tuesday.

Laundry Time
Our coach is equipped with a combination washer/dryer that Jan uses most of the time. However, we had been camping without sewer on site the last few days, and hence couldn’t do laundry in the coach because of limited water storage. Therefore, a laundromat was called for. After a little research, I discovered that the closest laundromat was in Halfway, 19 miles away. Leaving the Pups in air conditioning, we heading back into Oregon. While the clothes were washing, Jan and I did a mini-road trip. We took a blacktop north to the village of Carson (four houses and nothing else). From here the path narrowed, blacktop turned to gravel/dirt, and the turns went from moderate to extreme. However, the forest route with the running stream several hundred feet below made it one picturesque trek. At Cornucopia (there was no sign of humanity at all, but there was a sign saying “Cornucopia,” and it was on the map so it must be a town :’>>>) we turned around and switched our clothes from washers to dryers. Enough excitement for one day.

Barn Colorful Farmstead Jan at Scenic View

Friday
Our morning driving trip was south on highway 71 past the curves around the Oxbow Dam and a dozen miles further over the Brownlee Dam. From here we left the canyons, moved up into the forests, then back down into farm country. At Cambridge, Idaho, we’d seen enough and turned around to re-trace our tracks. All along we’d been keeping a look out for critters, especially bears. Finally, about 15 miles from our camp, we spotted the rear of a black bear cub shoot across the road to our right and scamper up the hill and into deep cover. We waited for a few minutes, but as time passed we figured we’d seen the last of him. Just as we were about to move on, out he came, scooting back into the woods he had originally came from. The good news is that I caught him in my camera frame; the bad news is that the shots were not in focus. Oh, well, we had accomplished our objective. Now, if only we could find some bighorn sheep!

Saturday
Sheep Hunt
By 6:30 a.m. we were loaded into the car on our quest to see the elusive bighorn sheep. We drove down to Brownlee Dam, the place we were told had the best possibilities (in fact there is a sign by the road stating to watch for them, as they sometimes cross the road there to go down to the water); however, no luck today. Instead of turning into our campground, we headed north on the gravel road we had taken our first afternoon here at Oxbow. No sheep or bear, but plenty of deer alongside the road.

Lunch in the Big City
We needed staples, so it was the 19-mile trek back into Halfway. Since we were back in civilization, we stopped for fish and chips with sides of potato salad at a local restaurant before heading back to camp.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
Take a look at cute Madeline and the pair of working pups we saw helping their Dad set up his irrigation system.

Madeline Working Pups

Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents that might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite this week is “Mouflon Momma.” It was a pleasure sharing my dawn hike with her and her lamb.

Mouflon Momma

CAMPER’S CORNER: Crooked River Ranch RV Park, Crooked River Ranch, OR.
What a view you get from your RV site! Big, shady sites, close hiking, and within walking distance of restaurants. Highly recommended.
http://www.crookedriverranch.com/

Campsite View Crooked River #2

Wonderful week!

Alex Feet

HEADLIGHTS
August 22 to September 3?

September 4 to 6
Estes Park, CO

September 18 thru September 25
Kalamazoo, MI

September 26 to 27
Cincinnati, OH

September 28 thru October 2
Lexington, KY

October 4 thru 6
Asheville, NC?

October 7 & 8
Charleston, SC?

October 10 & 11
Savannah, GA

October 12 thru 14
Apopka, FL?

October 15
Return to Pine Island?

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
Comments