August 5, Prineville, OR, 370 miles to Astoria
After going through the mountains of Eastern Oregon, where there were trees at higher altitudes, we came into an area that was almost total desert. A few miles after we left Dayville, the road went through a crack in the hillside that looked like it had been cut with a giant knife. Actually, it was the river that cut through what was once a huge lava flow. The land was dry and rocky, and the highway had a lot of overlooks with signs explaining the area’s many interesting geological features. From reading these signs, we learned that this land had a really interesting and turbulent history, with volcanic eruptions, mudslides, earthquakes and all sorts of other catastrophic events that buried a lot of prehistoric animals, and created a lot of fossils. We stopped at the John Day Fossil Beds, went through the visitor’s center, and then did some hiking into the dry hillsides. A lot of important fossils have been discovered here, and there are a lot more waiting to be found. The next 50 miles were hot and dry, with just one town along the way. Eventually, as we got towards Prineville, the grass and trees came back, and so did the traffic. For most of the last week, we were on roads with very light traffic. Now we are getting into an area where there are a lot of vacationers, which means motor homes and trailers. Fortunately, the roads are getting better, and have wider shoulders. We can see the Cascade Mountains in the distance, which are still covered in snow. Tomorrow, we’ll start our climb over Mckinze Pass and the final leg of our journey.