My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Five Hundred Year Old Survivor

If had several days off the Internet, while visiting the John Day Fossil Beds. I had planned to camp and explore through today, July 5,  but decided to come home early in order to see if I could get in to see a chiropractor.  This because I had a hip problem flare up which, in turn, caused me to have knee problems accompanied by lots of pain. And I had hiked almost nine miles one day and taken several hundred pictures and needed to spend some time editing them.

So I started a leisurely trip home on July 4.  But only a few miles later, I started having car trouble which seemed to be a bad fuel problem.  I was only about forty miles from Bend, Oregon, which has a Honda dealer so I decided to head there. I didn't have much problem getting there and soon was calling them, only to find out that the repair shop was closed for the holiday. This meant I had to find a camping place near Bend so I could be there for their 7:00 A.M. opening.

I saw what looked like a road with lots of possibilities of camping and views as it had lots of lakes along it and Bachelor Mountain which loomed it's snow covered top over most of the route. But soon I realized that I was going to be camping in much colder weather than I wanted to be in, so stopped at a historic Ranger outpost station to get some ideas.

I wanted to take a shower before showing up in public again, so finally decided to go to La Pines State Park.  I got there and found that for a mere $22.00, I could have a tiny site, crammed between two RV behemoths. I was amazed that there was no tent camping here, except for a few lost souls stranded in one of three RV cities.  I had spent most of the afternoon finding this place and was tired, so I coughed up the money and stayed. But I was totally bummed about having a wonderful trip suddenly turn sour.

After putting up my tent, I grabbed my Wildfire and hammock and walked into the woods behind my site. Soon I was out of sight of the campground and barely within hearing of the road to it. I hung my hammock and read a book for a while, which did help me adjust my attitude. But the biggest attitude adjustment occurred after supper, when I went exploring to an overlook of the Deschutes River and then on to see Big Tree, a huge, five hundred year old ponderosa pine.

The river view was beautiful and so calming. I enjoyed seeing how a large ponderosa pine was hanging on to the bank, even as the river periodically watched more and more soil away from its roots. Bank swallows flew over the water. A great egret watched for fish. Other birds sung. And the river sang a quiet lullaby- this is the section below where it is an exciting white water stream. 

Then I spent a long time with the Big Tree. Just thinking about the hazards it had survived and the changes in the world that had occurred during its lifetime made my problems less than miniscule. The tree recently had lost half its top and it had more dead broken branches than healthy ones.  It also had damage to its trunk, yet it was still living and growing.

Amazing facts abut Big Tree

What a huge strong base. And the bark sections were about a square foot.
Many of its branches were broken

View of the upper parts of Big Tree
A closer view of its branches

Some of the history that has occurred in this tree's life - click here to see the bigger picture

I came back, took a long shower, and then relaxed another hour before going to bed and getting  a good night's sleep.  Then I was up, packed and leaving by 6:10 AM and reached Bend by 6:45 A.M. I knew I was going to have a really good (and huge) breakfast burrito, no matter what was wrong with the car. But the day was much better than I expected.  The car had a bad wire, which cost $0.20 to replace, along with over $200 for the labor. I also replaced a headlight bulb for a few more dollars. And I found a place to get a haircut almost next to the repair place. Then, just a few blocks away, and on the way towards home, I stopped and got a few groceries that I can't get in Burns.

So my vacation turned out pretty fine anyway.  I'll have lots of pictures of the John Day Fossil Fields, including the amazing and gorgeous Painted Hills. But it will take me several days to get around to processing them since I have to work for 16 hours and then spend another three days camping, two  of them with the interns. And I have to go back up on Steens Mountain to collect material for my bee display. Life is good.