US Route 26…The Painted Hills

So everyday has a start and an end. So while the sun traverses the sky I will traverse the land. After leaving the last roads in the Mount Jefferson wilderness for the sagebrush steppe plateau, that I call home, the eastern sky was awash in lapis lazuli blue. The south cascades to the west were enshrouded with the grey wool blanket that is all to common for January here in the Pacific Northwest.

So eastward it was, just stay on US 26 in Oregon. Now I did not mean to lead you wrong the plateau is far from flat. The rivers have all made there way through the basalt and welded tuff. Out past the city of Prineville a dichotomy of sorts for myself. You see I have bought several cameras there now. The newest some forty nine years old. The oldest a hundred years or so. But the reason why I have strayed is because up above the river near the airport Facebook and Apple have server farms that store the digital pictures we share so close to where I have found such great analog gear.

Now as the Crooked River fades in the rear view mirror we start to follow Ochoco Creek. Steadily the canyon begins to narrow as we ascend to the summit of Ochoco Pass at 4720′ a mixture of fire scarred pines and those unharmed. Roadside snow a couple of feet deep painted red with the cinder used for stormy winter driving conditions. Then it is just a quick ride downhill to Burnt Ranch Road. The road follows the west branch of Bridge Creek out to The Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

So here again it is not so as it reads. There are no fossils in these pictures. But one might suppose it could be the wonderful sand art the dinosaurs left behind.

© 2015 Christopher Barth Photography

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