Brian's Photo Blog — Article 31
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John Day Fossil Beds Photo Outing
Monday 24 October 2011   —   Category: Outings

I guess my passion for photography helps me to recover quickly, because less than a month after my first, and grueling, photo outing east of the Cascades I decided to head east once again for another long day out with my camera.

Even though it’s the beginning of the Pacific Northwest rainy season, I still have been managing to squeeze in a few more photo outings, both far and near. One morning last week I got up at 4:00, left the house at 4:45 heading east on U.S. Route 20, crossed the Cascades, and had breakfast in Sisters, then kept on heading east on Oregon Route 126 through Redmond and Prineville.
From there I followed U.S. Route 26 through Ochoco National Forest. After about a four-hour journey, I finally arrived at the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

As you can see from the photos to the right, the hill really DO look painted! I was so excited to find such stunning landscape in Oregon, not too, too far from my home. Everywhere I turned, there was another incredible view just begging to be photographed! I spent the rest of the morning there, discovering such sites as the Painted Cove Trail, The Leaf Hill Trail, and the Painted Hills Overlook. So much to see, so little time!

After a late picnic lunch, I continued east 35 more miles on U.S. Route 26, past the hamlet of Mitchell, to the Sheep Rock Unit of the same national monument park.

During my afternoon exploration, I stumbled upon the Island In Time Trail through Blue Basin — an otherworldly canyon of pale blue-green cliffs, that wound its way for more than half a mile back into the hills. Each few steps was another breathtaking view! I just couldn’t believe the gorgeous variety of colors and textures! After finally making it back to my truck, I didn’t have much time left, with the sun getting lower in the west and a long, long drive ahead of me, following the same route back by which I had come.

Eventually I arrived again in Sisters at around 7:00 PM, this time to enjoy a nice dinner at Bronco Bill’s Ranch Grill, located in the historic (built 1912) Hotel Sisters. I had eaten there a couple of times before, so I knew that their six ounce filet mignon with blue cheese butter on top is really killer! After that feast, a two-hour drive west over the Cascades brought me back home at 9:45, 17 hours after I had left in the morning. All in all, I drove nearly 500 miles — just about the distance from Albany down to Sacramento, California! Whew! What a long and awesome day!

I took so many photos — nearly a thousand! (because I was bracketing my exposures) — that it’s been taking me quite a while to sort through them and process the keepers. I've narrowed it down to 143 of the best, including 6 gorgeous panoramas which help give you a sense of the beauty and vastness of this amazing corner of Oregon. You can see them all in the Painted Hills 2011 photo album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 31
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