Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25 - Pray for Us

Well, it's time to head south again, dropping Harriet off at Tisha's church, and the dilemma is: back on 12-730-84-5 the way I came, or take the way-less-known of 395 through the hinterlands and then over the Sierra on 80? The "Maintenance Required" light came on the trusty vehicle the moment of the driveway backout, but this would simply say that it's up for an oil change (and given the extra oil from the Driver's Flat debacle, one hopes for the best).

Somehow the way leads south past the old Page homestead of two Thanksgivings ago, and the die is cast for the more adventurous, dicey route... Milton-Freewater petrol-and-fund resupply, Pendleton,

Pilot Rock, and

south to the increasingly lonely

Nye Junction of Route 74.

Into the Blue Mountains at Battle Mountain, then

beyond Ukiah and up the




the road mounts Ritter Butte, past

Long Creek and

Mt. Vernon



fuel stop in

John Day (an early trapper, born in 1770 [the same year as Beethoven] who was stripped naked, at the mouth of his namesake river and whose name migrated up river to a number of locales -- three units of the John Day Fossil Banks, four forks of the River, the Valley, Dayville, etc.).

Ascending the declivity beyond Canyon City, the world opens up to

Strawberry Peak and prepares itself for the Great Basin, seemingly beginning at

Seneca, roaming beyond to




Canyon in Harney County. The latter sounds rural, and it is, with its largest municipality

Burns, then virtually no one at



seemingly limitless open spaces as an ominous dust storm brews around vacant


All day up-and-down, but always a bit more of the former than the latter, so now we descend to Alkaline Valley


beautiful, surreal

Lake Abert (with its mineral-encrusted rock shore at 4249', and not "Albert," as I read consistently incorrectly in hasty glances during the trip, but named by John Fremont for his boss)




Rim (evidently the longest and highest fault scarp in America).

This now being Lake County, the way leads past more watery namesakes in the desert including the as-well-abandoned store in Valley Falls (seemingly no gas at all in the c. 150 miles between Riley


Lakeview) and the



Goose (alkaline sometimes, and sometimes not, when the level [non-existant here] rises and it spills into the Pit).

California, at New Pine Creek (although not metropolitanly much), at last,

with a screwdriver stop at Alturas by the Waner Mountains, overly anxious before the overly attentive state patrol, an electrical storm with hail and flooding straight into the blinding setting sun, a glorious/horrible semi-forest fire on pseudo-Sierra slopes, over the border/frontier to Nevada,

powering up the phone at a watering spot off Megan's old haunt of Golden Valley Road, various detours, and, at last, home.