Part 4: Grants Pass, OR to Bull Prairie Lake, OR


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The Trip

Our Unimog buddy Mark was nice enough to host us at his place on the Rogue River in Grants Pass, OR for several days.  We had a great time and got a chance to "run the Rogue" in a jet boat.  From Grants Pass, we headed east, then north to Bend, OR to visit our friend Ben for several more days.  From Bend, we headed east then north again through the mountains.  Our destination was the lake at Bull Prairie.

The photos below are what we saw.

Mark helped us debug our window.  The window failed in the down position (which is great if it is hot and not raining).  Removing the cosmetic cover showed that the gears that raise the window were slipping due to wear.  I can't get too concerned as Thor is a 1988 and some failures are to be expected.

Mark's house is river-front property right on the Rogue.  He has an outdoor patio with tables and chairs for entertaining guests.

The upper table had nice bark covering the river sand and a fire pot.

Down below he constructed a dock mechanism for his jet ski.

We left Grant's Pass and headed upstream along the Rogue into the mountains.

We stopped at a river-side park and saw plenty of happy rafters.

The fires in the area were burning hard generating lots and lots of acrid smoke making visibility poor and breathing difficult.

The wall of smoke lasted for 40 miles or so before it started to thin out.

We passed tons of fire fighting equipment on the move.  Above, the first truck has a 'dozer and the second one has a skidder destined for the fire lines.

The road went through a clear patch allowing us a view of Diamond Peak in the distance.  Diamond Peak is volcanic and a testament to the powerful forces that formed the Cascade Range.

In Bend, OR we spotted these BNSF locomotives moving without a load.  They were rolling perhaps 30 mph on the tracks close to the highway.

At Ben's place outside of Sisters, OR we got to see his new shop.  This is a big shop with plenty of room for multiple projects.

Ben has discovered a market for restored International Harvester vehicles.  Above is "Buttercup" a 1972 3/4 ton 2 wheel drive pickup.  This truck has over 350K miles and still runs very well.  In fact, we drove it to dinner.

Some other International products awaiting restoration.

An older International work truck.

Ben told us that Earth Cruiser's manufacturing facility is in Bend, so we went to visit them and see their products.  Very nice, but very pricey.  These rigs were quite a bit smaller than Thor and it would take some "getting used to" to downsize from our current footprint.

Ben's son Nick.

While looking out the window at dusk I spotted a herd of deer that were walking past the shop.

When we left Ben's place we traveled through Redmond and spotted this odd kinetic sculpture next to the highway.

We traveled east to Prineville and stopped at the overlook.  The valley is nice and the city is too, but the smoke from the fires was distressing.

The volcanic mesas were visible in the distance through the smoke.

We chose a lunch stop in Mitchell, OR.  The (only) cafe was rustic, but had good food.

Ben told us that we needed to check out the Painted Hills area that was on our route, so we went as directed.  The colors of the clay were remarkable.

There were many hills composed of layers of brightly colored clay beds.

The smoke from the fires provided an odd color cast to the light.

Thor looked regal with the brightly colored clay hills in the background.

Each bank of hills was different.

The red stripes were profound and accented by the golden colors of the dry grass.

I assume the black stripes were coal or a carbon-based compound, but never was able to confirm that premise.  The outcroppings produced a pattern like Morse code.

  Of course there were signs that said "do not walk on formations" but that did not stop folks from doing just that.  Material from the black outcroppings "bled" down the hillside.

The interspersed formations produced interesting patterns.

The clay-based formations produced interesting patterns when dried.

The light shifted toward the end of our visit to the Painted Hills providing an alternate view.  A really interesting place.

We traveled east then north into the mountains to Bull Prairie Lake.  Next to our campsite I spotted a bee working a thistle that was in bloom.  "Thistle while you work" is the order of the day.

Bull Prairie Lake is small, but nice.

The weather was hot and smoky but other than that, this portion of central Oregon was quite scenic.  We have been through here before, but it is always a pleasure to return.

Tomorrow we head north to another natural wonder: Palouse Falls.

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