Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some Things I Love About SE Oregon

It snowed again yesterday and Randyman needed to see a doctor, so we headed down the road in 4WD, and I thought about how grateful I was not to have 500,000 other drivers sliding around us on icy roads.

The  normally 2-hour drive into town became a 3 hour drive because of the hazardous conditions. Not only was it snowing heavily and icy, but this is open range and there are often cattle on the main highways. This is not such a great inconvenience, as there are also deer, antelope, gigantic sage hens, badgers, and the occasional porcupine on the road as well. They are much easier traffic to tolerate than the kind we had in California.

As we chugged along down the road, I marveled once again at the ever-changing landscape. What sometimes looks barren and un-inviting, is blanketed in soft white billows and the juniper trees stand out in sharp contrast. Passing the now smooth, white alfalfa fields and irrigation pivots that sparkle with ice crystals reflecting the sun in all the colors of the prism, tantalize the eyes and the imagination. It is a warm and comforting feeling to me, to pass by the large pastures with cattle and horses munching on hay provided to them by their owners, in the early hours of a frosty dawn.

A couple of miles from our destination, we pass a snowplow on its way to clear the already traveled highway. It is only the second vehicle we have seen on our 3-hour trip.

Arriving in town exactly one hour late for our appt., we enter the community medical center and find ourselves in an examining room in less than 10 minutes. It cuts short our conversation with a stranger, who asks which outfit we work for and shares with us the best place on the 10,000 ft Steens Mtn. to view the ranch from above and talks about his love for ranching. The physical therapist we have not seen in 3 years remembers us, and the fact that we live over 2 hours from town.

Minutes later, we are headed to breakfast, to our usual place, one of only 3 choices in town. They already know what we want. We drop the prescriptions off at the druggist and the gal behind the counter says “Glad you are in town! We have some other stuff for you. I was going to mail it, but since you are here, you can just pick it up.” A little conversation is had about the ranch family and how they are doing, soap making, and the best place to buy supplies on the internet. We pick up livestock supplies at the Ranch Store and head back across town.

Not every town has a cemetery on Main St. But here is a small cemetery, with its flowers, headstones and crosses, bearing last names shared by many of the residents we have met. These were the pioneers that built this place, the same kind of folk that built this country. These were tough, determined folk, with strong backs and strong faith. 

sign at the vets office

The buildings in this small town are old and like the homes surrounding it, are in varying stages of disrepair, but contain an inherent character not seen in newer buildings. I love that these buildings were not discarded in favor of something ‘more modern’.
In a culture that finds everything disposable including family at times, it is heartwarming to see timeworn things prevail.
An old mill stands empty, its craftsmanship apparent in its dovetailed corners. A church boasts its founding in 1884, one hundred and twenty seven years ago. There are several churches in this little town, as well as a large, Pro Life billboard on the main drag. It feels good to be somewhere that people are still unafraid to express what they believe in and that they share our convictions as well as our gratitude. Further along the main blvd. is a round pen for training horses, and a big steer with his nose through the fence, watching ‘traffic’. This is across the road from the motel.

note the quail dining on the porch!

An old tractor and antique farm implements welcome travelers to town at the first building we pass on the left. Old trucks, from the 1940’s era are found in various parts of town, many still running. A resident has his backhoe parked on the street in front of his house, and another his stock trailer. Every little old house is different, and all have charm. More than one house has an old wagon in the yard.

The town museum, which advertises its hours as “Open Tues-Sat 10:00 to 4:00” is closed for the afternoon, anyway. There are awesome paintings on the outside, of the Paiute Indians, farmers and ranchers who inhabited the area in years past. The most modern addition to the town are the many bronze statues, clearly created by a local artist with great skill.

Local artist does bronzes all over town. Note the frog in the little guys hand...

Equal rights can be established WITHOUT gender confusion

We head back home, the roads much better now. I think about how much I love to see out across the range, see the small farms and their livestock, the tractors parked by the highway, left by local ranchers and farmers clearing their way to the road. I watch the change from the farmland, to rangeland, to the mesas and the craggy and rugged canyons give way to the serene, vast and beautiful landscape blessing me, every mile of the way home.

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