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US 20 Journey 2010
2011 - Day 17 - June 4
Ontario to Burns, OR
Pleasant morning conversation with Dorin and Kathryn.
Dorin played the musical saw for me before I left. He learned to play it from an uncle back in the mid-1930s. He bought this saw, back then. It was surprising to me that some saws were made expressly as musical ones.
Dorin got me to try it and I was able to squeek out a few sounds.
Dorin and his daughter Kathryn.
Big agricultural area here before heading west into the high desert.
Vale, a small town a few miles west of Ontario, is known for its Oregon Trail Murals. 30 murals are scattered throughout the town. Below are a few pics. More info here.
West of Vale. I wonder if some people don't stay here because of the movie connection? Or maybe some do because of that?
Have seen this sign a few times in the last three days but have not seen any cattle near the road.
I was now entering into the Malheur River region, an area I was looking forward to being in. This from "Twenty Days on Route 20" :
Now, green amidst brown hills.
rounded brown mountains
green banks of Malheur river
quench my hidden thirst
After leaving the Malheur valley the road climbs over two passes in these unnamed-on-the-roadmap mountains: Drinkwater Pass, El. 4212' and Stinking Water Pass El. 4848'. Maybe these mountains aren't mentioned on the map because they are relatively insignificant compared to many of the other mountains in Oregon. Yet, I really enjoyed the ride through the small canyons, over the passes, along the crests. Once again, as has been the case for most of the way since the Sandhills, distant mountains line the horizon.
Following pics are from that region.
Before getting to the two passes, in Juntura I came upon a crowd of vehicles parked along the road. A Horse Auction was going on, so I had to stop.
From the auctioneer: "I'll tell you what. You stick a saddle on him and he'll be right pretty!"
The first horse that sold as I walked in went for $6,300! That was the highest I heard. Learned this is an annual event, every first Saturday of June.
Lupine along the road. Not as big as the lupine in Maine. The next flowers were all near the lupine. Again, an abundance of blooms in what is a very dry area. This spring has been moist, so a good one for flowers.
Haven't identified yet.
A very tiny forget-me-not and another unidentified.
Pulled into Burns, hoping to maybe barter for a room at Bontemps, where I did so in 1996 and 1997.
Not a possibility this time around.
Burns is a small town of about 3,000 people in the midst of wild land and very remote. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Steens Mountain are nearby, so Burns is a sort of jumping off place for those areas. Below are a few pics from town.
Took a jaunt a few miles out of town to see if I could find the old Cold War relic decommissioned radar site that I happened upon in 96. The dirt road is now gated and a state police officer told me most of the site has been taken down. I lingered out on the hills, took a hike at another place and caught a fine sunset over the juniper and sage covered hills.
A little earlier I had bartered for a room (two nights) at the Silver Spur Motel. So, I returned "home" after dark and had a relaxing evening in a comfortable room, getting a little writing done before hitting the bed.
Tomorrow I'll get out to explore the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.