Not an accident thankfully, but definitely an "incident."
Heading out this morning for the '5 mile drive down a gravel road' I first have to park, get out of the car, open a gate, drive through the gate, park the car, get out of the car and close the gate. You are picturing this, right? Every day- coming or going- this is the routine.
Today, I drove up to the gate and there, on the other side were cows. Maybe 8 or 11? Big cows. Waiting. Staring. Chewing.
What to do?!
I parked as close as I could to the gate and decided to push the gate out towards the cows. I shoo'd them. They stared. They chewed. I got into my car, I said 'STAY!' to the cows. I pulled through the gate. I got out of my car. I went to close the gate. The cows stared. They chewed. ALL BUT ONE.
ONE made a run for it. ONE cow trotted past my car and into the Lands Inn property. Oh no! I called out to the cow. I asked it to come here, this way, no no, come back... It stared. It chewed.
Now the grass IS better on this other side of the fence because there IS grass on this side. The cow would not come to me. And I was NOT going to it! I couldn't go back to tell anyone because I was certain the other cows would all then make a go of coming in... So, I drove away. The group of cows looking concerned and more likely jealous that their buddy was locked on the other side... and had plenty of food to munch away on!!
I had to drive about 45 minutes until I found a few bars of Verizon so I could call and report (confess) the cow incident to the Inn. There was probably a better way to handle a small herd blocking the gate and I'm sure I did it all wrong :(
Today I drove to Clarno, the furthest section of the park, to hike, meet with Josh the Ranger/Paleontologist, and do some painting or sketching.
It's a pretty drive along the John Day River and it takes about 2.25 hours. (With the cow incident I was now about 45 minutes behind schedule.)
But Clarno is heroic! It's regal! It's huge!
I hiked up to the base of the palisades and completed two different trails. On the first, a couple I passed said to me, "umm, there's a rattle snake up there on the rock so watch out." Uhh, whaa- yikes!
It is not easy looking up at these towering pillars of rocks and at the same time watching every step and scoping out every single rock for a rattle snake!! Sheesh. Never did see a snake but I did see fossils ;) Leaves on rocks from about 40 million years ago which is pretty awesome!
After the second trail I stopped at the Ranger outpost to say hi to Josh. He talked to me about the park and what he does... But no there was no digging today :(
So, cow incident and near rattle snake sighting and extreme heat fatigue all prodding away at my nerves, I gathered up my lunch from my car and sat at a covered picnic bench where I sketched the Clarno Palisades and nibbled on string cheese, V8 and mandarin oranges sealed in a plastic cup :)
Very relaxing. Just what I needed.
On the return drive I stopped off in Kimberly which is well known for its orchards. I picked up a few Golden Delicious and some Ambrosia Apples (very good and super crisp!)
I stopped too at Foree for one last shot of those blue green formations...
Finally, I made my way back up the 5 mile gravel road and was relieved to see not a single cow. Safely inside MY side of the gate I unloaded the apples and made up a quick dinner so I could catch a little of the sunset. Beautiful.