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Painted Hills Oregon

With everyone at Coachella this weekend the FOMO might start creeping in so I reminded myself that it's important to keep storytelling alive and well. So I've been reflecting on my little trip last week to the Painted Hills out in Eastern Oregon.

There’s no better feeling when Winter decides to dwindle down and give Spring a chance to delight all of us that live in the Pacific Northwest. We survive the grey clouds and bone chilling dark days for the promise of spring blooms bursting at the seams with every stunning color nature can come up with. Longer days and warmer sunsets are something I live for.

With Spring comes an awakening of not just the blossoming trees but also the need to stop hibernating in the house and stretch my legs and get fresh air and new views. Spring break was the perfect time to take a little road trip to somewhere new. My friend Trish and I decided to hit the road with a little help from which helped me plan out all of the logistics for the trip.

We decided to do a little loop where we went to Bend, Oregon to visit my family on the way to the Painted Hills. Ironically enough as I caught up with my Aunt I found out she was actually heading to all of the places we were going in the next few months to play some gigs. I booked an Airbnb out in the middle of nowhere because for some reason that seemed like the ideal thing to do out there.

The drive out was absolutely breathtaking and I’m so thankful to live in such a stunning state where you can be to the ocean, mountains , desert or the forest all in a few hours drive. Our first stop was the Painted Hills unit where we checked out all of the short trails. The Overlook Trail, Red Scar Knoll Trail, and Painted Cove Trail were my favorites. I was also intrigued by the animal prints on the hills which made me somewhat obsessed with spotting mountain goats on the trip. Although I did see a few mountain goats later on the route, I never had enough time to capture them in a photo. I did love the free roaming cattle in the area especially all of the curious calves playing together.

After spending the entire day out and about we headed to our Airbnb to check in. After checking in we headed out to a restaurant which I had researched on Yelp. It was the only restaurant in town that was supposed to be open late. We headed to the small town of Mitchell, OR only to discover that everything was closed by 7pm and we had just missed our window to get any sort of food. We knocked on the door and asked the lady that was closing up if there was anything else open or anything nearby to drive to because we were in the middle of nowhere. No cell phone service. She sent us off with a frozen pizza which was incredibly nice of her and we headed back to utilize the oven. Moral of this story is never trust Yelp without doing more research.

Thanks for the pizza!

The next morning we sat down to the wonderful breakfast provided by our hosts and we were discussing our trip details. My friend who had mentioned meeting up with a guy she had met at a summer camp years ago was telling them the story of how she used to go to a summer camp out in Antelope, OR. The camp coincidentally happened to be along our route. She told us that she was planning to get coffee with this guy she hadn't seen in 15 years. Our hosts were like "Oh our son totally went to that camp too! What’s the name of this guy you’re meeting?". So she goes on to tell them his name and it turns out that HE IS THEIR SON. My mind is immediately blown at the serendipitous moment. We are all amazed at the outcome as she had only mentioned this guy and I did the booking and all the travel plans. I just sat there in disbelief at how small the world is and ate my bacon and drank my coffee while they talked about their son. After that strange and funny occurrence we headed towards the Sheep Rock Unit. We had a brief stop at Cant Ranch which was absolutely gorgeous with the views along the John Day River.

On our way to Fossil, OR we spotted some coyotes strung up along posts on the highway. I’m still curious on what the story is on that since miles before I had seen signs for no hunting/poaching/etc. We got to Fossil, OR and went digging for fossils on the hillside above the school. Which anyone can do for a small donation. They have all sorts of tools there to utilize during your visit. We spent much longer than we originally thought just laying in the dirt digging for fossils. Even though we had no idea what the hell we were doing it was still fun and still an adventure.

After getting as dirty as possible from digging in the dirt all day we got back on the road and headed to the quaint little ghost town of Shaniko, OR. We arrived pretty late and the general store and ice cream/candy shop were both closed but we did wander around looking at all the old cars and peering into the old hotel and exploring all of the history of the small town. We were even greeted by a friendly cat who accompanied us on our little adventure.

This trip was absolutely one worth sharing and I can’t wait to get back out there to the Painted Hills and do some hikes, take some more photos, and keep exploring everything Oregon has to offer. Feel free to check out my Instagram for more content from this trip.

#PaintedHills #Oregon #EasternOregon #Travel #Photography #Nature #Landscape #Vacation #johnday #johndayfossilbeds #shaniko #ghosttown #roadtrip

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