The Failed Road Trip of 2017
This is what happens when a road trip plan is upset by unavoidable circumstances. We had a grand plan to enjoy the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede, proceed to Idaho, south through the City of Rocks to Ely and Great Basin National Park, returning via Tonopah and a class reunion in Sacramento.
Rain and wind in Walla Walla prevented a single balloon launch the days we were there. Further issues prevented continuing beyond Twin Falls in Idaho, so we backtracked into Oregon to California. The only item we saw from our original itinerary was Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho. Otherwise, this was an impromptu, spontaneous wandering.
- Southwest Idaho and the Magic Valley
Lots of driving on back roads. Interesting scenery, but non highly photogenic, for the most part. This set includes Bruneau Canyon, Balanced Rock, Thousand Springs, and Shoshone Falls. Magic Valley is so named because of the dozens of communities that popped up like magic from what was previously thought to be nearly uninhabitable land when irrigation was introduced to the region at the turn of the 20th century.
- Owyhee Reservoir and Leslie Gulch
Freezing temperatures and recent rain made the colors of Leslie Gulch really pop. The deep canyon is a lighting challenge in the early morning.
- The Pillars of Rome
A long time bucket list item for me. I was not disappointed.
- Steens Mountain, Alvord Desert and the Owls of Fields
Steen's Mountain rises almost a mile above the dry bed of Alvord Lake, otherwise known as the Alvord Desert. We took a quick jaunt about a mile out onto the lake bed.The Great Horned Owls at Fields have been there for many years. The grove of trees is bigger than last time we were there, so it took a bit of searching to find the owls.
- Lost Forest and Christmas Valley Sand Dunes
The Lost Forest is 8,960 acres set aside to protect this unusual stand of Ponderosa Pine and Oregon Juniper trees, 40 miles from the nearest forest. Standing in the middle of a sage and sand desert, these trees receive only one half the rainfall normally required to support these species. The deep sandy soil helps capture and preserve what little moisture that does fall on the area, creating this unique habitat next to the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes.
- Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies and California Highway 263
This Buddhist center in the Siskiyou mountains south of Ashland is a bit of a surprise. The 35 foot high Buddha is now enclosed in a protective shelter. On south, the section of old highway from the Klamath River to Yreka is a personal favorite. I remember this stretch of road prior to the completion of I5. Seems like it was always 104 degrees, and bumper to bumper traffic that frequently stopped long enough to get out of the car and try to see what was holding things up. Now it is a rarely traveled scenic route with beautiful old bridges built in the 1930s.
So, all being said and done, I guess that trip is about as good as any! Besides, even a failed road trip is better than a good week at work.