Of Mosquito Festivals and Lt. Fremont

Traveled today from Blairsden to god knows where in eastern Oregon. Currently resting our bones at the Ana Reservoir. Which is near Summer Lake. Which is north of Paisley. As I write, I am currently looking West at a huge mountain and white puffy clouds. It is beautiful and quiet and peaceful. (later, it hailed).

Let's twist again, like we did last summer...twisters in Summer Lake, OR

Let’s twist again, like we did last summer…twisters in Summer Lake, OR

As noted previously, traveling the back roads is a real pleasure. All two lane roads today. When we left Blairsden, we headed east on 70 and connected up with 395 turning north. And that’s the road we traveled until we turned off to bend it toward Bend. Which is our destination tomorrow.

Rayman was not convinced of the route I wanted but he went along with me. He said there were no RV joints on the roads we were going to traverse. And he was right…until we saw a sign that said “RV campground One Mile. Down this road.” That’s how we found this place. We were both sick of driving. Too many hours in the saddle.

The eastern side of Oregon is lovely. It has some gigantic lakes. Goose Lake went on and on and on. It was not blue. Reminded us a lot of the Salton Sea. Must be shallow. I would tell you, dear reader, definitively but we don’t have a signal. No internet. Off the grid. Can’t look it up.

 

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Sandy soil with low shrubs.

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Near where we stayed.

Besides lakes there are plateaus. And mountains. And valleys. Even desert -like sand punctuated with low growing green shrubs. Quite unusual, really.

 

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Besides all the nature, we saw many homesteads that looked in disrepair or abandoned. What happened? Where did they go? We also saw many head of cattle, horses here and there. One coyote and an elk crossing sign.

There was very little traffic. Almost perfect. The lanes were very narrow in many places and there were a few drop offs that caused us considerable anxiety, but hey, we made it!!

After so many hours on the road, I started hallucinating. In the middle of nowhere I proclaimed, 
“Look, I think I see a Hilton.” Rayman may have rolled his eyes. He was driving and not looking at me so I’m not certain of his reaction. When we finally arrived at the Hilton, it was a couple of newer barns.

Speaking of newer barns. The route was littered with old, weathered barns that had seen their better days. Unloved. Unused. And apparently, unwanted. If you need used wood for that new floor, come north. Perhaps you could make a deal. Plenty to choose from.

And how is Beau, you ask? Scalped. We took him to the groomer yesterday. He looks great except she took a bit too much off his legs. He has bird legs now.

After a month of no TV because we were parked amongst big towering trees, we had TV last night. Yes. That’s right. It’s the next day. Wednesday morning. News to report. Still no signals for our electronic devices. What to do? Usually, we read the paper on-line. Not today. And we don’t turn on the TV in the morning, the exception being…the British Open, perhaps. You get the picture. No TV in the a.m. So, with nothing to do for the first time in a long time, I picked up the written material the RV campground owner, Jay, gave us upon our arrival yesterday. That’s when I discovered that tomorrow and Friday the area will be celebrating their Mosquito Festival with a parade, perhaps some pie slinging, and a deep pit barbecue. A Mosquito Festival? These people have a sense of humor. Do you suppose they have a Miss Mosquito to reign orr the activities? Some young lass has probably been bit with the bug to be a Mosquito Princess. What do you suppose her crown will look like? A pointy affair? Perhaps it will be adorned with a can of Off!! One can speculate. Unfortunately, we won’t be around to attend. It sounds like it will be a fun day. Incidentally, Rayman slew a mosquito this morning in our bathroom. Thank goodness the wind is blowing here or I fear we’d be scratching ourselves silly.

This area is famous for their bird life, their fishing (trout and bass). The campground even has a cleaning shed, a place to go to gut your fish, pluck your ducks. Never seen one of those before. A testament to the fauna in the area.

There are many natural wonders here too. Caves. Hiking trails, big holes in the ground (calderas), more lakes. Plenty to do if one would like to stay a while and explore. But that’s not on our agenda this trip.

We find ourselves in the middle of the Fremont National Forest Preserve. It was established in 1908 by my favorite President, Teddy Roosevelt. And it was named for the famous explorer Lieutenant John Fremont in the winter of 1843. He started his exploration from The Dalles on Nov. 25th. What a guy. I’d be hunkering down for the winter. Not him. He mounted his horse and rode south along the eastern edge of the Cascades and Sierra mountains. What fortitude!! What courage. No GPS. No Rand McNally atlas. He was accompanied by Charles Preuss, a cartographer, mapmaker and scientist. Preuss was, according to the info at my disposal, an ill-humored man (perhaps he didn’t like mosquitos) and confided in his journals how ill-suited he was to be an explorer and to work with Fremont on the frontier expeditions. Well, frankly, I don’t blame the guy. Exploring is hard in the dead of winter. Okay back to the story.

On December 16 after several days of traveling in snow storms (what, he couldn’t hunker down and wait?) they found themselves “on the verge of a vertical and rocky wall of the mountain. At our feet—-more than a 1000 feet below—-we looked into a green prairie country , in which a beautiful lake, some 20 miles in length, was spread along the foot of the mountains, it’s shores bordered with green grass. Just then the sun broke out among the clouds, and illuminated the country below, while around us the storm raged fiercely. Shivering in snow three feet deep, stiffening in a cold north wind, we exclaimed at once the names Summer Lake and Winter Ridge should be applied to these two proximate of such sudden and violent contrast.”

At this point I must interject that the lives we live now are pretty mundane. Imagine that experience. I am totally drawn to the historic accounts of explorers like this. And I wonder what has become of us? I won’t leave the house without gortex if the wind if blowing. Heck, we don’t even drive the RV if it’s too windy. Dinner last night was homemade pesto and tossed green salad. What do you imagine they ate? Perhaps a plucked duck?

An interesting cat, this Fremont. He eloped with a Senator’s daughter against the Senator’s wishes. (he was 28, she was 17) She helped him write his reports of exploration. According to this phamplet, she “was an early example of how women were capable of equal rights of citizenship and full participation with men and was an inspiration to generations of women.” Now, that, I consider hyperbole. As I recall women weren’t allowed to vote. And until now I have never heard of her. Jessie Fremont. Guess I need to bone up on my history some more. However, it is nice that they gave her a shout-out in the article. Sounds a bit like Amy Adams.

Some more info. Fremont ran for President. Against an upstart named Abe Lincoln. This must have been the Republican primary. And get this. Lincoln made Fremont a General during the Civil War. And then Fremont lost his command for issuing an Emancipation Proclamation and freeing all slaves in Missouri. Good grief. Really? Oh, how the irony drips. He later served as gov for Arizona.

And below is where we are staying for the next week.  Sisters, OR with the fabulous mountains as a backdrop.   Again, please note the traffic.

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Sisters in the distance.

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