Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Old School and Old Hills

Last weekend was a chance to escape from the urban dwellings to the hills and mountains of the less traveled. Our mode of transportation was our Subaru, the state automobile for the state of Oregon. Maybe that is not exactly the case but they are everywhere you look so I would say if Oregon had a auto represent it, like we do for birds, flowers, etc the Subaru would be it.

Saturday morning came and Logan I left by 5:30 am to get well down the Columbia River Gorge in time for sunrise. I will give my teenage son credit, at 14 he has become mostly reluctant to get up early and spend hours traveling to locations for photography whether we are in car or hiking. On this morning though he got up with ease and we were out the door in no time. He will appreciate these experiences in the future. In Mosier we met up with fellow pro nature photographers David Cobb and Kevin McNeal for some early morning shooting. The clouds moved in pretty heavy just an hour before sunrise filling the sky a dark flat light. Not what we wanted for this scene, mother nature is in control though, not us. No sunrise shooting this morning so off to get coffee and breakfast. After that we travelled lonely back roads to photograph old school houses. David was nice enough to take us along to these special finds. The conditions were not ideal yet we enjoyed the outing and more importantly my son enjoyed seeing these places too. A reminder for you teenagers that there is life beyond the Internet and video games.

Then in the early afternoon Logan and I headed south to the Painted Hills National Monument in the John Day Fossil Beds area. My hope was for drier weather heading to central OR. Normally this proves true but not on this weekend. Photography and hiking was little as the rain showers were heavy and frequent. We did get a break right at sunset as you can see with the photo below, yet it was not a magnificent scene photographically. We ate dinner in the peace and quiet right off a back road outside of the Painted Hills. Not a sound except the light breeze and the birds. The smell of wet fresh juniper filled your lungs, rejuvenating for sure. At night the rain poured. Enough that we had a puddle in the tent the next morning. Sunrise was a bust. We ate our oatmeal and drank our coffee in the secluded peaceful setting. Packed up the wet gear and then headed for the main road.

I decided it would be fun to take some back road that we had never taken before. It would be 36+ miles of dirt/gravel road. It started out fine for the first 10 miles or so, a very well kept gravel road. Felt nice to be off the beaten path. Then we reached a section with a sign that said "Not An All Weather Road" referring to what was ahead. We kept going but quickly realized it was not the place to be right after a rainstorm. The mud was so soft that my tires were sliding around, using the AWD to maintain traction, and kicking up mud like the Bigfoot truck at a monster truck rally. My tire tracks, the only ones around. Nothing serious but was equivalent to being on a slick snow covered road. Then around a corner came a creek crossing. I stopped immediately. I know Subaru's can handle this but in conditions like this I was hesitant to go on for fear that it would be extra soft around the edges of the creek and thus would get stuck. At this point the road was all dirt, or really soft mud, and no small rocks or gravel. I like adventure but you must balance that with safety and reality, at least for me. We turned around and headed home on the main road. A wet, muddy and fun outing with my son.


Anonymous Seung Kye Lee said...

Hi Adrian.

Seems like a nice trip!
And I`m sure, even at age 14, that it`s something to remember.

Very nice images and great b&w work too!

Take care.

Seung Kye
Web: www.leeseungkye.com
Blog: www.seungkyelee.wordpress.com

5:49 AM  

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