And the road goes on forever...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lost in Sage

North central Oregon is a land of windswept rolling hills making some vistas to the horizon seem short. It’s populated with small juniper trees and sage brush with nary a deciduous tree save for those found in the lonely small towns, but it seems to be booming with windmills now that wind energy has entered a new forefront.

After a late start from Bend, we quickly leave mountains and pines behind and head north on undulating Hwy. 97 towards the mighty Columbia River. After a quick goodbye at the Redmond Home Depot to our son and daughter-in-law, we get back on the crowded highway heading north. We decide at a rest stop lunch that Yakima, our proposed destination for the day, is just going to be too far but Marc knows of a small county park type “rest stop” right outside of Moro, population 160. The park is paved but small; some huge silos with a dirt lot beckoning in the short distance seem a far better boondock for our tastes. We scope it out; Marc backs in; we open the slides up and enjoy. Perched high above us is an empty eagle’s nest. Even the cat likes it here.

We walk the park; it’s a cozy oasis and historical. In 1862 the DeMoss family came out on the Oregon Trail. With their five children, they were a musical family and traveled a rural circuit singing, performing, and preaching. In 1883 they camped here and Elizabeth DeMoss announced “this was to be home”. They laid out a town site. Between 1872 and 1933 the DeMoss Lyric Bards continued to perform across the entire United States, Canada and even made two trips abroad where they performed for Queen Victoria and Czar Nicolas II.

The park today is tranquil, shaded by the largest quaking aspen trees I have ever seen. Big semis roar by but don’t stop. The DeMoss Springs, the namesake for the park, is not much this late day of summer, algae-covered and sluggish. One has to wonder what they saw in this spot to call it home; it sits deep in a draw with only yellow hills and sagebrush for a view; some of them growing so tall they tower over even Marc. Their smell through the open screen door is pungent—nearly enough to overpower the smell of me cooking halibut fish tacos for dinner.

It’s great to be back on the road--there is a romanticism that we can’t deny. By 7 p.m. the highway is practically silent. After all, there are no towns of note for over 100 miles between Madras and the Columbia River. We however, don’t need to fret about towns. We sit in the DeMoss’s backyard imagining the children’s cries as they played on the swings and probably carved their initials in those huge old aspen.