Well, our original plan was to go to Sumpter and ride the train, check out the dredge, camp for the night and come home. Ha. Here's what actually happened.
We drove out to Baker City, went on into Sumpter. Just as we were approaching Sumpter, the stage stop is on the left. We stopped there and saw that the train wasn't leaving for about 2 1/2 hours, so we had some time to kill and decided to go into Sumpter and have lunch. But right outside the train depot is an Osprey nest (Phillips Lake is not far away), so I had to get a shot. (Insert endless whine about a good lens here.)
Mark trying to duck from the photographer extraordinaireeee. He learned a little later in the trip just how quick the shutter finger really is! ;-)
Ok ... so I put the camera down for a few hours. We went into Sumpter and had a nice lunch at one of the eating establishments. Right down the road was the dredge we went and toured. Let me tell you, that was amazing. You can find all of the information about the dredge HERE. It was way more impressive in person, and the nice Ranger Bobbie gave us all kinds of great information and answered all of our questions. Up until this point, I was only vaguely familiar with how a dredge worked and had only seen one very dilapidated one in Arizona. This was entirely different. In fact, they stopped using it in or around 1955, so it's in excellent condition and you're able to see the inner workings of all of it. The buckets alone were very very impressive.
On our way into the area where the dredge was, we saw another train depot. We figured out that this was the other end of the trip that we were going to be taking in a few hours, and the train ride took you along the road we were just on! So we opted to forego that train ride, and headed up the hill to see what else was around. This was the start of what would turn out to be yet another high mileage trip (600 miles or so).
We headed towards Granite. I am not sure of the actual location, but I think it was a bit north of Granite that I spotted what turned out to be an old mine on the side of the hill. We had to stop and check that out. I'll spare you the bazillion photos I took, but here's a few.
I would have loved to climb up and really check it out, but it was proving to be quite iffy because of all of the downed wood.
From there, we headed towards Anthony Lake. The views on the way were gorgeous.
I couldn't believe that even in the beginning of August, we're still seeing lots of very pretty wildflowers.
The oddest thing happened. We ran into Ponce De Leon, who was on his way back to Florida.
Anthony Lake was very small but, as you can see, very picturesque.
Here's Cortes ... he was looking for his buddy Ponce ...
We dropped out of the mountains and into North Powder. Cool little town. We then headed up to LaGrande, which, by the way, doesn't have a steakhouse, a good campground around it, or a Sinclair station! We putzed around for a bit, and after I found a wireless connection and did a bit of research from my phone, we headed down to a place called Hot Lake. It's just a few miles southeast of LaGrande. There's an RV park called Eagles Hot Lake RV Park where we camped for the night. It was full service ... what I'd consider cheating. Showers, bathrooms, a little store, etc. Being that it was Sunday night, there were very few tent campers. We picked a spot away from everyone, and being that we were both up late the night before and didn't get a whole lot of sleep, it almost didn't matter where we parked the tent. As it turns out, this was a very nice, quiet spot.
Lots of water around, and it was right behind a very small WMA. Lots of frogs and tadpoles and such in the little puddles and such.
Here's where we plopped the tent:
After we set up tent, we went to go grab some dinner. Thinking we were all slick and stuff, we headed to LaGrande. Surely they have a steakhouse. Wrong! Consulting my phone again, I find a steakhouse in a little town called Cove. It was about 13 miles east of LaGrande, so we headed that way. I don't have any photos of this little town, but let me tell you, I loved it! It was smack up against the mountains just in the foothills, and it was a very clean little sleepy town. Just as we were leaving, we found the steakhouse we'd been looking for. And it was awesome! Definitely would go back again if we ever make it out there again. Cove Steakhouse and Tavern.
With dinner behind us, we headed back to our campground, but went through another little town named Union. Cool stuff here, too!
Part of the park:
View of the main street (which might even be called Main Street for all I know...)
Ok ... this is a bitchin' house. I felt like a stalker taking a photo of his house, but I had to. I love the design. Wasn't nuts about the location, but otherwise, it was really cool.
Here's the library. Quite old.
Back at the park ...
There was this great fishing hole for kids, and there were actually kids fishing in it! Quite a few of them! Not wanting to be a stalker, I snapped a quick shot...
Next to the park is the hotel. It is another old building, built in the early 1900's.
Then back to camp we went. Our heads hit the pillows and it was all over. Slept like logs and got up early Monday morning, broke camp and headed back to LaGrande for breakfast. From there, we headed out on the 203 and took the loop through Medical Springs. Very pretty drive. Saw a couple of golden eagles, and I blew some great shots. Here's the best one I got.
Mark spotted a deer, and I blew that, too. See?
Awesome, aren't I? I don't think a better lens would have helped me in either situation!
Into Baker we went to get gas, and satisfy a chocolate craving, and off we went on the 86 Eastbound. First stop was just up the hill.
Took the 86 through Richland, Pine, Halfway, etc., and into Oxbow at the dam, then headed South to Brownlee Reservoir. The water was much lower than it normally is as you can tell.
We had planned on stopping and fishing somewhere around here and was a bit disappointed with the terrain. We came and we saw, though, and that was cool. Normally when I drive through Eastern Oregon on I-80, I often wonder what the area is like off the freeway on either side. We got a piece of both sides this weekend and it was great fun!
Into Council for lunch, and then headed home. Thanks again, Mark, for another wonderful weekend! You rock! ;-)