Monday, February 01, 2010

Mid Oregon - Sage, fossils, and fire

The snugglers got busted enjoying opposite sides of the hotel comforter.
On the way across Oregon - a really big state - we stopped briefly at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. A beautifully scenic place with the most diverse assortment of recent prehistoric mammals and plants on earth.

Stuff you've never even heard of - because they are discovering new species constantly. No dinosaurs here, just short faced bears, mastodonts, lava flows and volcanic tufts. When the volcanoes blew, they covered everything in ash that cemented and left amazingly detailed petrofied plant leaves, wood, even extinct avocados. John Day displays fossil nuts! If you can believe it.

Think the Tertiary version of the Burgess Shale. Extinct horses, rhinos, tortoises, elephants, cheetahs, and other wondrous critters we missed by just a few hundred thousand years. They don't have any evidence of alien trophy hunters bagging them all, but we know the truth.... ~~~~~~~~~~~
On to a very meaningful monument in Prineville, Oregon.
In 1994 a small fire (the South Canyon Fire) west of Glenwood Springs, Colorado blew out of control and overran a crew of firefighters called the Prineville Hotshots. Most were local kids working summer jobs, and the town was devastated. Blain was working on an engine crew in Leadville that summer, but took a couple of weeks off to go to Costa Rica. He remembers vividly where he was in the hotel lobby when he heard it on the news station down there. It sounded like the whole state was on fire. Pingree Park burned that year, also.
Walking Chance on his evening empty, they literally stumbled upon this beautiful bronze statue and landscaped monument dedicated to the fallen 14, and to all wildland firefighters of the world.
The most uplifting thing I read was that wildland fire fatalities have dropped over forty percent since the South Canyon Fire. Let's hope it moves closer to 100% some day.

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