Wednesday, May 20

Central Oregon Camping

We took our first family camping trip of the season last weekend, and it certainly wasn't boring, though we did see the offramp to go there.

Let's just say it started out with a bang. We stopped for a bathroom break at a gas station on the top of Mt. Hood and someone backed into our van.

No one was hurt (though Abby was pretty shaken up) thankfully, and the exchange of information went well and except for a terrible crunching and scraping noise when opening and closing the passenger-side door, we were still able to safely drive our van.

Aside from our small accident, this camping trip was our best so far! After leaving the gas station, we continued to drive several hours to the John Day Fossil Beds. We got to our free campground in plenty of time to get camp set up, cut up some firewood, and get dinner going before dark. We were almost completely alone at the campground, which was wonderful! The nearest campers were two sites away and though there was someone setting up camp each evening, they always left first thing in the morning.

After a frigid night (note to self: always bring the heater if you even remotely think you might need it!), we awoke, made breakfast and prepared for a day at the fossil beds.

Our first day was spent exploring the museum at the Sheeprock Unit. The scenery was incredible with tons of exposed strata, wildflowers, and small wildlife to see. Though many (dare I say most?) people who come through this area see Darwinian evolution at work, all I could see was a God who is more powerful and creative than I can possibly imagine.

We first went to the museum that houses the Thomas Condon Palentology Center. It was interesting to note that Thomas Condon was a Protestant minister who came out west to spread the gospel. He then was shown the fossil beds and began excavating them and sending the fossils back East, which created quite a lot of excitement among the scientists of the time.

Sadly, he chose to believe in evolution as God's method of working rather than the teaching of the Bible which says God made the animals after their own kind. While we saw hundreds of fossil specimens, I found it of particular importance (and pointed out to our children) that every single fossil was the same or incredibly similar to the species we currently have on our planet. There wasn't one transitional form among the thousands that have been found.

After leaving the palentology center, we drove just down the road to visit Thomas Condon's home which is now a museum which house the history of the people of the area during this time. We had a nice picnic lunch there on the grounds. The first picture is of his homestead cabin and the second is of the house he built later. Quite a difference, eh?

After lunch we visited the sheep barns and orchards and took a walk down to the John Day River. Then we decided to do some more hiking in the surrounding hills. It was beautiful, though a little warm for us Western Oregonians.

Ryan was rather grumpy due to the heat and all the walking we were doing, but the rest of us had a grand time! Abby thought it was a great hardship that she wasn't allowed to keep any of the rocks she kept finding everywhere as it's against the law to remove them.

We took hundreds of pictures, and I had a hard time narrowing them down for this blog post.

We usually incorporate some geocaching into our camping, and we did so this time too. Our last hike was actually to find the cache of a multi-cache we had been doing all day, and it gave us quite a view.

Finally we were out of time and energy and so we drove back to our campground for some dinner and rest. Stayed tuned for the day two post...

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