Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Book, Eastern Oregon Trip Part 1, George the Cat

Anne and I both worked hard to get our latest golf travel guide done in time for our spring trip to Scotland.  We published Golf in Scotland: The Hidden Gems on February 28.  

Even though the book is just a revision of our first golf travel guide, because we completely changed the format and added numerous courses, eateries, and B&Bs, the book was as much work as doing a completely new product.  The book is done now and is already selling well (for a golf guide) on Amazon (a Kindle edition is due out in a couple of weeks).  For our efforts we decided to treat ourselves with a Road Trip to Eastern Oregon. 
We began with the drive over to Redmond where we stayed in timeshare at Worldmark at Eagle Crest.  
Mt Hood
The view of the mountains (Hood, Jefferson, Washington, Three Finger Jack, the Three 
Mt Jefferson
Sisters, Broken Top, and Black Butte) as well as a profitable stop at the Indian Head Casino at Kah-Nee-Ta enhanced the drive.  While having a light lunch at the casino, we watched a young worker pay close attention to the announcement of the new pope.  She was rooting for an American to be selected and was mildly crushed when Francis I was introduced.  I suspect that she was reacting much the same as many American catholics.  Photos of the Crooked River Gorge and Smith Rocks State Park helped to make the trip an artistic as well as financial success. 
Crooked River Gorge

Smith Rocks
The Worldmark resort at Eagle Crest is a five star stay--we had a one bedroom unit in the main hotel which had a full kitchen and views out to one of the Eagle Crest golf courses.  Dinner at the Brickhouse in Redmond was excellent, though expensive.  

Best of all was a killer marionberry cobbler ala mode large enough for the two of us to share.  The only slight negatives to the day were not getting to see Comet Pan-STARR because of cloud cover (one of the reasons for going to Eastern Oregon) and pulling down a Redmond one-way street the wrong way--can only blame that on lack of attention, I hadn’t had anything to drink.
Day two was an exploration day between Redmond and John Day.  After a forgettable breakfast in a local restaurant which we promptly forgot the name of, the day brightened up when I spotted a bald eagle and he landed close enough for photos. 

Very majestic!  Our first tour stop was at the John Day Fossil Beds Painted Hills Unit.  We had been to the Painted Hills once before for a sled dog race, but that was probably in 1978 and neither of us remember too much about the area through the alcohol fog of the trip.  

The scenery is truly spectacular and the colors are as vivid as the picture postcards we’ve seen--the red color comes from oxidized iron, the golden color from a mixture of magnesium and iron, 

and the black from oxidized magnesium.  Both getting to see three mule deer (we think) and 

being the only visitors to the Hills for the hour we spent there added to the experience.  
We made Mitchell, an 1860s gold mining town 50 miles east of Prineville and 80 miles west of John Day, our people refueling stop.  We didn’t know what to expect from Mitchell, but loved what we found.  In the Sidewalk Cafe and More I enjoyed a lovely slice of walnut 

pie, while Anne (good girl that she is) had a salad.  We also enjoyed the conversation between mother and daughter owners as they decided what to have on the menu for Sunday dinner--they decided on beef tacos for St Patrick’s Day dinner because that’s what they had the most of in the freezer.  As we explored the almost ghost town of Mitchell we were accosted (in a friendly way) by the Auntie Wainwright (BBC’s “Last of the Summer Wine”) of Mitchell.   Judy, from Judy’s Place (second-hand and souvenir shop), came out into the street and started telling us stories of Old Mitchell and invited us into her shop to see her historic photos.  

A Mitchell Boarding House
We finally bought some postcards so we could make our exit and continue our trip--actually I felt like I was paying for the stories which really were interesting.  
The main unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is the Sheep Rock Unit which hosts the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center and Visitor’s Center.  

Besides holding the fossil museum, the Thomas Condon Center has a viewing area where we watched a paleontologist working on extracting a small fossil fragment from its bed stone.  We also hiked into the Blue Basin Area 

and stopped for photos of Cathedral Rock.

Our stop for the night was the Best Western Motel in John Day, a very nice inexpensive room.  Dinner, at the suggestion of the hotel manager, was at the Snaffle Bit Dinner House. 

For $12 we got salad, a main course (mine was fried chicken, veg, and potato), dessert, and drink.  I didn’t know bargains like this existed anymore.  It was delicious as well.
John Day Adventist Church

GEORGE THE CAT --  (?) 1997 - March 20, 2013

George, named by the neighbors, was a stray abandoned by the people who lived behind the neighbors across the street from us.  The neighbors neutered George and feed him, but he was just one of several outside cats the neighbors fed.  I started hand feeding George Tender Vittles in the mornings before I went to work.  He soon discovered that he liked coming into the house in the evenings, even if he had to share it with Muffy, Queen of the House.  Muffy took all the best sleeping spots, but George decided that even the second best spots were better than living on the street.  After talking with the neighbors and taking George to the vet for his jabs, he became our cat although weighing between 12 and 15 pounds he freely claimed the neighborhood as his.  
George was a lovey cat, but fairly shy among people.  He tolerated us having groups over, but relished group dinners when he’d get his own chair at the table--he was content to sit at the table and watch us eat, knowing he’d eventually get some scraps when everyone was done.  Ice cream was of course his favorite and almost any meat would attract his interest.  
In the 12 plus years we had George he got used to having sitters when we were away, first to debate camps and then to UK adventures.  For a while we used live-in house/cat sitters, then we had neighbors who would watch over things while we were gone--letting George in and out on a regular basis.  He didn’t like our traveling and started sulking as soon as saw the suitcases come up from the basement.  He never knew whether the trip was to be for a weekend, a week, or six weeks--after all, as smart as he was he never learned to read the calendar or the itinerary we always left on the table.  He was almost always happy to see us return.  In fact, one time we had left our car at the airport for a friend who was coming back from a trip a couple of days after we left.  When Scott pulled into our carport with our car George came anxiously running until he saw it wasn’t us.  Scott said he looked so dejected when he left in his own car. George would punish us, though, for leaving him (even if he had been well cared for) by demanding to be let in and out at his whim for several days.  Out of guilt (and fear, for George had claws which he kept very sharp) we always gave in to his demands.  This was the pattern for years, until this last short trip to Eastern Oregon.  When we got home George greeted us, wanted pets and a little lap time, but was far more interested in curling up in the bed we had for him in front of the heat vent.  This now was the pattern for several days--George became harder and harder to wake up.  He’d get up to eat his breakfast and dinner and wait beside us for our scraps, but then it was back to sleep in front of the heater without much lap time.  I had a chat with George’s vet, made an appointment, and took him in for his final visit.  

We hope George, good friend that he was, is now enjoying his long, permanent nap.   

Next: Eastern Oregon Trip, Part 2