Down, John Day River

On our weigh to Orygun last month, Betty and I forsook the road-most-traveled, opting for the more-adventurous mild travail of a road lesser (but probably not least) frequented.  Well, the “for-saking” didn’t happen ’til the Oregon/Idaho border, when we departed the Interstate for the much-more bucolic U.S. Hwy 26.

Above, top of Dixie Pass — measured at 5,280 feet in elevation.  (Hmmm …)  Below, we’re descending from the Pass into the headwaters of the John Day River valley — the Strawberry Mountains (& Wilderness) beckons.  Well, as-best-as-can-be-beckoned in the unsettled weather.

Our kids thought we might want to consider re-locating to the town of John Day.  After all, Betty had mentioned being closer to the grand-kids, but not too close.  And, she doesn’t especially like nor tolerate Portland, what with penetrating cold humidity much of the time.  Eastern Oregon usually doesn’t have THAT, being drier, more sun, smaller towns.  But John Day for us was too small.  Besides, no ice-(hockey)-arena for me, nor indoor nice public swimming pool for her.  And only one brew-pub –> the 1188 Brew-Pub is a definite asset to this “out in the mountains far-from-downtown” location.  (Oh:  their website announced that they are also distilling stuff now!  Next time …)

But we had a pleasant time in J.D., walking the main street, engaging in a spirited conversation with an 82-years-young fellow who’d lived in J D most his life — who approached us to ask about how Betty liked her new Subaru Forester.

Continuing down-river, we entered the J.D. River Picture Gorge (part of Fossil Beds Nat’l Mon.) and …

… as usual, during times like this, I couldn’t help but think of Geologic Time.  Driving through the layers, sediment, volcanic disruptions, and something I read recently seemed pertinent.  I was in the process of reading Grendel (by John Gardner).  Partway through the book, The Dragon talks (pontificates, actually) to Grendel:

“ … so I will tell you about Time and Space.

                In all discussions of Nature, we must try to remember the differences of scale, and in particular the differences of time-span.  We (by which I mean you, not us) are apt to take modes of observable functioning in our own bodies as setting an absolute scale.  But as a matter of fact, it’s extremely rash to extend conclusions derived from observations far beyond the scale of magnitude to which the observation was confined.  For example, the apparent absence of change within a second of time tells nothing as to the change within a thousand years.  Also, no appearance of change within a thousand years tells anything concerning what might happen in, say, a million years; and no apparent change within a million years tells anything about a million million years.  We can extend this progression indefinitely; there is no absolute standard of magnitude.”

B ‘n me drove on.  & on.  Geology revealing, uplifting, exposed, talking to us even if we couldn’t hear.  And the Dragon continued:

  ” … Let us try starting somewhere else.  It’s damned hard confining myself to concepts familiar to a creature of the Dark Ages.  Not that one age is darker than another.  Technical jargon from another dark age.  The essence of life is to be found in the frustrations of established order.  The universe refuses the deadening influence of complete conformity.  And yet in its refusal, it passes toward novel order as a primary requisite for important experience.

                (The Dragon picked up a golden vessel) How does this jug differ from something animate?  By organization!  Exactly!  This jug is an absolute democracy of atoms.  It has importance, or thereness, so to speak, but no Expression, or loosely, ah-ha!-ness.  Importance is primarily monistic in its reference to the universe.  Limited to a finite individual occasion, importance ceases to be important.  In some sense or other – we can skip the details – importance is derived from the immanence of infinitude in the finite.  Expression, however, is founded on the finite occasion.  It is the activity of finitude impressing itself on its environment.  Importance passes from the world as one to the world as many, whereas expression is the gift from the world as many to the world as one.  The laws of nature are large average effects which reign impersonally.  But there is nothing average about expression:  it is essentially individual.”

Quotes from Grendel, by John Gardner used without permission (as usual).  Yeah, there was plenty to marvel at, to ponder.

Bucolic? Tranquil though, ranch somewhere near the town of Fossil.

An “un-settled weather” day — in and out of rain-storms, brilliant sun-reflecting clouds, down and along, the John Day River …


Wind-farm straddling the Columbia in Oregon and Washington.

The J D River subsumes into the Columbia — seen from the bridge into Washington near The Dalles (OR).

Forsaking da Dallez, we spent the night in a downtown B & B in nearby Hood River.  After two long daze of d(e)riving, we needed to stop, rest, shower, decompress, (drink whiskey) before the next morning’s relatively short jaunt to visit the grand-kids (and their parents) ~

In THE GORGE, this corner looks like Grendel, eh?

Next stop (not counting the stalled trafficky and such downtown), Portland.


8 thoughts on “Down, John Day River

    • weird (sumtimes, ain’t ev’ry-ting weeurd?) story: the book “Grendel” had been by my bedside on a lower shelf of a night-stand, for years (seriously) and much of my so-called “retirement reading” has been sort of entropic/chaotic/serendipitous so I started it … as you know, G is the Beowulf story monster. book is from G’s point of view. Yeah, the dragon apparently is quite cosmic and senses time/space quite different than we mere mortals. Later in the book G meets a blind priest who pretty much says the same things …

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Very nice! I’m not a fan of cold and wet and grey forever and to be on the look out for a spot of sun, so I agree with Betty on that point of living way up there. As for the tiny, small towns…I love visiting them and enjoy their vibes, but like you I need something a wee bit bigger.
    As for the dragon…I so agree. I travel through time when I get in places that are not humanized…way, way back time…and wonder ever so much would it would be like to be there when all was new or at least only 1,000 years old.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Gorgeous post. I enjoyed your road trip very much all the photos were so interesting to see. First photo could have been from Finland, because the landscape was similar which is seen in southern Finland while driving to the north.

    Happy weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

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