Tonight’s soundtrack. Can you tell I’ve been on a Coldplay kick lately?
I initially asked for today off from work so I could sleep in, rest, read, take a nap and generally avoid anything resembling a busy day. Literally, as I typed the e-mail to my boss, I thought “I’m so tired. I’m going to just relax that whole day and recharge my batteries. I can’t WAIT!”
Ten minutes later, I was plotting my first trip to the Painted Hills in Oregon.
I first heard about the Painted Hills five years ago as an entertainment clerk. I listed art gallery exhibits for the local newspaper. On occasion, images of the Painted Hills found their way into my email box. I didn’t even think of them as untouched. I assumed they were Photoshopped or otherwise color-corrected. I don’t remember who finally set me straight, but when they did, I knew I needed to go.
And, much like the corn maze, it never happened. Why, I don’t know. (I’m learning that one of the underlying themes of this list is making up for missed opportunities and lost time.) Once this list was hatched, I had all the impetus I needed to finally go. I was lucky to go with my good buddy Lance.
In lieu of a long post, I’m going to offer a few scattered thoughts on the day and let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
A good omen
Casa Ramos, you’ve been unseated as my favorite Mexican restaurant. Taking your place: Ranchero Mexican Grill. It was the first restaurant that didn’t look sketchy in our search for lunch. Once we pulled in, we saw a sign advertising a taco-enchilada-flauta-salad bar for $5. That included rice, beans, and chips and salsa. That’s the kind of thing that’s going to get me in trouble.We half-expected disappointing fare, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. The flautas were light and crispy, and the enchiladas weren’t drenched in cheese and sauce. It was a pleasant surprise, and I escaped before eating myself sick. All in all: Victory!
The Painted Hills themselves
Whoa, boy. I don’t know what there is to say. They were absolutely gorgeous. They looked like they had been dropped from Mars onto the central Oregon landscape. The vibrant, deep reds and greens absolutely popped against the tan-and-green backdrops that surrounded the hills. They were every bit as colorful and alive as in the photos I’d seen. They looked otherworldly. I could have taken photos all day; none would have done the hills justice. They demand to be seen in person.
We walked three easy miles of trails around the hills, bringing my hiking total on the year to 33.45 miles. One trail offered a steady ascent but rewarded us with the best views possible. It was well worth it. On our way down, we stopped for a few seconds, and it was as quiet as I can remember. It was beyond still. I could hear a bird flap its wings as it flew past. I could hear the wind just barely graze the grass below us. And that was it. I marveled at how quiet it was. It felt good to get away from “city life” for a day and just get out into nature.
Seriously, if you get the chance, GO. It’s well worth the four-hour drive.
Okay, photo time.