Have you ever thought to yourself, where exactly does the road end? Well this weekend on what seemed like a never ending road trip, we found it in the middle of the Oregon desert.
We wanted to get in one last adventure before the weather changes, Hot Dog Dude, our daughter, two wiener dogs, and myself piled into his pick-up. We set off to go mining for sunstones and opals in the desert. Hot Dog Dude had the brilliant idea to leave after work on Friday, I was thinking my bed sounded better, but I was in.
Hot Dog Dude is a professional driver, to him what's another 8 hours on the road; but I myself the professional back seat driver I am, demanded we stop when not even toothpicks could hold up my eyelids any longer.
It was so late and we couldn't find an actual town, most of the motels we saw were closed. The one we did find open, well let's put it this way, you know those horror movies where people stay at a motel with no other people around and end up getting tortured and killed. I was convinced that was the one we had found. Just in case I had to make a run for it in the middle of the night, I decided to sleep on top of the bed with my clothes on. Hot Dog Dude gave me that "really" look from underneath the covers, but I didn't care.
When first light arrived, I grabbed my daughter and the dogs and took them for a walk. When we came back to the room, the door was locked and Hot Dog Dude was in the shower. As I stood there imagining the worst, a woman walked out of the room next to us and sat on a bench, she proceeded to tell us she has stage 4 cancer and three months to live. My heart sank, I sat down and listened to her story, instead of being sad, she smiled as she told me about her family and her beloved dog Willis. How her son came home from college to be with her and how Willis rides on her Harley with her. She was here to see Burney Falls and she convinced me I must too. All my irrational fears slipped away, this motel, sitting on this bench was exactly where I was supposed to be and I'll never forget her.
Burney Falls was a feast for the eyes, aside from the spectacular scenery; there were miles of trails to explore.
As we snaked back up the trail, I peered over my shoulder at the falls and caught a glimpse of a rainbow. This was where I was supposed to be.
We hopped back in the truck ready to hit the road again. After what seemed like many hours in the middle of nowhere, I asked my husband, "When will we know we are there"? He replied, "We take the turn-off where the road ends". I was looking ahead when I spotted it, a snapshot in my mind, I squealed, "Pull over". Hot Dog Dude seemed a bit stunned; I need a photo I told him. After getting a couple shots, I looked over to my right and there was a little sign with writing in marker denoting the trail. I jumped in the truck and said, "We need to take the road to the right". I was beginning to sense, I was in the right place at the right time again.
After miles of dirt road and sagebrush as far as the eyes could see we arrived at Spectrum Sunstone Mine. My husband and daughter were so excited; they hopped in the pit and went to work. Hot Dog Dude and the girls are rock hounds; they've been collecting specimens for years. I'm just the cheering section and in charge of making sure we have snacks.
After a long day and with a small bucket of sunstones extracted from the earth we pulled ourselves back up into the truck along with a few extra pounds of dirt stowed away on our clothing. We headed off further into the desert towards Royal Peacock Opal Mine. It's a long haul between towns, so be sure and bring an ice chest with drinks and snacks.
Our journey paid off with a bounty of sunstones and different colored opals. As precious as the stones are, spending time with Hot Dog Dude and my daughter; that was priceless.
As we headed out of the desert I couldn't help but notice how fast the sky was changing, just like life I thought. If you don't slow down and pay attention; you will surely miss all the beautiful changes going on around you.
When I started writing this blog, I figured it was by chance or accident. I know now it wasn't, I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I know I want to write a cookbook in the near future; I just need to start carving out the time to do so from my crazy schedule.
Hope you enjoyed hitting the trail with us.