The Painted Hills

We made a detour to see the Painted Hills on our drive from Bend back to Portland. I've been staring at photos of the Painted Hills for almost as long as I've lived in Oregon, and while Bend isn't exactly next door, it's closer than where most of our other Oregon driving take us (though I'm very interested in exploring Eastern Oregon at some point).

So, instead of heading towards Mount Hood, we veered East and drove through Prineville (fun fact: this town is home to data centers for both Facebook and Apple. I looked that up in the car when we were driving through). We then meandered through Ochoco Forest, many of the trees diseased and patchy, before the landscape changed to desolate rolling hills, punctuated by bursts of reds, yellows, and blacks. It's hard to believe but the entire central Oregon high desert used to be a deciduous rainforest...40 Millenia ago. Today, all that's left of that history are the mineral deposits of incredible colors on the rolling hills. The entire landscape reminded me of those sand jars that were popular a few decades ago: where you'd layer different color sands to create a pretty pattern (the idea of fun was simpler then, clearly).

The car thermometer said 90, but it felt like 110 and we all commented that our half mile walk around was the longest half mile of our lives! There was a small patch of green pasture glaringly out of place in the otherwise tanned palate.