Summer fun 2017 personal post! I went on my first vacation in years and I want to share the adventure with you.
Mr. Everything and I had a week set aside in July for our vacation. We has so many ideas and places we could go that is was hard to choose. We liked the idea of camping and rock hunting.
Rock hunting is a hobby of ours and mostly consists of us going to locations that are know for specific rocks and minerals. We stare at the ground and walk around or dig a hole looking for mineral treasures. We often go to the coast so hunt for agates but we wanted something a little different.
After a little planning and sifting through a LOT of rock hounding options we made a list of possible places in central and southern Oregon. We packed up the car with camping gear and headed out with only a rough idea of what was instore.
And were off!
Turning on the audio book American Gods (by Neil Gaiman) as we drove and vetted out our stops along the way. The first stop ended up being Eagle Rock just out of Prineville OR. We drove slowly on the curvy gravel road and cheered our little car on as we had trouble making it up one of the hills. We parked after that and walked the rest of the way to the rock site. Next time we need a 4W drive and will be pickier on which rock hounding sites we visit depending on the vehicle we’re driving. After a bit of a steep hike and one detour to avoid a rattle snake, we made it to the top. It was an amazing view that was worth the hike along but we found a lot of Agate and Dendrite specimen. We also believe we found a tiny deposit of opal.
Onward we go!
After Eagle Rock we headed a little further east and went to the Maury Mountains Agate beds. The gravel road to get there was long but well maintained with only one big pothole we had to avoid. The spot is well visited, though no one else was there at the time. You could see all the old digging spots, and even a forgotten shovel. We looked around for a while and even dug a few holes ourselves, but were having a hard time finding anything. We gathered a few handful of rock we thought looked promising but were not hopeful.
This site is known for it’s Moss Agates (one of my favorites) but we didn’t think we found any and it was getting late and we still needed to find a camping spot. So we left Maury Mountains feeling a bit down. We didn’t realize we had gotten some cool Moss agates until we got home! We are totally planning on going back there for more someday.
The campgrounds we selected were tucked away and NE of Prineville, almost to John Day OR. There were other closer campsites but we wanted to stay in a free one, which means really going into back country. We threw our campsite together, ate, and went to bed early. The next morning was another early start and once we were caffeinated we hit the road. Because of how close our campsite location was we decided to stop by the Painted hills before continuing south.
It was worth the scenic stop.
These sunflowers we all over in Painted Hills, and I’ll confess I took more pictures of the flowers than I did the hills, I couldn’t help it they were so pretty.
After Painted Hills we put our audio book back on and headed for our next rock hounding spot…
and we drove, turning onto another gravel road, and drove, and drove,
and apparently passed the turn 6 miles back…..Damn.
We decided it wasn’t meant to be and continued onward to the next site.
Sometimes you have to go with the flow.
It was midday by the time we made it to Glass Butte. We drove carefully and ended up parking fairly quickly. Not only were there big pot holes but also the road was littered with sharp obsidian. We didn’t want to push our corolla to far and feared getting stuck or getting a flat tire. Again we talked about coming back with a 4w-drive.
Glass Butte has multiple gathering sites, with different kinds of obsidian at each of them. The obsidian is everywhere. Littering the ground and embedded in the roads. Black obsidian seemed to be the most common but we also found mahogany and silver sheen. According to the map and book we used, we were on the road towards the purple obsidian, but after a 3 mile walk (round trip) and supposedly finding the ‘area’ where its found we came back without any purple. We put this on the list to explore again one day (with a 4w-drive, so we don’t have to walk as far, haha)
And next time I wanna find green obsidian.
Our next location had public camping so we drove out to Rabbit Basin. Over 15 miles of well maintained gravel road brought us to the campsite just before sunset. We set up camp and couldn’t help but walk around and collect the small common sun stones that litter the ground. The ground literally glitters and shimmers depending on the light because of the stones littering the ground.
We forced ourselves to stay awake till after dark so we could watch the stars. Which was quite a feat because of our Glass Butte hike earlier in the day had left us exhausted. I’m a firm believer that when you are that far out and away from city lights that you HAVE to look at the stars, so no regrets here.
I’m in love with Rabbit Basin
This was one of the prettiest campsites I have ever stayed, simply because of the landscape. The campsites are nicely set up with a pea gravel area for your tent and a roofed area with picnic table and nearby fire pit. (If you plan to go bring toilet paper. The public toilet at the campsite was out! Thankfully years of stomach issues have conditioned me to bring toilet paper wherever I go, so we were prepared).
We ended up with a few bigger specimen of the common yellow sun stones and the next morning before we left we visited one of the 3 mining operation nearby, where we bought two already cut and polished stones. On our next trip to Rabbit Basin we decided we should just stay at one of the mines and pay to mine with them. There is a higher chance of finding a good quality stone and you have the option to shower! Which at this point of our trip sounded amazing. Baby-wipe mini baths only last so long while camping.
There are only a few places in the world to fins Sun stones and Oregon boasts some of the biggest and widely colorful stones. Commonly in a pale yellow, but also can be orange, pink, ruby red, and green. They contain copper which helps create their pigmentation and some stones even have schiller which is supper shiny and pretty.
We left Rabbit Basin in search of gas and coffee (it was too windy to have a pit fire or start our portable burner that morning) and once found we continued to a non-rock hounding adventure. Our next stop was Crater Lake! For living so close to such a beautiful natural wonder I had never been so it was on my bucket list.
No rock hunting here.
It’s also where I made a chipmunk friend until he realized I didn’t have any food for him.
↑ I mean look at those cheeks ↑
Mr. Everything wouldn’t let me take him home…
Crater Lake was beautiful but crowded with other tourists. It was a VAST difference from Rabbit Basin or really any other spot we had gone just because of the volume of people. It was also the only place we had to pay to get into. Up until then our camping spots were free and Painted hills had no entry fee.
We stopped at one of the gift shops and found a hand thrown coffee mug that I needed to add to my collection (I love collecting coffee mugs during trips- with every sip is a memory!)
The water was so blue!
I couldn’t find a camping site near Crater Lake and still couldn’t decide on our next rock hunting spot- even though we had a bunch to choose from. It was decided that we should have dinner at the lodge in Crater Lake and talk about our next move. Originally we were planning on seeing the Vortex and dipping into northern California for rocks and to see the redwoods. We joked shortly that we could go home and also talked about the option of heading to the coast and slowly rock hunting our way home.
We still couldn’t agree on a direction by the end of dinner and I brought up just going home again, this time I was serious. A 6 hour drive north, a gas stop and caffeine fill up should get us home around midnight. We discussed how nice a shower would be and how we missed the dogs, and our own bed. Before we knew it we were excited about the long drive home.
It’s good to be home.
The rest of our vacation turned into a staycation. With a lot of relaxing, cleaning rocks, and washing our poor car. Which is black, but came back caked in dust and looked brown.
We brought home buckets full of different rocks for us to clean, identify, and polish. Which is one reason I don’t have any pictures of all the rocks! I’ve got some in the tumbler as I type and there are many more loads once they are done.
We drove so much during our trip that we had less than 2 hours left of our 18+ hour audio book. We finished it before our vacation was over. I highly recommend anything by Neil Gaiman, his stories are always enjoyable.
If you like reading about our summer adventures check out Summer 2018.