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Of Mountains and Valleys


8/18/12, Malheur National Forest, OR - Tonight, I’m 8 miles south of the town of Fox, OR, or as my GPS says: N. 44 deg, 33.613 min and W. 119 deg, 5.206 min (Barry, the keeper of the Google Maps section will get excited over that information).

Today was a day of hills and valleys.  The morning started with a five mile climb to the top of Long Creek Mountain. Then, I descended about 1000 feet into the valley to the south.  In the afternoon, the lads once again leaned into the harness and pulled the wagon several hundred feet higher to another summit, after which we started a descent into the John Day River Valley, half a days journey to the south.

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It was a five mile long climb to the summit of Long Creek Mountain.  At the top of the hill, I put Bill behind the trailer for a rest and carried on with Doc and Bob. This involved a harness shuffle as I don’t like to change lines around on the harnesses if I can help it.

Reflecting on today’s travel, I thought it similar to life’s journey.  I asked myself, ‘Why do people climb mountains’? My answer: ‘To catch the view, but primarily to make the journey’.  The reasons for descending into valleys are similar.  What we find when we get to the top of the mountain or the bottom of a valley is not as important or memorable as the journeys to get there.  I had no help from B.O.B., my philosophical horse in figuring this out - he was too busy munching his hay.

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In the first valley, little remains of the once thriving community of Fox. However, the local Community Church still stands tall.

As it is Saturday, there was virtually no truck traffic. Cars were also scarce and one would only pass by every 10 to 30 minutes. This made for a very enjoyable day of travel.

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How not to strive for marital bliss - “Honey, the house really doesn’t need any repairs. If I get the time, I’ll just touch up the paint a bit.”

I stopped for lunch halfway up the hill on the southern side of the valley.  When I pulled over the wagon, it was in front of an old abandoned ranch house, similar to the one shown above.  A rancher and his family, who own the land on which the old house sits, drove down with their RTV’s to say ‘hi’ and meet the horses.

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I think the lads were glad to make it to the top of the last summit for the day.

The grade up the southern part of the valley was fairly shallow, so I kept Bill in the rear and pushed on with Doc and Bob. When we reached the top, I met a nice retired couple from Gilbert, AZ.  Bernie and Marjorie have spent their past few summers touring around in their Airstream camper (#9615).

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It’s possible to travel and enjoy this great country of ours without a wagon pulled by some stout horses.  Who would have thought it possible?

Tonight, the lads and I are camped several miles inside the National Forest. They have a big playpen full of green orchard and timothy grass, but I still had to supplement it with some hay.

To cap off the day, I had a great dinner of fajitas with a friend from back up the road apiece.

Thinking of the day’s travels, the whole trip, and life in general; it’s really the journey that matters, not the act of just getting somewhere!

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Once again, back in the forest.