Thursday, April 10, 2014

Malheur - Arrival in Burns

Linda is off to San Diego where she will spend the next three days with friends from the days when she was part of the executive board of Financial Women International. These women have maintained contact and now get together once a year in the nation’s beautiful cities. Since I am not really welcome on these trips I am in Burns, Oregon for the John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival. Linda and I have been here several times over the past few years on our travels and I spent the night here last September the Cycle Oregon ride. So I am somewhat familiar with the field trips I have signed up for. Unfortunately, I was a bit tardy (by only a matter of hours) in registering so I will miss the early morning tour to see the sage grouse strutting at their lek tomorrow morning. That would have been exciting – even more than seeing the cock-of-the-rock in Ecuador.
One of several old farm machines in the area
The weather is beautiful today. I drove over Oregon Hiway 26 which provides great views of the mountains. Some of the views of Mt. Hood are absolutely spectacular. I took no pictures as I was in a bit of a hurry to get here before 5:00 to take care of the registration. Along the way we also have great views of Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor. Oregon is lucky to have so many beautiful volcanoes. When they are covered with snow and have the blue sky behind them it is like a fantasy worthy of a Peter Jackson movie.
Many of the fields are flooded like this one
Once here I decided to take a short drive around the area to see what I could find here. I was shocked at how much water is here in the fields. It is almost up to road level giving the birds plenty of places to hang out. As I drove around on the nearby farm roads, I saw long-billed curlew, avocets, sandhill cranes, along with thousands of snow geese and hundreds of red-winged and Brewer’s blackbirds. Others, too, but I won’t bore you with the list.
Even if you count the ones in the distance, this is just a few of those I saw this evening
Burns is a very small town, larger than any of its neighbors, but still two hours from Bend, the nearest large city. There used to be a lumber mill here, but it has been closed for several years. The upside is that it does not completely close the shutters at 8:00, but it is close. The Safeway does close at 8 and I’m not sure but it seemed that the gas stations were preparing to close down, too.
Canada geese usually dominate the landscape, not here
Last September when CycleOregon passed through the town seemed to be very lively and I was looking forward to revisiting the bar I spent a couple of hours in for dinner. It was closed and the other bar and grill that looked interesting turned out to be a bar with little hope for a decent dinner. Not wanting to eat at the Apple Peddler chain, I opted for the one other place that looked like a restaurant. The Pine Room Bar and Restaurant is right next to the Days Inn where I am staying. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of food and service. I ordered the chicken fried steak which I assume is bad for me, but I like it and is a fun meal to try in a small western town. This one was ok and not much more, but the rest of the food was quite good. When I sat down the table had four forks, a knife and an soup spoon. I used them all to eat the shrimp cocktail, soup, salad, and bread that came with the meal. The house red from Volcano Winery in Bend was a bit more fruity than I really like, but still tasty and a good match for the steak. The blue cheese dressing had several large chunks of real cheese, something that doesn’t always happen in the best restaurants.

Tomorrow I head out for eleven hours of visiting the Alvord lakes. This should result in some good pictures.

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