We decided to shorten our drive today, so rather than drive eight hours to Corvallis, we are stopping at Sisters, Oregon. This has turned out to be a fortuitous choice, our hotel here is splendid.
But first, some dull statistics. As expected, we rolled the odometer over 100,000km yesterday, somewhere after the Craters. We are now warranty-free. As far as this trip goes, we are somewhere around 3300km into our roughly 10,000km trip.
It was a cool 11C in Boise this morning, but temperatures rose steadily through the day. Now that we are in Sisters, it is 36C or more.
We arranged our route to pass through John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. I’m pleased to report that the visitor center there was far larger and fancier than the one at Hagerman, with a sizeable fossil exhibit displayed as professionally as a first class museum. All the fossils are from the ‘Age of Mammals’, and include all kinds of pre-human beasties resembling rhinos, tigers, camels, you name it. An unexpected highlight was the neighbouring Cant Ranch, a historical sheep ranch dating back to the days of the range wars. They had a big farmhouse, and a ‘secretary’ just like the one Ethel has in Lac du Bonnet. We ate our picnic lunch on the grounds there.
The rest of the drive was mainly uneventful, and the tiny town (pop. 1706) of Sisters is a delight. Although unashamedly touristy, the place is quite pretty, and our hotel is amazing. The Ponderosa Lodge is large, furnished like the name implies, and equipped with an outdoor pool and a field full of llamas. What more could you ask for? The Best Western book confused us by saying that 43 rooms had wireless internet, the others dial-up, but this is not correct; all the rooms have wireless internet, but only some have jacks for dial-up. While we were being set straight on this by the front desk clerk, he asked if we really wanted the room with two queen-size beds. When we said we would prefer a king, he cheerfully upgraded us to an ‘Aspen Suite’ at no extra charge, because the smaller rooms are easier to sell to walk-in clientelle. So now we have: a little Jacuzzi, a huge shower, a enormous room with a couch, an armchair and ottoman, a table with two chairs, a fireplace and a huge dresser. There is a kitchenette, too, with a microwave and fridge and real wineglasses. There are glass doors leading onto a small patio, and a view of the llamas.
We went out to visit the llamas and cool off in the pool. As we were walking along the fence, we came to a large galvanized metal tank of water for the llamas to drink. Swimming in it, unable to climb out, an almost exhausted ground squirrel. We’ll call him Bob. The hotel had thoughtfully provided a length of two by four that angled down from the wooden fence into the water tank, but either it was too slippery, or Bob was too dumb to climb out on it. I wasn’t eager to be bitten, so I kind of flipped the little guy out. He lay so flat and still I wasn’t sure it would live, but he was breathing and shivering. I think he may have been only minutes from drowning. I checked on him five minutes later, and he had gathered itself into a more normal position and was breathing more easily and not shivering. After our swim, about fifteen minutes later, I checked again and Bob was gone. Strange to think about how he swam on and on, when only a miracle could save him. Stranger still to think of myself as a miracle.
Even miracle makers have to eat- we’re going for dinner.