In eastern Oregon, it can be difficult to find suitable lodgings, particularly in the smaller villages. “Suitable” these days includes high speed internet.
In Mitchell, we found a treasure, the Painted Hills Vacation Rentals:
We stayed in the Hollyhock Guest House (the photo above is taken from the rental website but is absolutely true to the scene that greets you). There are two available houses; we stayed in the smaller of the two. The interior of the Hollyhock was immaculate and beautiful. It was also beautifully furnished, with a coffee grinder and espresso machine (for a quarter you could use their espresso-ground coffee), thick towels and bath mat, charming dishes, and a large platter of fresh home-grown fruits, some of which probably came from the lush plantings around the houses. The houses sit on the last street before the bluff, below which is the central street of Mitchell. They have no view of downtown, but the view they have of the gardens is splendid. The kitchen equipment is superb, which is particularly important because of the dearth of restaurants in the area.
The owners of the property left a key to the rental office (a renovated garage next door) on the guest house table; they have high speed internet in their office area, which they seldom use (we never saw them) and they were most gracious and helpful in making sure it was accessible.
The combination of the bright eastern-Oregon sun and plentiful water from Bridge Creek makes both these properties full of flowers, foliage, and fruit (although it also helps to have an attentive gardner!).
A tiny barbeque spot holds an umbrella’d table on an outdoor patio, and the front porch has three comfy chairs. The properties are surrounded by high fences, disguised by foliage, but with a “No Deer Allowed” sign near the front gate. (I forgot to photograph that).
So now we know where to stay when we travel into the John Day area. Mitchell is very close to the Painted Hills unit of the Fossil Beds (the owner lives up a gravel road from the Fossil Bed site), and a short cut (route 207) to the other two fossil beds is just east of Mitchell; it (route 207) winds up and over and down and up again and down through isolated high plains country down into the John Day Valley. I counted 5 cars on the 35 mile road when we traveled it, and I have painted on the shoulder of the road without worrying a bit about vehicular traffic.
So there’s the latest in eastern Oregon travelogues. The Ochoco Mountains, where Jer photographed the ponderosa grove, lies between Prineville and Mitchell– his photo was taken on our tiny adventure through the graveled roads to the south of Mitchell, past Big Summit Prairie. This was one of the few times we ventured south of route 26, so we are happy to have new areas to explore. –June