Friday, July 13, 2007

Fort Rock

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More mini-roadtrip pics, this time from Fort Rock [map], a bizarro volcanic structure just off Hwy 31 southeast of Bend. Fort Rock's just a few miles east of Hole-in-the-Ground, and shares a similar origin, but it's much more photogenic. I took quite a few photos of the place, and uploaded a bunch of them to Flickr. Then I realized this post would be wayyyy too bulky if I included all of them -- so the full set is here in case you're interested.

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Some links about the geology of the area, from the USGS, OregonGeology.com (brought to you by Oregon's Department of Geology & Mineral Industries), and Volcano World (brought to you by OSU and the University of North Dakota). And the U. of O. has a page about the 9000 year old sandals discovered nearby, which was a major archeological find by Oregon standards. Hey, it's what we've got. It's not like we have pyramids. Not that I find much to admire about societies that spend all their time and energy building pyramids, mind you. Or Gothic cathedrals. Or tacky suburban megachurches for that matter. But I digress.

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If Fort Rock was near Hollywood, just imagine all the westerns that would've been filmed here. It's a real missed opportunity if you ask me, and I'm not a rabid fan of westerns. And just imagine Captain Kirk fistfighting a shambling alien baddie here. I know I'd watch that.

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If Fort Rock was in Europe, or anywhere else with a substantial population, it probably would've been used as a fortress or a castle some time in its long history. There would be historic buildings, and tour buses, and trinket shops with t-shirts, and there'd be one of those tacky nighttime laser shows they do. There'd be minivans full of harried parents and screaming kids. A McDonalds every 10 feet. Talented pickpockets working the crowd. Senior tour groups from Texas complaining loudly about all the "foreigners" and their horrible foreign ways. Groups of pasty white Brits on holiday, loudly binge-drinking on the local rotgut at 9 am. Flocks of Japanese tourists with expensive cameras. Obese German nudists lounging around looking smug.

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But you'll find none of that here. Fort Rock was once used as a livestock pen, no doubt a very excellent one, until the owner donated it to the state parks department. There's a small (and never full) parking lot, a few basic interpretive signs, some picnic tables and restrooms. Several trails meander around within the rock walls. The tiny town of Fort Rock lies in the distance some miles away. But for the birds nesting in the rocks, and the constant desert wind, all is silence....

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