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Meridian, Idaho

July 31, 2021

A bit of backfilling here:

Regarding July 28:

After walking around downtown Walla Walla I headed off to Milton Freewster, Oregon, roughly a 20 mile drive. A 20 mile drive through fields of wheat or perhaps it was hay. Or barley. Whatever it was, it was everywhere and beautiful.

Milton Freewater is not much on the eyes. I was disappointed that the golf course was closed, so disappointed I forgot to drive by the drive-in theater.

Next stop — Pendleton, Oregon. Through more fields of grain. You might recognize the name Pendleton snd this is the town where it all started. I got sucked in by the mill store which did have some good markdowns. Other than the mill and Hal’s Hamburgers, there was not much noteworthy about Pendleton. I suspect the mill is the best job in town.

It was after Pendleton that the landscape really got beautiful. I had a blast taking the photos of the flag and tge “farm building.” The conditions were great — great light, the wind on the flag, the color of the field. Some of my photos came close to doingjudtice to that opportunity.

Regarding July 29

Dale, Oregon is not much. I stopped in the Dale store to grab a soda. I found myself talking to one of the customers — a fellow in probably is late 60s and not in great health judging by his experience. He told me how he was a government assassin, his last “kill” at the request of Trump. He told me his name and cautioned me that he didn’t give it many people so not to endanger them. Oh, and this morning he had killed seven wolves at 1,000 yards with his rifle from Vietnam. The woman who owns the store looked at me as though she were sorry. I was actually glad to spend the time with the gentleman. I knew he was spinning a tale but what’s the harm in giving him 20 minutes of my time.

After he left I went out snd got Buddy snd asked her if I could take photos with her standees. She got a kick out of that. Told me that all the heads on the wall were game that she or her husband had shot (there were 20+ such items hanging on the wall). She said they had bought the store about 29 years ago and moved from Portland so they could hunt more often. (Relatedly, I had never seen a “game cooler” and now I know what they are.). She asked me about Virginia — just like folks from the east tgst haven’t been out west… vice versa.

She is also tge postmistress so she sold me a postcard and a stamp and used her stamp to postmark the card “Dale, OR.” Not too many choices in Dake other than Dale (poor pun off “Dale or.”

Fox caught me off guard — I hadn’t seen the town on my map. I spoke with one of the residents. He told me they go to Pendleton (100 miles) or Bend (150 miles) once a month to do shopping. I asked him what he liked about living so remotely and he said (and I quote), “ I can walk out on my porch naked, take a piss and there is no one to see me.”

I suspect Fox is like what Greenwood, Virginia used to be — maybe with a bit more commerce. Before this trip, I had never thought of a town dying. I have seen more than I care to.

What must it be like to be a kid in places like this? Lots of outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, ATVs. It would be hard to get a good education and have role models that inspire you. I guess that is why places like Fox usually have multiple generations of a family.

Fox is an unincorporated community in Grant County, Oregon on U.S. Route 395 south of Long Creek.

Fox is named after Fox Creek, a tributary of the North Fork John Day River. The creek was named for an incident involving a fox that occurred during a hunting or prospecting trip in pioneer times. The Fox post office was established circa 1883 discontinued in 2002, and formerly had a ZIP code of 97831. Fox is now served by the Long Creek post office (ZIP code 97845).

Fox was the birthplace of noted artist Morris Graves.

John Day is a city located about 2 miles north of Canyon City in Grant County, Oregon, at the intersection of U.S. Routes 26 and 395. The city was named for the nearby John Day River, which had been named for a Virginian member of the 1811 Astor Expedition, John Day. The city was incorporated in 1901.

As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 1,744, making it the largest city in the county.


The first homestead staked in Grant County (what was then Wasco County), in 1862 by B. C. Trowbridge, was within the limits of the present city of John Day. The Eastern Oregon community was not as quick to grow as neighboring Canyon City, which was the county seat and center of the bustling mining industry in the area.

Incrementally, local merchants and residents began relocating to John Day—primarily each time after severe fires in Canyon City: the Grant County Courthouse burned in 1870, Chinatown burned in 1885, and fires in 1898 and 1937 each devastated Canyon City's downtown.

The first post office at "John Day City" was established in 1865, but was discontinued in 1871. It was reestablished in 1879 with the name John Day. In April 1900, a local committee was elected, and the Oregon Legislature approved an Act incorporating the city of John Day on February 23, 1901. The largest part of early John Day was composed of the Chinese community, commonly called Tiger Town. In 1882, the Advent Christian Church in John Day had 547 members, 382 of whom were Chinese (and a number of Chinese residents were interred in the Seventh Day Adventist Cemetery). By 1887, John Day was home to nearly 1,000 Chinese immigrants, who had been attracted to the area by a gold rush 20 years earlier, many of whom were displaced by the 1885 fire in Canyon City.

A trading post built in the area in the 1860s along The Dalles Military Road was purchased in 1887 by two Chinese immigrants, Lung On and Ing Hay. They converted the trading post into a clinic, general store, and social center for the community, which continued to operate until the 1940s. In the 1970s the building, then the property of the city of John Day, was converted into a museum called the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum. It is now operated in conjunction with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and is one of the premier surviving examples of a 19th-century Chinese apothecary shop. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2005.


John Day is at an elevation of 3,087 feet. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.87 square miles (4.84 km2), all land.

John Day is surrounded by the Strawberry Mountains to the south and the Blue Mountains to the east.


The bedrock geology of the John Day area is a complex assemblage of Permian to Triassic age metamorphic and igneous rocks which were added to the western North American continental margin by tectonic activity in the Triassic and Jurassic Periods. Cenozoic age volcanic rocks related to the long-lived Columbia River Basalt emplacement were deposited above these bedrock units.

The area around John Day contains some of the most important paleontological resources known. From about the time the dinosaurs disappeared right up until the Pleistocene, the region was subjected to significant volcanism and other processes that preserved many fossils. Because the matrix in which the fossils are entombed is datable, the fossils themselves can be dated with excellent precision. This gives paleontologists the ability to study how species changed over time and also how the relationship between ecosystems and climate changed.

Spanish explorers in the 17th century reportedly explored the area for gold, but none was found.


Despite its warm, dry climate and inland location, John Day has as an oceanic climate (Cfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system. However, it nearly qualifies as a steppe climate (Köppen BSk) due to its relative aridity, and as a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) due to its cold winter temperatures.


2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,744 people, 794 households, and 450 families residing in the city. The population density was 932.6 inhabitants per square mile (360.1/km2). There were 895 housing units at an average density of 478.6 per square mile (184.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.4% White, 0.5% African American, 1.5% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.0% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.7% of the population.

There were 794 households, of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.4% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.3% were non-families. 37.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.79.

The median age in the city was 42.9 years. 22.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.6% were from 25 to 44; 25.5% were from 45 to 64; and 22% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.6% male and 52.4% female.


Historically, industrial and agricultural businesses like gold mining, sheep and cattle ranching, timber harvesting, and lumber milling have been the economic mainstays of the community. However, federal policies that shut down all gold mining in the United States in 1942, the decreasing availability of ponderosa pine due to a lack of timber sales, and relatively high transportation costs have resulted in a significant decrease in the viability of the resource-based economic sector. Other employments, such as in recreation, health care, and government (the headquarters of the Malheur National Forest administration is located in John Day) now account for a majority of jobs in the city.

The unincorporated community of John Day in Clatsop County, Oregon

The John Day place name occurs also in Clatsop County, Oregon. The unincorporated community of John Day is included within the 97103 ZIP Code for Astoria.

My campsite for tonight is in the Malheur National Forest. There’s a nice breeze to cool things down. Using my tent to stay cool — a bit concerned the wind portends rain.

I’m wondering how I can gauge the remoteness of eastern Oregon. I guess I’ll type that phrase into Google and sees where it takes me. I can’t do that now because I have no bars on my phone.

Lunch and dinner today were turkey sandwiches on wheat bread with Poupon mustard. Dessert was grapes. Snacked on blueberries when I had a sweet craving while I was driving.

Hard to believe I’m still five hours from the second Paria, Oregon. I’m only something like 150 miles away. You know what tgst means — I’m going on some unimproved roads tomorrow!

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