Wednesday, July 6, 2011

So, what's the deal with Condon and Fossil?

Well, there is nothing really special about these "seen better times" towns of around 700 people in central Oregon. Our empty nester's group went to Fossil last February in the hopes of digging fossils. One and a half inches of snow put the kibosh on that activity, but we hung around the old ranch house in the evenings, went to the underpopulated Branch for Sunday, played "Hand and Foot" card games into the wee hours of the night and vowed we would return often to this quiet burg. When I saw that Condon, some 20 miles north was touting a 4th of July celebration it all clicked. No work, no calls to teach a class, no calls to accompany Carol's folks to this or that. And Heather and Brandon with a 3- and a 5-year old. Took off after Sunday School and drove the 70 or so miles to Arlington where we cooled down at the town beach, watching the kids enjoy themselves, and soaking in the shade. On to Condon 37 curvy miles of Highway 19 to the South (Carol has to drive to avoid motion sickness) to check into the only hotel in town. Hotel Condon is restored from 42 to 18 rooms. Classy fixtures, squeaky floors and a cheese and cracker tasting at 4 PM. Gpa crashed while Gma and clan took in the "lay of the land." Decided to drop down to Fossil for a mediocre but available dinner. Again, the lay-of-the-land explorations continued with Carol leading everyone but me up to the fossil beds, now immediately available. No supervision, nobody else, the gentle digging and rock splitting revealed several treasures until we decided to head back to Condon. Asleep to the sounds of farm boys setting off M-80s in the streets, but we slept well enough. Brandon and Heather were up early (7:15 or so) and off to the 8K run where they had to hitch a ride to the starting point. Breakfast was continental and enough to satisfy the slow awakening boys and the grandparent babysitters. We could tell Brandon was dying to get back to the fossil beds, but we made him stay for the parade. Heather had set up our lawn chairs in the shade on Main Street (actually still Highway 19) and as we waited for the parade to start we couldn't resist the chuck wagon feed right around the corner, and I couldn't resist still another book from the bookstore across the street. The library had a clearance sale right in the bldg behind us so Carol and Brandon each loaded up for $10 each. Carol bought a new purse and then the parade began with showers of candy from the participants to the point where children were getting selective on what they'd get out of their lawn chairs to pursue: "Is that just a sucker? Aw, let it sit!" The parade went from right to left and nobody left because it came back going left to right. What fun. They then set up ramps to start soap box derbies and that was cool for one round and then I conceded to the almost rabid dog son-in-law to head back to Fossil. However, with a twist. I took Heather in the car, while everyone else went with the kiddie seats. Hev and I went after some old barns to photograph (see her blogs for the spectacular results). I was amazed as this girl climbed grades, walked through cheat grass in her sandals and we had a ball. She ended up startling 5 deer in three locales, along with several hawks who circled their interruptive guest. At the top of one hill we could see Mt Hood and Mt Adams in the distance. We met up with the fossil diggers at 3:00 and drove home with exhausted gma and kids. Home at 6:30 or so, we bought Mexican and said "good night." No attempt at fireworks. So, what was so special about Condon? Well, the fact that it wasn't really so special, so no crowds, no rude folks and everything was at a relaxed pace. And the them was independence day, not entertainment.

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