Jesse Murch

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Day 4 - The Painted Hills

It was hot and the sun was high as we got our late start, climbing out of the hotel and packing back into the jeep on our way to The painted hills, located a few hours south in the town of Bend, Oregon. The drive was simple and pleasant and with the help of conversation and sing alongs to the radio it made for a quick feel. As we exited northern oregon and headed further south the lush trees stripped away and we were greeted with dusty plains and wide open spaces. Pulling off the high way, the jeep crackled and hummed over the now sand and rock road, winding through farmlands and past old decaying structures from a time long ago. A rippling of reality caused by the heat could be seen over every horizon, the temperature now mid day spiked over one hundred degrees. A small wooden sign pointed us in the right direction and we found ourselves at once being surrounded by technicolored hills, vibrants red and purples straddled the mounds that flowed like calming waves as far as the eye could see. 

Escaping the cool serenity of the jeep for the glaring heat of the sun as we clambered onto a small foot path that led up one of the hills, the hike was short but the heat tested our endurance within minutes we were sweating and out of breathe, still we pushed on knowing the reward would justify the pain. Our suspicions were correct as we peaked and overlooked the landscape before, words escaped each of us at that moment and we were left standing and jaw dropped, how could something like this exist and be created naturally with time. As you stood you immediately realized that life isn't about jobs, or what car you drive, or how big your house and bank accounts are, its about this, simple moments of standing atop a ridge with people gazing out at the wonders in this world connecting through something deeper then spoken words or written text could transcribe. Find these moments in life, as many as you can, and hold onto them for as long as time will allow and you will never regret it. After taking it all in we headed to the most popular spot in the park, a set of vibrant red hills with a boardwalk serpentining through them, it was only about a mile down the road and within minutes we found ourselves standing at the start of the path, here would be the place we decided to shoot some more images of Kayla in the gorgeous pieces that had been given to us. Waiting for a few tourists to enjoy the spot and move on, we quickly had Kayla change and start doing her thing, positioning her in the middle of the two hills and filling the frame with as much of the vibrant red as we could made for something exceptional images. We had only a few moments of shoot time before we had to quit as the boardwalk became quite hot from the full sun and rising temperatures of the day and was beginning to take its toll on Kaylas feet. We wandered for a little while longer around the park, enjoying the views and shooting here and there before, now literally dripping in sweat, we thought it best to start our journey to Yellowstone National Park, which at this point was over eight hours of drive time away and would by far be the furthest stretch of driving for the trip.

A few hours into the drive and now in Idaho, we pulled of to refill at a gas station and get some much needed cold beverages and snacks, it was dusk at this point and we were starting to come to the realization that Yellowstone was less likely to get to in enough time to camp, standing outside and discussing and researching our options i stumbled across a campground and national park none of us had heard of, the name was odd, Craters of the Moon National Park, but extremely intriguing so after a quick google images search and seeing the martian terrain and justified name that was the destination for sleeping tonight. Before we could leave the station a strange wind pushed over the facility followed by a wailing siren, not that of a police car or firetruck, but the silent hill esq city siren to signify a tornado or something of that nature, and once arriving home days later we actually discovered it was a tornado a few miles from us, we shook off the weird feeling and proceeded on, in moments lighting started off in the distance gradually becoming closer and closer until the thunder accompanied it almost immediately, it was loud and violent like fireworks on the fourth of july. The thunderstorm and winds lasted the entire rest of the drive to Craters of the moon, upon entering the campsite everyone was already asleep for the night so we quickly picked a spot in the back corner as to disturb as few people as possible while trying to set up, as if setting up a tent in the dark using only a flashlight wasn't difficult enough you add to that the severe winds and slight drizzle and you have a less then fun situation. Still after about twenty or so minutes our shelters were set. We quickly climbed inside our respective tents and tried to sleep. It felt as though id been asleep for only minutes when the feeling of something smacking me in the face awoke me, it was the sides of my tent being blown from the wind, between that and the heavy rain it was deafening inside, down towards my feet i could feel a dampness of water starting to find its way in and from the sound of shuffling and grunting to my right i assumed Mike was having his own issues as well. I wrapped myself in a jacket and sleeping back and scooted to the center of the tent and watched it move back and forth until my eyes grew heavy and i feel back asleep.