Heading for the John Day Fossil Beds.

Taking my long delayed research field trip to the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument.

I fantasize about walking in and saying, "Hey, what would you do if someone came in and took over the place?"

I see the park ranger hitting the panic button.

"Hey, if you don't mind saying, how many people work here and where do you sleep?"

Park ranger backs away, signals to coworkers.

"Do you guys have security measures?"

Cops flood the place.  "Up against the wall, motherfucker!"

"But I'm a WRITER!"

I wrote the book based on my visit a couple of years ago, and while I don't believe it's necessary to be accurate in every detail, it wouldn't hurt to add a few descriptive details and soak up the atmosphere and surroundings.

Walked into the visitor center, notebook in hand, looking for my pen. That turned into an easy entry into the topic of my book. So much for being coy.

The "interpretive ranger" at the counter was friendly at first, but when I explained more about my story she got a little antsy. She turned me over the the "chief paleontologist" who was very chatty. He quickly answered my questions. Probably was, I hadn't thought of enough questions in advance, so I let him talk and tried to learn details that way.

Then they let me wander around with my notebook, drawing maps and diagrams of the place and taking notes.

An extremely fruitful session. Probably won't change much in the book. I'd guessed correctly about a lot, but this nailed down some of the details. It will make a nice grounding to the story. I got some of the correct terminology that should help add to the verisimilitude of the story.

The biggest difference between the book and the actual location was that the interpretive center is surrounded by hills. Not a lot of places to camp. There are some relative flat spots in front of the place, that will have to do. I figure the barricade will be set up in front of the Cant House which is across and diagonal from the center.

Not an unworkable problem.

I decided to visit the Clarno unit of the monument and oh, boy. I didn't realize it would take me an hour and a half out of the way on very, very winding roads. Which wouldn't have been so bad if I'd started the day a couple hours sooner, but the last two hours of the drive were in the dark, so didn't even get to see the wonderful scenery.

Six hours on the road. But what fun. Eastern Oregon really is a marvel.