Rome, Italy. Rome, Oregon. What commonality do they have? Well, basically both contain remnant ruins of the famed “Coliseum.” One, a building by the hand of man, in Italy, and  the other, an elemental structure  by the hand of nature, in Oregon.  it is the Rome in Oregon, where we launch our float trips from for the Lower Owyhee River.

Not fare from the put-in is a little cafe/cabin complex.  Along with a host of scattered ranches amid the high desert sagebrush,  are pretty much the only things that give enough status to make  Rome, its qualifications as a town.   That is,  if you call a few hick-ups  and an eye-blink at the side of the main highway (itself a thin thread through the lonely desert) as being a community name.

In the old days (1800’s) this area was accessed  by an  old stagecoach road.  Where it traversed the river,  soon became known as the  “Owyhee Crossing.” Not far from there,  were white rock formations that looked like the Coliseum in Rome. Thus,  the name “Rome” stuck, and has been so used ever since.   This “Romeness” seems to be everywhere hinted at when floating the river. Several places take on that same character, due to the fact that most of these coliseum likenesses  occur in the same type of rock formation. Most all are formed from  a mud-clay like conglomerate of ancient lake and river sediments that have been sculpted by wind and weather. They offer mute testimony to the whims of nature, and have been converted into marvelously shaped  hoodoos, pinnacles, and variously twisted human-like figurines.

The real magic for such natural beauty is that it creates a fantasy like world for humans to jump right into the middle of. It is like being able to go beyond fantasies of the mind, and actually live one,  in the real world.  The power of it all, is that like an addiction, more is always wanted. So we oblige that natural pull of the deserts magic and make an annual pilgrimage there each spring. And often more than once, beecause  in this unique landscape,  once is never enough.  The fantasy of living a fantasy never ends.

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.

Don’t Forget. Now is the time for Owyhee Trips – see previous post: How Alone Do You Want to Be?

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