Good Road is anything but good.

The paved road might be the worst in Oregon.

After about five miles, the road turns to smoother gravel and I speed up.

After five more miles the road dead-ends at the Good Ranch near the breaks of the Grande Ronde River.

I am exploring Cricket Flat, rolling farm and timber country, east of Elgin between the Grande Ronde River to the north and west and the Minam River to the east.

Crickets thrived here during early settlement.

In the early 1870s, crickets were so dense that Cove-area farmer S.G. French drove a herd of hogs about 30 miles to Cricket Flat to gorge on the second cousin of grasshoppers.

No crickets are seen or heard the day I visit the meadows and pine woods of this Oregon version of Scottish Highlands. Male crickets rub their wings together to chirp, or “sing.”

Navigator wife Wonder and I see other wildlife — a shy blue heron with a 6-foot wingspan splashes off from a pond when the paparazzi stop for a picture.

The resulting photo, not for publication, of the heron flying away looks like a tabloid UFO seen at the grocery store checkout line.

We also see deer and wild turkeys grabbing shade on this hot day.

The drive, better attempted on all-gravel Yarrington Road, which leaves Highway 82 farther east, passes numerous ranches, with horses, cows and goats outstanding in their fields.

Early settlers had to travel 10 miles to Summerville to get supplies and mail, a whole day round-trip by horse and wagon.

Even now, the ranches are lonely. They provide ample elbow room, and when I stop the car, I hear wind whoosh through the tops of ponderosa pines.

A post office was established on Cricket Flat April 17, 1878, giving settlers easier access to their mail.

Due to the abundance of elk on the flat, the post office was called Elk Flat.

The Elk Flat post office was discontinued on Nov. 11, 1886, when a post office in Elgin was established.

Settlement in Elgin had begun in the early 1880s and the town quickly sprung up.

Growth was boosted by the branch line of a railroad from La Grande completed Oct. 27, 1890.

Elgin was the flat’s closest link to civilization, and the cricket name was soon revived.

Today Cricket Flat is a place most tourists whiz by on the way to more well-known destinations — Joseph, Wallowa Lake and the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

For years the Cricket Flat settlement’s church was the place to go for community activities. A series of severe winters, however, took their toll.

The church fell into disrepair and finally succumbed to a major snowstorm in 2017.

There are no stores on the flat or county parks. No restaurants or malls. No gas stations.

Shopping today, though, is more convenient than ever.

A lonely FedEx truck shooting out a rooster tail of dust along Yarrington Road, the smoothest route through Cricket Flat, reminds the visitor of how connected even the most rural locations are to the outside world.

I ponder this as I drive by three goats “working remotely.”

They stop a minute to watch the tourists drive by, as curious about us, the rare visitors, as we are of them.

As we leave, we see the goats resume chowing down on bushes, enjoying the serenity of the back and beyond.

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