Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dark side of the Steens

Parts of the Steens range look other-worldly.
Parts of the Steens range look extraterrestrial.
In some places, the view from the top of the range looked positively extraterrestrial, while other view points were green with vegetation.

Green views from the top of the Steens range...
Views of the valleys from the top of the Steens range...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Meet the Steens

The view from the top of the Steens' range...
Awesome views from the top of the Steens...
The Alvord desert lies in the rain shadow of the Steens mountain range to the west. The range rises to about ten thousand feet above the desert floor.

Despite the smoke from the numerous forest fires throughout the state, we were still able to appreciate the grandeur of these mountains. At one point, we discovered a hidden memorial among the rocks of a viewpoint.

A hidden memorial among the rocks...
A hidden memorial among the peaks...



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cheeky

Sun-worshiping in the Alvord Desert...
Sun-worshiper...
I periodically take photos of the annual Victoria's Naked Bike Ride. I'm always amused and impressed by the riders' complete lack of propriety when it comes to baring all for their cause.

I confine my outdoor nudity to situations such as the Alvord desert where I'm unlikely to be seen by anyone else. I confess that it's a pleasant experience to feel the warm sun and a caressing breeze flowing over inch of your body. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Not hot enough for ya'?

The Alvord Hot Springs next to the desert...
The Alvord Hot Springs... keeping things even hotter...
As if camping on the desert wasn't enough heat for us, my wife and I took a soak in the nearby Alvord Hot Springs.

The springs are on private land and at one time the owners graciously allowed visitors to freely soak in the water. However, as word of mouth spread and the number of visitors started to climb, they were forced to nominally upgrade the facility to something more than a token couple of holes in the ground.

There is now a small charge of $5 for visitors to use the springs. The owners built a tin shack with a small change facility and a manual shower contraption to rinse off afterward.

From the water, you can view the desert in one way or the Steens mountain range in the opposite direction.

Leona after her soak...
Leona, after her soak in the springs...



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Alvord Part II

The cracked mud surface of the Alvord desert...
The floor of the Alvord desert...
Unlike the salt flats of Utah the floor of the Alvord desert is cracked dry mud. High winds whip up the fine white dust... during our two day stay there the dust got into everything.

Camped out the desert...
All alone on the desert...
Except for two other groups  a few miles away we were alone on the flats. With no lights around us, the night sky was brilliant with thousands -- maybe tens of thousands -- of stars. I couldn't remember the last time I saw the Milky Way so clearly.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Alvord Desert

First glimpse of the Alvord Desert...
"A big-ass flat thing..."
After Crater Lake, our Oregon trip took us to the south-east quadrant of the state in search of the Alvord desert.

It would surprise a lot of people to know how truly deserted this part of the state really is. It's an extension of the Nevada desert to the south. The landscape is flat, featureless... the low lying scrub vegetation is de-saturated of colour... the only things that move are the hawks that glide overhead in search of hapless hare caught out in the open. (Although we did once see a wolf crossing the highway...)

It's very off-the-grid... no cell reception here. Towns are few and far between and consist of single-pump gas stations or a weary-looking restaurant with a smattering of weather-beaten homes or trailers in the background.

Our first glimpse of the Alvord desert was dramatic. As one local described it, it was a 'big ass flat thing', a featureless white expanse stretching off to the horizon.

It was possible to drive out on to the desert floor itself by turning right off the main road onto a rough dirt road called Frog Springs. I think the road name was meant to be ironic.

Directions to the desert...
This way to the desert...