It was a surprise! The Alvord Desert, that is. We headed south after getting our fill of birdwatching in the Malheur, and that skinny little road took a looong u-turn around the foot of some mountains I somehow hadn’t noticed as I peered through my lens at all those birds doing their thing. They were still snow-covered and very bare of any trees. Kind of like giant ice cream cones.
As we swung around and headed north, the road turned to dirt (the paved part still went south), and we were treated to a vision of the surprising Steen Mountains. They were rugged, still sugar coated with snow, their heads snagged in low hanging clouds.
Very remote, there is NOBODY out there. No dwellings, no gas stations, no campgrounds, let alone a hotel. Ha Ha! This land belongs to the birds, the wildlife, the wind and weather.
I guess we were lucky there was even a road to drive through it. If you’ve been reading any of my past blog posts, you know by now that’s just how I like it.
We were so taken with these astonishing mountains, we didn’t at first notice the unusual Alvord desert over which they loomed. Extending east from the base of the Steens, the Alvord Desert playa, which can be either wet or dry depending on the time of year, is one of the largest playas in Oregon—six miles wide and 11 miles long. Long ago it was a 200 foot deep lake that went far south into Nevada. Now it only intermittently sports a deceptive sheen of water a few inches deep.
At it’s northern end is the more developed Mann Lake, famous for trout fishing. But we hung out at the southern end because, well, there is a hot springs of course! Another surprise.
So I lied when I said there are no dwellings. The hot springs isn’t a dwelling really, but it is a man made structure, dilapidated hunks of tin gently flapping in the wind. I don’t know if it even has a name. Nevertheless, it was sooo delightful to have a soak and watch the sun rise.
Right across the road from it was a nice clearing for our camper van where we had a commanding 360 degree view.
There’s something about that combo of pastel blue, grey and sand color that just softens me.
Ahhh. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. I’ll be returning here again when I need that hit of uncluttered open spaces and the silence of the wild.