Alvord Desert

The slice of silver out there is the Alvord Desert – shot was taken near the Frog Camp access point. I have been there with a few of you and would love the future company.



Highway 78 leads east from Burns toward Winnemucca, Nevada and after about 65 miles you come to the East Steens road junction which takes you south to Fields, OR. That was the route that I had chosen for Day 2. It was just below freezing when I left Burns and it stayed that way pretty much most of the morning not really warming until mid-day but there was sunshine and interesting clouds forming up during the morning drive. The image below was taken about 50 miles from Burns and I watched it develop for a number of miles until stopping at a safe pullover.

The East Steens road skirts the base of Steens Mountain with all sorts of spectacular views of the mountain and the Alvord Desert. Almost no people. On the 70+ miles to Fields I met 3 cars and I think one of those was a farm vehicle from the Alvord Ranch.

After you get south of the Alvord Hot springs, near Andrews, you come to a view of the east facing escapement and I find this area – the south end of the mountain – to hold a lot of interest. I have photographed this old structure in the past but it seems they added a new corral. Fresh snow and sunshine and those clouds coming over the rim sure did indicate a coming weather front.

I looped around the bottom of the main mountain and stopped to photograph the Pueblo Mountains to the south and a favorite bare aspen stand but more later of those images.

DAY 3 The weather forecast was for a major winter storm and I opted to try to get over the pass to home by leaving very early. It was 17 degrees when I left but the roads were good and it was not until I got to Santiam Pass that I hit any real weather and that was mostly a mix of rain and snow.

Road weary when I got home but sure I glad I went.

Moving East

Following the colorful sunrise at Lookout Point reservoir I headed over Willamette Pass to Highway 97 and then up to the junction with Highway 31 – The Fremont Highway. It is at this point that the openness of the land really comes into view for me. This is the start, for me, of The Big Open. My intent for the day was to take the road past Fort Rock (below) – 1st stop…

…then my route took me out to and thru Christmas Valley toward the connection with Highway 395. As I drove out that way the morning light just continued to develop as the land opened further. One of my favorite books is ‘The Solace of Open Spaces” by Greta Ehrlich and the solace and renewal described in the book really started to come home to me. Miles and miles of driving with little or no traffic — delightful.

Traveling south on 395 you come to the Hogback Mountain Road and it will take you into the middle of the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge another magical Big Open captured below on cold winter mid-morning.

My intent was to return to Burns for the evening and I got there just as the light was dropping, a bit tired but so looking forward to the next day and a drive around Steens Mountain.

I welcome your comments. As always click for larger views.

Morning Sign

I left early last Friday for a trip to the Oregon High Desert and was greeted by a colorful sunrise as I headed east. Went up to the overlook at Lookout Point reservoir and made this image. Took it as a welcoming sign of great trip to come and it was – cold temps, fresh snow, sunshine and hardly any people. I have about a week worth of images to work thru from this trip and some show signs of being good. I welcome your comments and I hope you all had a nice holiday.

Frosty morning

It was a chilly 19 degrees and still rather dark this morning as I drove out along the river. That level of cold created frost that adorned everything and made for a nice gentle morning in the farmlands east of town.

I love that some of the old deciduous trees were left when they cleared the land for farming and now they form almost iconic monuments to those past time. Love this one.

Also there were a number of older barns and sheds along the way and the sun was just catching the roof of this one as I drove back toward town. Love to have your comments. Click for a larger view.

A Duet of Doors

It was still dark and foggy when I left the house this morning hoping to find images that could be enhanced by the foggy darkness. I found this scene – A Duet – in Coburg and while not too foggy it really worked for me, Seems almost sad and lonely. Better viewed large on your screen.

Morning Sky

Cruised around town a bit this morning looking for leaf color and found some nice areas but nothing that stopped me. Instead I noticed the sky developing over town and went to Skinner’s Butte to see what awaited me and found the following image. Click on the image for a larger view.

McGowen Creek morning

I went up the McGowen Creek road this morning – lots of color and lots of snow as you get near the top. With the predicted overnight temperatures over the next few days below freezing driving this road could be tricky.

Before heading up the mountain I revisited a Hybrid Poplar stand near the town of Marcola. I have shot this stand in the past in all seasons but autumn is still my favorite.

I started picking up fresh snow about 3.5 miles up the McGowen Creek road and it got deeper toward the top but the road had been tracked and it was relatively easy driving. The image below is of the Willamette Valley from the top. T’was an Oh Ya! view when I got up there. The real panoramic image is 37×15 inches. Click for a larger screen view. IMHO worth it.