Industry secret

Postcard collage of bird and Hells Canyon with text that says Legendary Adventures Require Legendary Flavor. Reverse side of postcard collage showing Hells Canyon and bird.

Message on postcard:
Shannon and Ann — It was good to hear from you! Sorry I can’t make it to your summer party this year. The dogs are good and I’m working as a hiking guide here at Grand Canyon. You might be wondering, then, why I’m sending you a postcard of Hells Canyon. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Sometimes, when Grand Canyon is full, we’ll substitute in another canyon. Hells Canyon is a popular replacement, but we’ll also use Cataract Canyon, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Canyon de Chelly, Waimea Canyon, and the Columbia River Gorge. Every now and then we’ll do a fjord or a crevasse, but they’re a little tricky. Visitors almost never notice, though.

Wild oats, domesticated animals

Postcard collage featuring dairy cattle, a happy-looking man, and the phrase urging the reader to sow some oatws
Reverse side of postcard collage about sowing oats

Message on postcard:
Hey Witzke — I know sometimes life comes at you fast. In the words of French artist Paul Gauguin, “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Is it possible to have a baby with a cow?” Yes you can and it is never too late. Life is just not complete until you have a human-calf hybrid. People who don’t have them will never understand how fulfilling it is. You never know what love is until you look into the eyes of a hideous baby cow and see your face there. Also, it is selfish not to have a baby with a cow, and choosing not to do so makes you a bad person.

Subscription postcards: Double rainbow, tree blossoms, chevrotain

Postcard collage of a weird-looking animal in front of a derelict Nevada shack.

Message on postcard:
Hi Beth — The other day I saw a double rainbow. It was not as exciting as YouTube had led me to believe. But it was still pretty good.


Postcard collage of several old cars in front of a lake, parked beneath text that reads "soothing relief for dry eyes".

Message on postcard:
Hello Carmel — Happy springtime! All the trees in Portland, Oregon are covered with blossoms. Up in the mountains it’s still snowing. Down here in the Willamette Valley, fallen flower petals just look like snow. It’s neat.

Cherry blossoms cover a Portland street with a sharrow marking.

Cherry blossoms on the street.


Postcard collage of Asian chevrotain in the Grand Canyon.

Message on postcard:
The animal on this postcard is a called a chevrotain. They look like tiny deer and live in Asia. They are smaller than dogs and cats!

Subscription postcards: Space beings, tacos, nano challah

Postcard collage of two birds on a sand dune, with text that says, "You've just won a foreign lottery."

Message on postcard:
Hi Kathleen — I’m out at a trailhead in the Salmon-Huckleberry, camping in my van. Last night my girlfriend Mandy and I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey on my laptop. A great big truck drove up and parked next to us during the creepy ending part where the astronaut goes through the lights and turns into a space fetus. My first concern was malevolent extraterrestrials. Hers was drunken hillbillies. She is the realistic one in this relationship.


Postcard collage of a cruise missile flying toward an antelope.

Message on postcard:
Hey Jeff — Today in the grocery store checkout line I saw a “Make your own taco sticker activity book”. I am glad that hungry stoners finally have a place to buy aspirational lifestyle sticker books.

A "Make Your Own Taco Sticker Activity Book"

This is so sad.


Postcard collage of a cooler-toting man standing next to a woman, standing in front of two old cars, in Michigan at night.

Message on postcard:
Erin: Greetings from a coffee shop, where today’s roast is allegedly called “nano challah”. I didn’t see any braided, microscopic bread in my cup; consequently I am uncertain about the derivation of its name. I think the baristas might be pulling my leg.

A sign for "Ethiopia Nano Challah" coffee.

I know what those words mean, but not in that order.

Subscription postcards: Sinkholes and snow

Postcard collage of a fish in front of a stream in the woods, hovering above the word "crappie".

Message on postcard:
I was at the coast last weekend, and on the way home I stopped in Corvallis at the Oregon State University library. I needed to track down a paper from the proceedings of a 1984 conference on sinkholes. Okay, maybe “need” is too strong a word for that. But it sure was fun to read.


Postcard collage showing budding flowers in front of an outhouse. Text reads "the art of serenity".

Message on postcard:
Spring is here. Yesterday I did a 17-mile out-and-back run to Powell Butte, a nature park in Portland. I got stuck behind horses on a narrow trail. Horses have a reputation for grace and elegance. It was earned from the opposite end of the animal.


Postcard collage of an angry crocodile near some orange flowers on the California coast. Beneath him is are the words "Justice Is Served".

Message on postcard:
I’m camping near the Salmon River here in Oregon. It snowed overnight. It is the middle of April. It’s really pretty, but then again so is summertime. Yeesh.

Picture of trees at a trailhead covered with a little snow.

April in the Oregon Cascades. Presumably the mountains got more snow up higher; we were camped in the valley near the Salmon River.

Subscription postcards: Toponyms, thimbleberries, and canine trail stewardship

A biplane flies over crater lake. Beneath it is the phrase "The Residue of Memory".

Message on postcard:
Hi Sacha — My girlfriend Mandy and I are visiting the coast this weekend. Today we’re in Pacific City, Oregon. There’s a big rock in the ocean called Haystack Rock. It’s confusing, because there’s a second, identically named offshore rock a little ways north from here. I’ve heard far-out hypotheses that all life is a gigantic computer simulation. If so, whoever programmed it failed to allocate enough namespace for geological features.

Haystack Rock, near Pacific City, seen from the beach.

Haystack Rock, near Pacific City, seen from the beach.

Another view of Haystack Rock.

Another view of Haystack Rock.


A rugged cowboy enjoys delicious thimbleberries.

Message on postcard:
Evgeniya — Greetings from the aptly named Beachside State Park here on the Oregon coast. This morning I found a sealed glass jar that looks like it floated over from Japan. I took it with me; it’s weird and strange to think about how it got here.

A sealed jar that I found on the beach.

I found this on the beach.


Postcard collage of a woman standing near an old station wagon, in front of cultivated fields, captioned with the words "get married".

Message on postcard:
Hey Andrew — Today I visited Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast. My girlfriend Mandy was very excited to see that there is a trail named “Amanda’s Trail”. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that the sign is no longer accurate. My dog Skillet peed there, which makes it technically his now.

Subscription postcards: Chocolate outrage, confusion in Hebo, and Gangnam’s high-water mark

Postcard collage of Bill Clinton in the South Dakota Badlands, with the text "mature adult" next to his head.

Message on postcard:
Hey Steve —Today I saw a glucose-based, nutritional energy gel for sale. The name of the product was “Chocolate Outrage”. I can’t say for sure, but I think it was named by a white guy.

Packages of a product called "chocolate outrage".

Chocolate-flavored, honkey-christened.


Postcard collage of four differently colored cobs of corn in the South Dakota Badlands, captioned with the phrase "Harness the Transformative Power".

Message on postcard:
Mollie — Greetings from Mount Hebo, near the Oregon coast! I’m camping here with my girlfriend Mandy. It’s a little cold out, and there are a few patchy remnants of snow on the ground. Skunk cabbage is blooming in a nearby stream and along the lake. It is very peaceful, especially compared to the bait and tackle shop a couple miles away in downtown Hebo. It is your one-stop shop for fishing gear and hateful, self-pitying screeds printed from the Internet and misattributed to Bill Cosby.


Postcard collage of a happy, mustachioed man standing in front of his shiny old car. Behind him is a peaceful sunset on a Washington beach.

Message on postcard:
Bridget — I am at a coffee shop in Pacific City, Oregon. There is a chalkboard here, upon which a person has written “Gangnam Style! Whoop whoop! Don’t erase.” The entire declaration contains twenty additional exclamation points not included here. Years from now I think that historians will recognize this chalkboard as the official high-water mark for worldwide interest in “Gangnam Style”.

Gangnam-awareness chalkboard in Pacific City, Oregon.

I’m used to seeing the words “don’t erase” next to complicated equations on physics department chalkboards. But this is important, too.