Scientifically designed

Postcard collage of luxury SUV in front of western landscape, with the text "Because crazy isn't crazy" and "scientifically designed to promote healthy testosterone levels"
Reverse side of postcard collage, with text that says "But it's crazy for a reason"

Message on postcard:
Hi Wyatt — Greetings from my home in Arizona, and thanks for requesting a postcard. It’s car themed, probably because I’ve been futzing around with cars lately. We don’t have any testosterone-promoting cars; we have my Vanagon and my fiancé’s busted-ass Ford Focus. This weekend I’m replacing the valve cover gasket and a motor mount on the Ford. I’m extremely insecure about my manhood, so before I begin the job I’ll be consuming a testosterone milkshake made out of old truck tires.

-Mike

Post-postcard update:
After I wrote this postcard, I fixed the above-mentioned problems and some miscellaneous other issues. It required a trip to the junkyard to pull parts. While there, I saw a certain white Ford Bronco.

White Ford Bronco in a junkyard, with the hood open, no wheels, and the text "OJ why?" spray-painted on the side

The Alvord Desert

After leaving the Steens Mountain high country, I spent a night at the South Steens Campground — where uncouth visitors in need of firewood were hacking down large tree limbs within the campground proper — and then proceeded on to the Alvord Desert. My stay at South Steens was unremarkable. There’s a reportedly amazing trail that ascends Big Indian Gorge, but the amazing part demands an overnight backpacking trip that I couldn’t squeeze in. The first three miles or so that I hiked out and back are rather pretty in their own right, though.

The Alvord Desert was more my cup of tea. It’s a large, desolate, beautiful playa that sits at the eastern base of Steens Mountain. This time of year it’s dry enough to drive across, and I even saw a handful of little sail-powered cars zipping along the windy flats. I spent a few days out there exploring, including some long walks to nowhere and also a scramble up Tule Springs Rim, just to the east of the playa.

Here are some pictures of the playa. Since then I’ve driven across Nevada and Utah. I’m writing this from Colorado, where I’m retrieving stored personal belongings in anticipation of resuming a normal life with a roof over my head.

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Steens Mountain: Yow

After visiting Frenchglen, I drove the Steens Loop Road up to the high, high county. I spent a few days up there. Of all the places I’ve visited this year, this is one of my favorites.

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Aspen trees along the two-track leading up to my first night’s campsite.

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The Kiger Gorge, too big to fit into one photograph. A guy I met up there told me that his fighter pilot nephew would do inverted fly-throughs of the gorge on training flights.

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Looking north from the east rim of the mountain.

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Sunrise on the summit.

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Wildhorse Lake from the summit.

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Wildhorse Lake from the shore.

After leaving Steens, I drove south along the Catlow Rim and then hooked north toward the Alvord Desert, where I’m writing this today. Lots of good pictures from the playa yet to come, but that’s enough for now.

Frenchglen: 80 kilometers of bad roads pay off

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Yesterday at Hart Mountain I worked on postcards and found some animal bones.

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Today I drove the back roads to Frenchglen, a small town on the western side of Steens Mountain. As you can tell from Frenchglen’s choice of motor vehicles, the residents of this AMC-friendly town have excellent taste.

High desert country: Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

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Warner Lakes, a canyon whose name I forget, and a Paiute hunting blind(?). Lots of lichen on the rock tower — it seems to have been here for quite a while.

I have seen zero antelopes, but lots of tracks and poop.

Update: Never mind, there’s a great big herd of about twenty.

The view from Paulina Peak

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Spending today at Newberry Crater National Monument. Here are a couple pictures from Paulina Peak and one from the Paulina Lake loop trail. Newberry Crater is like a less symmetric version of Crater Lake, with a cinder cone and lava flow separating the two lakes within the crater. The landscape to the south is dotted with what I assume to be baby volcanoes. Lots of smoke in the air from forest fires burning to the north.