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Unfinished Business in Oregon (Oct 2019)

The Alvord Playa (and Alvord Desert around it) has become one of our favorite sort-of-nearby-places to visit. Remote, beautiful, and full of seldom-explored wonders, we've been back several times and I'm sure will return for years to come.

Our trip this time however, was with a purpose - we have unfinished business to attend to in the region, and I'm not the type of person who likes to leave any sort of adventure, unfinished.

  • Summiting Steens Mountain. It's been over three years now since we first laid eyes on this beauty, and with the highest road in Oregon, we needed to find our way to the top.
  • Making it through Big Sand Gap on the eastern edge of the Alvord Playa. It'd gotten the better of us last time, and we needed to change that.
  • Finally, in what would become the most moving moments of the trip, we wanted to find the final tracks of Jessi Combs. Jessi was chasing the women's land speed record when her car crashed on the Alvord Playa, killing her, a few months before.

This was an adventure into the known, but one where we'd experience many firsts.


Unfinished Business in Oregon Chpt 1- Hiking Steens Mountain Hiking Steens Mountain | Unfinished Business in Oregon #1 - I was stir crazy. I'd been back from our didn't-go-quite-as-planned trip to Colorado for two weeks and it was time to get out again. And this time I wanted it to be with @mrs.turbodb. Knowing that she'd be unable to resist a trip back to the Alvord Desert - and for our first time, Steens Mountain - I knew that would be our destination. It'd be a relatively short trip - four days total - but I figured that even at that, we could do a couple things we'd wanted to do for quite some time: We could get to…
Unfinished Business #2 - Highest Truck in Oregon Highest Truck in Oregon | Unfinished Business #2 - Hoping to catch the stars as they danced through the sky, you may recall that I'd setup the camera to take as many 30 second exposures as it could, until its battery ran out, through the cold night. As morning rolled around, I grabbed a second camera battery and popped out of the tent into the 21°F weather to take a look. ...Only to discover that my second battery was also dead - I'd forgotten to charge it before the trip! So I plugged in the my little 175W inverter and let a battery charge for an hour. As a side…
Unfinished Business #3 - We Find Jessie Combs Last Track We Find Jessi Combs Last Track | Unfinished Business #3 - The night wasn't quite as cold as the previous had been, but it was still well below freezing when I looked out the tent door to see an amazing glow on the horizon. Whether I liked it or not, I knew I was going to spend at least a few minutes out there as the light started to spread across the Alvord Playa - before hoping I wouldn't be in too much trouble for climbing back into bed to warm up again. The cold had gotten to everyone overnight, which meant that they were either driven out of their tent…

The Alvord is an awesome place. Check out the
Index to the Alvord Desert
for all our trips and places to see.

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