After five days in the desert, I was ready to go on a day trip with my friend Bill to get more food supplies. Tools and aluminum wire were needed to complete the majestic design that was being created in the desert. Miles, Bill’s son, would stay with the crew working while we were gone.
Bill and I loaded a couple of ice chests, two 5 gallon gas cans, my camera gear and my equipment batteries into my rented Subaru SUV. My batteries were out of power and Bill was sure we could charge them at the hardware store in Burns where we were going. I had been charging some of them using Bill’s truck battery, but that was problematic. The truck had to be running to do it, and gas was a priority because the nearest gas station was 100 miles away.
We left at 8:30am as the crew walked out into the lake bed to begin their work. We got to the Mann Lake Ranch road on the county-maintained dirt road about 10am and headed for the hard road another 18 miles that would take us to Burns.
Bill and I had a great time talking about the project and his excitement of seeing it come together. He was also excited to take me to Steens Mountain after we left Burns. Steens Mountain was the highest point in the desert, and he was pretty sure from its height of 9000 feet that we may very well be able to see Mickey Basin where our camp was 50 miles across the desert floor below it.
We arrived in Burns at about 12:30pm, got the aluminum wire and the new tools, plugged in my batteries and headed to the local grocery store. After the ice chests were packed, we picked up my charged batteries and gassed up. Bill suggested to my delight that we stop and get a milk shake and burger before heading to Steens Mountain… Oh yeah, real food.
Steens Mountain was almost 100 miles from Burns to the West. After driving about 70 miles on a hard road, we turned on a dirt road that would take us up the mountain to the top. The dirt road was well maintained, and we got to the top at about 4pm. The sun was already in the Western sky. The view was breathtaking, with clouds you could almost touch above and blue sky and more white puffy clouds that stretched for what Bill said was 80 or more miles. I took still pictures here and some great video footage of Bill that I was sure could be used in his art video.We stayed for most of an hour before leaving.
As we drove down the mountain, Bill said he knew a lookout point where we could stop, rest and meditate before heading back to camp. Later, as we reached the hard road, night fell and our headlights were the only source of any light. We never passed another car or saw another light. Even though we were on the hard road, we were in the desert away from real civilization. As we passed the Mann Ranch Road and reached the wagon trail, I was happy Bill was driving. There was no moon and everything was black except what was being illuminated by our headlights.
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