The experience I had in the Oregon Desert in 1990 turned out to be a big part of my life over the next thirty years. I left there feeling I had experienced something few people would ever experience in their lifetime.
After being there for eleven days, I said goodbye to Bill, his son Miles and Bill’s friends and drove out of the campsite at Mickey Basin heading for the hard road 50 miles away. I was going to Boise, Idaho, where I would stay the night and fly back to St. Louis the next morning.
After reaching the hard road and turning east, I saw to my left high on the mountains that there was a forest fire burning. It was of no danger to me, and I did not see any fire trucks heading that way at the time.
As I picked up speed, something caught my attention ahead. As I got closer I realized it was an elk cow trotting along the road in the same direction as I was going. Wow, I thought, she must have come from the mountain fire area that I could still see. She never changed course as I reached her, and as I slowed, she was beside me on the west side of the road. I traveled alone beside her for at least a half of a mile before picking up speed and traveling on to Boise. I drove east for almost twenty miles and saw no other cars on the road.
Ten miles later I saw a fire truck heading in my direction and passing me. I was sure they were going to fight the forest fire. I thought this was a fitting way for me to say goodbye to the Oregon Desert and to the state of Oregon — a place full of experiences and adventures like few people would ever experience.
Reaching Boise about 4 o’clock that afternoon, I treated myself to a big burger and coke before having the Subaru I had rented cleaned and returned to the rental company at the airport. That night, and for the first time in almost 2 weeks, I finally could call home to say that all was good, and that I would be flying home in the morning.
Landing in St. Louis, I was met by my sister Norine and my daughter Jamie who had come to pick me up. The first thing Jamie said was, “Dad, you look like an Indian!” I had not thought about it, but 10 days in the desert had browned my body for sure. I was really tanned.
I knew Bill was going to stay at Mickey Basin a few more weeks, so I made no attempt to call him until he returned to Fairfield, Iowa. Three weeks later I got a phone call from him which sounded like a script from a movie. Yes, he had been home a few days, and his first words to me were, “Have you seen the news?” The Sri Yantra had been found.
When Bill called me weeks after he had left the desert, I was shocked to hear that the Sri Yantra design had been photographed from a National Guard reconnaissance aircraft flying a training mission over the Alvord Desert. That plane must have flown over the design shortly after Bill left.
The guard finally issued a news release weeks later saying that they had investigated the site and that it was man made and not an extraterrestrial event. Skeptics including news organizations and so-called experts in paranormal events reported that it was a government coverup of an alien message and opened their own investigations.
The story over the next few weeks was reported worldwide in newspapers and television. Bill called saying that one of the ranchers in the area close to the desert had told the authorities that Bill had made it and that he had just been called by a television station asking for an interview.
During the next several weeks Bill and the crew including myself were contacted and asked about the Sri Yantra by the media. The Bureau of Land Management had called Bill saying if he was the one who made the design, he would be fined $100 for defacing the dry lake bed. Bill, of course, said he was the one and he paid the fine.
I was contacted by KGB television from Portland, Oregon now knowing that I had recorded the creation using broadcast equipment and asked if they could get some of it. I first said no and then after talking to Bill agreed to send them about 90 seconds of my footage in return for them sending me their first newscast and helicopter footage they had recorded and used for on-air reporting. They were more than happy to exchange their footage for mine as I was giving them an exclusive on the story. They sent me their footage on two broadcast tapes, and I took my footage to a St. Louis NBC Station where they uploaded mine via a satellite feed.
As the fall months of 1990 past the story faded from the news. I packed my camera master away and returned to my work of running my very busy production studio.
During the next 10 to 12 years I did visit Bill many times in Fairfield and he continued to travel to the Oregon desert and do more large creations. It would be another twelve years before our relationship again took another turn.