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Oregon, Land of Everything

Quick - picture Oregon. What did you think of? Probably a rocky coastline lined with tall, emerald green fir trees. Or maybe the powdery, imposing peaks of the Cascades. Or the eerie blue water of Crater Lake rippling gently in the caldera. You probably don't think of this.

Nope, that's not Bonneville. I said Oregon, not Utah. But there it was, this 12 by 7 mile dry lake bed that you can take your car out on and press the gas pedal hard to the floor. If you drive a boxy, 11 year old SUV you might not get quite the Fast and Furious experience you were dreaming of, but it's still fun. So much fun! 

Right behind the desert are the Steens Mountains, which offer beautiful hiking trails through steep canyons up to snowy summits. Watch out for those rattlesnakes, though. I didn't see one the entire time I was in Tucson, but one of those bad boys had stretched itself out across the trail near the beginning of my first Oregon hike.

white SUV in a desert with mountains in the background

When I'd had enough of the tomfoolery for the day and decided to head toward my tiny town, the Oregon landscape continued to delight. From sweeping valleys to rolling canyons roads to majestic geological formations like lava tube caves and fossil-laden blue volcanic rock, this state has a vista for every desire. And I haven't even made it into the Cascades yet or down to Crater Lake! 
lake in a forest with snowy mountain in background

mountain with river and forest

It seems that every place I've gone on this trip, I've thought "this is the most beautiful!" and "this is the best nature!" Well, they all are. As this posts, I'm hiking in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, which I've already fallen in love with, as I seem to do quickly and often with wild spaces. I'm simply going to have dozens of favorites from now on, even if that's a linguistic and logical impossibility.