Alvord Desert


Alvord Desert

On my way back from Colorado, I stopped at the Alvord Desert. My first and only visit was almost exactly one year earlier. I'd been itching to get back, but the distance from home and the call of other places meant it hadn't happened.






Going west from Salt Lake City along I-70 are these strange troughs on both sides of the highway. I don't know their purpose, or why they have a line of posts down their middle. But they looked bizarre enough to stop and examine up close.

Keep on the expressway, and at the border of Nevada you'll run into the Bonneville Salt Flats—where the land speed world record was set.





I arrive in the desert under a nearly full moon. It's bright enough that it's casting crisp shadows. As I hoped, it's perfectly quiet out here. I can't explain why, but a rush of peaceful excitement comes over me; same as last year.





Morning on the playa and the longest shadows you will ever see. It doesn't matter what time of day you're here, it's magical.





It really is so magnificent out here. So different from any other place I've been. It's not endless, but it's miles long. And you can drive as the sole moving object across the desert, kicking up a trail of dust behind you.





It was on the trip that took me here last year that I began shooting self-portraits. I wanted a figure in the landscape, and I was the only figure around. Since then, it's become part of my regular habits to use myself in my photos.





Equally as alluring as the playa, is the nearby Fields Station. A gas station, restaurant and motel. I needed gas, yes, but it's the restaurant that's calling. And a tall, cold milkshake. Though I was craving a burger, it was early so I had eggs, bacon and hash browns instead. I chatted with the other patrons, and with Sandy—the owner and cook. If you've ever been to a small town for breakfast (and this place only has nine people!), you can imagine the conversation. It was as predicted, and enjoyable. Right down to hearing about the little rascal, Benny—a badger who might technically make the population ten. It was a perfect morning.






I had to be back to work by morning, which meant I had to get moving. I was on the opposite side of the state, and it would take most of the day to get home. I took the same route as I had taken here the year prior. I even listened to a lot of the same music in the same places. Maybe I've begun a tradition?