Water is precious

The dirt is dry in Harney County…

severe drought… we might get thirsty…

There’s a Safeway in Burns…

Let’s buy a couple six packs…

we’ll be glad to have water…

if we break down… off highway…

might have to wait a couple days for rescue…

Let’s fill the transfer tank too…

100 gallons of diesel…

just in case we need more fuel…

we could go to Mexico and back…

Highway 78 begins in the middle of Burns…

Highway 20 turns left… 90 degrees…

ends in Maine… north of Portland…

The correct lane is right… straight ahead…

Look… that’s one smart Canada goose…

perched on top of that stack of hay bales..

Coyote at P Ranchcoyotes can’t get to it up there…

The Silvies River is full of water…

Must be dammed for flood irrigation…

The Silvies is a river without an ocean…

flows into Malheur Lake…

the lake is getting smaller…

no outlet… water evaporates…

faster than it precipitates…

under severe drought…

Water is precious…

man or beast can’t live without it…

the Malheur basin is so flat…

you can see the curvature of the earth.

30 miles out of town…

No houses to be seen…

Harney County, Oregon’s largest…

population 7,500…

6,000 live in Burns and Hines…

gate in NVlots of empty space… between ranches…

120 miles to the next gas station…

Even sagebrush doesn’t grow out here…

Nothing but sand, rocks and lizards…

Cruise control set at 75…

haven’t seen another vehicle for an hour…

the roar of Cummings diesel sings a song…

stormy weather…

it’s snowing… it’s blowing… the old man is snoring…

snow not sticking… the pavement looks dry…

didn’t see the sign entering Malhuer County…

Burns junction five miles…

the end of highway 78… after 83 miles.

heading south on highway 95….

Blue Mountain pass 5,293 feet…

Thirteen feet over a mile above sea level…

no trees in sight…

trace of snow roadside…

The Oregon-Nevada border…

gas station and casino…

first chance to win at the Last Chance…

Indian reservation…

Paiute and Shoshone…

exit east on the N road…

follow the Quinn river…

to find the three-corner monument…

Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada…

pavement ends and dirt begins…

wet, muddy, slippery dirt…

truck tires spin… throwing mud…

4WD doesn’t help…

gravity pulls the truck down hill…

stop… stop… stop…

we’re done… wet dirt slippery as wet soap…

now what… lucky we’re not in the ravine…

retreat… back to pavement…

Might as well head for home…

try again another time…

when the dirt is dry.

-Story and photos by Larry Rea©2015

More about Larry at www.taxaflora.com

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