From there it was due east to the Fort Rock National Natural Landmark, one of ca. 40 tuff rings (formed around volcanic vents in a prehistoric sea) that rise out of the otherwise pancake flat high (4700') desert.
Nearby we submerged ourselves in Crack-in-the-Ground, a volcanic fissure amid western juniper and sagebrush seen here from above.
It marks the western edge of a shallow (30'), 2 mile-long volcanic-tectonic depression of sunken older rock, providing a very narrow hiking/clambering trail lined with moss and surely 20 degrees cooler than in the desert just above.
After a less than favorable night in Lakeview, we began day two by stopping off at 25' Deep Creek Falls, which form a barrier for the native redband trout but not the introduced (eastern) brook trout.
After dipping into Nevada and then heading north again, our next stop was the Alvord Desert, an 84 square mile dry lake bed where we walked around a bit on the cracked, alkaline surface.
Just to the north we paused at Pike Creek below the 9000' Steens Mountains, where dotted among the sagebrush lie dozens of 100+ ton glacial erratics.
Although the snowy Steens still rise in the background behind the intense bacterial lining of Mickey Hot Springs, we were saddened to see that the entire area been grazed to death (Harney County after all) and no longer has the native plants whose profusion of color used to enliven the desert.
The much (over-) acclaimed private 100' tall fossil-bearing clay palisades known as the Pillars of Rome were only seen from a distance.
Our final stop of the day was to catch the evening sun on the gentle bunch-grass slopes of the eastern side of the 1000+' deep Owyhee river canyon southwest of the town of Jordan Valley.
Following another memorable night at the single institution in Rome (punctuated by the cheeps of birds nesting in the walls of the cabin), we admired wildflower carpets at Upper and Lower Cow Lakes, playa lakes formed when Jordan Craters cutoff their streams ca. 10,000 years ago.
Heading north to cutoff the rain, we bumped along through the amazing tuff formations of Leslie Gulch, whose many pockets and holes reveal their origins in volcanic ash.
Miraculously driving in and then out of the rain, we next arrived at Jordan Craters, which are composed of basalt fields dotted with cinder cones that are sufficiently moon-like that (according to a BLM caretaker) NASA astronauts once trained here (as well as at Newberry Crater).
One of the nicest drives (and not just because it was paved) was along the Owyhee River, whose lazy waters meander through the sagebrush and rabbitbrush desert to cut deep canyons in the Owyhee Plateau.
Nearby was some exemplary columnar basalt, formed into angular hexagons as the lava slowly cooled.
We rounded out the day by passing through Nyssa and noting a family resemblance to the thunderegg (a tough crust protecting a hidden jewel...ok, a bit thick).
Further west we slipped south to pause at the Malheur Cave, a very large lava tube cave long used by the Paiutes and to this day used as a meeting point by local Masons (who even built a stage with bleachers ca. 500' into the cave!).
A bit further southwest is Pete French Round Barn, a covered corral and architectural memorial to a typically colorful (read "crooked") figure in the history of the west.
Nearby are the numerous formations at Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area, a volcanic field of ca. 8000-year-old basaltic flows, cinder cones, and low volcanic craters.
Only one of the craters, Malheur Maar, holds a lake and subsequently supports a ring of green between the black basalt and dusty green of bunch grass and sagebrush.
Not long after this we wandered through the historic Frenchglen Hotel and, quite unrelated, got our first flat tire. The consolation for changing the spare in sun strong enough to finally get a sunburn was the roadside view across the Malheur Wildlife Refuge toward the Steens.
This placid view within the Refuge must have been the consolation for the second flat tire, achieved surreptitiously shortly before arriving at the Les Schwab in Burns just to the north.
En route back west on our last day, we paused at the remains of an old CCC camp (Camp Gap Ranch) that was established in 1934, housed ca. 200 men who built juniper fences, roads, and wells for the US Grazing Service until 1942, and was dismantled and relocated for the war effort before being partially restored in the 1990s.
Our last gravel road was up Glass Butte, where we hiked to the obsidian field for black-and-red glass souvenirs. It was such a clear day that we couldn't help stopping at Pilot Butte in Bend to take in Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, all three Sisters, and Mt. Bachelor.
Although the charcoal from the 2011 wildfire could still be smelled as we passed by in 2014, regenerating trees are now to be seen beneath the charred snags around Blue Lake just north of Mt. Washington.
Just back over the crest and down the McKenzie Highway we enjoyed the pristine waters of Clear Lake, which is fed by runoff from Mt. Washington and in turn is the source of the McKenzie River.
Nearby are two falls on the McKenzie River, both of which sported rainbows when observed from the Waterfalls Trail that afternoon: the 64' Koosah Falls
and the 100' Sahalie Falls, which form the terminus of the two thick basaltic andesite lava flows that dammed Clear Lake 3,000 years ago.
They were, to quote Ray and other contemporary Oregonians, amazing!