As we left the dirt road from Fields and rolled onto the playa to the north, I was thrilled to have finally achieved another motorcycling goal. The magic of the Alvord was what was missing: no turns, no straights, no speed limit, no ruts, and no end to the thrill that is just opening the throttle and leaning any direction you want. Riding a motorcycle is an experience that is always bounded in some form but the playa is boundless - it is a blank page under your wheels.
After a few hours of exploring the entire perimeter, we began to consider our options for camping. My goal was always to camp in the middle - not something that makes sense in any practical way but something that makes sense in a photographic way. Away from the detritus of the lowlands, we could photograph our tents and bikes in a way that would convey the spectacular vast emptiness.
While unpacking the bikes, dark clouds began gathering, circling, and menacing but not showering us with their gifts. The rain, however, was around us; on the distant hills to the east, rolling in from the plains to the north and south, and pouring over Steens Mountain to the west. But somehow it was not raining on us. Matt grew up in the Midwest where skies like these meant tornados and brought back his memories of hiding in a storm shelter. Scott and I were more mesmerized by the dark swirling clouds and not bothered by the wind, so when Matt announced he was headed in to camp at the hot spring we figured the storm held more adventure on the playa.