Tomorrow morning I'm off for a few days to one of my favorite places: Malheur National Wildlife Refuge at the base of Steens Mountain. Of course there are birds and mammals and reptiles and flowers to see, but there is a special feeling about the place that is difficult for me to express. Some of it is captured in the words of John C. Van Dyke in his book, *The Desert*:
"And what air one breathes on these plains -- what wonderful air! It is exhilarating to the whole body; it brightens the senses and sweetens the mind and quiets the nerves. And how clear it is! Leagues away needle and spine and mountain-ridge still come out clear cut against the sky. Is it the air alone that makes possible such far-away visions, or has the light somewhat to do with it? What penetrating, all-pervading, wide-spread light! How silently it falls and how like a great mirror the plain reflects it back to heaven!"