I first heard about the Alvord Desert from a local who told me he lived 100 miles from the nearest grocery store and he thought perhaps it might be the most remote place in the US. Then a landsailer friend swore this dry lake bed in Southeast Oregon was a hidden treasure for speed enthusiasts.
We had been warned that this place was isolated, but we weren’t prepared to hit 40 miles of unpaved road in the middle of the night. After avoiding all the jackrabbits we arrived at the Alvord Springs campground where we’d booked a retired military popout shelter.
The so-called MASH unit (Mobile Alvord Sleeping Hut) was actually a former expando-van or expansible van truck. Now it was minus the truck and looked like a shipping container with pop-out sides. It didn’t look insulated and we spent a very cold night (we hadn’t noticed the heaters) inside.
When our metal box began to heat up with the morning sun, we decided to try some off-roading and turned off the unpaved road for an even bumpier entrance onto the dry lake bed. There we bumped into some seasoned landsailers who’d been coming here for years. Unfortunately there wasn’t much wind so we took the opportunity to explore their off-grid shelters.
One sailer showed us the accessible schoolbus (with lift still installed) he’d converted with CNC-cut woodwork for himself and his two dogs. Another Portland-based camper showed us his two-person tent tricked out with solar panels (for morning espressos), a sink that pops out of a toolbox and similar jack-in-the-box-style kitchen.