Two half-columns by Van Dyke

I don’t know what you call these bits of ironic wit that I’m about to share with you. I’ve been saving them in hopes that one day, I’d be able to build an entire column around them, but I just don’t run into enough of them, so I’m just gonna go ahead, fire ’em up right now, and be done with the whole notion. I don’t know if these sorts of statements have any kind of name or label, such as sniglets or spoonerisms. If they did, I could Google away and have this column filled with some quality mirth. But I’m stumped. In any case, here are the four I’ve been hanging on to and now submit for your enjoyment before I forget them completely. (If the author is known, credit is given in parentheses.)

“Indecision may or may not be my biggest problem” (Jimmy Buffett).

“I’m the only guy I know who doesn’t have a gigantic ego problem.”

“I simply must apologize to you once again for being a pathetic cringing little milksop.”

“I’ll give you unconditional love as soon as I think you’ve earned it” (comedy writer Bill Scheft).

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Another note from my recent road trip to Washington. On the way back to town, I finally stopped in at a place I’ve read about for years, a place that consistently garners major raves from every desert-lover who visits. It’s Steens Mountain, and it is indeed a superb showcase of the Great Basin.

Steens is in southeastern Oregon, about 75 miles north of the tiny border outpost of Denio. Since that makes it about 350 miles from Reno, it’s not exactly the perfect retreat for a weekend getaway. Takes a little effort to get up there. But it’s a spot that easily earns its praises, featuring sudden and enormous U-shaped glacially carved valleys and gorges slicing through its massif. It’s also completely two-faced, depending on your angle of approach. If you’re on the gentle western slope, you’re in a huge, wide open region, miles and miles of it, slowly climbing upward through various eco-zones to the breathtaking crest of nearly 10,000 feet. If you’re on the eastern side, you’re faced with towering vertical cliffs and drop-offs, all crag and drama, looming over the vast playa of the Alvord desert. Whichever direction you approach, it’s all good.

It’s the western side that is more accommodating to travelers. And the campground upon which I stumbled, Page Springs, was an absolute gem. Featuring truly large and luxuriously grassy campsites sprinkled along the Donner und Blitzen river, Page Springs was one of those spots where you could imagine hanging until someone with a badge finally comes up and tells you it’s time to go.