We were working on the ‘Haunted Oregon’ piece for the September/October issue of the magazine. Because of the inexplicable oddity called The Oregon Vortex, we had to include that as part of this bewitching feature. This is a place in Southern Oregon where gravity seems to bend and mass can grow and shrink by merely crossing a threshold. Just about anyone with a scientific theory has failed to explain this phenomenon. Old Albert Einstein even left it with no satisfactory understanding. No kidding.
Anyway, it was then, that Guy Olson, our design assistant, spoke up. “There’s a place like that here,” he said sheepishly. What? In more than a decade here, I had never heard of a Central Oregon vortex. Of course this couldn’t be true.
Guy is a, well, guy, who shaves his head and face in with different outcomes every week, to our, and, I imagine, to his own amusement. He dresses in, well, period dress for holiday parties. He is a changeling for whom every day is a vortex. He’s that but he’s also a lifelong Bender/Bendite (there’s controversy over this designation).
It’s hard for someone who has suffered through the Culture Club era to take earnest direction from someone who didn’t but is recreating that look, at least this week. Deep down, beneath our shaved heads and too-big sunglasses, we’re all Karma Chameleons.
A claim like Guy’s, however, couldn’t go unchecked, so we loaded into my rig with Aimee Jameson, our creative director, a camera and a strong sense of doubt. “Where to?” I asked Guy, expecting him not to take the joke any further.
“You need to first promise me that you won’t tell anyone where this place is,” he said flatly. “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid.”
This kid can really act, I thought. Nevertheless, we were sporting, so we promised and off we went.
We drove to a place in Bend that must be common for many people, but one that I’d never been to. I could see people across the fields. They appeared not be tilted nor aware of a tilting force. Then Guy took us in a different direction, away from these people and behind some old barns.
“There,” he said. “Go over there.”
He pointed to a decrepit barn that was falling into its age. I went there and stood in front of it. It must have been a hundred years old. The beautiful wood from it would one day become a tasting table in do-gooders wine cellar, I’m sure.
“Turn around,” Guy said.
As I did, Aimee and Guy began to laugh.
“Oh my god!” Aimee exhaled. “Stay just like that, I want to get some photos. Can you stay like that?”
I don’t see why not. I was standing perfectly upright, a practice I’d mastered long ago. Aimee then hurried over to show me the photos she had just taken and my jaw dropped.
But I … “Here you stand there, Aim.”
She moved to the spot where I had been and I walked back a few paces. It was more bizarre from this perpecitive. It was if she were a kickstand without a bike!
I looked at Guy. He was smiling like the kid he was when he first came here.
“Remember, you cannot tell anyone where this is,” he repeated.