as told to Anna Bird | photos by Talia Galvin
Fields is just south of Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert, about 20 miles from the Nevada border. My husband, Tom, and I have lived here, running the Fields Station for twelve years. There are seven people who live here, including me and Tom.
I grew up 3 miles as the crow flies from the Mexico border in El Campo, California, and moved to Oregon in the ’60s. I lived in Estacada and Klamath Falls before moving to Harney County thirty-two years ago. Tom and I like the desert, the quietness. Don’t get me wrong, I like people—I worked in the public most of my life, as a wildland firefighter, at a bank and for the phone company—but I like the isolation, too. A lot of people who come here appreciate the area for what it is, but some people really don’t like it. If they don’t, I say, “Good! Think that, and get goin’!”
Because we’re really in the middle of nowhere, Fields Station has a bit of everything. We have a store, a café, a hotel, gas, liquor and a post office. We’re most popular for our burgers and shakes. Our milkshakes are so good because we don’t use any milk; it’s just hard vanilla ice cream and real fruit. Those flavored syrups just don’t taste as good.
Our busy season starts in May and goes until the middle of October. We get a lot of people who are out hiking the Steens, trying to break the speed record on the Alvord playa or just passing through. One year, we had a whole group from Russia who were out here driving old Land Rovers. We also get groups of college students in here who are out studying the unique geological and geothermal features in the desert.
About two or three years ago, Billy Idol or Billy Joel stopped in here—whoever sings “White Wedding.” I didn’t know who he was, and I still don’t know who he is, but everybody was going crazy and making a scene. They had him sing me a song to see if I would remember him then, but I still didn’t. If he would have sang “Easy Loving” or a Conway Twitty song, I would have known that!
Every year since we’ve been open, I have made a free Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who wants to come. One year, we had sixty people in here for dinner. It’s just a way to say thank you to everyone for their business and helping clear tables and make coffee when we’re really busy.
When we’re not working, or driving to Burns and Bend for supplies, Tom and I go hiking a lot. We also like to drive our Jeep around the desert and shoot rabbits and coyotes. The business has been up for sale since 2015. We love it, but we just want to do something new. It’s sometimes a hard place to live, but it is also a really cool place to live.
II have never been to the Field’s Station, but I have a hard time being okay with anyone who thinks that killing coyotes out in the desert in their natural environment far from harm to anyone or their livestock is someone I would want to do business with, or even an article about in my magazine. Pretty disgusted and disappointed. Sorry 1859.
Stay in the city, you wouldn’t fit in here.
Ye, the milkshakes are as good as they say…if you wait for them to get ice cream.
I loved this article! I was born and raised in Klamath Falls. Checked out every state in the union, except Hawaii!! I would love to live there in Fields! My kinda place! (Conway Twitty is an old favorite!!) Currently staying in O.C. California. Very beautiful here but too too many people in one square mile. I miss Oregon backroads.
Driving from Yuma Az. Home to Eugene, I found myself out of gas at Fields…..It was 3 am…..nothing open….I as driving a Subaru 4×4 So I found a dirt trail that let me climb half way up a mountain in the moonlite to find a spot to crash till fuel and cafe opened in the am…..Woke up to a skiff of snow on everything g and several Mule deer feeding mere feet from the car…..watched them a while then once they moved off , I drove down and got a full tank and a great cowboy breakfast……bought a coffee cup too….still drink my coffee most days out of that cup…..very nice Lil spot in Our awesome state……;)
Billy Idol. I wouldn’t have known him either! Hey, no pictures of you guys! So much unfinished business there. Stopped by one trip to get gas and you were closed down. Prayed myself all the way to Winnemucca! Had also hoped to place a geocache there at some point. But now I am off into the sunset…Maui. So may not get back that way again. Good luck! Jeanne
I was there when the Thompsons owned it. Ken and Julie. I was a good friend of their son Troy. That was a long time ago. Brings back alot of memories.
Wow! Lovely area, and hope we can stop when on a road trip for a visit! Wish you a lot of good and positive luck in selling and to look forward to your travels and hiking adventures! Scenery is incredible and food looks fresh and tasty!