Showing posts with label Joseph Oregon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joseph Oregon. Show all posts

Thursday, September 6, 2012

TPThursday: A Journey to Joseph, Oregon

Our summer road trip through Eastern Washington took us into Northeastern Oregon on State Road 129S. Signs along the way told us we were following the  “Old Nez Perce Trail”.

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The paved twisting, turning roadway clings to the hillsides as it winds through the Grande Ronde Valley and over a river of the same name.  Our route climbed to the summit of Wallowa Mountain, (4,693 elevation) and led us past  the Joseph Canyon Overlook . (A stop here’s a must for spectacular views and a bit of Nez Perce Indian history as well.)

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Our destination was Wallowa Lake, a couple miles beyond the town of  Joseph, Oregon,  population 967, named for Chief Joseph, leader of the Wallowa band of Pacific Northwest Nez Perce Indian Tribe.

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Born in 1785 and died in 1871 (the marker is incorrect), Joseph the Elder is buried at the north end of Wallowa Lake. The burial site is next to the 62-acre day-use Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site.

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Joseph is  an eclectic mix of Old West and Arts Haven, and the last town before the road dead-ends at this five-mile long, one mile wide, 283-feet deep Wallowa Lake.

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Joseph is home to numerous art galleries and Wallowa County’s first arts foundry.

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There are many Bed and Breakfasts in town and other lodging nearby, but the only motel within its city limits was built by Walter Brennan, (1894-1974) an Academy-Award winning actor who owned a ranch in the area.

And eateries galore; especially if you want a Western-style meal (think hearty chuck wagon stick-to-your-ribs style meal.) 

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But our two favorites don’t have Western menus. We munch tapas and sip wine on the front deck of Calderas enjoying the mountain views. And a trip isn’t complete without a piece of home-made pie or an old-fashioned milk-shake at Mad Mary and Co. Soda Shop.

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From any street in town there are spectacular views of the Wallowa Mountains.

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If You Go: 

Map picture

Getting there:
 There are several ways to reach Joseph and Wallowa Lake that are more mainstream than the route we took.  (Our route began in Asotin, Washington just south of Lewiston on the map above – a road to small to show on this Bing map).

From Portland: It’s just over a six hour drive of 322 miles, 519 km.  Oregon’s Highway 82 from Highway 395 winds through Joseph before dead-ending at Wallowa Lake. 

You can link up with the Hell’s Canyon Byway (Highway 350) just a few miles from Joseph – it’s a spectacular 218-mile stretch of highway.

Hiking: The Wallowa Mountains are considered by many to be Oregon’s best hiking venue.  For a sample of hikes, click here.

Accommodations/Eateries: The Chamber of Commerce website will get you here and settled in quite nicely!

It's Travel Photo Thursday, so head on over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more travel photos and trip ideas.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

TPThursday: Wallowa Lake Magic–The End of the Road

The place, quite simply, is magical. 

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Wallowa Lake is a magical place somewhat off the beaten path.  Oregon’s Highway 82 literally dead ends here in the midst of the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the northeastern tip of the state.  It took us about five hours on our meandering-the-back-roads journey south to get there from Spokane, Washington.

Our destination was the near century-old wood-frame lodge nestled in the Wallowa Mountains at the head of the five-mile long, 283-foot deep lake.

WARoadTrip2012 164The charms of the lodge, its lakeside setting, and the nearby tiny town of Joseph conspired to cast a spell over us three years ago when we celebrated our anniversary there and drew us back to celebrate again this year. 

At the time it was built in 1923 to serve as an exclusive hunting lodge, the present-day hotel  was accessible only by boat.  Today a two-lane paved road follows one side of the lake shore. It leads to the lodge and other vacation rentals, a state park  and campground.

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The lodge has undergone extensive restoration (bathrooms are quite modern in each of the rooms) but the old-world charm remains in the d├ęcor and furnishings. Floors creak when walked on and windows squeak when opened.

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We’d didn’t pull the roller blind at night so that the morning sun would act as Mother Nature’s gentle alarm clock as it climbed over the mountain and peeked through our lace and floral chintz curtains.

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Old frames displayed similarly aged art; the furnishings were mid-century antiques. There were no telephones or televisions in the rooms. A large stone fireplace, not a Wii Room, was the attraction in the lobby. (Okay, so it was Wi-Fi equipped).

Guests and deer co-mingled on the expansive eight-acre grounds on which the lodge and its more recently constructed eight freestanding cabins stand.  Deer were so tame they’d let you photograph them as they rested. A fellow guest hand fed carrots to the deer.

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At the edge of the grounds the Wallowa River flows into the lake. It is the place of afternoon strolls.

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Or perhaps simply relaxing tucked among the trees at river’s edge.

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Had there been more hours in the day I might have been tempted to sit at the desk in the corner of the lobby and write inspired prose in my journal. . .

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Even with a leisurely pace, our days went quickly.  Before we knew it the day had slipped away. The sun was easing itself down over the lake, turning the trees to silhouettes; the only sounds the cicadas, an occasional bird and the rustle of the pine needles in the breeze.

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Yes, Wallowa Lake is a magical place. The kind of place where anniversaries are best celebrated.

It’s Travel Photo Thursday so be sure to visit Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Click the link for additional information on Wallowa Lake Lodge.  For information on Joseph, Oregon  and the recreational activities nearby:

Walking distance from the lodge: The Wallowa Lake Tramway, with gondolas that whisk you 3,700 feet up the side of   Mount Howard; (the highest ascent in North America).  At the top there’s a restaurant, hiking trails .

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On the Road Again – With a map in my lap

We will soon be on the road again.  The Sun-Seeking Smiths are heading east and south across Washington State, looping down into northeastern Oregon and back again. Joel's the driver and I read the maps.

VashonIsland 2012 036We’ve been studying our trusty maps -- those wonderful paper fold-up types that allow the voices in our heads -- and not a mechanical one -- to determine our routes. We don't leave home without them.

Yes, before you tell us. . . we realize a GPS could do the thinking for us and get us there by the quickest and most direct route (and we know many of you love them). But on our road trips the journey is as important as the destination. So determining the route is half the fun of the trip for us.

We’ll head east and spend a night or two in the state’s second largest city, Spokane, the metropolitan hub of an area long known as ‘The Inland Empire’. We’ll head south on a portion of the old Inland Empire Highway as it meanders through agricultural land and the small towns like Spangle and Rosalia scattered among the fields. 

Our Oregon destination is the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

We will stay at one of our favorite Northwest places: Wallowa Lake Lodge. We celebrated our anniversary there three years ago. We’ll do the same this year.

Map picture

Our return trip may include a stop in Pendleton, Oregon, where we will go underground on a history tour or to its famed woolen factory. . .or maybe to Walla Walla for a night in the heart of Central Washington’s wine country. 

We’ve got little structure to this trip –  we are leaving ourselves open to some new discoveries along the way.  I’m sure those old paper maps have some in store for us.


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