Yesterday, 26 July 2008, I spent the day in Wallow County and attended the Chief Joseph Days Celebration. My only mistake of the day was to think I didn't need to leave before 11:00. And I didn't. That mistake didn't manifest itself until about 5:15 PM as you will see.
Background: My parents moved to Wallowa, Oregon around 1968 from Imbler, Oregon, after I had joined the Navy. I went back to Wallowa a few times while on leave from the Navy and it is where I found my bride. Since that marriage lasted only 20 years, I guess you can say that Wallowa holds mixed memories for me.
Now back to the visit. I left around a 11:00 AM and drove straight through to Wallow which is only about 50 miles through some of the most beautiful country there is. It is all forest with the beautiful Wallowa River alongside most of the way.
Like most every other place since I have been here in Eastern Oregon, Wallowa hasn't changed much. The town has not grown at all. Which is very unusual outside of Eastern Oregon. There have been some subtle changes such as what used to be called "Bert's Tavern" is now called "The Plush West Saloon". I heard it was half bar and half restaurant. I don't remember a restaurant being in the old Bert's Tavern. Could of been but I doubt it.
My mother, Vera Plumlee, for as long as I can remember was a craft person. While they lived in Wallowa my mother tried her hand at two businesses. The first was a youth center where kids could play pool, listen to music etc. I don't remember the name of her place but that building is now a coffee shop called "The Blonde Strawberry" providing espresso's, Smoothies and Italian Sodas and more.
While in Wallowa I checked out one of the RV Parks. The one right on the edge of town is called the "Wallowa River RV Park." I chatted with the owner for a bit and learned he and his wife from Lewiston, Idaho and had bought this RV Park for their way to live the good and easy life. It rests right on the Wallow River as their name implies. I wouldn't mind spending a few weeks their myself some future summer.
After leaving Wallowa I went on toward Joseph passing through Lostine and Enterprise. In Enterprise I stopped and checked three different RV Parks. First the Nez Perce Apts. And RV Park. Then on to the Log House RV Park and Campground. Then I checked out the Mountain View Motel & RV Park.
Finally after all the stops I headed into Joseph. Now this city was the only exception I have seen in North East Oregon. This town has changed a lot! May have even grown a bit. It is a really quaint city, well kept and lots of art decoration along the side walks and store fronts. The whole town is themed like the west in the late 1800's or early 1900's. Downtown each street corner on both sides of the street have a little mini park with benches and shrubbery and a statue of either a horse, coyote, a cowboy, an Indian, or a settler etc. It is really charming.
While in Joseph I passed the Indian Lodge Motel which used to be called the "The Walter Brennan Motel," named of course for the legendary actor Walter Brennan.
I walked around taking pictures and just enjoyed the very moderate crowd. There was a rodeo going on elsewhere in town but I am not a rodeo kind of guy so I just enjoyed the street vendors and scenery in town. I even stopped off at the bowling alley and their "Shooters Bar" for a cold beer. I have included a few pictures below.
I then headed up to the lake and went down to the waters edge took some pictures and was amazed at how lightly crowded it was. There was plenty of parking and is different than the last time I was there in about 1992. I have included a few pictures below.
Next I headed up to where most of the lodges and the Tramway are. Most of the lodges are designed in the theme of an Alpine Lodge and are very pleasant to look like. The Tramway itself was closed. That is why I made my opening statement about being too late to get started for the day. The Tramway is only open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and I arrived at 5:15 PM. Shucks! Oh Darn! I really wanted a ride up to the 8,150 foot level summit of Mt. Howard. I had last been up there during my last visit in 1992. The Mt. Howard summit has what is billed as "The Northwest's Highest Restaurant" The "Summit Grill and Alpine Patio" is part of the tramway’s upper terminal.
My disappointment stems from my memory of the view from The Mt. Howard summit which is a spectacular view of the Wallowa Valley and the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. Well I do plan to spend an entire summer up here in the next few years. I will make a point of getting up there then.
Well, after that I headed back home to La Grande. All in all I had one of the nicest drives and days I have ever had. The temperature was a very pleasant low 80's and there was no crowds. That is one of my travel mission priorities. To avoid crowds and congestion wherever possible. I was a success today!
Most of Joseph's Store Fronts Were of This Theme
All The Street Corners Were Designed Similar To This One With Each Corner Having Different Theme
This Little Marketplace, WC Marketplace Is A Good Example Of How The City Of Joseph Is Decorated
Another View Of The WC Marketplace Showing How The City Of Joseph Is Decorated
My Truck Parked Near The Wallowa Lake Shore