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Monday, October 5, 2020

Ramblin' Day 2: Eastern Oregon Joseph & the Wallowas

 

Wallowa Lake from Chief Joseph trail overlook.

The Swiss Alps of the Pacific Northwest. That's how I heard the Wallowa Lake and Eagle Cap Wilderness area described. Finally, I got my chance to see it, and Wayne was happy to join me for the ride.

Wayne at our car in the Willowa Lake parking lot at mid-day today, October 5, 2020. Near Joseph, Oregon.

Sunny, 70-degree weather and we practically had the area to ourselves.

Wallowa Lake, Oregon: perfect picnic weather.

I would love to see the lake after a light dusting of snow and a crisper sky, but to spend time there, it's hard for me to imagine anything more ideal than a warm, fall day,

Water shooting through a narrow gorge, Wallowa Lake Park, Eastern Oregon.

We were saved the temptation of the $35 tram to Eagle Cap Wilderness. We're not sure if COVID caused its closure, or if that's just what happens after Labor Day. We'd love to return to backpack the area when the tram is running to get dropped directly into the Eagle Cap Wilderness area.

It was too late in the year for blossoms, but the autumn leaves put on a terrific show.

We needed to take care of some business in the morning, and also found out it's possible to shatter Corelle dishes on a motor home's carpeted floor while driving only a few miles per hour. Thus, by the time we hit Wallowa Lake's Cheif Joseph trailhead, the time was already 2 pm.

More autumn leaves. Chief Joseph trail, Willowa Lake State park, Eastern Oregon.

Despite our complete and utter cluelessness on the trail options, and a late start, we got lucky. This waterfall was our turnaround point, a little over an hour in, with a quicker return. 

Waterfall on Chief Joseph trail, Willowa Lake State park, Eastern Oregon.

These photos can't do the area justice; I couldn't capture the stunning spray of aspen-like leaves against the bright light amidst the shadows. You'll just have to take my word for it, or, better yet, go there yourself on a fine fall day.

I wanted to make it back to Joseph before they rolled their sidewalks up. 

Kathy Hunter's Go Cart #1 sculpture at Josephy Art Center's pandemic art display made me smile.

We arrived too late for me to taste test Arrowhead Chocolates' chocolates, perhaps that was for the best.

Railroad cars by Elgin Oregon railroad station.

Highway 82, between La Grande and Willowa Lakes is a scenic highway: yellow hayfields, vivid green pastures dotted with grazing cows, soaring cliffs with the Grande Ronde River parallelling the highway, quaintly restored pioneer towns—Elgin, Willowa, Enterprise, and Joseph.

The OK Theater in Enterprise, Oregon.
Love the message: it's one we need in these strange times.

Our goal: return to our "off-the-grid" spot—Walmart LaGrande parking lot—for the eve at dusk. 

Mission accomplished. The day ended far better than it began.

Tomorrow we resume our trek East to Florida.

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