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September 30, 2011 / mws

JOSEPH, OREGON

September 25, 2011   It was thrilling to arrive once again in Joseph, Oregon.  YIPPEE!!  It’s just as we remembered it from our previous visits.  Beautiful, charming, truly western, and just downright delightful! We have 5 days at the Little Ranch Bed & Breakfast located in the valley just outside of Joseph.  We have our own bungalow with a nice patio view of the Wallowa mountains.

September 26, 2011   Joseph Barn

We decided to have an orientation day.  A drive out in the countryside around Joseph led us to some charming rural farms with great barns.  The surrounding mountains certainly added to the picturesque beauty of the farms.  Many of the barns are of a Dutch design and provide great photo settings.  There is a good possibility that one of these barn photos will become a Lance Strayer original painting!  After a few hours of barn photography, we had lunch in town and checked out the beautiful bronze sculptures for which Joseph is known.Bronze Art in JosephJoseph Farm

Little Ranch B & B is our home here on the outskirts of Joseph. It turned out to be a great choice.  There are dogs, cats and horses.  The 10 acre ranchette is framed by the mountains.  By sheer conicidence, the owners are native Pennsylvanians.  Like us, they came to visit Joseph and fell in love with the area.  Upon retirement, they bought land in Joseph and realized their dream.  Since Dean was still working, Trudy moved to the little apartment attached to the tack house. Now that they have built their dream house, the apartment has become a guest house for those of us who are travelling through the area.  Lucky us!

September 27, 2011 Hurricane Creek Trail

Our hosts at the Little Ranch B & B gave us great activity suggestions for the day.  Armed with Dean’s Forest Service map, we headed out to find the trailhead for Hurricane Creek Trail.  What a beautiful hike it turned out to be.  The trail ambled through forest and  meadows while following the river closely.  Autumn colors were scattered throughout the forests.

Buckhorn Canyon OverlookIn the afternoon, we followed another of our hosts suggestions and drove to the Buckhorn Overlook.  The gravel road took us through the Zumwalt Prairie with it’s golden grasses framed by the brilliant blue sky.  At the overlook, we looked deep into the Imnaha canyons.  Trudy told us that Dean actually went riding down into the canyon and got lost!  Can’t imagine doing that!

September 28, 2011 

The Chief Joseph Trail at Wallowa Lake State Park beckoned us this morning.  The trail ambled through the forests and along a stream. It was a short hike but a good way to start the day.

Boggans OasisAgain, today we tried to find a restaurant that we visited on a previous trip.  Lance says that this restaurant had the best chocolate milkshake in the west.Grand Ronde River  All that we remembered is that we drove north into Washington State and it was somewhere along the way.  We drove through northern Oregon trying to guess where in this completely open countryside a restaurant would be.  Well, we crossed the border into Washington state and it wasn’t long when the road became very curvy (or as Marilyn always says, squiggly).  After 74 curves, YES, I said 74 curves, we came to the bottom of the valley and there it was, Boggan’s Oasis.  It was the very restaurant we remembered and still had the best black raspberry milkshake ever.  The restaurant is situated along the Grand Ronde River and operates a fishing/cabin quarters with meals.  October is a huge month for fishing along the Grand Ronde and the staff was busy with reservations.  We were not dissapointed with our return to Boggan’s Oasis.  We returned south to Joseph after we discovered that continuing north would lead to 110 curves going that way.

September 29 2011  For the third time, we attempted to drive to Hat Point in the Hells Canyon Recreation Area.  On our first try in 1991, the road was being constructed.  We were stopped by a Ranger who questioned our intent…but gave us the okay to try the drive in our 2 door rental sedan. We started out late afternoon and encountered gravel dirt road, then very bumpy dirt roads, then boulder covered roads.  I kept asking to turn around, but Lance was determined to get to Hat Point.  Finally, with darkness closing in, we turned around and manuveured through the boulders and deer herds on the way down.  Later, we found out that we were within 1 mile of the summit!!Imnaha River Rd

On this 2011 attempt, we were once again unsuccessful.  The road leading upward from the town of Imnaha was washboard gravel/stone and after a few miles, we returned to Imnaha.  Plan B  took  us on a drive on the PAVED Lower Imnaha River road.  Just a side note…there was one successful trip to Hat Point about 10 years ago.  Once you arrive at Hat Point, there is a breathtaking viewpoint. Hells Canyon is a 10-mile wide canyon located along the border of eastern Oregon and western Idaho. It is North America’s deepest river gorge at 7,993 feet. The canyon was carved by the waters of the Snake River and lies west of Idaho’s Seven Devils Mountain Range. Most of the area is inaccessible by road. (or should be!)

Wallowa Lake State ParkWe already had a picnic lunch packed so we returned to lovely Wallowa Lake State Park.  If you’re interested in a picnic surrounded on 3 sides by 9,000′ tall snow-capped mountains and a large, clear lake, this is the area for you. Around the Wallowa Lake area, you can enjoy hiking wilderness trails, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and canoeing.  There is also a tramway which rises 3,700 feet to the top of Mt. Howard.

We enjoyed our lunch and took a short stroll along the river to watch the jumping salmon.  It wasn’t the afternoon we planned, but it was certainly more relaxing.  Seems like we’ll have to return to Joseph to try to get to Hat Point Overlook one more time!

For more photos of Joseph, Oregon, click here

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