So much to see and do: Joseph, Oregon - 6/9-6/12
It's near impossible to stop Tergel, with Smartie in tow, just any ol' place, especially on a twisting two-lane mountain road. And it's almost equally impossible to get a picture from Tergel's large front window while moving, of an especially picturesque view. But we would've had multiple opportunities for both if we could've pulled to the side of the road. The drive from John Day to Joseph and Lake Wallowa was spectacular. We pick "dotted" roads on purpose -- they're the most scenic. And especially the drive into the Wallowa Valley area, which has been favorably compared to the Swiss Alps. Yes, we agreed, the snow-capped mountains, the pristine blue lake, the high meadows, it must surely look like the Swiss Alps we've seen in photos only. Outstanding. The sun was shining and the air was crisp when we pulled in on Sunday. We elected to get a campsite in Lake Wallowa state park, at the lake's far end, up against the mountains, and then we started looking for "things to do!"
First thing that caught our eye was the Wallowa Lake Tramway, right around the corner from our camp. Sign us up, we said, for Monday. This contraption took us @ 10 am from 4450' elevation to 8150' - a 15 minute ride up Mt. Howard. And we weren't afraid - wowzers! It was an amazing up, and just as fine going down. Our mouths were open when we looked around - it was just that beautiful.
If you can enlarge this, the sign will give facts and figures.
Gondola going up (as we were, of course, going down). When the tram was constructed, it was the longest lift in North America.
Glacially formed Lake Wallowa, 4 1/2 mi long by 1 mile wide, from about halfway up. From the top, the lake looked like a blue puddle.
At the summit. We were above the snow line, but the temp didn't feel cold.
Clark's nutcracker - in the jay family - and as noisy as any jay! They like to perch at the tip-top of a tree.
Looking toward Royal Purple overlook (where we'd just been) - you can see people on the trail.
All the trails at the summit had us traipsing in snow. At one point, we lost sight of the red marker poles and had to slosh thru deep snow to regain the trail. That's me above in the big snow! Cool beans!
At around Noon after wandering all over the mountain (huff puff), we settled in at their outdoor cafe for a burger. Can't go wrong sitting outside in the sun overlooking such beauty. Burgers were good, too.
These little guys are called Red Diggers (a squirrel-gopher-rodent) and they were everywhere. I was NOT feeding the one in the top photo, but he thought I MIGHT. The Red Digger with white in it's mouth FILCHED Jimmy's napkin off his lap (and Jimmy didn't even know it). When Jimmy reached for his napkin, he saw the Digger ambling away with his napkin, shredding it, and stuffing part of it in it's mouth, as seen in the picture. He (she?) ran off with it, and then returned for the rest! Think: Nesting material! Highly entertaining critters.
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After descending, we drove past Little Alps to the East Fork of Wallowa River - a crazy-wild spate of snow-melt water that flows into the lake. We didn't get too close....
And here's a little Downy woodpecker peeking from it's nest hole by the river. Ain't spring wonderful?
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Perfect day! The End!