Boardman-La Grande-Joseph, Oregon
Living this life of beauty and freedom, it's easy to expect most days to be perfect. An occasional rain storm, a day of high winds, too many people at a view point - all part of the gig. But prolonged nastiness, over weeks of time, in several locations, has not been our experience. Until now. It makes me cranky. I whine a lot.
When it follows us to a place I have looked forward to for years, I am extremely disappointed. I could easily let it ruin the whole experience.
Our perfect clear skies that we so appreciated for the eclipse are gone on Tuesday morning, and stay with us throughout our 235 mile drive to Boardman, Oregon. The beauty of the Columbia Gorge, the huge river, the unique Dalles, are all blurred by the return of heavy smoke.
Boardman Marina and RV Park is another repeat stop for us, and a favorite for it's location on the Columbia River, and the huge green space at each FHU 50 amp site.
|Not caring about the view with all this grass to play on.|
|Space 21 is one of the best for size and view, but the sewer connection is too elevated for us to connect. Only an issue for a week's stay so we'd choose this site again.|
|Hoppy Adjustment and Brown Out Oatmeal Brown Ale. Brew names are like car paint colors - beer is never just beer, and red is never just red :-))|
If you want to see what I'm looking forward to, take a look at Laurel's posts from their visits to Joseph. Although I'm not expecting the lushness of their May visit, I'm excited to see the incredible mountains surrounding the quaint little town that other bloggers have shared as well. During our five days the mountains are barely visible as more than gray masses.
So we could shorten our stay from five nights to one, we could reroute out of the smoke - we have choices. Part of what makes this such a grand lifestyle is that freedom to change plans.
Our next stop is to meet up in Idaho with Bill's best friend from high school, I don't want to cancel that. Joseph is still a really cute place with things to see, the lake is lovely and close by, we're already here. I want to see what we can see. We choose to stay and not reroute.
Am I still disappointed by the ugly skies? Of course. Am I letting it ruin the visit? I can't.
The smoke is not some personal attack on my happiness. It really isn't following us (that would be so creepy!). In fact, the smoke is just a by-product of a much worse scenario playing out miles away. Forests are being destroyed, people evacuated from their homes, animals losing their habitat and their lives, firefighters enduring horrible and dangerous conditions to battle the intense heat and hazardous terrain. Smoke is only one factor they're all threatened with.
At the same time, residents (some of them, our friends) in coastal Texas towns are facing epic flooding and destruction. Those who remain cannot escape. Rescue personnel risk their lives to save those trapped by rising water. Power could be out for weeks where the heat and humidity are miserable.
How can I possibly let some smoke (that we could choose to get away from) ruin our days here because it impacts my view?? Perspective is important.
Friday we make the short drive to Lake Wallowa. What it lacks in size - 3.7 miles by 3/4 mile - it makes up for in location. Surrounded by glacier-formed moraines at the south end of the Wallowa Valley, the lake is one of the most beautiful locations in all of eastern Oregon. The state park is very popular and very busy. Private RV parks, horseback-riding, tramway to the top of the mountain, burger and ice cream vendors, and bumper cars give the south side of the lake a summer-camp feel. Parking at the trailhead is full, and several hikers are loaded up with giant packs. Much of the Eagle Cap Wilderness is open and a favorite for backpackers.
|Muted views of beautiful Wallowa Lake|
We find a different world of golden hills and weathered ranches. Small stands of trees become thick forests. Wildlife and livestock keep us company along a very dusty dirt road that follows a resilient creek running through all of it. Not at all the "Joseph" of my expectations, and a delightful surprise.
|Down the dirt road, into the hills of gold.....|
|This 1915 beauty still stands tall.|
|This boys-club of all bucks crosses the road in front of us, moving fast across the field and up the hill.|
|Clearly these are cattle fences and not elk fences.|
|I can only imagine all these windows have seen.|
|A stoic Red Tailed Hawk keeps an eye on our approach.|
|Then takes flight.|
|The unique facial markings give this American Kestral the look of a warrior.|
|Hanging out with the locals.|
|The forest fills in the golden hills, looking completely different from the previous 25 miles.|
|Delicate late-summer flowers soften the dry landscape.|
|The gold and green combine in waving prairie grasses along the creek.|
|We turn around at this old bunkhouse on the Crow Creek Ranch.|
|Returning on a forest service road, we climb above the national forest for a few miles.|