Sunday, August 27, 2017

Keeping Disappointment in Perspective

August 22-26, 2017
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.
Wednesday morning we get a short reprieve with blue skies greeting us as we pull out. La Grande Rendezvous RV Park is fine for an overnight. It's a cute little town, and we enjoy a late lunch at Side A Brewing in the old firehouse. The smoke finds us.

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 :-))
Driving through Hells Canyon on Thursday is lovely. Following the Snake River through the forested mountain is beautiful as long as we look down. Since I'm driving downhill on the outside of the steep two-lane road in the steepest gorge in the United States I'm looking down anyway! Above us the blue sky is struggling to break through the brown.

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
Hoping to avoid town and lake congestion on Saturday, we head northeast into the Wallawa-Whitman National Forest. No idea what to expect, but we're up for an adventure. 

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.

Crow Creek

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.
Continuing to keep things in perspective, as the haze lingers and the temperatures rise, we make the best of our last two days in Joseph.



25 comments:

  1. Good to hear you are able to roll with the smoke and weather issues. Not much to be done, so make the most of what is available. We're in heavy smoke now in Salem OR, and know it will get thicker as we move south. It might make for some interesting 2017 wines in a few years, but at such a heavy cost :( We had 52 consecutive days of rain in Alaska last year, and yes it made a dent in our plans, but like you we had to make the most of what we did have.

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    1. I saw that the smoke was even worse to the west now :-( Safe travels!

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  2. Good perspective on the smoke/weather Jodie--I can't imagine being in Houston, my heart goes out to those poor people!

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    1. Thanks Janna. Sadly it's getting worse in Houston, so scary!

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  3. What a bummer the smoke has been so persistent in your travels this summer...but it sounds like you are making the best of it. I love the scenes from your back roads drive around Joseph!

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    1. We were definitely spoiled the first two years, I guess it's our turn this year.

      Thanks, it was a really fun day.

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  4. The smell of fresh air changes with the smoke too. Sorry everything wasn't as clear as a bell but you do have a good perspective on it. We'll be heading kind of in that direction and even though I have a few thoughts for overnight stops, I'm going to check yours out too. Be safe.

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    1. Boardman isn't close to much, but it's sure a beautiful park if Hwy 84 is your route.
      You'll be happy to get back on the road whichever direction you go!

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  5. As you said, with what the poor people in Texas are experiencing, a little smoke is no problem! We feel you pain about the smoke. Today we can smell the smoke and we have a little ash outside. Almost all the hikes we returned to do are in the closed area west of Sisters. Oh, well, we have a beautiful, shady spot that we can also get satellite in, so we'll kick back and enjoy the low humidity as the temp rises to 98!!

    I just love that drive you took! Those barns are an artist's dream; so beautiful! How cool was that Elk Male Club sighting!!!! I so enjoy seeing all the cows right along the road. Of course, I have to talk to all of them:)

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    1. We're smelling it here today too and I'm coughing a bit. Being between the Oregon and Montana fires is not the best place to be :-( Can't believe you're missing those hikes again!!

      I asked the calves if they liked living in the forest.....they had to think about it.

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  6. SOOOO happy that you had clear skies for the eclipse. So sorry you don’t for other things. I find myself tiring of even the recurring fog here. I can’t imagine smoke. Of course I’d have to leave since smoke makes me cough constantly. You have a great attitude and perspective, things could be much much worse, but I do understand it is disappointing to not have Joseph at its very best. And to think I’ve never even heard of Lake Wallowa. Good thing I didn’t come to Oregon before you did. Lovely pictures of it and the national forest. And WOW the elk and the red tail and the kestrel. I’d say you had a great day!

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    1. It really was a fun day! I'd love some nice cool fog :-))

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  7. We are making the best of the smoke, Jodee...as we're having to get creative with our telescope viewings! The higher the celestial object, the less smoke we are looking through. :)

    We've had smoke jumpers and wildland firefighters as guests this summer at our amplitheater. Listening to what they go through out there gives us appreciation for the work they do. Part of the problem is that fires weren't allowed to burn in the past, and the land is fuel heavy. The juniper trees in central Oregon, while indigenous, are way too prevalent. They now have to balance between letting the fires burn and protecting property...which more and more of it is occupied by homes. Scary and dangerous, for sure.

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    1. It has to be a huge challenge to "manage" forests and fires and humans. I'm glad people at the campground get the opportunity to hear from those doing the hard work.

      We have clear skies tonight and the stars are beautiful - such a treat!

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  8. They sure have had their years of smoke! We'll be there next year and were hoping for a break from all the fires of previous years. I like your barn drive. Gotta love the locals. Yes, perspective is everything.

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    1. We lucked out two years ago but not this time!

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  9. Oh, I'm so bummed to hear that you're still being followed by smoke! We've changed our plans and won't be heading to Glacier because of the fires and heavy smoke there. You do have such a wonderful attitude and way of putting things in perspective, Jodee. And you found beauty despite the smoke. Love the golden hills, the picturesque barns, the hawk, and the elk. We saw elk, but I don't remember antlers like that! So now you have to put Joseph back on your list, right? We've put Glacier back onto ours.

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    1. The poor northwest has really had a mess this year - nearly all of Oregon is under smokey skies :-( Bummer about Glacier. Even with their heat, if I could teleport I'd be in Utah.
      Joseph is still a great little town that we will definitely come back to.

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  10. Glad you are able, or trying, to make the most of a smokey situation. You did find some beauty. Love the old buildings. Utah is still pretty hot.

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    1. We keep finding some gems among the smokey views, but it's getting claustrophobic after a month :-((

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  11. I hope you make a plan to return to Joseph, perhaps in the springtime? It was one of our favorite places and one we've considered returning to for a month-long stay. I am sorry for all the fires in the PNW and that you've experienced so much smoke because of them. But dammit, it's okay to be bummed! I would be - no, I'd be pissed off, frankly. You don't have to compare your experience with other's to earn the right to sulk a little. And then, onward! :)

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    1. The pouting continues as the smoke gets worse :-( We will definitely be back to Joseph, hopefully late Spring or Fall.

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  12. We loved Joseph, but would have felt as you did had we had all the smoke. We dealt with smoke in Idaho last summer and it really soured us on the state. Is it too much to expect that all of our days should be Goldilocks days? ;-)

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    1. Well Idaho has been the same for us - the whole state is covered in smoke now, some areas in extreme hazardous :-(( I think it's a reasonable expectation for all days to be just right!!

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