Sunday, September 3, 2017

Smoke and Heat at the Gates of Hell (With Friends!)

August 28-September 1, 2017
Joseph, Oregon - Lewiston, Idaho

Joseph, Oregon is a small town with just over 1000 residents. Downtown is part old west,  part artsy-quaint. I like it a lot. 

Our park is in town and convenient for walking the shops and galleries, and enjoying the street art.


The buck is one of many great wildlife pieces. I love the little keyhole door in the gallery.

Antique stores always have the most interesting assortments.

Glass seaweed.

Garden Walk by Ramon Parmenter

Chief Joseph stands tall on the corner.

We still fail to heed his poignant words.
Small town realities.
Tuesday's drive to Lewiston on Highway 3 is an adventure of steep upgrades and downgrades with lots of 25 mph turns. Hell's Canyon is the steepest gorge in the U.S. and the views are incredible. They would be even more so if we didn't once again find ourselves in the thick smoke. 

We wait an hour to check in to Hell's Gate State Park and with the 100 degree heat are happy to have a nice shady spot. We're here to visit with friends making satellite less of a priority :-)


Site 10 pull-through. Snake River behind us.


Large green space in the center of Alpine Loop.
We scheduled the week with Bill's best friend Tom and his wife and step daughter a few months ago. They rented a cabin in the campground and we spend three days hanging out and enjoying good company.

Jill, Laura and I visit the Jack O'Connor Center and Lewis and Clark Discovery Center one afternoon. O'Connor was a hunter and outdoorsman who wrote extensively for Outdoor Life as well as several books on his travels and other topics. 

While I'm not a hunting fan, I'm aware of the large role hunters and hunting organizations have played in conservation and species protections throughout the world. We learn how to "age" big horn sheep by the dark rings on their horns, and about the many different breeds of antelope. The host is very informative, and we're his only public.


A handful of the many sheep displayed here.

Jack and his wife took thousands of photos in their extensive travels.

Jill and Laura learn about aging horns.

Some of the 25 books by the author.
The Discovery Center has few artifacts, but a good deal of information about Lewis and Clark's time with the Nez Perce tribe in the area.


The river is dead calm under smokey skies.

Swallows Nest Point on the west side of the river, and a tease of blue sky.

The tribe's story is told in many ways throughout the center.
We enjoy lunch at the Mystic Cafe Thursday afternoon, then Jill, Laura and I visit the historic society. In addition to the history of exploration that began the settlement here, the five rooms of exhibits tell the city's 100 year story.


Chief Joseph and Alice Fletcher in 1890 - following the chief's refusal to take his land on the reservation.

Jill reads about the mining and agriculture in the 1800's.

We've come a long way.......
From the museum we visit a few historic sites and return to the campground. It's fun to "get out with the girls" for a bit of sight-seeing.


This very small cabin was rented by a family of seven for nine years - tiny living is not new :-)

No air conditioning has been added to the original capitol building.

The original capitol, prior to statehood, was here in Lewiston.

The oldest home is closed so we don't learn it's story.

We're able to see some of the restored rooms through the windows.
Laura is quite smitten with the lions.
Tom and Bill get out to fish in the morning before the heat moves in. Afternoons hit triple digits reminding us we're at Hell's Gate, but the warm evenings are nice for eating outside. Something we rarely do on our own, it feels like we're on vacation :-)

While the smoke has thinned somewhat over our days here, it has continued to get worse in Montana where our route is headed. We contact our friend, Peggy, to let her know we're going to catch her next time and move away from the fires. She's supportive, telling us that three more have started in the last day.

Saturday morning we say our good-byes to good friends and head for our "rest of the big weekend" stop before re-routing south.

Thanks Laura, Tom and Jill (and pups Sammy and Bonnie) for a great visit!

Best friends for 50 years.

22 comments:

  1. Best friends for 50 years is an amazing statement. So sorry your trip to/in Montana and much of the west is being affected by the fires. There are SO many. It is so sad. I heard Going to the Sun Road was being closed. Seems there are fires everywhere across the west. So many people are complaining about the smoke in Washington, Oregon, California - everywhere it seems. But with Harvey, it isn't getting much press. The firefighters must be exhausted. I guess I'm finally glad we were not able to come west this summer. I really wanted to and was so disappointed. But it will be a long time before the scars of all this fire are healed. Glad you have been able to show me some of what I've missed. Thanks!

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    1. 40 out of 55 Montana counties are under fire emergency with no end in sight. It was good move for us to come south, but unfortunately Central Idaho's smoke is nearing the dangerous level as well. Definitely would not have been a good year to come West.

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  2. Looks like another great campsite in a perfect location for touring around with friends. You always seem to find interesting places to visit.

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    1. It's a great little campground with several fun places to learn the history nearby.

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  3. A wise decision guys--if we didn't have guests coming we would also be looking for somewhere else to be!

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    1. Oh no - guests! Hope you all get some relief in your area.

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  4. I hope you truly manage to evade the smoke...

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    1. We keep hoping.....at least we have cooler temps in the forecast :)

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  5. What neat historic sites to visit! I love all these museums in small town America. Looks like girls day was successful! The triple digit heat and smoke are not working with my plans!! Yours either! Smart idea to cancel Montana, but I'm not sure how far south we need to go to get away from the smoke. Safe travels!

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    1. I'm honestly thinking about heading a bit east as well. Any place with cooler temps is on fire or choked with smoke it seems :-((((

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  6. With Idaho just the next state over, I will have to grab Terry and do sure seeing. Lol... the air has been pretty unhealthily as well. NOT looking forward to the inversion layer. Safe travels. Let me know when you heading to Utah. 😊😊

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    1. Depending on what we find in Twin Falls we may be in Ogden by next weekend. I'll keep you posted. But no inversion layers!!

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  7. We are in South Dakota and the smoke is bad here too. Friends for 50 yrs is special. We hope to check out Joseph someday.

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    1. We're already looking forward to returning to Joseph - it's a delightful area.

      Oh man, I was thinking SD looked like it was clear - it's crazy how far the smoke is spread out.

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  8. Hell's Gate State Park and the surrounding area look like a place we would really enjoy (but not in that kind of heat). Haha, I would never get hired as a teacher in 1923 -- the only criteria I would meet is number 4. :-))
    Looks like you had a great time with good friends, despite the high temps. We've changed our plans, too, because of the smoke and heat. No Glacier for us this year. Hope you get to a cooler, less smoky place -- we're heading for Vancouver Island!

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    1. We want to come back to Idaho as soon as possible - every drive has been through some of the most gorgeous country (except the smoke has gotten worse each day).

      Good plan to move northwest - there's not much clear air from WA to MT and south to UT. Nasty stuff.

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  9. Oh, man...that's not too encouraging to hear SD has smoke also. Hurricanes, wildfires...hmmmm...

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    1. I think Mother Nature is not happy with us!

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  10. Loved the garden and the Discovery Center. Nice to have friends to visit. Crazy temps!!!

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    1. I was glad we were able to get back here after changing our initial route (and missing you guys!), even with the yucky weather we enjoyed our visit.

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  11. Hard to believe such a small town has so much to offer. And especially fun to explore with friends. Bummer about all this smoke. I'm thinking you are south of all that now. I am way behind.

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    1. There were a couple more Lewis and Clark places that we missed due to the air, but it is a neat area.

      Yes, thank goodness we are enjoying clear skies in Utah.

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