In hindsight we shouldn’t have taken a day trip to Joseph and Wallowa Lake from La Grande, we should have gone to the area to stay for a day or two. The drive in and around the area is beautiful.
We knew it would be a long day so we got an early start and stopped at the electic coffee shop – The Blue Banana of Losine, Oregon for a morning pick-me-up.
Before hitting the road again we stopped into a fastidiously organized antique store where you found yourself afraid to buy anything over concern of breaking up the collection. But we did find a McCoy vase there for our own collection.
Around noon we pulled into Joseph, Oregon. This was once a logging town tucked into the Wallowa Moutains, that reinvented itself as an arts community and outfitter of the gateway to Hell’s Canyon. When many of the mills were closed in the 1980s the community rallied around a few bronze foundry’s where local artists have lined the streets with incredible bronze sculptures, the most impressive of which is the imposing statue of Chief Joseph who is buried nearby.
After wandering the street of town and having lunch at a local brewery we headed to the south end of Wallowa Lake to the Mt Howard Tramway which would carry us over 5000 feet above the valley below to 8100 feet with sweeping views of the Wallowa Mountains, Wallowa Lake, and to the East Hell’s Canyon.
There was plenty of wildlife in the area. A young buck crossed our trail. The chipmunks were irresistible, and the ground squirrels privately plentiful.
Even at 8100+ feet it was still hot. So we headed for a great swim in the lake below before visiting Chief Joseph’s gravesite and a quick visit to Stein Distillery http://www.steindistillery.com and a tasting which resulted in a bottle of their small batch 5 Year Straight Rye Whiskey (which I’m enjoying as I post this) — Winner of the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (Double Gold). Then we made the long drive back to La Grande where we took in Disney/Pixar’s latest film – Inside Out. Review? Loved it!