Saturday, September 29, 2007

Baker County

Got ta tell you about the Motel. On our trip we stayed at one, count em, one corporate motel, and the rest were all Mom and Pop places. I gotta tell you, I love thoes Mom and Pop places. They seem to try harder, like the microwave popcorn in Joseph and the friendly staff at La Grande, the cute little rooms in Condon with a warning not to wash your birds in the sink. (That really got to me cause I couldn't imagine why anyone would travel with a bird, let alone want to wash it. Roy had to explain about hunting birds) Anyway, when we got to the Bridge Street Motel in Baker City I was more than impressed. The price was just at $50 a night, and they had free daily newspapers, tons of great food at the Continental Breakfast, free WIFI, and a badly needed laundry. I gave it a great rating, but then I got all bit up and I swear they had fleas in the room. Could have been worse, could have been bedbugs, but I rather think it was fleas as they allow dogs.
Okay, we stayed two days in Baker and we could have done more. We drove north to the little town of Haines, Or and they were having Pioneer Days. The ladies were all decked out in pioneer clothes and the men in their jeans and cowboy hats. They squared danced in the street and you could pan for gold and drink homemade cider and visit their museum. They also had a historic park where they brought in and restored old cabins and area building.

Chandler Cottage, The first cabin known to have been built in Baker County about 1861.

Haines Museum, Old time truck. They also had a restored backsmith forge, carriages and slays plus a building full of "stuff". They had a lady who made apple head dolls and one who demonstrated tating.

This isn't a real mine, but it looked like one. Part of the Historic Park.

Baker City

Now I told you that I liked Joseph, but Baker City runs a close second. The town is right off I84 and while I understand from the residents that a few years ago it was on the dead or dying list, it's being rebuilt and restored one building at a time. We found a place to park and immediately went to check out the gold display at the US bank. They had a 9 pound nugget, plus lots of smaller pieces on display. Right across the street is the Geiser Grand Hotel probably Baker City's most recognizable historic building. We met another couple who had just eaten lunch there and they said that the Holel was grander than the food, so we passed on that. But we did check out the walking tour and saw some amazing homes and buildings.
The town is coming back to life due to the determination of the folks who live in the area. We checked out their museum. It was in the Baker City Municipal Natatorium. Now I didn't even know what a Natatorium was but it was built in 1919 and had a indoor Olympic size pool and room for dances etc. The building fell to ruin after WWII but eventually the residents talked the city into buying it and they restored it, filling in the pool, and turning it into a museum. It is awesome and fun and very interesting.
Baker City is on my keeper list.

Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker City

I just don't know where to start when it comes to telling you about Baker City Oregon. First, its right on the Oregon Trail so lots of history in the area. We stopped at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center which is about 10 minutes out of town and it was awesome. It told the history of the trail mostly in the actual words of the pioneers themselves. They had wagon train displays, Native American displays, etc. Its right off I84 so if you are ever out that way, you need to stop. There is a fee, but for those of us who are lucky enough to have Golden Age passes, its free.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Joseph City Oregon

Joseph was probably our favorite of the little towns we visited. Nestled very close to the Idaho border in a small valley, Joseph has become a large artist colony that particularly deals with bronzes. The lady above is one of our favorites.

I gotta tell you about the motel that we stayed at. When we checked in the man gave us keys but told us that they never lock anything and when we leave just leave the door open. Then when I went to check out the coffee pot, I found not only coffee, but cocoa, microwave popcorn, lots of flavors of tea and on the deck outside there was a barbeque for us to use, a table with umbrella and our own little deck. What a great spot. The place was the most expensive of all, but we all enjoyed our stay.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Train ride through the wilderness

Thursday morning we got up early and drove to the small, quaint little town of Elgin to board the Eagle Cap Railroad for a 4-hour tour of Northern Oregon's Eagle Cap Wilderness. The train, run by volunteers, was full, but we found seats together and really had a great time. The railroad followed the Grand Ronde River for most of the trip and while everyone else saw bear and turkeys and eagles, my claim to fame was seeing one lone white tail deer. Oh well, it was a fun trip and I would love to do it again in the winter.

From Elgin we continued east to the small town of Joseph. What a great little town. If I ever descide to run away thats where you'll find me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Travel Day, Condon to La Grande (Hardman)

Wednesday was a travel day, Condon to Heppner (with a side trip to Hardman) Heppner north to Lexington and then to Hwy 84 to Pendleton and finally spending the night in La Grande.
Hardman is listed as a ghost town but there were some very alive residents and we were lucky enough to meet Charlotte, a long time resident who actually had a key to the Community Center/museum and she let us in and gave us the nickle tour. There was a small typewritten story about the area which I found interesting enough to take a picture. I won't quote it all, but it is fun to read.
Sometime around 1870 a man, whose name cannot be recalled by the old-timers, stopped for the night beside a spring in the hills. Looking around him at the rolling hills leverling off to plateaus covered with bunch grass and sage bush, he must have envisioned the rolling wheat fields and peacefully grazing cattle which were to come, because he stayed. He stared Hardmans first settlement, building a cabin and barn and raising a garden here. Later he started a dairy and made cheese to sell.
Around 1879 two towns started, one about one and one half miles from Hardmanand one where Hardman now stands. One was called Yellow Dog and the other Raw Dog. Great rivalry ensued between them. Later by order of the courts, the Dog Towns were consolidated into Dairyville, but were still commenly called Dog Town by the settlers.
As one old-timer put it, "The towns first boss was William Royse. He operated the first hotel. One old timer tells the story that when the meal was ready, the Mr Royce would ring loudly the three-cornered dinner bell. He also had 5 or 6 hounds who howled loudly whenever the dinner gong sounded. One one occasion a drummer yelled at these hounds, "Shut up, you so and so's, you don't have to eat it."

Fossil, Oregon

The road to Fossil was easy and wonderful compared to our last one that still has me shuttering when I think about it. Fossil was named after the John Day Fossil Beds in the area and it had quiet a fasinating history. Unfortunatedly, the Museum had a sign that it was closed for the winter (It's mid September in the rest of the world) so we were unable to visit, but the town still had a lot going for it. The museum was in the first Masonic Building.
The county building with its blue tower was built in 1901 and there was also an old sheepherders wagon (original RV?) and one-room school house. (I ordered DSL and will post some pictures after I get it. Dial-up is just to slow)I can't tell you about the blue tower, but its colorful if nothing else.

Lonerock, Oregon

Our plan was to explore the Condon area and that included a little town that I read about in the Oregon Travel magazine called Lonerock. I knew there was an old church and a jail but they didn't tell us about the road in. Oh my, you all know that I have a "thing" about heights and suddenly I find myself on a dirt road looking straight down into this beautiful but terrifying valley below? Am I going to slide on the gravel to my doom? Am I going to meet an eighteen-wheeler who will want to pass? Is this going to be the end of me? Roy offers to drive, but that would be worse as I wouldn't be in control. Well I had no choice cause I certainly wasn't going to turn around up there with narry a guard rail in site and so, I inched my way down and at the bottom reminded myself to breath. I'd made it! The only problem was, I had to go back the same way I came and the thought was making me nauseous.

So was the little town of Lonerock worth the drive, well won't be doing it again any time soon but it was a cute little town. We talked to one of the residents and he said that Condon was the closest town (20 miles up that road)and so when one of the residents went they checked with everyone to see if they needed anything. Imagine living is a small town like that.

The lone rock was a huge, maybe 20 foot high, boulder behind the Community Church and not impressive enough to name a town after if you ask me. The church had a two-holer, still being used, behind it, and the jail, well it was a shed size building with bars on the one window. I don't think it held many folks cause even in its hayday, there wasn't much in Lonerock, particularly criminals.

Okay so I drag out the map and it looks as if there are three roads out. Just maybe I can take the one south as we are headed south to Fossil anyway. So we try it and the further we drive, the smaller the road gets and finally we turned around as it was looking something like a cart track. We tried another as it forked off to the left, but it ended in a farmers field. There was one other alternative, but it went east and would take us way out of the way, so gritting my teeth, I headed back up the road, again praying that I wouldn't meet anyone else cause I would now be on the outside edge and nothing in this world would make me move close to it.

Obviously, I made it, going up hill isn't as bad as comeing down, but from that day forward, I asked about the roads we travelled and eyed the map very carefully.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day 2

Photobucket Album

Day Two

We've gone from the ocean, over the mountains and as you can see from the picture, miles of nothing buy rolling hills.
I got ta tell you, lunch at Grand Lodge started a trend as at every town we are finding Masonic symbols in just about every town.
Our day started with a big breakfast at Black Bear Restaurant. Even their senior menu has big portions and more than any of us could eat.
Traffic in Portland was tough, even after 0900 but we found our way to the Historic Columbia River Hwy from Troutdale and for the next 20 or so miles we enjoyed the scenic and beautiful drive.
There are some must stops and the first was the view from the Portlands Women's Fourm, (frist shot) It was even better than from Vista House, a mile further on. We also stopped at 3 falls, Latourell, Bridal Veil and Multnomah before we returned to I 84.
Forest slowly turned to rolling hills, devoid of trees completely. We stopped at The Dalles for gas and passing turn town we found the Masonic Hall
From I84 we turned off at Hwy 206 and stopped and took a picture of this old church built in the late 1800s and last used in 1914. It was sad to see it rotting away. Stopping at Wasco to ask about the church, I pulled around the corner and parked right in front of the second masonic building.
Condon was our last stop. We came over the hill and there was this patch of green. George couldn't believe it was our destination as it looked like a dot, but it was .

First Day

Can we pick em, the weather was not only glorious, it was spectacular as we headed out today, and the weatherman promises more of the same for most of the week. Our trip to Portland was without incident and George was waiting for us in his driveway when we arrived. After hugs and a few minutes of chats, a quick tour of his garden, we headed to "Grand Lodge" for lunch.

True to Georges prediction, Roy enjoy looking at and touring the old building and we all enjoyed the hamburgers. While Roy explored, I waited in the car and played with the GPS system. Hum, the town of Tillamock was just 39 miles west and the Tillamock Cheese Factory with its awesome ice cream was just the dessert we needed. It took nothing to convince the men and shortly we were off.

Hwy 6 goes from quaint farms, then up and through the Tillimock National Forest and then down to the ocean. After enjoying our 2 scoops, we drove out to Camp Mears Lighthouse and checked it out. George pointed out that last summer we went to the tallest lighthouse in Washington and this one surely is the squatiest.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Good Morning USA

It's very early on Saturday morning, hubby is still in bed and only a hint of light is reflected in the morning sky. I don't know why I am up so early, excitement maybe as tomorrow we start on a small, but great adventure and I have lots to do.
I checked my list for the 10th time and wondered if the car will hold everything. Do I really need all this stuff!!. We're only going for just over a week and surely the weather will cooperate. Or will it, it's September and you just never know, so I'm tossing in a jacket and an umbrella just in case.
We're taking the car, mostly because our friend George is coming with us and motels just seemed to be a better idea. We're also taking ice chests and food and do a lot of picnicking as some of our destinations are what one might describe as wilderness, rural, middle of no-where. Just in case I'm packing a lot of emergency gear also as we will be hiking in the wilds and exploring old ghost towns and well you just never know (Hey! I watch Survivorman!!!)
So here is the plan if you want to follow along.
Day One: We are going to Beaverton to pick up George who found a new restaurant in an old Masonic Temple. Hubby should enjoy that and George said it will add to our quest; finding the best Oregon hamburger. We'll spend the night and then get an early start on Monday.
Day Two: While we are heading east, we decided to bypass as much of the freeway as we can (I84) and take the very scenic Historic Columbia Byway, Hwy 30. (Very scenic, very narrow and switchback'ie) There are lots of 'view points, photo ops and I understand lots of waterfalls, Multnomah being the most famous (Add to list, more film for camera)
Then a drive thru of The Dalles. I am not sure why but they have a walking tour of town and some old historic homes that are well worth seeing. We'll continue east for a bit more on the freeway and then at mile 97 we will start our southeastward trek on Hwy 206 to the small town of Condon, OR.
Hey Condon has a claim of fame, a turn-of-the-century hotel (aptly named Hotel Condon) and the one and only annex of Portlands famous Powells Book Store. Also it is said you can buy a great old fashioned soda there. We'll be staying at the not so famous Motel Condon for the next couple of nights.
Tuesday is going to be a real adventure. We are going to a ghost town called Lonerock. Lonerock has a church, a jail, and a lone rock. People still live there so I am not sure why its called a ghost town, but Ill let you know. From Lonerock we are going to the John Day Fossil Beds, Clarno Unit for some geological lessons. The pictures I have seen are spectacular and the hikes are all under a half mile. Afterward we'll return to Condon and maybe treat ourselves to another soda.
Day three is going to be a travel day, Condon to Hardeman, another ghost town and this time I understand its a real ghost town, to Heppner that shows it's heritage with a great big shamrock in the middle of town. Unity is our lunch stop, its mid-point of the Blue Mountain Scenic Hwy and then we'll overnight in LaGrande.
The whole point of our trip was to go on a train ride thru the Eagle Cap Wilderness area. It starts in a small town just east of La Grande called Elgin and for 4 hours we will wander through the wilds. I understand they are going to feed us lunch. It sounds like fun, but we are going to continue to the town of Joseph for the night.
Friday we are going to Baker City and Saturday we are going to kinda play it by ear as there is so much to see and do in the area, we are rather overloaded with ideas. Whatever we do should be fun, but we think we will check with the locals for ideas.
Sunday we are heading west again. Hwy 26 passes through two more areas of John Day and each has something great to offer. Night will find us in Prineville and the on Monday we are going to head back to Portland.
Now, lets see how close we come to following our itinerary.