Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Taking in the Wallowa Magic.

View of the Wallowa Mountains from the summit of Mount Howard

Last week, my children and I took a short trip to the breathtaking Wallowa Lake and Mountains of northeastern Oregon. It's about a three-hour drive south (and a little bit east) of Moscow - a scenic drive that took us up and down through many hairpin turns.

We began our trip in Idaho, crossed the Snake River into Washington state, where we proceeded south through Asotin, and the little hamlet of Anatone, where a 4-H sign announces the area's statistics.

Fine with me - when I go somewhere to get away, I'd much rather not deal with crowds of people!

True, few people live along that stretch. But what it lacks in population, it compensates with majestic scenery: the Snake River, Hells Canyon, the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. There were lots of oohs and aahs and "look at that!"-s emanating from our car.

Through the entire drive, were all sorts of wildflowers. Blue, yellow, purple, white, pink and orange. Most were at their peak.

It was also a great opportunity to spot wildlife - lots of deer and even a pair of wild turkeys.

We spent the night in lovely Enterprise. This whole area is called the "Switzerland of Oregon," for good reason.

Part of the town was barricaded. Apparently, early that morning a big fire destroyed an apartment building that was nearly a century old.

Northwest Public Radio was coming in strong on our translator at 100.9FM. It never ceases to amaze me how our signal spreads out so far from our Pullman studios, sometimes into pretty remote areas.

Next morning, we headed out on the road to Wallowa Lake, which took us through one of Oregon's most picturesque towns, Joseph.

Named for Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph, this is a very artistic town. Its renowned foundry, Valley Bronze of Oregon, casts sculptures of all sizes. In fact, the town is lined with full-size bronze sculptures of animals and people, such as this one.

This was situated in a little square, but most of the sculptures line the main street and are thus set against a magnificent backdrop of snow-capped mountains. (Sorry, I don't have any of those to share at this time - not without forcing you to view family vacation pictures, at any rate!)

After strolling through this charming town, we went on to Wallowa Lake, and took the tram on a steep four thousand-foot climb up to the summit of Mount Howard.

We'll pick up that part of our trip in the next post.

And Now, For Something Completely Different!

My current favorite CD is "Betcha Bottom Dollar" by the Puppini Sisters, a British trio that sings in the Big Band style of the 1940s. I first heard about them on NPR's Morning Edition in May (here's the NPR interview) singing their big-band style version of the Gloria Gaynor disco hit (and anthem!) "I Will Survive."

Watch the Puppini Sisters performing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" here: