Lake Wallowa

Mileage today: 36 miles Total Mileage: 3,429 miles

Woke up to much clearer skies and the mountain ranges around the lake back in view. This area is known as Little Switzerland.

We had breakfast in our room and then packed for a day on the beach at the lake. There are two main beaching areas: one at the north end and one inside the state park at the south end.

First though we drove up to Joseph, at the north end of the lake to get a couple of things and for Bob’s phone to get signal so we could make a call. Joseph is a delightful town. Quite touristy but with some very upmarket shops, arty, a lot of nice restaurants. It’s a mix of cowboy town, Nez Perce home land, and artist’s colony. There are a lot of bronze sculptures on the main street depicting Western themes. Of course in the winter, it’s a centre for winter sporting. It reminded me a bit of a smaller Jackson Hole and some of the other towns in the Rockies.

We decided to look at the beach area in the State Park at the southern end of the lake first, as it was adjacent to our hotel. However, the river runs into or out of (not sure) the lake at that end and the lake was low, lots of mud flats and weed. The marina looked nice but not so nice for swimming. We went back to the north end where we had seen the shingle beaches. Parked up and then discovered DUH DUH we had left our beach towels and water shoes in the hotel room. We are definitely getting doddery! Poor Bob had to drive back (it’s only 5 miles) to the hotel to get them, while I took the lunch stuff and went down and made us a base camp near the water’s edge.

Finally, about 1130, we were both settled down there and we went in for a first dip. The water is mainly snowmelt and it was crystal clear. Lots of interesting looking pebbles on the bottom. It was ok in temperature. Especially in about neck deep which is the deepest I went. A bit refreshing but not icy. We pretty much had our little cove off the main north beach to ourselves. There were picnic tables in the trees above and the car park behind that. It was all free.

We spent the rest of the day there, in and out of the water. As the day wore on, the smoke came back over the hills to a small extent. Nowhere close to what it was yesterday. We saw the helicopters flying out into the wilderness with water loads. Had a picnic on the beach. Had a long video chat with Lucy. It really is amazing that we can be sitting by a remote lake in NE Oregon and video call with her in Reading!!! A nice little vignette: as we were leaving, we heard some music and there was a big family party bbqing and picnicking under the trees behind the beach. An older man and a youth were playing bluegrass music. The old guy on the fiddle, the young man on the guitar. It was really good and purely for their own enjoyment. And our’s too as it turned out. They really played up a storm. I didn’t like to intrude by filming them.

Came back and showered off late afternoon. A local bbq provider came up to do a dinner food truck for the resort. It was great. We had brisket supplied by him with some of his dirty bacon beans….. Both fabulous. We added our own potato salad, pickle and bread. Of course Bob had a beer and a cherry pie. We ate it on a picnic table on the lawn and watched the deer. There are several that seem to have adopted the lawns as their personal grazing.

Sat in the lodge great room, chatted, people watched and I had a glass of red. This is a lovely old fashioned place. The locals rescued it from being taken over by a big chain of hotels apparently and well done to them. The US is suffering the same labour shortage as everyone else and are equally baffled as to where all the workers have gone. This place has had to shut the restaurant for dinner service now the college students have gone back, and the Rangers are very short staffed. “Staff needed” signs are everywhere. It was just the same back in Florida in January. We in the UK sometimes think(and are told) that we have unique problems. It ain’t true. Covid has been a worldwide issue and left worldwide labour problems.