One of the things to which we have looked most forward this year has been a road trip to Joseph, Oregon. At long last, we departed pleasant 93° Clarkston this morning and arrived a little more than two hours later in 81° Joseph, 4150 feet above sea level. The beautiful, winding drive took us through Anatone, Washington and the Grande Ronde Valley across the Oregon border, through Joseph Canyon and the Wallowa Mountains to Enterprise, seat of Wallowa County, and from there, about 10 miles down to Joseph.
Joseph is in a disarmingly lovely valley with alpine vistas of the Wallowa Mountains. As we entered town, we stopped at a Family Foods store to use the restrooms and try to beg a plastic spoon because I had forgotten to bring one for my cottage cheese. Joseph is a very friendly town, and the lady at the deli showed me a container of plastic spoons for the taking. While we were there, we decided to check out the horseradish to see whether we could find a natural shredded type rather than creamed, something I have been unable to find in Clarkston or Lewiston. They didn’t have any natural horseradish, but I was thrilled to see they had wasabi, another commodity unavailable at home, so we bought a jar to transform our hard-boiled eggs into festive fare.
Aside from the beauty of the area I had seen in pictures, all I knew about Joseph before our visit was that it was a logging town gone bust, and that four bronze foundries moved in and turned around the economy. The town is famous for bronze sculptures and evenings of Blues and Brews, neither of which interested me at all. I was surprised at Joseph’s attractive and thriving Main Street. We walked through a few shops, and bought a thermometer we needed from a hardware store that would have been the same price at Home Depot, but Oregon has no sales tax. The shop owners were all very friendly, but one was a little conniving to deny that he didn’t sell seconds, and had no idea how those labels got cut.
Wallowa Lake lies just beyond the town, providing beautiful scenery and recreation favored by hikers, boaters, swimmers, and picnickers. For such a beautiful hot day, it was surprisingly uncrowded, and we were able to have a picnic table in the shade at the edge of the lake, in a very clean, fee-free park.
The road trip made for a wonderful relaxing day of new scenery and just doing something gratuitous for the sake of beauty and refreshment. Wildlife sightings were limited to chipmunks and white-tailed deer; and as for birds, a few hawks, magpies, a bobolink, and a golden eagle. The eagle was an unusual sighting in that he was half the size of our windshield and hovering maybe 10 or 15 feet above us, just cruising along the winding highway with us for a little way. It all made me glad to think it might be a pleasant and purposeful thing to return to Joseph once in a while to pick up some wasabi.