Beautiful & remote Wallowa County

Wallowa County is a hidden paradise.233 157 159 163 164 167 168 169Leaving Roslyn (and being in ‘Northern Exposure’ fantasy) at 11.30, we set off for a long drive up over hills and mountains, including snow-passes, stopping off from time to time for Alfie to have a leg-stretch and a play – noting the changing of the landscape.

We made our way to Enterprise, Wallowa County, arriving at 5.15 p.m. in time to get settled and meet all the lovely ladies again, as we came together for dinner. The drive there was very twisty and turny – not the best experience for Alfie who is the most patient of dogs, even though deep down he does not like travelling in the car.

It is one I would never have discovered, had I not met these 4 lovely women in a Spa just North of Santa Fe. I was soaking in the arsenic pool (so relaxing, and good for you!) and started talking to Lisa. She was soon introducing me to her friends Renee, Mary and Sharon. Sharon’s husband visits Bristol for his job once a year, Lisa owns a restaurant, Mary owns a bookstore and Renee is a GP. They all gave me their details and Renee offered me a place to stay. They raved about how beautiful East Oregon is and how I have to experience it. I didn’t need to be invited twice!


I was stunned as I arrived – the mixture of the wide wide plains and the beautiful snow-capped mountains was breathtaking. 173 179 187 190The whole time I was there I kept commenting and even the residents said they do not take their good fortune for granted. Renee and Craig (a sweet reserved man) have 5 acres of land where they keep horses and mules, 3 dogs and 2 feral cats. Their home has a delicious, stunning 360 panorama.

The supper was delicious – salmon with flavour-some lentils and salad – and it was fun to spend time with these lovely women again. Alfie fitted in and made friends with Spot – sweet little Jack Russell. The other 2 dogs – huskies – were outside. One because he had run off the night before and came back smelling of skunk!

The room I stayed in was huge – a self-contained unit on the side of the house, upstairs, with the most incredible views. I wonder if the photos of their house do it justice.

183 191 192 193 194 195 196 201 198The next morning we awoke to brilliant sunshine (as usual on this trip!) and Alfie and I walked around Renee’s fields with her, feeding the horses and exercising the dogs.

Later on that day, we went for a long, hot and tiring walk to the top of a hillside opposite the mountains, followed by a lovely stop at the Wallowa Lake where Alfie absolutely stunned me! He is not a swimmer. Indeed, the only place he is prepared to go out of his depth is in the River Usk at the Gliffaes hotel, where he was born.

I threw a stick for him and suddenly realised that he was swimming. Throwing the stick again, there he was, swimming – it was incredible. We spent a very happy half an hour while he fetched his stick from the cool, clean waters of the lake and it was heartening to watch him enjoying himself.

For supper, I took Renee and Craig to the pizza place in Joseph – a sweet little nearby town with a pizza place with a lovely wood-fired oven. The 2 pizzas were too much for the 3 of us to eat! While Craig went home (Alfie and Spot had stayed there together) Renee and I went to a local Ceilidh and enjoyed dancing with the locals.

At home, I sat up doing more work to reinstate the 181 189 197 211 203 214 215 224 228 234 238 239 247 248 241 243 249 250 252 230 231 223photos that I had wiped from all of my blogs. The good news was that all the photos are now ‘optimized’ – much smaller in size that the huge ones that I was apparently uploading, but reinstating photos to 17 blogs is a mammoth task.

I awoke at 6.15 to another day of blazing sunshine and went to the kitchen to make a salad of oranges ginger and pecans to take to the Wallowa Buddhist Temple with its 2 resident teachers: Rev Meido and Rev Clairissa – 2 absolutely beautiful souls! What a treat to be able to attend a morning’s meditation and pot-luck lunch with lovely people. Again, Alfie stayed behind with Spot and Craig enjoying himself on the small farm (and eye-balling the feral cats).

It was lovely to connect with my Buddhist path and to talk to everyone and the food was delicious. On the way back, Renee and I drove to Sharon’s house for me to see it – old and full of character.

Alfie and I played happily in the garden until it was time for supper and afterwards Renee and I soaked in their hot tub – another treat!

On Monday I telephoned the Buddhist Temple and arranged to have tea with Rev Meido and Rev Clairissa. I also arranged that Sharon would meet me there and we would go to her yoga teacher/body worker’s place.

004 011 013 014 015 016 017 018 019 020 023 024I took Alfie for another play, and swim in the lake and then drove to Joseph to check out the chocolate shop (a lovely woman, co-owner with her parents had brought these wonderful chocolates to the Monastery for the pot-luck lunch and I had tried a sage chocolate with various other herbs – amazing). We then made our way to Enterprise – the nearest bigger town to Renee’s place: nowhere near as pretty as Joseph, which has been tarted up for those people who stay at the Lake in the summer and has a hefty amount of sculpture.

What there is in Enterprise is a thrift store (charity shop) run by the Soroptimists – every item costs 25 cents! Rummaging through, I found a plain black swimsuit and a sweet green velvet shirt. I couldn’t just give them 50 cents so gave them a dollar. Returning to Renee’s she burst out laughing when she saw the shirt as she had given it to the shop! That was bettered by an incident where she had given them some old jeans and Craig had gone there and bought them for himself!

At lunchtime, I ended up having a skype call with a coaching client prior to having a lovely tea of fruit salad with Rev Meido and Rev Clairissa. They loved meeting Alfie and Clairissa was struck by how close Alfie and I are. They loved him (as everyone does). They are such wonderful ladies, running a really beautiful centre in the pine trees that is welcoming and comfortable. It must be lovely to spend retreat-time there. Sharon joined us for a cup of tea before we went to the yoga class which was amazing – all of the work was done on the floor and because the teachers are body workers I felt I was really doing my body good.

Renee was on call as a doctor, so I had a snack and continued with uploading the photos onto my old blogs.

On Tuesday morning I packed up the car after Alfie and I had played chase the stick around the pond in the garden and collected the washing, we set off from Renee and Craig’s beautiful home towards the Wallowa Lake for Alfie to enjoy himself one final time going in to collect a stick, swimming and splashing around. We popped back to Enterprise as when I had gone to Mary’s bookshop on Monday she was having a day off. I had a coffee and lovely savoury bun with her and then set off for our next destination – Yellowstone National Park.

225I had hoped that the route out of Wallowa County would have been better than the route in. Sadly, that was not to be and as we went round and round the mountains Alfie decided that he no longer wanted to retain his breakfast, and threw up over the back seat. As a puppy, Alfie was sick the day I picked him up as an 8-week old but since then has been ok travelling. Anyway, it was a reminder to be careful with my driving.  From Oregon we went through Idaho and then to Montana. Cowboy country revealed large open space with cattle. We finally arrived in Missoula, Montana, where we stopped off to eat on the balcony of a lovely restaurant. I had a burger with locally-produced beef and Alfie had his own chicken breast which I gave him in a lot of water so he could rehydrate.

032Setting off again, we got to the North entrance of Yellowstone National Park and parked in the main road, by the garden of a house. It was 2 a.m. and the last half an hour of the drive was dotted with ‘animals crossing’ signs: not for nothing. As I drove along, I suddenly came face to face with 2 deer, then further on down 2 elks crossed the road. Thank heavens I was driving really slowly!

The final photo is the inside of the toilet at the restaurant in Missoula. The doors are made of corrugated iron and are oddly attractive!