Upper Perry Arch Bridge

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As I was arriving in La Grande Tuesday evening I noticed a sign for this historic bridge at the exit before the one I was planning to take, so I decided to stop and take a look.

The bridge, designed by architect Conde McCullough, spans the Grande Ronde River (sounds like something you’d order at Starbucks… a Grande Ronde).  It was built in 1924 and was refurbished in 2008 so it looks brand new.

The top photo was taken looking west off the bridge towards the setting sun (and the bridge you see carries interstate 84 over the river).  The bottom photo was taken from the bridge looking east.

There will be another post tomorrow which will show you what I found not far from here…

Hot Lake Springs Hotel

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Just about every person who learned I was going to be staying in La Grande, Oregon told me to check this place out.

The original building was constructed in 1864 and has quite a storied history.  It is rumored to be haunted.  In 1917 it was converted into a sanitorium, whose founder thought his patients would benefit from the healing geothermal mineral waters.  Fire destroyed a large wing of the building in 1934.  The property was abandoned in 1991 and fell into serious disrepair.  Enter a wealthy bronze statue artist named David Manuel from nearby Joseph, Oregon whose family bought the property and used it as a family project to make it what it is today.

Mr. Manuel, whose work is absolutely amazing, made the huge eagle piece located at the entrance to the property, as well as many, many other pieces (large and small) scattered around the property and within the hotel itself.  You should take the time to study the history of the property online, as well as the works of Mr. Manuel.  Both are fascinating.

The peacock was just kind of meandering around between the front of the building and the large pond between the hotel and the road.  I first noticed the cat when I went inside to ask if it was ok for me to take a few pictures of the property.  The cat pretty much followed me just about everywhere I went.  She peacefully coexists with the peacock and the ducks on the pond.  I called the hotel later in the day to find out what the cat’s name is and learned that she is just a stray that showed up 8 or 9 months ago, and doesn’t have a name.  Let me tell you, she walked around like she owns the place!

Wallowa Lake, Oregon

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After leaving Portland and driving east along the Columbia River yesterday I spent the night in the small town of La Grande, in the northeast part of Oregon.  Today my goal was to drive two scenic loops, and then visit Hell’s Canyon before heading to Boise, Idaho.

I had intended to drive south on interstate 84 from La Grande to Baker City, where I would drive the smaller of the two scenic loops to the west of the highway.  Instead, I took Route 230, a small road which goes south toward Baker City, at the recommendation of some local folks I had spoken with the day I arrived.  The views along that road were gorgeous and I’m glad they told me about it.

When I got to Baker City I learned that it wasn’t a good idea, given my big plans for the day, to drive that loop.  I was going to go in a clockwise direction, starting at 3 o’clock on a clockface.  Well, when I would have gotten up around 11 o’clock the road was closed due to a relatively small wildfire and I would have had to backtrack.  That would have taken too much time so I abandoned that plan and took the interstate back up to La Grande.

From La Grande I did a much bigger scenic loop, again in a clockwise direction, which would ultimately take me to Hell’s Canyon.  That is how I ended up at Wallowa (pronounced  wa-LAH-wa) Lake.  I think every person I’ve met along the way that learned I was taking this route from La Grande told me to be sure to see the lake.

The top photo was my first view of the lake.  The middle photo is of the young lady kayaking in the top photo (pretty good zoom lens, eh?).  The bottom photo shows the lake from another vantage point.  What you can’t see in that picture is yet another mountain with a little snow on it, in the distance right in the V created by the mountains in the photo.

As you can see, wildfire smoke greatly reduced visibility.  I’m going to look online to see if I can find normal pictures from both these vantage points.  I think they would be spectacular.  These mountains also get a lot of snow (and there is a ski-lift type gondola which takes people up one of the mountains) so they call this area the Oregon Alps.

 

Hell’s Canyon Overlook

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I’m only going to post one picture looking down from the Hell’s Canyon Overlook.  As you can see, visibility was greatly reduced due to smoke from nearby wildfires.

I must confess, I was somewhat disappointed by what I saw.  Yes, it is still a very impressive sight, but it was not at all what I was expecting.  Not at all.  I will try to explain in tomorrow’s posts why I was disappointed.

But I will also admit that as I drove around a left-hand turn about a mile before reaching the Overlook and got my first glimpse of the Canyon, the word I uttered out loud was “Wow”.

 

Moo Cows in the road

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As I was descending from the Canyon Overlook I went around a right-hand turn in the road and came across several cows standing in the road.

The top photo is of the cow which was closest to me.  I’m not sure who was more startled, her or me.  She had been standing diagonally in the opposite lane, which her tail near the yellow line and her head towards the white line, looking right at me.  I stopped the car, turned on my four-way flashers, and reached for my camera.  When the camera was ready I started moving slowly forward at which point the cow, who had frozen in her tracks with a blank deer-in-the-headlights stare, kind of jumped (not feet off the ground jumped, but startled to see new movement jumped) and took a step or two away from me.  When I hit the button to roll my window down she did it again and was then almost completely off the road, where she is standing in the photo.  The brown cow near the mirror was happily eating vegetation, facing away from me, and was completely oblivious to my presence.

The lower photo is of the cow which was furthest away from me as I rounded the curve and she just kind of glared at me as I slowly drove past.

Another close encounter with certain death.

Hell’s Canyon

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The top photo was taken after I came down from the Canyon Overlook and was driving towards the Snake River.  Visibility from the canyon floor looking up was much better than from the Overlook looking down.

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The bottom photo could perhaps be Hell’s Canyon giving me the finger.

“So, Mr. Smiley Pants I Came All The Way From North Cackalacky To See Hell’s Canyon And Am Somewhat Disappointed JohnBoy, what were you expecting?”

“I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too”

Perhaps there may still be hell to pay in Hell’s Canyon…..   Stay tuned.