North Eastern Oregon

Taming my wild, restless roots the only way I know how- to ride 500 miles. Rock and roll, gallons of water, and the yellow line of time going town to town. Hunting ghosts or running from them, I’ll never tell. The past crosses my mind as I cross the state up 97 past the Wind Farm of Arlington and on to a little rodeo town.

I stopped planning stops a long time ago, following hearsay and intuition to some of the best times of my life. My husband tries to spot a building with market lights, the universal sign for good food and long conversations. We wandered into Backfire Station and found the perfect pit stop, a literal oasis designed for the adventurer. It wasn’t rodeo season but I do tip my hat to that fashion. The truth is….I had miles to cover and daylight was burning.

What called me to this corner of the state was a dip in a haunted hot tub. Well, so the rumors go- this ex sanatorium still hosts patients of the past. I searched, sitting up by candlelight on the third floor for two nights through. I wandered the grounds and sat in the foyer at 4 am. I only found a friendly cat (who bit my husband). A car stopped on the road and watched the pond as dawn rose across the plain, me in my hot tub hideaway. No ghosts. Just- a strange peace.

That morning, in the blessed burning sunshine, a local couple told us to visit Jospeh and Wallowa Lake. Seeking nostalgic diner dates, Dave found an old school greasy spoon in La Grande called The Smokehouse. What can I say- nothing goes down quite as smooth as coffee in a vinyl booth with a forest green mural behind you. How many mornings long gone did Dave and I spend in breakfast joints before we had a kiddo and “settled down”…..

No time to get caught in old memories, we carried on over grassland plains up into the mountain towns of Enterprise and Joseph. It reminds me of Colorado out here. Bright deer filled fields, cows, and snow tipped mountains. Wallowa lake was silver and frozen, there is a tram here I’ll journey to when these lands are alive with wildflowers. One more tiny universe hidden away in Oregon, with so much to explore.

A glorious finale to my North Eastern trip- a stay in the Gold Rush Hotel: The Geiser Grand in Baker City. Once the epitome of elegance (well, really it still is) and ripe with energy, this seems a portal on The High Desert. What era did I step into? I felt transported to another time entirely!

A girl could get use to an office like the cupula in my room- where I sat up all night watching log trucks out of the ten foot windows. I told myself I was a visiting diplomat, soaking in the tub at 2 am with a cup of hot cocoa. Sunrise came too soon and I crawled into bed. This is the most beautiful room I have ever stayed in and I wanted to savor every minute of it.

The last day in Baker City we visited a school turned Bike Hostel/Music Venue/ Air B & B/ Art Space which is such an absolute hub it deserves a post all it’s own.

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