Thursday, May 22, 2014

Oregon - day 4

Day 4! I awoke to snow falling gently on the mountain at the Cornucopia Lodge. Kaitlin, again, made an amazing meal for breakfast... these things called ebelskivers. They were so good. I definatly overstuffed myself. But hey, when does anyone ever get to eat homemade ebelskivers on an isolated mountain made by a great chef? Yeah, see... 
So we ate, I packed and got my things ready but we decided to play around in the snow and get some more photos before I left. So we did.... all on my phone tho. haha I didn't want to bring my Nikon outside while it was snowing. So yeah. Just imagine that perfect kind of quiet that snow brings, plus more because you're on an isolated mountain. It was good. 

But, it was time to go to my next destination... La Grande. So off I went! I headed back the way I came from and drove by the Oregon Trail ruts again, so I stopped because the weather had been so nice, it had been raining and the clouds were big and fluffy.

Also decided this was another good opportunity to take a photo of another cool product made in Oregon - ShwoodShop Eyewear - These frames are the "Belmont" in Zebrawood. Most of their frames are made from sustainable wood and have Zeiss lenses in them... they are awesome. & hey, I would freakin know! Im an optician! These sunglasses are awesome. I actually really think people should own a pair of their own. They are very VERY cool.

I continued to my destination... La Grande. It was waiting for me. This is the view to my left when I first got there, and then to my right it was all blue with white fluffy clouds and it was sorta raining somehow which didn't make sense to me but I liked it because it was total magic and whimsy. 

I met up with three really wonderful gals, Alice Trindle, who is the executive director of the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association as well as an incredibly welcoming and friendly person, I liked her a lot and I actually want to go back and tour more with her because she's so dang nice! Haha!; Anita Metlin who is apart of North East Oregon Cycle, she is incredibly passionate about bike tourism and the economic  development it can (& will & does) bring to her home zone; & last but not least, Kristen Dollarhide who is the Executive Director at the Union County Chamber of Commerce as well as one of the funnest people I've ever hung out with maybe ever, we became fast friends. We all had lunch, and discussed the bicycle scene in Oregon. I really have no idea about bicycling, but what they told me made it sound quite amazing (&fun). Oregon is one of the most bike-friendly places on earth and home to an endless network of highways and backroads. Oregon is also the only state with official Scenic Bikeways. (they were also the first to pass a Bicycle Bill in 1971!) You can visit to check out all the information you might need to plan and state your own cycling adventure! I really want to help Anita build on the North East Oregon cycling scene guys! I am in love with that area and I loved driving through that entire zone in my car... just imagine on a bike. OMG.

After lunch and talking we said goodbye to Anita and the rest of us headed over the the most adorable museum ever. The Union County Museum - it is filled to the brim with amazing artifacts, information and memories. I loved looking at everything, the history is SO rich in Eastern Oregon. 
I got zero photos of the things I just went over because I was so engulfed in what was going on I totally forgot about my camera. Just go see for yourself, duh. 

After the cute amazing museum, Kristen and I headed over the Ladd Marshes. The Ladd Marshes are incredible. I saw so many different types of birds and the weather was just... yeah. More than 200 species of birds, 40 species of mammals and 10 species of reptiles and amphibians live permanently or visit during migrations. Its truly beautiful! These photos here are of a bird... I can't remember the name of it. I don't know how we managed to see these birds, but alas there they were. Super cool and pretty big. (you can probably zoom in and see them better if you want) and then they started walking, so I had to get out of the car and take another photo cause they were doing some weird dip thing with their necks and flapping their wings, I couldn't react fast enough because I was too busy watching with my own eyes haha. The field was pretty big too so it was hard to find them again after they walked for a while haha.

Then we made a quick pit stop... At Hot Lake Springs. This place was SO awesome and also just so bizarre to me for some reason. I can't even put it into words. Its just so old and the history here is apparent just by standing there. You don't even need to know the actual history, you just stand in that space and know its got stories. Theres a bath house outside right over and next to the hot springs and right by the lake, thats the first thing you want to look at even tho there's a giant building in front of you, mostly because of the steam constantly rising from the hot springs. But go to the website and read the history timeline, it's totally cool. We took a tour inside quickly, and OH myyyy... Its so weird you guys!!! I loved it!!! Super old everything and medical equipment left there from long long long ago, you get an eerie feeling being inside the building but you can't stop because you HAVE to see more. I took no photos of the inside, because you need to go see for yourself. These are some photos from around the property - 

and, I wanted to get the whole building of Hot Lake, but I wanted to keep it as old school as possible, with out the influence of anything new. So I just shot halfway up the building and beyond instead. Giving it a certain appeal. The building is huge, but like I said, I didn't really want any new items being in the photo - like cars or new hand railings or anything. It's all very well put together considering how old it is tho, I just felt that I didn't want to feature the bottom portion haha. I loved it tho, you can actually rent a room and stay over night! *if you're daring... I personally am too big of a wimp to do it!!! Kristen said "what if we had booked you to stay here overnight?" I said "I would have slept outside." hahahaha. 

After our quick tour, we went to see some more of the Ladd Marshes (Hot Lake is located within the Marshes) before the storm came in - we went just in time! 

Amazing. Amazing!! I loved this fun weather we got, it made the experience more fun to me. But, that was the end of the touring. Now it was time for Kristen and I to go get a bite to eat and relax for a while. She is so funny and so much fun to talk to. She is so full of energy and positivity I'm really glad I'm able to call her my friend now. We had a really fun night together in sweet little La Grande! But, my trip was winding down! While I was in La Grande I was staying at this house called "The Washington House" - all to myself! I wish I had had more time to spend there; it was so cute and the furnishings were so nice. But every time it was time for me to head back to where I was staying, I was always way too tired to even take photos or take advantage of the awesome space I had! Oh well, next time right? That wraps up day #4... almost done guys! *sad face* haha

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Ah so yes, I woke up in my enormous room and I didn't actually want to get out of bed at all because it was so huge and comfortable. I hate how that happens.. haha. But I got up took a shower and packed my things up. I went down to meet Barbara (owner of the Geiser Grand) for breakfast in the bar area. I got the most delicious Eggs Benedict I've EVER had in my life. She makes a bit different than the rest of the world, I swear she makes it with magic. Who knows for sure. All I know is, I've never been the same since. YUM. Here, I even took a photo of it: 

After I ate, I wanted more. 
But I went onward with my day - Tim came back to the Hotel to take me out to the Oregon Trail Interpretation Center. So I loaded up all my things and followed Tim out to the Oregon Trail. We stopped just before the Interpretation Center and walked out away from the road a bit. I was standing on an area with no plants growing - a trail. It was the actual ruts of the Oregon trail. It was CRAZY knowing that so many people followed this trail in hopes of a new better life. So incredible. 

We headed up the hill to the Interpretation Center and took the tour. It was so big and there was SO much information. I wish I had had time to read every single plaque and look at all the details. Its truly a facsinating journey that these people made. I really hope everyone gets to visit the Interpretation Center if they are in the area, it's so amazing to learn about the Oregon Trail. I liked walking on the Oregon Trail ruts in my Danner boots, considering they were made in Oregon. haha.

After my tour, I had to head off toward to the town of Halfway. I was told to take a detour over the hills so I could drive through the "ghost town" Sparta. So away I went...

The town was high up there. At first I didn't even know I was in the town. It's all on a dirt road, and eventually you're like... oh... it was back there... Because you drive past it pretty quick. Haha. It was a really fun drive.

It eventually spit me out in the town of Halfway. A super cute town that I really really liked. 

I was headed to my next stop - The Wallowa Llamas. Basically, I had no idea this was even something you could do... but you can go on a backpacking trip and rent llamas to carry your gear. Its a really awesome adventure. I met Raz at his house and he showed me a slideshow of previous trips he had taken with a group of people and the llamas. It was BEAUTIFUL! Then we walked out to see the llamas. They are such weird creatures. They are related to camels and live to be about 17 to 22 years old. They are also useful being places with sheep because llamas safe guard the sheep from coyotes. Llamas simply have an intimidating nature - they just walk up to a coyote and scare it away. They also bond with sheep well. How cool right? Raz took a photo of me trying to get the llamas to come hang out with me... the llamas looked at me like I was crazy... haha. I took one of him as well, but the llamas know him and like him so they went up and smelled him. Funny animals.

After I was done visiting I headed to town to meet up with Tammy, she wanted to show me around to some cute places in Halfway but I was on a time crunch, so she settled with showing me Babettes house and B&B. For those who don't know, Babette was the first woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition in 1964. She lives in Halfway and also has a new B&B on top of a hill overlooking Halfway called Ravens Wing. We drove up there and it was amazing! I love all the quirky details and decor. It was truly amazing up there. 

She also has a gypsy caravan outside you can rent to stay in as well - its awesome.

After visiting with Tammi and Babette I headed up to meet with Kaitlin who lives at the Cornucopia Lodge with her father. We had to leave my car at the bottom of the mountain and take her truck halfway up the mountain, then we transferred vehicles to a snow crawler thing. It took a while to get up there, but we made it and we had enough light so we decided to drive over the snow to the ghost town of Cornucopia. An old town founded on gold, abandoded in the 1940s/1950s. She doesn't get many visitors up there so she was really excited that I was down to explore and even wander into some of the old houses. We both kept saying how weird and cool it was. Just being where people used to live... who just up and left... totally eerie. But, typically Cornucopia Lodge is a summer destination. With hikes, horse back adventures and much more. There are small family cabins on the mountain you can rent, or stay in one of the rooms in the Lodge. Its perfectly isolated and beyond beautiful. 

We headed back to the Lodge and I unpacked and got into my cozy warm pjs because it was cold up there when the sun went down! Kaitlin made us a delicious meal - she's an incredible cook - and we went to bed early. Funny enough... I forgot to take a photo of the actual Lodge! I took one with my phone tho. Oh well, you can see it on their website! 

I'll write about day 4 SOON I promise! Stay with me here guys! :)