July 2014 – If riding the old railroad tracks on the cool tandem pedal-driven railcars of the Joseph Branch Railriders weren’t thrilling enough, we soon found ourselves whisked away on the Wallowa Lake Tramway for a gondola ride to the top of Mount Howard just a few miles from the town of Joseph, Oregon.
For a few weeks, our Arizona cycling and RVing friends Dick and Katie had been parked next to RVers Mike and Jea, the owners of this wonderful gondola, and they had become friends.
By the happy luck of being friends-of-friends, we were invited to take the gondola ride up to their mountaintop restaurant and enjoy lunch on the deck with them at the Summit Grill.
Little did we know it would be lunch with a breathtaking view of the gondolas gliding up and down against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and pretty Wallowa Lake in the distance.
Holy smokes, what a spot! Lunch was delicious, and the view was magnificent!
After lunch, Jea took us out on the hiking trails that circle and weave around the top of the mountain.
Everywhere we turned we saw alpine scenery that was right out of a picture book. The mountains were still decorated with snow and there were lots of wildflowers too.
The Wallowa Lake Tramway is at the far southern end of beautiful Wallowa Lake, and we visited the active town beach several times.
On the weekends families played on the beach all day, bringing picnics, dabbling in the water and paddling around on kayaks.
I put a toe in the water but Mark ventured out waist deep and then dove in.
He came running back to the beach shivering like crazy.
“How’s the water?” I asked.
“It’s like swimming in a cooler full of ice!”
Well, no wonder, since the water comes right from the snow melt on the surrounding mountains.
The air was toasty warm, though, and what better way to while away an afternoon in this kind of heat than to sit on beach chairs out in the water with an ice cold Oregon microbrew in hand?!
Driving the road that flanks the west side of the lake, we passed all kinds of mountain cabins and lakeside homes perched above the water.
This is steep mountain terrain and there were lots of staircases running up to the homes.
Out of the corner of his eye, Mark spotted a deer running up one of these staircases.
I leaned over him to get a shot of this little guy out the window.
Only later did I see that the deer had been standing next to a sign that said, “No Trespassing!”
Deer are really common around Joseph. They wander in and out of front yards and back yards, eating the flowers and looking very cute.
As we drove back from the lake one afternoon we saw a doe with her two spotted fawns.
They didn’t seem to be bothered by us stopping to photograph them.
The mom and one baby looked up, but mom decided we were okay and went back to grazing.
It’s these kinds of heartwarming encounters that were the hallmarks of our wonderful stay in Joseph.
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For more info about RV camping in Joseph Oregon, visit these links:
More from our RV travels in Eastern Oregon:
- Hell’s Canyon – A Gorgeous Gorge! 08/07/14
- Hurricane Creek Wildflowers – Enterprise OR 07/30/14
- Joseph Branch Railriders – What a ride! 07/19/14
- Joseph, Oregon – At Heaven’s Door! 07/15/14
- Baker City Cycling Classic 07/11/14
- On the road to Baker City, Oregon 07/08/14
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