Fear and Trembling at the Tamarack Fire Lookout

After our lovely trek through the Wallowas and a little work side-trip in Idaho, we headed to Eastern Oregon to visit our friends Joni and Philippa at their cabin in Spray.   It’s a truly gorgeous area near the Painted Hills (which is another of the 7 Wonders of Oregon per Travel Oregon).  On our way to the cabin, we spotted a sign for a fire lookout, of course we had to check that out!   The Tamarack Fire Lookout is about 9 miles off Highway 207.   The road starts off smooth and straight, but by the last mile is steep and rough.  As usual, we weren’t actually sure we were headed the right way as the road got rougher and rougher, but finally we arrived to a rather epic sight.   The lookout is the tallest (by far) we have visited and took some serious pep talks to climb to the top on a windy and chilly day (the wobbly first section of steps didn’t help).   The 96 foot metal tower was built in 1933 with a small lookout room on top.   There’s a cabin near the foot of the tower that is available for rent during the off-season.    We are really looking forward to revisiting the Tamarack Lookout and meeting the hardy soul that is going to be staffing it!

The amazing view from the top of the Tamarack Fire Lookout

The amazing view from the top of the Tamarack Fire Lookout

That's a LONG way up.

That's a LONG way up.

The view down (while tightly clutching the iPhone)!

The view down (while tightly clutching the iPhone)!

We can never resist a good reflection shot.

We can never resist a good reflection shot.

We weren't kidding.

We weren't kidding.

The monster truck looks so tiny down there.

The monster truck looks so tiny down there.

Is it a window or a painting?

Is it a window or a painting?

The horses were totally gossiping about Bill and Philippa.

The horses were totally gossiping about Bill and Philippa.

Heather scrambling down the hill during Philappa's "little" (3 hour) hike near the cabin.

Heather scrambling down the hill during Philappa's "little" (3 hour) hike near the cabin.

Joni  - at home on the range.

Joni  - at home on the range.

Inga and Toast living the cabin life.

Inga and Toast living the cabin life.

Wandering in the Wallowas

Travel Oregon calls the Wallowas one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon and we couldn't agree more!  We took a chance on the weather and headed to Joseph, a great little town known for it's art scene (particularly bronze sculpture) as well as easy access to Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa Mountains.   During the summer, the Wallowa Lake Campground is packed wall to wall.   However, in late March, we had the park almost to ourselves!    They received a couple inches of snow the day before which was melting and manageable in the Airstream by the time we arrived.   The weather gods were smiling on us with blue skies and temps in the 60s, which is pretty much a miracle in Oregon in March.   We took the kayak out on the lake, checked out the Chief Joseph Trail hike and explored Joseph - including a quick visit to the Jennings Hotel.   The Jennings is the "world's first Kickstarter funded hotel and artist residency" and is a great addition to Joseph.  I was a backer of the Kickstarter and was curious to see how things were coming along.  Greg Hennes, the owner, was hard at work on some drywall in the hallway when we arrived.  He's done an amazing job restoring the old hotel (including a gorgeous sauna).  We may have to give up a night in the Airstream some time to stay there!    As luck would have it, we were able to attend the monthly square dance that's held in Enterprise.  Caleb Klauder and the Cully Cut-Ups came over from Portland to play so we had to check it out.   Sadly, my memory card with all the insanely cute kids square dancing seems to be toast, so you will just have to take my word for the fun experience of this truly lovely, charming and fun community dance.   And we even danced!  If you have a chance to get out to Joseph and the Wallowas, take it and run - especially in the Spring or Fall.

Picnic anyone?

Picnic anyone?

A lovely morning on Wallowa Lake

A lovely morning on Wallowa Lake

Off season is the best

Off season is the best

Happy inga in the snow

Happy inga in the snow

Downtown Joseph, Oregon

Downtown Joseph, Oregon

Greg hennes at the jennings hotel

Greg hennes at the jennings hotel

unreal beauty on Wallowa Lake

unreal beauty on Wallowa Lake

His

His

hers

hers

perfect day for kayaking

perfect day for kayaking

happy kayakers

happy kayakers

imnaha, oregon

imnaha, oregon

caught 'grammin at the legendary imnaha store

caught 'grammin at the legendary imnaha store

Not amused by our accidental detour

Not amused by our accidental detour

Square dancing in enterprise, oregon - so much fun!

Square dancing in enterprise, oregon - so much fun!

terminal gravity beer is delicous and heather can't resist their beet reuben.

terminal gravity beer is delicous and heather can't resist their beet reuben.