Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Hopping in Washington - Oct 2019

We're on the road after our summer at Farragut State Park.  Our original plan was to head over to Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley to visit friends, then head south over Lost Trail Pass back into Idaho.  But winter arrived early, and faced with snow and temperatures in the low 20s, we decided instead to head south and spend a week in the Tri-cities (Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick).  This is Washington's wine country, and the landscape is covered with vineyards.  Signs for wineries, all with exotic names, are at every interstate exit.

Hops Panarama
Hop Fields
We decided to visit Toppinish, a small town that actually sits in the Yakima Indian reservation (and the course has a casino).  The town is a bit haggard, but the buildings are covered with beautiful murals depicting the history of the area.  Driving through town is like touring an art museum - some of the murals are quite impressive:

Toppinish Murals
Toppenish Murals

What makes this area unique are the "hopfields", endless rows of poles, now bare, that support the wire structure that the hop vines ("bines") climb on before spilling down.  This area produces more hops than any other area in the world; the 300 days of sun, moderate climate, and rich soil make it perfect for hops.  And with over 5300 breweries in the U.S. alone, the fields are expanding each year. 

Hop Frames1
Hop Fields

Throughout the valley Mount Adams, far was in the cascades, dominates the skyline with a ghostly snow-covered look:

Mt Adams
Mount Adams

From the Tri-cities, we headed south along the interstate to Pendleton where we stayed at an RV resort at  Starting to see a pattern here?  Pendleton looked interesting from a distance, but was a bit disappointing when we drove the main streets.  Sometimes "historic" just means old, although some streets downtown were filled with restaurants and shops.  It's also the home of Pendleton Mills, but we didn't take the tour since the cost of a Pendleton Blanket approaches our annual income.  We did drive past the rodeo grounds, home of the famous Pendleton Rode, quiet this time of year.  

Pendleton View
Pendleton Rodeo Arena
Pendleton Rodeo Grounds

A place we're always wanted to visit but never had the opportunity is the area around Wallowa ("wal-ah-wah") lake.  Described as the "Swiss Alps of Oregon", its location in the far Northeastern corner of the state, with only a couple of secondary roads leading to it, keeps it from being overrun by tourists.  Mostly.  It was a 110 mile trip from Pendleton over the Blue Mountains into Joseph at the head of the lake, but oh my, was it worth it.

As we drove the valley toward Joseph, the snow-covered Wallowa Mountains provided a beautiful background to the farms along the road.  The clouds were obscuring much of the mountain, but even still, it was a beautiful view.

Farm and Blue Mountains
Wallowa Valley

Clouds and Mountains
Wallowa Mountains

Joseph turned out to be a picture-perfect little town. Lots of shops and restaurants, tree lined streets, and mountains in the distance. 

Joseph Main Street
Joseph, Oregon

Cowboy Sculpture
Joseph, Oregon

Driving through town brought us to the lake and this view:

Wallowa Lake
Wallowa Lake

Following the road around the east side of the lake brought us to the edge of the state park and this overlook:

Wallowa Lake Shore
Wallowa Lake View

The state park is large and has full hookup sites, so we're planning on a stay sometime in the future.  While exploring the park, we crossed a rush stream filled with bright red Kokanee Salmon, getting ready to spawn:

Kokanee Salmon
Kokanee Spawing

We've crossed the Trail of the Nez Perce since our first stay in Montana 13 years ago.  From the Clearwater Basin, the White Bird battlefield, Fort "Fizzle", the Battle of the Hole, and the Bear Paw battlefield.  So we were interested and surprised to find the grave site of Chief Joseph here overlooking the lake.  Chief Joseph was an inspiring and eloquent leader; his speech of "I will fight no more forever" was a sad ending to a proud people's last attempt at freedom.

Chief Joseph Grave
Chief Joseph Gravesite

We're currently spending a week in Boise at one of our favorite stops, Gowen Field National Guard Base campground.  From here we'll head back into Oregon for our slow trip back to Bandon on the Oregon coast.  Until then, we'll be exploring along the way so check back and see what we've been up to!