STATS – Day: 5 | Distance: 685.9 miles | Location: Joseph, Oregon|Money Spent To Date – Gas: $50.04| Food: $40.56| Play/Misc: $15 | Lodging $20.36
Summer is here and I’m 5-days into my next adventure. A 6-week-ish (40 days) trip through the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. My personal goal is to try and complete this trip via my trusted car Lucy traveling backroads on less than $1,600 ($40/day) for gas, lodging, food, play, and anything else that might come up.
I haven’t spent much time in true eastern Oregon, and this trip gives me a great reason to go exploring before I wander my way north. I say “true east” because many coastal Oregonians count everything longer than 2-hours to the coast as “east”, so for the longest time I thought cities like Bend, Prineville were in eastern Oregon, but really they are central to the state.
I lucked out and stumbled onto the most incredible State Park campground along the Minam River. Classified as a “primitive” campsite, it has river access, firepits, water, and bathrooms! They even have cut, dried firewood for sale – a cart full for $5 and the camp fee is only $10 per night. This is MY KIND of primitive for sure.
I tagged the campground in my GPS for future trips.
I have heard about the beauty of Joseph and a fun activity called rail riding. Un-used railroad tracks exist all over Oregon and the town of Joseph decided to turn it into a tourist attraction. A company called “Rail Riders” were inspired by a similar concept used in Korea and Switzerland. Vehicles that look like a hybrid of recumbent bike and dune buggy ride on the railroad rails using human power of cycling. A great workout, beautiful scenery, and unique experience all wrapped up into one!
One of the benefits of traveling solo is nearly anything you want to do doesn’t need to be scheduled. There seems to always “one” empty spot for me to fill. Yesterday I walked up to the rail rider’s station at 9:05 for a 9AM ride. Yep…a spot was available and I could walk right on. I even sat right next to the guide and he shared stories about his life and all the wonderful places to check out during my stay.
Originally called Silver Lake, the town formally changed its name 137 years ago in honor of Chief Joseph (Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt) of the Nez Perce people. They would spend their summers in the higher elevation and then travel to the valley during the winters. Current population is just approximately 1,022 according to a local resident.
After three residents said I “had to” take the tramway to the top of Mount Howard and enjoy the breathtaking views, I did. It is well worth the expensive $33 ticket and has several easy hikes to see the “Alps of Oregon” and Valley. I was told to take the seat so that the mountain was at my back so that I could see the panoramic views of the lake and surrounding area. Did I mention that the tramway is also the steepest in North America (3700 foot/1127.76 vertical ascent). I was doing one of three things the entire ride to the top:
- Keeping my eyes shut tight.
- Counting the numbers painted on the support poles I crossed.
- Reminding myself that if I fell, I probably wouldn’t feel anything in my final moments of death.
If you decide to go, bring treats for the chipmunks, pine squirrels, and pocket gophers up there. They come right up to you with their hands out and an expectant expression on their little faces. Sadly, I had nothing and the guilt was overwhelming.
“I believe much trouble would be saved if we opened our hearts more”
– Chief Joseph
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