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Oregon Style Honeymoon: Sightseeing In The Rain

Giant photos ahead. This post may take a while to load.

I should have mentioned one of our first dilemmas as we settled into our cabin for our romantic and rustic honeymoon. We had stopped at the local mom and pop grocery store in Joseph to get some groceries and some classy wine. Then we made the 45 minute drive down into the canyon. There were a number of wine keys at the cabin, but none of them were all that great. None of them had a lever attached to pull the cork out. The corkscrew went in okay, but the cork was so tight, neither one of us could yank the cork out.

It was a pretty desperate situation. Here, we had a perfectly serviceable bottle of classy wine, we were in a charming, remote and romantic cabin, and it’s our friggin honeymoon, we are both college educated, and we can’t open the goddamned wine. And trust me, we tried all sorts of contortions. We held it tucked under one arm, we tried holding it in between our feet and pulling, I held, he pulled. He held, I pulled. Everything you’ve ever seen on Loony Tunes, we tried.

I got a sinking feeling. It was really looked like this cork was going to beat us. And I thought about how this boded for our future together. What does it mean if Dave and I couldn’t get this bottle of wine open together, even with our best efforts? How could we crumple so easily in the face of adversity? As we struggled, I also thought about how this was a blog post writing itself.

Finally, I found a hammer. Just the tool you need to open a bottle of wine. Dave saw me with a hammer and this caused him to pause for a moment. But he is aware of the workings of my brain, and that is why I married him. I was going to pull out that goddamned corkscrew just the way you pull out a nail. A bit of broken glass never hurt anyone. He saw where I was going with this, and improved upon my idea, by using the dining table as leverage. It was a rustic old table, and some new gash or blood spatter would just add to its charm.

With one of us holding the bottle, and the other holding the hammer, and using the table as a wedge, the cork began to loosen. It slowly slid out with a satisfying “pop!” Oh, the celebration! We conquered the cork! It was the most rewarding glass of wine we’ve ever had. And no one died or got maimed.

We stayed in the cabin for a couple of days, reading, napping, watching the rain, dipping a fishing pole in the water during breaks in the clouds. On our second morning, it still seemed overcast down in the canyon. We put some clothes on and decided to go see what we could see, either Wallowa Lake, Hell’s Canyon, or at least get a beer at one of the breweries in Joseph. Everyone we spoke to said we were going to love this part of the state.

This is really ranch land. And every exposed, grassy hill had ridges of cow tracks, even very high, and even very steep. I know cows have four legs and all, so maybe traversing such steep hills is no big deal for them. But if they got lost up there, how would you go get them? Do cowboys go get them? Even way up there? Do they use helicopters, like the Native Americans did?

It was still quite overcast after climbing out of the canyon. The mountains were backed up with dark clouds.

Still pretty dramatic, though. The image above is super big if you want to click on it. It’s pretty. Dave is really good at road photography. Even if he rolls his eyes every time I ask him to take a photo.

As we were told, Joesph was a super cute little town. Another town with some deep heritage and working grit, in such a beautiful place that artists have come and made it their home.

It was windswept and lined with big trucks. Dave and I felt like the youngest people in the whole town.

Driving through cattle fields makes me hungry for cows. So we stopped at Mutiny Brewing and I had one of the most delicious burgers I’ve had in a long, long time. We walked around the shops and spoke with someone in the visitor booth about various Hells Canyon overlooks that we could drive to in our sissy passenger vehicle. It was looking like we were not going to be able to see much of the mountains, so I wanted to at least go see the canyon. But there was some question about what we could get to in the car. The woman in the visitor booth gave us some pointers. We asked about the weather, since it had been raining off and on. She said it had been a weird year. It was supposed to be sunny and in the 80s this time of year.

Next stop was Wallowa Lake.

There it is. The lake and the mountains had been so hyped up for us that it was a bummer not to really “see” them in all their summery splendor. The Wallowa Lake Tramway was motionless. Many of the businesses seemed to be shutting down for the season.

The clouds were socked in, with a dark ceiling. The car’s thermometer said it was 48 degrees.

Here’s Dave, all cold and complainy. It’s a good thing he’s cute. I think he was glad the tramway was not running. Because I totally wanted to do it, and I was totally going to make him do it with me. Next time, buddy.

Here we were, out in beautiful eastern Oregon, and I wanted to go and see some kind of dramatic goddamned vistas. One option was to take a 37 mile drive on a paved road to Hells Canyon Overlook. We had spent a lot of time in the car on this trip. What’s another 80 miles in and out?

We gassed up the car in Joseph, and the gas station guy was so friendly and happy, it made me want to quit my job and pump gas.

More road photography. “Take a picture! Don’t roll your eyes! Just take a picture! You want me to do it? I’m driving, but I’ll take a damn picture. Give me the camera.” This is how most of these shots were taken.

But so worth it, right? That photo above is huge. Click on it. Look at how happy that horse is.

We took the road heading back to Imnaha, and took a turn, following the signs. It was raining off and on as we descended into canyons and climbed out of canyons. The road was paved and smooth. There were no signs of civilization. It was all forested, with some steep drop offs and lots of hairpin turns. Dave loved it.

Close to the end of our road, there was a break in the trees.

Helloooooo! That’s a canyon down there! I think that’s Idaho on the other side! Is it dorky of me, that I get excited to see a state I’ve never seen before? Idaho is usually so far away all the time!*

Another self portrait to add to our collection.

We got to the overlook, and yep, it was a canyon alright.

The photo below is 4000 pixels wide. Click on it.

Wow. Worth the drive out there.

Obviously, it was still overcast, but even the clouds were big and dramatic. Over on the other side, there are mountains in Idaho that we can’t see here.

It’s interesting to me that this beautiful place is called “Hells Canyon.” No doubt because it’s big and deep, so therefore probably a bitch to cross in a covered wagon. So such a grand creation of nature is named by the degree of inconvenience it caused for the people who encountered it. By this logic, the now nonexistent “Cascades” of the Columbia River should have been called “Asshole Rapids” or something like that. I would be awesome at teaching kids history.

Our luck was impeccable, because just as we were taking our last photos and wrapping up, it began to pour at the overlook we were standing on. We hopped in the car and started our drive back down.

Dave suggested a gravel road that would create a loop through Imnaha Canyon, back to our cabin. It was 20 miles of gravel. I was hesitant about the idea. We might save some miles, but we wouldn’t really save any time by bumping down a gravel road. But we did marvel at how quickly we saw locals driving around on these gravel back roads. And I like to see as much scenery as I can, and I figured my little sissy passenger vehicle was supposed to be a rally car. Maybe the gravel road wouldn’t be so bad.

OMG, you guys, that drive was so fricken fun. The road was wet so there was no dust, and we never saw any cars going in the other direction. The road twisted and coiled along the bottom of the canyon, crisscrossing over the Imnaha River through wide open ranch land. I put the pedal down and started to drive like a local. The car would slide ever so slightly on a wide curve, then grab on tight and not let go. Holy. Fricken. Fun. Also: Poor Dave.

He did manage to get some good photos when he wasn’t holding on for dear life.

Pretty as heck down here too.

When people ask what we did on our honeymoon, I say we went on a “driving adventure honeymoon through Oregon.” It was pretty fricken awesome. I would do it again in an instant. I’ll pack up the car again right now.

Maybe our next honeymoon, we’ll go someplace tropical and sit on a beach and let people bring us fruity drinks.

*(I’m pretty sure my brother-in-law ElkoSteve is going to call me a dork.)


  1. Dork!

    My phone’s autocorrect wanted to call you “fork!”

    Don’t worry, I added dork to the dictionary in case I need to use it again.

  2. I’m curious what Dave’s answer is to the same “What did you do on your honeymoon?” question. I’m guessing he is just a guy who does not appreciate (or trust) fine European auto engineering (not completely unlike my husband).

    I thought you might be interested to know about our more recent attempt at naming a local weather phenomena. You have probably become familiar with our winter east wind, whether you live in an area that gets them or not. But if not, next time we have a blast of cold weather, it is likely caused by an east wind and if so, head out to Troutdale for the full effect.

    The winds are bitter cold and even with a very good warm coat, you are almost instantly frozen to the bone. I grew up on the west side of Mt Scott and while it seems we would have been protected there, the winds whipped around the mountain and blasted our house. My parents eventually moved an hour away and I think one of their primary reasons was to get away from the wind. I currently live near 69th and Woodstock and we do get pretty nailed here by them, but not like at my childhood home. While where my grandmother lived on the west side, you couldn’t feel them at all.

    Anyway, enough people are subject to them, even at least temporarily, that they are quite dreaded. But in 1997 or 1998 someone came up with the bright idea that these winds should be named. It might have been even just one TV station that came up with this idea, but soon the media really jumped on board and was all over it. I think they must have thought that the name “Santa Ana Winds” sounded romantic, so they wanted us to have something as equally catchy for the evening news.

    They asked for submissions. Then they offered some suggestions. Then they begged for submissions. Then they asked if we thought that maybe their choice of the “Chinook Wind” (I’m pretty sure this was before the casino) might not be a good idea. Finally they came out and said, look all of the names we are getting are things like the %$#&ing &@^# East Wind and we just can’t say these names on the air, which kind of defeats the purpose of giving them a name. Then they went back to just calling them the East Wind.

  3. It looks like you have seen the entire state by now! Have you?? And Idaho?!? How crazy! I love seeing new states, even on a connecting flight! North Carolina? BOOM! Layover!

  4. If only you’d had Youtube!

    And now you know. And knowing is half the battle!

  5. Aimee Wynhausen says

    I love how Oregon is so diverse. Thanks for the reminder :)

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