Familourism: Be a tourist with your Family

IMG_4110Read on as I blog of my brother’s visit to Wallowa County. I’ll play guide as we hike to waterfalls, visit Buckhorn Overlook, throw a birthday party, and take in the sights.

My older brother was expected this past weekend, for his first-ever visit to Wallowa County. (Naturally, I wanted him to enjoy the experience.) 20170520_155154I was stressing-out (as I often do) leading up to the event. However, once it arrived I felt like whatever is to be, will. Setting off on a Friday afternoon, he didn’t arrive until Saturday morning.

I didn’t want to worry about a schedule on the first day, but I had insisted on taking care of dinners for the duration of his stay. He setup his 5th wheel on the street in front of the house, so the slides hung over the lawn. We played a card game as a storm rolled through, then we went for a walk down to Marr Pond in Enterprise. We saw ducks, a swan, and my brother graciously let a rock-chuck live.

20170521_093507I had taco-chicken brewing in our new crockpot all day, so we enjoyed chicken nachos/tacos/burritos with all the fixings. Birdy introduced them to her pottery wheel and we hung out ‘till the sun went down. The worst weather was behind us, so the fun could begin.

Sunday  was TBear’s Birthday celebration. I kicked it off with breakfast burritos, and we geared up for our much-awaited hike. Knowing they were in to hiking, I had carefully selected a day hike that was enjoyable for the 6 to 36 year olds. 20170521_095113

Starting at the Wallowa Lake Trailhead, we went west around the hydro power plant, up the Chief Joseph Trail. Not far from the start it splits to the right, leaving the main trail (and horse traffic) as it follows the gorge of the roaring west fork. A small bridge leads us up a brief steep section, but otherwise the trail is a modest slope. Slightly after the bridge, there’s a connecting trail from the old Boy Scout camp.

You can back-track along the gorge for some sweet photo opportunities, or pause on the bridge. In addition, near the end of the trek is a vista overlooking the lake, with a wide area to enjoy a picnic. Some 20170521_105659folks have even done some primitive camping there too.

At the end of our 45-minute walk was a small waterfall, where you can walk up and feel the fresh water cascading down the mountain. It’s a bit steep and fast, so we kept the small kids back. This is where a bridge used to cross, allowing access to the rest of the trail up to Sacajawea (so I hear). Now folks have improvised connections from the state park instead.

We made good use of our water bladders, and headed back down the mountain. I had started off carrying LilPill, with Birdy 20170521_103054packing my day-pack. However, she thinks the two year old is lighter than the pack. It felt the same to me, but the kid pack was better at distributing the weight.

On the way down, my sister-in-law hid a surprise on the trail, and Birdy discovered some morel mushrooms! After the nice hike, we were hot and thirsty, so we drove home & walked to our local brewery Terminal Gravity.

“TG’s” as we call it has a great variety of brews. Unfortunately, they’re not bottling them all just yet. They have a wonderful picnic-like outside dining experie20170521_152944nce, complete with creek for the kids to play in. I found lunch was a much better time to visit, as they’re always slammed for dinner.

Now relaxed with a full stomach and tired legs, it was a great time for a Sunday drive! We headed out Crow Creek Rd, past the Zumwalt Prairie, to the Buckhorn Overlook. We passed a one-horse open carriage along the 1.25 hour journey to the best views in the county. We lingered a bit, then drove all the way back.

At this point, it was late afternoon, and I was beginning to regret packing the day with so many activities. There was no turning back now, though, it was TBear’s Birthday after all.IMG_4150

For the festivities, I had planned a “Minute to Win It” party. First, I kicked it off with everyone doing the cookie-face challenge. By being the first to coax an Oreo from her forehead to mouth, my sister in law won a vacuum-insulated water/coffee bottle. (I started with one big prize, to get folks to be motivated.)

Next, we had 5 simultaneous stations to rotate through, while I ran a stopwatch. My brother played judge on the Funyun Ring / Pretzel eating string. We had chopsticks to transfer marshmallows, straws to transfer Kix, with penny & cup-stacking locations too. Pro Tip: be ready to take a picture of the cup stack, in case it falls AFTER the buzzer.

IMG_4178I kept track of their score, and no tie-breakers were required. Prizes were awarded to the champion of each event. Some were silly, like a peppermint patty for the Funyon eater. Others were toys, candy-metals, etc. I also did a ‘bake night’ and ‘diy’ “bouqet” of stuff from the dollar store.

I barbequed up chicken and keilbasa kabobs, and we did the cake & ice cream thing. We got TBear a thrustmaster joystick for his computer, and an outdoors-ey boys book full of projects. (We’re working on a crossbow as I write this.) His extended family got him some always appreciated cash & Minecraft merchandise.IMG_4233

We slept hard, but not long, as we we left early to go fishing at Wallowa Lake. My brother got a fish on, but it escaped. The rest of us were feeling lucky when our bait got stolen. I missed several bites. Still, it was nice to spend a crisp morning fishing with family.


The rest of their last day was spent touring the town. We walked up and down Joseph, checking out the shops, collecting some stuff. It had been a while, and I was surprised at the new selection available. We barbequed some more for dinner, and my brother threw on some fresh asparagus too. Brushed lightly with olive oil & dusted with garlic salt, they were yummy! (This coming from a guy who gags at the mere smell of asparagus…)

It was nice to have a low-key evening at the end. In the morning they took off early for their next destination, and I had to return to reality work. It was exhausting, but hopefully they enjoyed themselves so much, they won’t be able to keep away as long. Enjoy the gallery, there are too many good photos to fit in!



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