LaGrande, Oregon

We spent the night in LaGrande, Oregon last night on our 1,200 mile trek to Rocky Mountain National Park. Our goal is to put in 300 miles per day for the first four days, and then we can slow down a little bit. LaGrande is a good day's drive from Portland, and we've stayed at this park before. It has an interesting history. The name of the park is Eagle's Hot Lake RV Park, and it is situated next to the Hot Lake Hotel, which is on the National Historic Registry of Places. Here's an image of how it looked in its heyday:

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the Hot Lake Hotel:

Hot Lake Hotel is a hotel originally built in 1864 in Hot Lake, Union County, Oregon, United States. The hotel became a popular vacation and resting spot due to its relaxing thermal waters. It was purchased by Dr. W. T. Phy in 1917 who developed state-of-the-art medical facilities including a hospital and surgery room with the most modern X-ray and radiation treatments of the time. It functioned dually as a resort and hospital until 1934, when a fire destroyed the majority of the original building, which contained nearly 300 rooms.
From then on, the remaining brick structure served as a nursing home, asylum, and restaurant before being abandoned and falling into disrepair in 1991. Prior owners included future governor Walter M. Pierce and former state senator Parish L. Willis who were major shareholders of the Hot Lake Sanatorium Company in the 1910s. In 2007, the property was re-purchased and restored, and as of 2010, functions as a bed and breakfast, museum, and spa.

Interesting, huh? Here's how it looked on our previous two visits here:

I can't recall what year it was last time we were here, but the windows were covered with plastic sheeting as if someone were going to fix the place up. And they have! It now functions as a Bed & Breakfast. I'm always happy when such an old and storied structure gets new life.

This is a nice park, far away from freeway noise. There is a train that rolls through with a fair amount of frequency, but it doesn't blow its horn, and it only rumbles the earth a little bit. This is noteworthy because it has been our observation that RV parks are almost always located right next to the freeway or the railroad tracks. In fact, there is a park in Stockton, California, that has railroad tracks on both sides. 

There isn't a lot to tell you since our day yesterday consisted of nothing more interesting than 300 miles of freeway driving on I-84. That isn't entirely accurate because I-84 takes one through the beautiful Columbia Gorge. After living in Portland since 1978, The Columbia Gorge has become ho-hum to these jaded travelers and so we just drove on through with nary a picture. 

When we reached Eastern Oregon, we realized that we were at the southern end of The Palouse. While the landscape wasn't as dramatically undulating as its northern reaches, it still had the characteristic colors.

If you're new to this blog, then you might enjoy reading about our travels in The Palouse from last spring. There are some better pictures of what I'm talking about there.

When we arrived and got parked, we lounged around like two limp rags for a while. When it was close to sunset, we walked around the place, and found it to be quite lovely. There are hot springs in the area (thus, Hot Lake). On previous visits, we've been here in the spring when the weather is cooler, and it gets dark earlier. It is possible to see steam rising from some of the hot springs. Yesterday, we walked along this little stream lined with reeds and filled with lilypads.

The park is adjacent to the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Refuge, which stretches on as far as the eye can see.

Pretty much any tree or post standing vertically had some sort of bird house mounted on it,

including this eagle's nest, now abandoned for the season.

Here are some other things we saw:

We always bring our shadow selves along. They don't take up much room, and they are light packers.

We thought this might be an elk hoof print. If I'd been thinking, I would have put my foot there for scale, but I'm estimating it was three inches from heel to toe (if one can say that elk have heels and toes).

Here is Hot Lake, and you can see the hotel off in the distance.

Mike climbed over the rocks to feel the water to see if it was hot (it wasn't). I kept the camera at the ready just in case something, you know, interesting happened in this process.

We thought this dump site would be useful only to those with the shyest of bladders and who were extremely anal retentive.

There was something sort of magical about these dandelions with the sun glinting off their "fur". (Cat people see fur wherever they look.)

And I love cat tails, especially the two traveling with us.

So that's all I have to tell you for today. In an hour or so, we'll continue on our way toward Colorado. I expect we'll get to eastern Idaho today, although there's a chance we could cross over into northern Utah. 

We congratulated ourselves last night (dare I say it?) because we didn't run into the back of anything, nothing broke, the awning stayed firmly attached to the trailer, there were no tire tread separations, our trailer jacks are functioning as expected, our bed was not infested with carpenter ants, and there were no escapees from the trailer when we pulled in and opened the door for the first time. (Yes, these are all things that have happened to us in our travels.) I'm knocking on wood now and crossing my fingers and toes that the rest of the trip will be as uneventful as yesterday...possibly with some better scenery.

More later.

21 comments from clever and witty friends:

WoolenSails said...

That looks like a nice spot to stop and rest for the night. Lots of nice area to walk around, except for the creepy hotel, lol.


Stray Stitches (Linda G) said...

Thank you for sharing the beginnings of your travels. Love the photos of the dandelions and the cat tails. The one of the dandelions looks almost mystic.

gpc said...

Beautiful, I envy you this lovely trip. Your shadow selves look like pleasant companions, nice of you to take them along.

Colleen said...

Yeah road trip". Just have to warn you to watch your trailer tires. We had one blow after only 4!days of driving this summer. They were only 2011and had not seen that much use. The others showed signs of failure. Come to find out they had put tires with too low of a speed rating and the wrong valve stems. Factory installed tires! Good luck!

Lyndsey said...

Love the photos, the dandelions are beautiful and your shadow selves seem great companions to have along.

Ray and Jeanne said...

Thanks for sharing! I wish for your good luck to continue and that your trip may be without incident! ~Jeanne

Marla said...

I absolutely love your blog and thank you for taking us with you on your trip. I lost my beloved four year old calico kitty this morning from renal failure. My heart is broken. I know you would understand even if you don't know me. Have you ever had a cat with kidney disease? Apparently after researching it I have found it is quite common. Be safe in your travels.

Junebug613 said...

I enjoy joining you from afar in your travels. You always have fantastic photos and informative tidbits about the places you visit. Sending you positive vibes for a safe and uneventful journey. Well, except the events that you want and enjoy!

BeachQuilter said...

I loved this post! My mom and sister were born in LaGrande! The Columbia Gorge has been one of my favorite places since childhood. And... my sister installed 40 of those bird houses on her property in Sisters. Thanks for the memories!

Tami C said...

I'm really glad that everything is going smoothly. That's such a nice way to start out a long trip. I smiled when I saw the light packers you took along with you on your trip. I like the photos of the dandelions and the cat tails. I'll do a little wood knocking and cross my fingers for you as well. Glad I could follow along with you on your trip!

Dana Gaffney said...

Beautiful pictures! although that hotel looks spooky and haunted. I think you're a little crazy to be congratulating yourselves when you've just started out, life is always ready to have a laugh at our expense, so save that for when you're safely home. Meanwhile have a great time, how's the knee?

joyce said...

There was an article on the renovation of the hotel in yesterday's Sunday Oregonian. It is worth a read. Have a fun trip.

Gloria said...

Thank you so much for the lovely details and insights you provide. I feel like I am traveling with you. Can't wait to see more discoveries. Blessing on your days ahead.

Brown Family said...

LaGrange looks lovely! That is an interesting B&B. Thank you for sharing your trip!

kc said...

Lovely ride-along, and you've chosen a nice relaxing park for overnight. Glad to hear the journey's been uneventful - fingers crossed it stays that way.

hugs all around!

LethargicLass said...

who knew eagles were such paragons of engineering! :)

Jacque said...

No need to answer this comment, just checking in to see how you're doing....I enjoy traveling with you! :)

Dar said...

I'm loving my trip to Colorado via Portland with you. I've never been there from that direction. Nice pictures too.

quiltzyx said...

And awaaaay we go! It is always so much fun travelling with you Barbara. :D

Those dandelions look like they are electric! May the whole trip continue on as it has started.

Patti said...

I will be following your postings with great interest, as we hope to follow a similar path next fall with our tent trailer. I'm especially interested to see where you stay each night. I need to put this place on a list. We will be heading to the national parks in southern Utah, so will follow the same "trail" for the first part of the trip.

Kate said...

I love the dandelion shot! So glad your first stage was very uneventful.