When you live on the road, you learn pretty quickly there’s no such thing as “same old, same old…” as in “same old thing, over and over.” Even re-visiting now-familiar places gives us a chance to experience new aspects of it.
And in the first days of October 2015 it was still too hot in the southwest (at least for us) to hurry down there, so we meandered in that direction… well, sort of. Mostly. We went south from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington by way of eastern Oregon, side-stepping any wildfires still smoking.
I’ve written before about the many things we like about the smallish town of La Grande, OR (Mamacita’s restaurant, hiking the MERA — Mount Emily Recreation Area, local farmers’ market, more hiking…) so I won’t repeat all of that. We spent nearly three weeks here, mostly hiking, but adding a few new adventures as well.
Hiking the same trail only gets boring if you’re not paying attention. Taking a second to stop, look up, look down, look around, usually rewards you with something you would have missed. Something small and wonderful.
Like, what’s up with this tree?
And what in the world is hanging from that branch??
Dead deer. Victim of neighborhood wolves or bears, then a human neighbor pulled what was left into the tree to keep it from attracting more predators along the trail (so a local man told us when we passed him a few days later).
Well-disguised by the branches around it, I had to patiently watch and wait before I spotted the singer of such a melodious song, this Swainson’s Thrush:
Another day, another bird call captured our attention. We studied the nearby trees until, far up in the trunk of one of them we spotted this Downy Woodpecker:
We waited several minutes, but it didn’t seem interested in coming out of its cozy hole to give us a better view, so on we went.
Sometimes you don’t have to venture into the woods to find wildlife. The RV park had its resident feathered friends (including some Brown Creepers, we were told, which we didn’t see), like this Hairy Woodpecker, knocking away on a tree:
And who knows what in the world had the attention of these Starlings?
We happened to be in La Grande the same weekend as the Eastern Oregon University homecoming. Though we were encouraged to see the parade — the biggest event of the year, some locals told us — we opted instead to pay our $5 to attend the football game on a perfect mid-October Saturday.
The visiting University of Montana – Western Bulldogs were favored, but we were temporarily local residents, to we rooted for the home team, the Lumberjacks.
At halftime, we were introduced to the 1964 Championship Lumberjacks…
…entertained by the pom-pom team…
…watched the visiting kicker practice…
…and waited for the marching band…
…and waited. But no band. Oh, well! We had plenty of entertainment for our $10!
On a quiet Sunday too cloudy to risk hiking, we headed down a country road to explore nearby towns, including Union, Oregon…
…where it was so quiet it seemed like we were the only ones out and about, except the deer:
Even the Rexall drug store was closed, meaning the Homemade Peach Cobbler on the special sign was out of our reach:
The streets were truly this empty…
… with everything locked up tight:
We were surprised to see the gates across the door of the closed business, but maybe those helped explain this sign, which sounded a little tongue-in-cheek (maybe?):
But we did find the one open business in town, which happened to have a tasty lunch…
…and a clever name, the Union Stoplight. Their slogan? “The only stoplight in town.”