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Late Winter is the Perfect Time to Visit Joseph Oregon

January Morning S Thompson

Lately the skies around Joseph, Oregon, have been more than beautiful with the late winter sun. I can’t always get outside in time to capture the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Luckily, our guest Sherry caught this image on her iPhone. She and her husband just left after spending a couple of days unwinding here at the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast. They own a small business in a large town about 3 hours away here in Eastern Oregon and wanted a midweek getaway far enough to be removed but close enough to get home if something were to go awry.

How did they occupy themselves? With some of the slow-paced, typical wintertime activities. Sherry is a quilter, so there was the mandatory visit (actually, more than one visit) to Cattle Country Quilts on the north end of downtown Joseph. This wonderful shop has a full selection of quilt fabrics, notions, patterns, and everything else the quilter needs. Plus they hold classes, some of which can be done over a weekend. On the first weekend of April (April 2 and 3, 2016), renowned quilter Peggy Gelbrich will be at Cattle County Quilts to teach a couple of one-day specialty quilt classes. Combining that with a weekend getaway to the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast might be in a quilter’s plans.

When it was time for lunch, they dropped in at Terminal Gravity Microbrewery in Enterprise. This is the place where Terminal Gravity beer originates, or as our friends at Terminal Gravity like to say, “Middle of Nowhere. Center of the Universe.” And it truly is. They were lucky enough to find a place to sit downstairs in the pub (not a lot of seating there, but plenty more tucked away on the second floor). Terminal Gravity hosts a variety of musical events throughout the winter months to help chase the cold away. February 2016 features Bryan John Appleby and Bart Budwig for an evening of music on February 10th. In the winter, Terminal Gravity is open every day except for Tuesday.

Where else to go in the winter if the weather’s a little dicey? Since they were already in Enterprise, Sherry and her husband stopped in to look at books and artwork at The Bookloft. This indie bookshop and its accompanying Skylight Gallery has been serving Wallowa County residents and visitors for longer than I can remember. It’s the perfect place to stop in for a coffee and a scone, look through the selection of local books as well as the bestsellers, perhaps pick up a gift in the Skylight Gallery, or just hang around for a few hours and take in the steady stream of locals coming through the doors. Open every day but Sunday across from the Wallowa County Courthouse.

It’s time for an afternoon drive. Sherry and her husband cruised down the highway to the little burg of Lostine, midway through the Wallowa Valley, and about 20 minutes from Joseph. This little town is going through something of a renaissance. The M. Crow & Co. Store has been a fixture in Lostine for over one hundred years and stocks local groceries for Lostine residents and the passersby, but you’ll also find a variety of unique products including those either made in Wallowa County or made of Wallowa County materials. Be sure to ask about the owner, Tyler Hays, a descendant of one of the old families and an incredible entrepreneur in his own right. He purchased this store to keep it and its heritage from disappearing.

While in Lostine, Sherry and her husband also stopped in for an early evening glass of wine at the renovated Lostine Tavern. This little farm-to-table restaurant is committed to supporting local ranchers, farmers and other producers in the spirit of sustainable agriculture, and making all this wonderful local food available to the public through their restaurant. You’ll find a wide variety of Walla Walla wines available, regional microbrew beers on tap, a casual atmosphere, and a menu featuring seasonal specialties as well as a core of favorites. Don’t forget to save room for the carrot cake!

Not wanting to be out on the winter roads long after dark, Sherry and her husband returned to Joseph and dinner two blocks away at the Stubborn Mule Saloon & Steakhouse. This place offers the quiet restaurant side which is fairly simple and good for conversation, or the saloon side where you can play a couple rounds of pool and have your dinner. In winter, the Stubborn Mule is open every day but Monday. The menu is good, standard American fare, with smoked prime rib on Saturday nights (better get there early). And being located only two small town-sized blocks from the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast makes the Stubborn Mule a natural during the winter for a short drive or a brisk walk.

There are plenty of other low key, late winter activities near Joseph, Oregon, like a trip to Wallowa Lake to see the ever changing fountain-turned-ice sculpture in front of the Wallowa Lake Lodge. Or a leisurely 26 mile drive and a 2,000′ elevation drop away into the canyon country to the hamlet of Imnaha and the famous Imnaha Store and Tavern. Or a cruise up to Flora and its pioneer cemetery. Or a bronze foundry tour in Joseph or Enterprise. Or the art galleries lining the streets of Joseph. Whatever your interests, we’re happy to help you figure out how you’d like to spend your time.  As for Sherry and her husband, they left relaxed and refreshed. Til next time!