Hiking & Wine: Pacific Northwest Style

I recently realized that I’ve been only posting about once a week the past couple weeks. I guess that is because I’ve been having some fun the past few weekends. I had the opportunity to go hiking with some co-workers a couple Saturdays ago and this past weekend I visited a winery/vineyard in Washington. Both were experiences that I would not be able to duplicate in Wisconsin.

I went hiking at Wallowa Lake, which is about 75 miles from La Grande. In actuality, it’s probably closer than that because it’s just over the Wallowa Mountain Range. However, we had to drive around the mountains to get there. It was a beautiful drive. It was nice to be a passenger so I could just soak in the scenery. Plus, other people knew where they were going, I did not. Wallowa Lake is one of those places that I was told multiple times by multiple individuals that I HAD to visit there before I left. It’s known as Oregon’s “Switzerland.” The actual hike wasn’t bad at all. It was about an hour long and our destination was a waterfall that was part of a mountain “stream.” It was a hot day and gorgeous all at the same time. It was nice once we got to the water because it was ice cold!

View of Wallowa Lake along our hike

Destination: Ice Cold Waterfall!

Prior to coming out to Oregon, I was not a huge outdoor/hiking person. I had done some hiking before – one of my favorite previous hikes was at Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin. I would like to continue to going hiking and traveling around Wisconsin to enjoy the nature that is in my home state. That’s something I haven’t done a whole lot of – enjoyed all the different things that Wisconsin has to offer. It’ll still be good weather for a few months when I get back. I’ll have to get some hiking in before the snow flies.

Wallowa Lake is somewhat of a tourist area seeing as there are several things to do: hiking, camping, boating, etc. One of the neat things we decided to do was to take the tram up to the top of Mt. Howard. We ascended about 5,000 feet to the top of the mountain in about 15 minutes. It’s a good thing I’m not that afraid of heights because we were at an elevation of 8,200 feet at the summit of the mountain! After lunch at the outdoor cafe on the mountain, we did some more hiking around the summit.

The views along this hike explain why Wallowa Lake is Oregon’s “Switzerland.” It was stunning and so peaceful. Of course, the peacefulness was interwoven with laughter, visiting, and a small snowball fight. Yes, a snowball fight! There was still some snow on top of the mountain and we came across some right next to the trail. We couldn’t resist. The snow was especially fun because there were a few Midwesterners in our group. Myself and Le (he’s from IL) hadn’t seen snow in July before, so it was great fun for us! Well, I’ll the pictures speak for themselves.

View from the top of Mt. Howard

Me, 8,200 feet high! Believe or not, I’ve been higher in elevation. Jenny & I drove through a mountain pass in Wyoming that was just over 9,000 feet high.

The group on the very summit of Mt. Howard. L-R: Elilai, Bennie, Christy, Le, & myself (Linda’s behind the camera).

Fun weekend trip #2 in this post was to the wine country of Washington state. I had never visited a winery or vineyard before, so I wanted to find one that I could take a tour at and learn more. Even in my fun and travels, education still seems to be at the forefront. ūüôā I soon quickly realized that I had a TON of wineries to choose from and I just wanted one. I did some research on the Yakima Wineries website, along with the Washington Tourism website. Both were extremely helpful. I found a winery/vineyard that had tours and tastings on Saturdays. I was sold. I ventured my way north about two hours from La Grande and found myself in Benton City, WA, at the Terra Blanca Winery & Estate Vineyard.


From the grape to the barrel. I had some fun playing with perspective while I was taking pictures.

Delicious would probably be the best way to describe the day. Our group endured some heat and enjoyed a stroll in a part of the vineyard. We learned about how the establishment started in the mid-1990s and production process for the wine. Terra Blanca sits on the same latitude as Bordeaux, France,¬†and they¬†are working on giving¬†French wines a run for their money. The¬†two locations have similar climate and explains why there are so many wineries/vineyards¬†near Terra Blanca in¬†Washington.¬†We tasted 7 different wines throughout the tour. I’m not the hugest red wine person, but I had some yummy ones on the tour. Prior to the tour, I had the opportunity to taste some wines that weren’t being featured on the tour. Also yummy. After the tour, I bought myself a couple bottles of wine – both whites and delicious. I also just sat on their terrace and enjoyed the view – and took a few pictures of their gorgeous property.

Trying to be a bit artsy with my photography.

View of Yakima Valley from the terrace of the winery.


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