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  • Missi and Mister Baker, Inc.

Eastern Oregon!

Updated: Jun 17

We spent the last several days traversing Eastern Oregon, and boy, was it beautiful. If there is a “best time of year” to travel that direction from Portland, mid-June might be it. The weather was so mild, with very little rain and lots of lush greens and flowers abloom.

Portland to Pendleton

L-R: Cap by Imogene & Willie, Nashville, TN; The Gorge, Oregon side, IH-84 East.

We hit the road through the Columbia River Gorge on June 13 to play an evening show at Pendleton Center for the Arts in the lovely historic 1916 Carnegie Library situated on the banks of the Umatilla River downtown. The Center and its activities are deftly managed by artist Roberta Lavadour, who has been overseeing the organization for eighteen years. 

Clockwise, L-R: Mojo Holler on the steps of Pendleton Center for the Arts; John and Randy backstage; Mojo Holler concert June 13, 2024; Linner Mishler was our gracious hostess- and her cat knows how to play pool!

This trip marked several anniversaries for each of us -- bittersweet and joyful -- including John’s and my wedding anniversary, the one year mark of Randy joining Mojo Holler, and the recent one year anniversary of Tracey Fordice’s passing (April 27). We were also belatedly celebrating John’s milestone birthday.

Tracey was born and raised in Pendleton, and her family owned Liberty Cleaners. She cut her teeth performing in this region and ended up becoming a Big Deal in the Pacific NW because of her talent -- she had the voice of an angel and the wit of a sailor, and we still love her so much. Many people in the audience at Pendleton Center for the Arts knew her, and Randy gave them copies of her CDs after the show.

Top: Randy Yearout and Tracey Fordice; Tracey performs at The Aladdin Theater in late 2022

Bottom: Tracey and her father in Pendleton; Tracey's resting place with her parents.

Pendleton to Joseph

On Friday, John and I continued eastward to celebrate our anniversary. The drive to Joseph featured an expansiveness we’ve been craving, with wind farms, vast fields, wildflowers, and Susan Gibson's Wide Open Spaces on the radio.

Missi and John, June 15, 2018

Joseph, Oregon is situated at the foothills of the Wallowa Mountains. We stayed at the Indian Lodge Motel, which was easily one of the most comfortable and affordable digs we’ve stayed in, ever. The Wallowa County Museum had two extremely knowledgeable docents who gave us lots of inside info! The historic women’s jail was a large metal cage-like structure out back with a slim slot for food and barely any room to turn around. Um, let’s hope it wasn’t necessary very often? We had a great meal at the Stubborn Mule Saloon, omg- surf and turf for about $23 and a fantastic waiter.

L-R, clockwise: 1) John, clearly ready for dinner, stands in front of the towering Wallowa Mountains and our friendly Indian Lodge Motel; 2) a sweet backyard visitor; 3) Wallowa County Museum; 4) Stubborn Mule Saloon in Joseph, OR

Joseph to John Day

On Saturday as we headed toward John Day we made a snap decision to detour to the tiny former gold mining town of Sumpter, pop. 204, on the way. Great move, because we met some interesting and talkative locals and ate a damn good brisket sandwich at the Sumpter Nugget Cafe. The Sumpter Museum was expertly womanned by two ladies who gave us great information about the historic gold dredge, which was operational nonstop for many years.

Historic gold dredge, Sumpter, OR

When we arrived in historic John Day, we learned that nearby Canyon City was hosting its annual '62 Days Celebration, so we hightailed it over and caught the tail end of the local band James Gang Band’s excellent performance. Did a little shopping at the craft booths, and as we were driving out, we caught sight of the seemingly tiny Grant County Historical Museum, but oh, my friends- it was chock full!

We stopped and took in about an hour’s worth of Oregon history, including walking into the original cabin of poet laureate Joachin Miller, the first county judge, and, by many accounts, an all-around scoundrel in that region’s history. Next to the cabin sits the (relocated) local jailhouse of the ghost town Greenhorn, Oregon.

John spends some time in the Greenhorn Jail, Sumpter, OR

John Day to Columbia River Gorge

On Sunday at the last minute as we were leaving, we decided to change our route and come back to Portland via Hwy 26 through the mystical, majestic Travel Through Time corridor, which left us speechless in awe.

Randy suggested we take a quick detour once we got back to I-84 by visiting the Stonehenge Memorial in Maryhill. Great advice! The monument to fallen soldiers is quite lovely and overlooks the Columbia River Gorge with its lush orchards and vineyards.

As we left, we grabbed a couple of pounds of freshly picked red cherries and headed back home, thankful for the beauty of this green Earth and for our true love.

Maryville Stonehenge, June 2024

UP NEXT: We're on to Netarts next weekend for a show at our beloved Schooner. Come join us!

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