WHY THE WALLOWAS
My husband had been from Coos Bay and throughout our marriage he had begged that we move to Oregon. I thought all of Oregon was like Coos Bay, its major downfall being next to the sea. Having survived many hurricanes while living in Mississippi, the most devastating being hurricanes Camille and Katrina, I wanted no part of ocean life and respectfully declined that idea.
In 2007 Richard suggested we go on vacation to anywhere in Oregon. I agreed, as long as I could plan the trip. A web search led me to Joseph, Oregon and I fell in love with the scenes which reminded me so much of Lewistown, Montana. There, Richard and I had met, married and lived for six years. When we later moved to Mississippi, not a day passed that I didn’t long for those mountains and plains.
After driving across the country, we entered the valley where my eyes fell upon the Wallowas. I immediately knew I was home.
That week spent touring the area, including Baker City, proved I could indeed live in Oregon. The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center was the final persuasion. Richard was a professional storyteller who recounted stories he had gleaned from the diaries of pioneer women on that long trek.
We headed home, inspired by his dream to be involved with that history organization. I would get mountains.
Within five months I gladly announced the last bill had been paid which freed us to move. But he said, “I don’t know why, but my gut is saying now is not the time.”
The next month he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Twelve months later he was gone. Through all of that, and the dark months which followed, the Wallowa Mountains always loomed in the fog of my mind, as though calling “Come.”
I began to see daylight four years later. My sons, Matthew and Sam, suggested I move close to them. I now wonder if they sensed my restlessness and wanted to keep an eye on me. Upon visiting them to consider such a move, two things became apparent:
1. They wanted to boss me around.
2. I could not control my urge to advise them on how to raise their children. They felt very comfortable declining my wisdom, thank you very much.
With this useful information, I loaded my Trailblazer and headed west.
Originally published September 9, 2015 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.