Feet and hooves treaded the steep peaks along the Columbian Plateau long before Anthony Lakes ever brought skis to the natural powder. Oregon Trail wagon trains and the railroad system braved the mountains' jagged spires, giving rise to buildings, towns, and, eventually, a community of winter enthusiasts. Families of Telemark skiers gradually made headway into the area and attracted fellow adventurers to what was then the North Powder Lakes. During the Great Depression, the Oregon Civilian Conservation Corps built the historical Nordic Center Lodge, which is now surrounded by 29 kilometers of groomed lanes and 11 kilometers of single-track and snowshoe trails. The construction of a rough road, a day lodge, and chairlift fueled the resort's snow-based fire in the postwar boom, and modern-day additions such as a new mountain road and triple chair attract athletes from far and wide. As detailed in a feature on OutdoorsNW.com, the ski area became county property in 2010 so that it could remain in the hands of the locals whose families helped develop it.
Today, skiers might opt for a quick lesson before hitting the slopes or they can refuel with a warm cinnamon roll or bowl of housemade chili in the lodge. Near the Nordic-area campground, overnight guests can rest their bones inside a 20-foot yurt that sleeps up to eight people at a time or a 16-foot yurt that sleeps up to five?each with prime views of Gunsight Peak. Here, campers pile split firewood into a wood stove and recall the days when pioneers had to slow-roast their TV dinners over an open flame.
"Baker City's kinda big. It's got traffic lights," says Dave from the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center—traffic lights whose initial installation was funded thanks to a 1920s tax on the hotel's bordello services, which is another tale entirely. Baker City's population is just under 10,000, but the city boasts more than 100 buildings on the historic registry, which helped earn it a finalist position on Rand McNally and USA Today's Best of the Road "Most Beautiful Town" list.Tagging along for Historic Baker City's self-guided walking tour is an educational way to spot some of these distinguished domiciles up close, but for an even more authentic eastern Oregon outing, travelers can clip-clop through the streets in a horse-drawn carriage. Ron Colton, dressed in a white button-up oxford and a white cowboy hat, takes folks on leisurely equestrian rambles around town or romantic rides through flocks of wild cherubs. In a friendly country drawl with leather reins in hand, Ron points out where he saw lightning strike the cross right off the roof of the old Catholic hospital.
There's nothing quite so moving as the look of wonder in a child's eyes. Well, that's not exactly true. How about the look of wonder in the eyes of, say, 100 children? That's what you're likely to find at Children's Museum of Eastern Oregon, which offers endless possibilities for young ones to learn and explore.
The imagination is free to roam and set up shop in any of the museum's many exhibits, which include an interactive "market" and a tree-filled reading jungle. After your visit, head to the toy store to pick up an educational game, a science project, or a TV set plastered over with fun math equations.
Whimsical, romantic, and magical describe the delights that await you within Romanza. From beautiful jewelry to delicious wine, your treasure hunt is over for that elusive gift or that treasure for your home. A feast for your eyes and your soul. Romanza features items that fulfill longings you didn't know you have.