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TFTR: Nik and Dusty Explore Beautiful Baker City (VIDEO!)

Hey everybody! This will be a bittersweet blog to write, because this blog represents our last dispatch from the road. We’re actually in Seattle now, prepping for closing ceremonies for Best of the Road and shooting lots of stuff for the Travel Channel Show (which airs July 25th at 8 p.m. EST by the way). We’ll certainly have lots more to blog about in coming days – so certainly keep checking in on us – but in terms of our blogs from the towns in our categories, this will be it. :(

The great news is, we’re ending on a very high note. We spent a couple of fantastic days in Baker City, Oregon and have finished the official TFTR video from our visit. Check it out! And read on below for more details about our time and our adventures there…

Good stuff, huh? What a great place Baker City is, and what a great time we had there.

So, here’s a more detailed account of our stay in town, beginning with our first full day of activities, which kicked off with a town parade. How cool is that? I’m telling ya folks, the police escorts into town and parades never get old. Pretty fun stuff. In fact, we’re not sure what it’s gonna be like getting home without someone throwing us a parade. :)

The parade ended at City Hall, where a group of locals gathered to welcome us. The mayor even gave us a key to the city! (Another thing that never gets old.) This key was a little different from other keys we’ve received on this trip. It was HUGE! Dusty immediately said “I can’t wait to see the door this key opens”.  But hey we’re from Texas after all. Where everything is bigger! Right? Anyway, it was a wonderful welcome and we so appreciated it.

This is where we met the fine young folks from the Baker High School Film/Arts Club. They were set to follow us on our journey for the next two days in Baker City, filming it all and learning a little from us (hopefully) as they went along. They seemed like a great bunch of kiddos and we were excited to be working with them.

From City Hall, we took a stroll through downtown Baker City and made several stops, including a tour of the Geiser Grand Hotel that you see in the video. We eventually landed at the Adler House, which is a completely renovated and restored 1889 Italianate home once owned by Leo Adler. In fact, he lived there for 94 years. Leo made a fortune in the magazine business and left $21 million to Baker City. High school graduates in Baker County (not just the town, but the entire county) are eligible for a college scholarship because of Leo Adler. Pretty incredible if you ask us. And what a beautiful place the Adler House is.

Next up, the Thomas Angus Ranch Party Barn. Did someone say ‘Party’? Already? It’s only noon. Wow y’all! What a beautiful place the Thomas Angus Ranch is. Beautiful land with an amazing view of the Elkhorn Mountains. Simply stunning! We watched as the cowboys herded the cattle in. Being from Texas, it was a beautiful sight! Then came the real fun. Time to rope us some dummies. Dusty roped his on the 3rd try – he is talented in every way! It’s not fair! I never did actually rope my dummy – legally that is. I just simply tossed the rope over the horns and called it done. I hope they let me back into Texas after seeing that poor attempt. :) Maybe I was just too hungry to rope.

Luckily about that time the dinner bell rang. Yum! We had been smelling steaks on the grill since we got there. We knew they were gonna be dee-lish and couldn’t wait to dig in! What a spread! We had thick cut beautiful steaks, broccoli salad, spinach salad, pinto beans, bread, and sweet mint tea! Lunch was great, the company was wonderful, and the scenery couldn’t be beat. Thanks to Thomas Angus Ranch and Certified Angus Beef for an amazing experience!

How could Baker City possibly follow that up? Turns out they had something very special in store for Dusty. Just so happened the Baker City Wooden Bat tournament was in town.  And guess who got to throw out the first pitch? Yup, you got it – my sweet husband! What an honor that was for him – Dusty is a huge baseball fan. So when they announced on the loud speaker who was up to pitch, my husband was absolutely giddy! Dusty Green, with the Best of the Road Rally! How cool! He was like a 12 year old kid again out there. Really special stuff. And he threw a perfect pitch I might add. Oh how I love that man!

About this time is when the entire trip became a dream for Dusty. Starting with him throwing the first pitch. Next up – ice cream. Another one of his faves! We met with several dozen local folks at lovely Geiser Pollman Park. It was wonderful having time to meet and really talk to the local folks. And the ice cream of course was wonderful. They even had huckleberry ice cream. Something neither of us had every tried. Yum!

The kids from the film club were there as well.  I know I mentioned it already, but they’re an amazing bunch of kiddos! Up to this point, they had followed us and filmed every moment. And it turns out, they are going to put together several little videos of their own. We found that to be very unique and very interesting. More about them later.

We followed that up with an amazing evening at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. What a beautiful establishment that was. And the setting could not have been better. By sheer luck the Oregon State Wagon Train was there, passing through town on a 1000 mile journey to Walla Walla. All the folks were in period costumes and out there doing the real thing, re-living the settlers’ experiences. It was remarkable. We had a great dinner complete with local wine and beer.  After dinner, we all made it out to the wagon train and listened to some great music like ‘Home Home on the Range’ and ‘This Land is Your Land’.

And just when we thought things couldn’t be any better, we saw what might be the most beautiful sunset on our trip. What an incredible evening! I think one of my favorite parts was when one of the kids from the film club came up to us and said, “You know, I’ve never seen a sunset from this place. And having you here reminds all of us what a wonderful town we live in. And makes us realize that maybe we sometimes take it for granted. We just want to thank you for coming to our town and letting us join you.”

How cool is that? From a teenager, no less. Pretty special.

But, it wasn’t  over yet! Remember when I said the trip became a dream for Dusty. Well, they still had more in store for us in Baker City. The next morning we woke up bright and early to go fly fishing. Now if you know Dusty, you know he loves fly fishing. As luck would have it, Todd Davidson, the executive director of the Oregon Tourism Commission, happened to be in Baker City and just happened to have a couple of extra fly rods.  He even offered to take us to the Powder River to fish.

We drove out to a beautiful spot along the Powder River west of Baker City and cast our lines. And wouldn’t you know it, within 10 minutes Dusty had a fish on! And I even caught a fish just a few minutes later. It was a great experience! Thanks so much to Todd for taking us out there! Great fun!

One more thing on Dusty’s dream vacation. :) We took a ride on an old, historic steam locomotive railway, the Sumpter Valley Railroad. It really was like taking a step back in time. But  one thing we weren’t able to fit in the video was the train robbery. Yep! An actual old-west train robbery! A few miles into the ride, a group of “bandits” on horseback emerged from the trees and sped alongside the train, engaging in a mock gunfight with a couple of “marshals” that rode along with us. It was great fun, and very well done. The best part was seeing the looks on all the kids’ faces who were riding the train with us. They were beaming, smiling from ear to ear. It’s cool knowing that’s something they’ll probably remember the rest of their lives. So go take a ride on the train when you get the chance. You’ll love it!

As we finished up the day, we met the film club kids back at a local shop called Bellas to say our goodbyes. Let me tell you, we were so impressed by these young adults. They were so professional, so hard working, and so fun to be around. Dusty lovingly nicknamed them the “Spider Monkeys,” because those kids were everywhere during our visit. On every block it seemed, hiding behind every car, around every corner… with their video cameras a-rollin’ all the while. We know they will do great things! Thanks guys!

So our time in Baker City is over. In fact, our time in all of our towns is over. So surreal, so amazing, so touching, so unforgettable. More on that later my friends. Can’t write any more about that without crying. It’s gonna be hard to say goodbye to this experience….

Until next time! Cheers!