In only two weeks, on April 28th, Wallowa Lake Lodge will open its doors to guests. But already, a number of long-time summer guests are arriving. A tour of the Lodge’s spacious grounds this week found them setting up their homes, and making family plans.
Three Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) -- large brown-speckled migratory woodpeckers that dine mostly on ants and beetles and live for about 9 years-- raced from tree to tree above the wetlands. Threesomes are problematic, whether bird or beast. In this case, two males vied for the attention of a single female. The aerial acrobatics-- fast and at times furious—centered around a Douglas Fir snag with many inviting holes for nesting. I’m not sure which suitor prevailed. But we can expect to see a new brood of Flickers come late May—which is good, because this native woodpecker’s population has declined by almost 50% since 1966, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Flicker/lifehistory
Steller’s Jays (Cyanocitta stelleri), a mostly summer resident at the Lodge, explored the cabins and lodge grounds, staking out summer territory. A bold, inquisitive and intelligent bird, they are close cousins of crows (Corvidae), with an iridescent blue body and attention-grabbing black crest of feathers on their heads. Like crows, Steller’s Jays prosper where there are humans. They frequent campgrounds (Think Wallowa Lake State Park….) picnic areas, as well as the Lodge and its cabins. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Stellers_Jay/lifehistory
Meanwhile, at Wallowa Lake Lodge, http://wallowalakelodge.com/ the staff continues updates, improvements, and planning for the 2017 season.
At the front desk, David Earley serves future guests the old-fashioned way--by phone and in person -- and has also mastered the Lodge’s new, 21st Century, computer reservation system. Dave has deep roots in the community and at the Lodge. He is a fourth-generation Wallowa County resident. His heritage includes a great-grandmother who was a member of the Imnaha Band, Nez Perce. And both his grandfather—a packer and rancher—and grandmother are pictured in a late 1920’s Lodge photo of his grandfather's pack-string in front of the Lodge. “I love this place,” Dave said. “It’s my home.” You can meet him, and learn more about Lodge history almost any day at the Lodge’s front desk.
This year, June Newburn has stepped into the Hotel Manager position. June began working the Lodge’s front desk in 2009. With long experience in management and administration, and a reverence for customer service, June is the perfect person to lead the Lodge’s hotel staff. “I’m here to ensure the comfort of our guests,” she said, “and to make sure every fine detail is taken care of.”
Tom Clevenger, the Facilities Engineer, occupies a new position created to keep the Lodge’s physical plant running smoothly. His background includes building inspection, contracting, and 20 years as a fire-fighter. Today, he is a volunteer with the Joseph Fire Department. Tom will make repairs, keep electrical, plumbing, and other systems updated, and help plan for the future. This spring he’s upgraded and installed new floors in the kitchen’s freezer and cold room, renovated some fire-extinguisher and plumbing systems, and, with June’s husband, Keith, is building a small storage building that will keep firewood for the cabins dry year-round. “I’m a real proponent of ‘Let’s fix it right the first time,” he said.
The Steller’s Jays, Flickers, and other denizens of the Lodge grounds probably won’t need Tom’s services as they set up Spring housekeeping (Though he isn’t averse to putting up a bird house or bat box or two.) They won’t be taking advantage of the Lodge’s state-of-the art reservation system, or even its old-fashioned phone-in service. But they’ll be here to greet you, along with deer, red-tailed hawks, and eagles, David, June, and Tom, when the Lodge opens April 28th.