JOSEPH — Cheryl Barker has lived in Wallowa County since 2001, coming to Joseph from southern California — a fact she still draws on to contrast her current and former homes.
She moved here with her children, who have since moved on.
Semi-retired from the food service industry, she now works a little doing paperwork for her roommate’s company.
Barker shared her thoughts on adapting to life in Wallowa County, especially not trying to change it into something it’s not.
What’s the best thing or place in Wallowa County?
As long as I’ve lived here, I still appreciate like, when you’re driving, and you see the mountains and the trees and the beautiful sky that’s blue and not full of smog. Also, I like being able to go to the doctor’s office within a couple days of calling rather than have them say, oh we can get you in in the middle of August.
What is the greatest challenge facing Wallowa County?
When I first moved up here was that I was used to natural gas and there’s no natural gas here, and having to learn to cook on an electric stove or a propane stove. Also, I don’t like the fact that I have to go all the way to La Grande for certain things that you can’t find in the county, but I just chalk that up as a day out – you get everything done at once.
What can people do to make Wallowa County a better place for all of us?
Having a fast food restaurant might be nice, but that’s something we don’t need to eat anyway. And it would be nice to see some businesses actually stay longer than a few months and disappear. But I can also understand that when people come in here and think they can open a type of shop and then without the tourists they’re not selling and they can’t keep it going and they’re closing. I guess just promote more local shopping, but I also understand that there’s times you just can’t afford to local shop. Prices are too high sometimes, but I understand that they … can’t really lower their prices just because we’re local or they wouldn’t have a business. I’ve learned to adapt.
I don’t have a problem with the town getting busy with tourists, but when you’re driving on the highway and they’ve got to slow all the way down to 20 mph to take a picture of a deer...
What have you learned from living in Wallowa County?
I’ve learned to have patience with life in general, that things are going to be a bit slower here, that I’m going to have to go outside of the county to get certain things. I’ve learned to not let things frustrate me so much because this is where I chose to live and I’ve got to adapt to the way it is … and not having the convenience of things we had in southern California.
What’s your advice for people who are thinking about moving here?
They need to come and make a long stay before they decide to move here. They need to learn how to live at a little bit slower pace, learn to be more friendly and not rush and be nice. … Notice there’s other people around. … And DON’T try to change the county into southern California.