Every January during the long MLK Day weekend we trek east from Portland to Joesph, Oregon. It's a great little town sitting at the northern end of Wallowa Lake and the base of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, serving as both a wilderness gateway and home base for local fisheries and forest service workers. A unique of mix of artists, cowboys, hermits and retirees, it's the type of town that would be ruined by never-ending ice cream and trinket shops if only three hours closer to Portland.
Teresa (pictured, center with the blue cell phone) owns the Embers Brewhouse on Main Street. A nice mix of local hangout and cozy winter watering hole, it's not divey and has a ton of beer on tap. Every year Teresa hosts what used to be the Wallowa County Jalapeno Eating Contest--now the Hot Wings Eating Contest after one too many complaints about the nastiness of the pickled jalapenos they served up for the competition. Maria Ellis--my partner--was actually the first woman to win the inaugural contest, eating 10. Since then, winners have averaged 50 as it became more popular. Every year, amidst the "you're from Portland eh?" snickering that we usually get during election seasons, Teresa remembers us, goes out of her way to say hello, and always tries to convince Maria to throw her hat in the ring again. I took this shot of Teresa just as the 2017 Hot Wing contest started.