"Please let us know your thoughts on the area when you're 'back.' I keep looking for a place to retire to in a couple of years".
I'm back! In the last few yrs, I've looked, extensively, all over my home state of Idaho and criss crossed Oregon and driven up and down its coast looking for a place that met my criteria. Joseph is as close as it's gotten. Though I have some reservations with its winters, they are probably milder or on par with the other areas that appeal to me. I could see myself living there!
Here's what I found in a couple days of poking around and visiting the chamber of commerce: Lots of small farms and ranches in the valley with many, many intact old barns. Quite a few people using solar panels and green houses. Little to no (?) evidence of big ag. No box stores. A surplus of organically grown food, I'm told. A good grocery store in Enterprise. The Eagle Cap Wilderness Right there with a touted 47 trailheads, 500 miles of trails, and 60+ alpine lakes. Hells Canyon Wilderness just a hop and skip away along with many other rivers, streams, and mtn ranges. Some interesting history, prehistoric and historic. Seemingly nice locals. A charming town with a thriving art community. An unpretentious vibe. Lots of geographical diversity within a 50 mile (?) radius. Great (?) backcountry skiing. A little ski hill ~9 miles from town.
In addition to what Heather mentioned, I also see that the new hospital was "named one of the top 100 critical access hospitals in the country". Sleep lab, cancer care, orthopedic surgeon, PT, 40 nurses, etc. As I understand, besides an acupuncturist in the community, there's also an individual providing alternative health care.
Crap. I'm sounding like a sales person......
Here's the downside for me...besides the winters which I normally don't care for: Being tucked back in the corner that this community is makes access/egress a bit slow...but that undoubtedly help shape its charm. I also wasn't overly wild about Wallowa Lake (reservoir) and its south end area but I wouldn't let it deter me. There were deer all over and in town lounging around and on peoples doorsteps. Not that I mind at all but it would add a challenge to gardening/edible landscaping.
All in all, if you can't tell, I like that place.