Dorena Lake, Cottage Grove, Oregon

Baker Bay Campground
September 16, 2011

Baker Bay MarinaIt seemed like it was mid-August before summer really took hold in Oregon this year, and by mid-September, it was still hanging on -- sunny and in the upper 80's. Kate and I took off late Friday afternoon for nearby Cottage Grove. We had intended to camp at Pine Meadows Campground on Cottage Grove Lake, but when we got there, we were dismayed to see the campground already closed for the season. So we went to Baker Bay Campground on Dorena Lake. This campground is normally way too packed in for us in the summer, but when we got there, the place was all but empty. We found a nice spot next to the lake where we could pull up our canoe.

Unfortunately, when Kate went to pay for the site, she discovered the sign alerting visitors to blue-green algae in the lake -- known to kill dogs and make people sick. The notice advised against any skin contact with the water. So much for canoeing. And poor Bailey could not understand why she couldn't go for a swim.

We had planned to go back to Eugene and pick up Aly and her friend, Naja, the next day. But sitting around looking at the beautiful lake wouldn't be much fun. So we made the best of the scenery, enjoyed the phenomenon of the empty campground and rec area, and had a nice quiet evening to ourselves. After breakfast the next morning, we packed it all up and went to pick up the girls and head to Fern Ridge Reservoir, where the water wasn't poison.

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Schwarz Park Campground
Cottage Grove LakeJune 3-5, 2011

It had been the coldest spring on record in the last 20 years, but after weeks of rain, the forecast promised sun and temps in the 80s. Kate and I unearthed the teardrop from the garage and hit the road Friday afternoon.

Just 30 minutes from home is Dorena Lake. Schwarz Park Campground isn't on the lake itself, but is right below the Dorena Lake dam, where Row River begins. It's a beautiful, open space with lots of green grass and sunshine. In spite of the fabulous weather, the campground was quite empty. We found a spacsious spot right next to the river.

I'd been working overtime for a few weeks, and was ready to do absolutely nothing. We set up two hammocks in the pine trees by the river, got out our books, and settled in for the weekend. On Saturday, we did take a hike up to the dam, and drove to nearby Baker Bay to let Bailey do some swimming in the lake.

Saturday night, our friends Kathy and Robin drove down and joined us for dinner -- hot dogs and hamburgers and corn roasted over the fire. And Sunday morning, our neighbor, Kathleen and her granddaughter, Madison, joined us for breakfast biscuits cooked over the coals.

This was such a quiet, beautiful campground, so close to home. We know we'll be coming back!

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