Secret Lake, Oregon

September 2-4, 2016

breakfast on the bankFor our first teardrop adventure after living in an RV for over a year (see, we returned to this favorite place of ours in the Cascades. It's a small campground on a small lake, but our favorite part is the river flowing from the lake and past our very favorite campsite -- a big site that goes all the way down to the grassy river bank, which is perfect for launching canoes.

That particular site is everybody's favorite, and so it's hard to get, especially over Labor Day Weekend, but our friend Kelly went up Wednesday morning and got a nearby site, then befriended the two guys in Site 3. When they left on Friday morning, Kelly and Cindi nabbed the primo site and saved Site 4 for us.

When we lived in the RV, the kitten we'd rescued on the road went everywhere with us. It didn't seem right to leave her at home while we all went off camping, so we brought her along with us. Gypsy's used to being tethered on a leash, and going for hikes in the woods. She was a little bit thrown by this new kind of camping, but the chipmunks offered endless entertainment, and she loved napping in the cozy bed-in-a-box teardrop.

gypsy in the teardropCindi's dog, Walker, is not subverient to cats the way Bailey and Kelly's Bella are. So we ended up spending more time hanging out at our site, or leaving Gypsy in the car or teardrop while we canoed. But she adapted well, and we were glad to see that she could transfer to a teardrop-camping cat.

The weather was cold at night (down to 36 on Saturday), but it warmed up nicely during the day, and getting out on the river was just as heavenly as we'd remembered. We had three inflatable canoes between us, with room for all three dogs. Log jams block lake boaters from the river, so while everybody else in the campground was paddling in the lake, we enjoyed a nice quiet stretch of gentle river all to ourselves.

One morning, Cindi and I took Bailey and Walker on a long hike, and this was the first time since we'd left on our big trip that Bailey had been able to run freely with a dog friend. She was ecstatic, zooming like a puppy, and she topped off the hike with a swim and a face-smearing roll in the dirt. The next day, Kate and I took Bailey and Gypsy on the same hike, and Gypsy kept pace with Bailey the whole way, trotting along behind her. She has always loved a good trail hike, and we haven't taken her on one since we got home.

We had a great time hanging out with our friends around the campfire at night, lolling in the sun by the river in the day. In our 15-month, 30,000-mile journey through 47 states and three Canadian provinces, this little campground is still our favorite secret.

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August 11-13, 2013

I think we might have discovered our new favorite campground. We love it so much, in fact, we're keeping its location secret. We came here directly from Crane Prairie Reservoir, and we met our friend Kelly and her dog, Bella. We had two wonderful days here, and we wished we could stay all week.

Crane Prairie Lake

Secret Lake is much smaller than Crane Praire, and the campground is much quieter. Only electric motors are allowed on the lake, so it's mostly kayakers and canoers there. But our favorite part was the smaller river coming off the lake. It lead to a quiet, grassy slough that was perfect for lazy paddling and bird-watching. And because fallen logs blocked direct access to the lake, it was a private paradise.

Easter parade

It's hard to find a site in this non-reservable campground (hence the secrecy). But getting there around noon on a Sunday helped. We found a huge, private site available and grabbed it. We were right next to the best site in the campground, which was right on the bank of the river. And when those people left early the next morning, we grabbed up our stuff, tent, hammocks, bikes, boats, and trailer, and moved right in.



No stick too big.


We were here at the height of the Perseid meteor shower. The first night, we sat out in a clearing and saw 20 or so meteors fall within an half hour's time. I had my camera set up on a tripod, and with a long exposure, I caught a couple of them.

We set our alarms for 2:30 (the predicted peak) and got up for another viewing. It was too cold to enjoy it for long. (It got down in the 30s both nights.) But it was an amazing thing to see.

The next day, we paddled both in the lake and the river and enjoyed just hanging out in such a beautiful spot.

The other wonderful thing about this place was the friendliness of all our neighbors. Most of them have been coming here every year, and those who hadn't promised to. It felt like a little community that we were welcomed into. We look forward to coming back here every year, too.


No stick too big.


Highs: Great weather, friendly neighbors, not bad pit toilet, meteors, huge sites, peace and quiet.

Lows: COLD at night. Bailey got very sick our last day. We got home in time to get her to the vet. She'd gotten giardia from drinking infected water.

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Dangers to Dogs while camping: Giardia is quite common for dogs to get, and comes from parasites in water. Even water that is moving and clear and looks perfectly drinkable. So don't let your dog drink from lakes or streams, and never from a puddle. Symptoms are vomiting and diarhea, leading to organ damage if untreated. Heavy duty antibiotics are the cure. Other dangers include blue-green algae, which can be fatal to dogs. It's caused by pesticide run-off and is common in the valley. Don't let a dog swim in a lake that has blue or green scum floating in it. One more fatal danger, especially here in the northwest, comes from salmon. Cooked salmon is fine for dogs, but any part of raw salmon can transmit a microscopic parasite that is often fatal to dogs. Keep dogs away from anyplace where people clean fish.


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