I love where I live. Whenever I travel out of this beautiful valley, I'm always reminded of how much I love it on return. If I have traveled south, and I'm cruising back over Siskiyou Pass, I'm always struck by the beauty of the mountains and forests that greet me. It’s breathtaking: cresting the summit, and seeing those mountains, cascading into the distance, greeting me like old friends. If I'm coming back from the north, one of the first things I see is the sentinel Mount McLoughlin, rising up from the Cascade Range. It’s easy to understand why that mountain was revered by native populations and later settlers, alike. I love the sheer beauty of this place...and I also love how much there is to do and see within an hour’s drive.
One of the places that has firmly captured my heart is Lake of the Woods. This magical spot is a very special place for me. From the time I moved here nearly thirty years ago, I have made the drive to Lake of the Woods (or LoW as it sometimes gets abbreviated) multiple times a year. Whether traveling up the controversially named Dead Indian Memorial Hwy, or Hwy 140, it is always a moment to cherish, no matter the season. Snow-covered pines and firs in the winter, brilliant reds and oranges of autumn, verdant green of spring and summer all leave indelible impressions in my memory.
And then there is the lake itself. Lake of the Woods is one of the rare few natural lakes in southern Oregon. Pines and firs grow right down to the edge of the water, old Forest Service cabins are sprinkled throughout the woods, and a few public
campgrounds are spaced at intervals around the lake. Most times I would travel up to stay at a family cabin on the lake. Those wonderful visits leave their own lasting memories...canoeing along the western end of the lake, by the old Camp Low Echo, paddling through the tangles of lilies and reeds, a truly mystical and meditative experience...swimming off the dock by the cabin, bracing for the initial chill but always feeling refreshed and not wanting to get out of the water. We would sometimes sail, sometimes take the Bayliner out for a spin around the lake. The kids would ski, or in later years, wakeboard and tube.There were hikes, and bike rides, and just spending time with family and friends. The smells of the pines in sunlight, or the mossy pungent scent of lake water are still powerful triggers for me that bring these times flooding back in to my mind.
But times change, and the cabin is no longer in our family. Time for new memories. I still experience the wonder of Lake of the Woods in my RV. My favorite spots are at the resort and marina area, where there are cabins and RV spaces surrounded by towering Douglas firs and other evergreens. Each space has its own water and electrical hookup, with dump stations located nearby. It can be tough to reserve a spot there last minute, so it pays to plan ahead. But there is also dry-camping at Sunset and Aspen Campgrounds, both of which offer beautiful places to stay.