One of the great things to do during the summer in the state of Oregon is camping. Wherever you live in this green, outdoor state, there’s no doubt a body of water and camping site is somewhere close by. This is the time of year when it gets especially hot and instead of hunkering down in your air-conditioned home or apartment, why not take a weekend trip to someplace where there’s plenty of shade, fresh air and cool water to jump into.
Last week I got a chance to stay at the Holiday Farm RV Resort with some family. Located about an hour east of Eugene, Holiday Farm is nestled in the beautiful McKenzie River Valley. The park is just off Highway 126 at milepost 46.5 and one of the things you learn when you get there is how conveniently placed the park is.
About one mile up the road is Harbick’s Country Store and Tokada’s Pizza in case you run out of ice for the coolers or you decide to take a night off from cooking dinner yourself. Head west for about 15 minutes and you’ll find Cougar Reservoir. Drive a little further and check out Blue River Reservoir which is a little further back and a bigger lake to dip your feet in.
We took full advantage of the nearby watering holes on our first full day on vacation by taking a water rafting exhibition down the McKenzie River. Led by our guide Travis Tubbs of Pacific Northwest Whitewater Excursions, we made our way through some class 2 and class 3 rapids (some rough water, rocks, medium waves and an occasional 3-5 ft drop). Along the way we observed a number of Osprey nests, a wooden fisherman and Travis informed us that one of the homes we passed along the river used to be owned by Bill Bixby who starred in The Incredible Hulk television show in the ’70s.
The trip was going pretty well, although I had anticipated maybe a few more rapids than there were, when suddenly the woman who was positioned right in front of me fell over the boat as we encountered one of the more intense rapids. Prior to boarding the rubber vessel, Travis had walked us through the necessary steps should we fall in: Lay on your back, keep your feet in front of you so that you can slide off the rocks more easily and ride with the current. The woman did everything correctly, but her husband panicked and jumped in after her. After that Travis of course had to jump in after the both of them.
With Shane as Travis’ backup in the boat, we maneuvered into a corner of the river and patiently waited for Travis to arrive with the couple. “Well that got a little more exciting,” said one of our fellow rafters in the boat. Eventually all three of them made it back safe and sound. Travis acknowledged the women’s accurate response after falling in and lauded her for hanging onto the oar. After a couple more exciting rapids our adventure was over. Once the adrenaline had subsided we got dry, inspected the fresh sunburns on our shoulders and legs and returned to the resort.
Besides the attraction of the location, Holiday Farm is a size-able and affordable resort featuring 43 sites with daily, weekly and monthly rates. It’s $35 a night but if you plan on staying for an extended period of time, the manager is pretty good at offering a discount. As you enter the resort, the main office is located on the right. The appealing structure seems fairly new and adjoining the office is laundry, bathroom and shower services which are all very clean. Unfortunately there is only one shower in the men’s and women’s bathrooms so you might have to wait.
At the back of the office building is a pathway to a large fire pit surrounded by numerous chairs designed for a large group of people. While you sit at the fire, you can also enjoy a great view of a pond located at the back. Within walking distance of this community setting is additional picnic tables, a basketball court and a footbridge that leads you to trails which can take you to different sites in the resort as well as a smaller, more intimate fire pit located off of a small creek that runs through the resort.
The days following our rafting trip were a bit more laid back. Many books were read, adult beverages consumed, meals consisting of a lot of meat eaten and empty peanut shells thrown in the fire. This was the typical camping environment I’d come to love. It’s amazing how quickly the days pass when you don’t have anything productive to do. But this being 2012, we did find time to cheat a little bit with some entertainment we normally consume back home.
This being an RV resort, all sites are full hookup (20/30/50 amps), feature patios and storage sheds at specific sites if you desire them and cable and wireless Internet. I will admit I did catch a baseball game on the Fourth of July. The Internet connection is more beneficial if you are near the office. The back right corner where we were located provided internet some of the time, but for ideal web browsing, it’s recommended you just walk to the office to check your email.
There are a few detractions from the resort. No tents are allowed, you can’t put up laundry lines to dry clothes or to provide privacy (“This is a resort, not a campground” the manager said to us after we were informed to take down our laundry line. But the biggest issue we found was that none of the sites have a fire pit (very unusual). Luckily it wasn’t too busy during our stay there so we were able to rent one of two fire pits available.
Besides those complaints, the only other issue we encountered was the bugs. Because of the creek that runs through the resort, there are a lot of mosquitoes so bring plenty of bug spray and citronella candles. Having a fire every night was also a great deterrent.
Overall it was a nice relaxing week of camping. I hadn’t done it in almost a year and I forgot how much reading you can get done while away from the city. I noticed the stars and the trees and the birds more and it reminded me of how great the state of Oregon really is. This is a beautiful place to live and we should all take advantage of it whenever we have the time.