McKenzie River

Hot Air Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Warm Water.


With the few hot record setting 90 degree and plus days we have just experienced I’m sure many people logically think that means the water in the area rivers must have warmed up a lot too. That is not true. Remember where our river water comes from? The mountains. That water is, by nature, cold. That’s where water safety comes in.

River Run
Rogue River Drift Run | Photo by

Whether you are fishing along a river or stream, canoeing or kayaking down the river, or shooting some serious rapids you need to be aware of the dangers the water can have in store for you. Anytime you are on or even near the water you need to remember that an accidental slip can put you in jeopardy. Wearing a personal floatation device may not set the fashion world on fire and it may not be the most comfortable  article of clothing you have ever worn but it can save your life.

Rescue SAR Team
Rescue SAR Dive Team | Photo by LCWSRU Lane County Sheriff’s Department

There is a dedicated group of people locally who often put their lives on the line to save those who end up in trouble in the water. They are the Lane County Water Search and Rescue Unit (LCWSRU) of the Lane County Sheriff’s Department. Here’s how they describe their job on their website. The LCWSRU “is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the citizens of Lane County. This unit assists the Sheriff’s office with water related functions, including recoveries, evidence searches, vehicle recoveries, and surface rescues. Divers supply their own SCUBA equipment. The team consists of advanced open water certified divers, swift water rescue technicians, power boat, drift boat, and raft operators, as well as shore support personnel. The picture shows a dive team during a recovery mission – training and teamwork during these difficult jobs in black water is a necessity.”

The Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic, Rochester,MN | Photo by

Back to the topic I started with hypothermia. The Mayo Clinic website defines hypothermia as “a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature.” We all learned in school that 98.6 degrees F is the normal temperature for a human body. The experts say the basic threshold for hypothermia is when the body temperature falls below 35 degrees F. It doesn’t take frigid water to chill the body below that threshold.

McKenzie River Near Vida Water Temperature Graph | Image by USGS
McKenzie River Near Vida Water Temperature Graph | Image by USGS

Since the McKenzie River begins from a flow out of Clear Lake in the Cascades we know the water starts out very cold. As it rushes through the riverbed it can warm up a bit, but it does stay colder than you might expect.The McKenzie is a tributary of the Willamette River which is a tributary of the Columbia River. The whole system is fed by water originating in the mountains. A look at a temperature graph of the McKenzie River at Vida for the period June 6-12, 2015. You’ll notice it fluctuates from about 56 degrees F to about 60 degrees F and then falls a bit again.

Kayak Tipped Over
Kayakers In The Water | Photo by Julie Titone, Sokane, WA /The Spokesman-Review

Julie Titone, Spokane, WA The Spokesman-Review


Imagine you are rafting down the McKenzie on a nice sunny day and your raft tips over dumping you into that cold water. The longer you have to swim the more body heat will be lost. As your body gets colder your muscles start to stiffen up and it becomes more difficult to keep your head above the water.

Personal Floatation Device PFD | Image USGA

This is where your personal floatation device becomes vital. With it you have a better chance to keep your head above water and a diminished chance of drowning. Without the device you keep using up your strength and body heat (Remember the water is between 56 F and 60 F) and the chances of hypothermia setting in and you not surviving increase geometrically. Spending a day sitting beside the McKenzie River many years ago I was shocked to see so many people shooting the rapids with their personal floatation devices sitting at their feet rather than strapped on. Even some children weren’t protected. That’s scary! If you flip over you won’t have the time to even grab your PFD let alone be able to put it on and stay afloat. Just as I finished this article Sunday June 14th a news story was published here on EDN about a fatal boating accident on the river and the man who drown was not wearing a personal floatation device (life jacket).

Just an aside, do you remember hearing news stories about people  jumping into the river thinking they could get away from the police by swimming to the other side? They usually get picked up down stream or drown. They don’t realize how strong the current is and how cold the water can be. I figure they just aren’t smart enough to realize the police have radios in their patrol cars and can have other officers waiting on the other shore or down stream waiting for them.

Safe Boating
Safe Boating Course By U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary | Image by Boat Ed,

So, if you plan to be near, on or in the water please take the necessary precautions and be safe. If you have a boat make sure you take the safe boating course, the Coast Guard Auxiliary offers them and don’t drink and drive your boat, or car for that matter.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].


Young Salmon Taxied Downstream

fish taxi 2
fish taxi

Near BLUE RIVER, Ore. — Young salmon on the McKenzie River are getting a free ride downstream that could help more of them survive.

Their taxi? A $5 million portable floating fish collector.

This is the first of its kind in the Willamette Basin. It pulls water in with juvenile spring Chinook salmon in it, traps them inside and moves them downstream, past some of the larger dams.

Biologist Greg Taylor with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it should reduce mortality rates of baby salmon by about 50 percent.

“The collector collects the fish and that allows us to count them, document them, tag them, learn things about them. But ultimately the goal is to safely transport them below the dam so that they survive,” Taylor said.

After two years, the device will be evaluated. Taylor says the goal is to have a sustainable run of fish produced above Cougar Dam, and this is a piece of that puzzle.

Belknap Hot Springs And Sisters Oregon All In A Day


It’s that time of year, once again, when the leaves turn from green to golden orange, red to yellow, finally brown blanketing the grounds; the air is crisp and pumpkins adorn porches and it seems as if spiderwebs are everywhere (I’m pretty sure all the spiders have abandoned their webs and are now in my house) and then there is my birthday.  This past Sunday in celebration of my special day, a friend took me to one of my favorite spots to go in the winter;  Belknap Hot Springs, located up the McKenzie Highway.

Fall Leaves  Image  |  Sandy Harris
Fall Leaves Image | Sandy Harris

Belknap is the perfect place to go when I can’t shake the bitter cold from my bones and without fail, my favorite poem comes to mind.  The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service.

It is a story about a man from Tennessee who was on the arctic trail searching for gold and hated being cold.  He knew he would not make it out alive and swore his friend to promise he would cremate his last remains.  His friend standing, by that promise, pulled Sam McGee across the frozen ground, wanting to be rid of the corpse, finally found a derelict ship named the Alice May frozen on Lake Labarge.  He stoked up a fire with wood he pulled from the floor boards, coals and stuffed in Sam McGee; coming back after a little while when his curiosity got the better of him.

“I’ll just take a peep inside.  I guess he’s cooked, and its time I looked… then the door I opened wide.  And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar; And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said:  “please close that door.  Its fine in here but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm; Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm”.


Belknap Hot Springs  Image  |  Sandy Harris
Belknap Hot Springs Image | Sandy Harris

I can relate to that.  I spend a lot of time in hot bubble baths in the winter time, knowing this is the only way for me to get warm.  Belknap is just a nice treat to go to outside where you can enjoy the crispness of the fall and winter months. It was just an absolutely beautiful drive up the McKenzie Hwy.  Once we arrived at Belknap, my heart kind of sank, the parking lot was packed! This is a good sign and a bad sign really.  It’s a popular place.  I just didn’t want the pool to be packed as well.  It was my day, after all and I should get whatever I want!

The temp was in the low 40’s when we arrived with plenty of empty lounge chairs surrounding the pool left for us to take our pick.  Watching the steam roll off the water, I could handle the wait no longer and slipped into the pool at the deep end just as soon as I dropped my belongings into a chair.  If you have never been to Belknap I would recommend going, at least once.  There is tent camping, a lodge, cabins you can rent and places for RV’s. There is a smaller pool up top.  My sister, myself and a couple of friends rented a cabin (all amenities included) up there in December and had the entire pool area to ourselves.  I like to go in the mornings or evenings but any time is great.  There are 26 natural occurring elements in the water.

Belknap Hot Springs Secret Garden  Image  |  Sandy Harris
Belknap Hot Springs Secret Garden Image | Sandy Harris

I would recommend that you take off your silver before entering the water though.  My jewelry pieces tarnished once upon a time but with my friend Google, we found a weird way to un-tarnish them!  It involved a bowl of water that was brought to a boil, some baking soda and tin foil.  It was pretty cool to watch the change happen right in front of my eyes.  Here is the link.

Belknap has been around for many years.  I found this little article written by a family member some years ago.  There are gardens meandering through the woods and a secret garden tucked away.  In the summer, the gardens would be a wonderful place for a picnic.

Three Creeks Brewery  Knotty Blonde  Image  |  Sandy Harris
Three Creeks Brewery Knotty Blonde Image | Sandy Harris

After soaking in the hot springs for an hour, we hopped in the car and headed up to Sisters for dinner.  A few months back I went to Bend for a couple of days, stopping in Sisters for lunch at a restaurant called Three Creeks Brewing.  Of all combinations (a friend and I came up with this and please don’t ask me to explain cause I have no idea how we did it)  but we both had Knotty Blonde beers, an out of this world tomato bisque and PB&J sandwich with fries on the side; crazy combination but it worked extremely well.  I have not been able to get that soup out of my mind so I set my sights on that soup with every intention on having it.

We found a table and got cozy while we waited for the waitress.  Once she arrived with our menus I asked her if they had the Tomato Bisque tonight.

With a smile on her face she replied “We always have Tomato Bisque, but not tonight”.

I couldn’t help myself and let out a laugh.  “But it’s my birthday and I drove all the way from Brownsville for this soup”.

Her eyes grew wide and exclaimed “maybe you should have called first” and smiled.

Mediteranian Chicken Penne  Image  |  Sandy Harris
Mediteranian Chicken Penne Image | Sandy Harris

Life gave me an opportunity to try something different, so staying with the Knotty Blonde beer, I chose the Mediteranian Chicken Penne Pasta with a salad.  Oh man; I was happy they were out of the soup!

It had a grilled chicken breast placed on top of gluten free Penne, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, Feta cheese, tomatoes, red and green peppers and a balsamic vinegar garnished with a nice sprig of mint.  My middle name is vinegar and whenever it is involved, I’m in!  This dish was amazing, although it was a bit spicey I made my way through it, sweat pouring off my brow but I can tell you it is worth it.  I did ask the gal who was tending to us what was in the dish that made it so hot.  She came back after speaking with the cook and said there was a tablespoon (yes, a whole spoonful) of red pepper flakes in the batch that was prepared.  As tears were pouring out of my eyes, I suggested they notate that on the menu or cut back to maybe a teaspoon.

Image  |  Sandy Harris
Image | Sandy Harris

Because it was my birthday I got a free dessert of my choosing.  No matter how much I blinked my brown eyes at her, she wouldn’t sing me happy birthday.  I settled on the brownie which ended up being a meal in itself, paired with a nice cup of coffee to accompany this fine fare.  I was in no shape to order that dessert in the first place and was only able to have a few bites.  I was just too stuffed to eat any more and decided it was in everyone’s best interest if I headed home.  We rolled ourselves out the door and out to the car for the 3 hour drive to get home.  I finally poured myself into bed around 11 p.m., exhausted from my day.

I later learned that beer makes you really full!  Some of you may already know this, but I didn’t and once I learn something, I like to share.  It just drove me a little crazy wondering why I was stuffed and I hadn’t really even eaten that much.  I will stay with my Chardonnay from now on when I have dinner.

If you find yourself feeling a bit cold, head up to Belknap Hotsprings or Three Creeks Brewing and tell em Sandy sent ya!

See you out there!



LCGG: McKenzie River Golf Course


It’s amazing how such a short drive up the McKenzie River can make such a big difference. McKenzie River Golf Course benefits a great deal from being barely removed from the city.

Located about 20 minutes east of Springfield on highway 126, McKenzie River Golf Course is a 9-hole course owned by Rod Omlid. The course was founded in 1961, opened by Rod’s dad and uncles. In 1979, Rod, along with his sister, purchased the course. In 1996 Rod bought out his sister and has been the sole owner since.


McKenzie River Golf Course may not be the preferred course of single digit handicappers, but it is fantastic at catering to the needs of newer golfers and golfers looking to lower their handicap. McKenzie River Golf Course has all of the amenities necessary for a player to improve in all facets of their game. With three putting greens, places to work on your short game and a new driving range, McKenzie River has all of the tools to help you work on the shots that will lower your score.

Once you begin your round the course offers the opportunity for you to put those skills to practice. Also, the course gives you plenty of risky decisions which allow you to work on improving your mental golf game. McKenzie River has a lot of trees lining the fairways, but not many other hazards for a golfer to worry about. It requires golfers to hit the ball straight and punishes anyone who deviates from this formula. There are several par 4’s around 300 yards where the player is given a choice. If you feel you have full command of your driver you may have an opportunity to reach in one, or have only a short chip onto the green, giving you an almost certain birdie opportunity. However, if you miss with your driver and end up in the trees you will have a difficult, perhaps impossible, time salvaging a score.

If you’re not one hundred percent confident in your driver you may want to pull a longer iron or hybrid off the tee and leave yourself a mid or short iron into the green. This line may lead to more bogies, but it should help you to avoid any triple bogies. McKenzie River Golf Course provides a player with several opportunities to develop your game by appropriately evaluating and taking calculated risks. Regardless of how you actually decide to manage the course, McKenzie River will help improve your in-round decision-making.


McKenzie River Golf Course is a few minutes outside of Eugene/Springfield, so why should you make the trip? I suspect that I am like many others who sometimes need a little decompression time before a round of golf. Maybe life and work have been a little stressful and before you play a game where frayed emotions can lead to an unpleasant experience you may need some time to wind-down and collect your thoughts. A short, pleasant drive may be just the thing you need to prepare you for your round.

Another reason to make the drive is weather. In the thirty minutes it takes to drive to McKenzie River the weather can change drastically. When I asked Rod he said that “it can be raining in the valley and it can be completely clear up here.” McKenzie River is just high enough in the mountains where it can be above the clouds. If it’s raining in the valley and you want to play golf you may want to give McKenzie River Golf Course a call, it may very well be sunny up there!


You may also want to make the trip if you enjoy playing your round and experiencing a bit of wildlife. Like many courses there are lots of squirrels and songbirds. On the holes which play next to the river it isn’t difficult to find Osprey and Eagles wheeling around or a Kingfisher skimming the water, each looking for a fish to turn into their next meal. There are also foxes, beavers, deer and bobcats and many other animals which make their way onto the course.


During my round at McKenzie River Golf Course I had my own unique interaction with wildlife. The ninth hole is a 462 yard par 5. I took driver off the tee and my ball drifted right, into an area of trees between the first and ninth holes. When I found my ball I was surprised to see it sitting up on what looked like an excellent lie. I had a lot of open space in front of me from where my ball was, a clear path back to an area of the fairway which would leave me with just a short iron into the green. Based on my lie and the low risk of hitting a tree, I decided to take the shot. As I made contact with the ball my club caught something fat under my ball. My lie looked so clean, I was shocked to have caught the ground that heavily. I looked down instantly to see what had caused what I thought was going to be and easy shot to go so awry. When I looked down I saw this:


a bull snake. I had played my second shot off of a snake. The snake clearly didn’t appreciate having had a shot played off of it. I saw the mark where my club had made impact. Don’t worry animal lovers, though the snake was clearly not pleased I waited for several minutes to make sure that I had done no lasting harm. The snake was fine, only a flesh-wound apparently.

McKenzie River Golf Course is dedicated to being a reasonably priced place for golfers to improve their game. The course is in very good shape. The holes are challenging, but even a less experienced player can score well with a few decent shots. I recommend McKenzie River Golf Course to players looking to improve their game, relax and see some wildlife.

September 5 – Morning Headlines


Morning Headlines


Almost 300 people have submitted comments on the Lane Transit District’s proposed extension of its bus rapid transit line to west Eugene, and many of them were critical of the project.
  • Critics flood LTD with opinions
    Almost 300 people have submitted comments on the Lane Transit District’s proposed extension of its bus rapid transit line to west Eugene, and many of them were critical of the project. Most of the negative comments were generated by an opposition gro…
  • Raids send two to jail, upend medical marijuana club
    A narcotics task force searched a medical marijuana club in Eugene and four other addresses in Lane and Douglas counties last Thursday, arresting two men on various marijuana charges
  • Interactive map is guide to Eugene’s history
    Eugene has a new online map on the city website, showing points of interest and historical sites. The map, which lists more than 5,000 sites, was created as part of the city’s 150th birthday celebration this year, with the assistance of the State His…

Keep Current: – EDN Headline News, Sports and Weather

Tim Chuey Weather:


[gn_note color=#eee][Accuweather][/gn_note]

Our Summer weather will continue until the end of the week, then the change to cooler.

High: 87
Low: 50
Forecast: sunny and warm.

An upper level low (“U” shape in blue arrows shaded in grey) is moving eastward away from Oregon.  A high pressure ridge (“Arch” shape in blue arrows offshore) will warm us up a bit this week just in time for the kids to go back to school. A frontal system will slide into Oregon Saturday starting the cool-down, then another frontal system will move in Monday for a slight chance of light rain or drizzle.

Forecast for the Southern and lower Mid Willamette Valley including Eugene-Springfield and Albany-Corvallis: Sunny and warm today and Thursday with mostly clear nights, mostly sunny and a bit warmer Friday, then partly cloudy Friday night highs 85-87 lows near 50. A mix of clouds and sun and cooler Saturday, partly cloudy Saturday night, mostly cloudy and cooler Sunday, partly cloudy Sunday night, mostly cloudy and cooler with a slight (20%) chance of rain Monday, mostly cloudy Monday night and Tuesday AM, then mostly sunny Tuesday afternoon highs 82-70 lows 49-46. (seasonal averages high 80 low 49)

Because weather forecasting is a combination of science, intuition, and timing there can be no absolute guarantees that individual forecasts will be 100% accurate. Nature is in a constant state of flux and sudden unexpected weather events can happen.

Keep Current on the Weather:

June 18 – Headlines



the Springfield Relief nursery gets a huge boost forward.
  • Green Acres Rd. will be under heavy construction this week, consider using an alternate route when possible.
  • AAA: Average price of gasoline in Oregon $3.95
    The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Oregon has fallen below $4 a gallon to $3.95.
  • Fisherman drowns on McKenzie River
    A father and son fishing trip turned deadly Sunday on the McKenzie River when their canoe flipped at Martin Rapids.
  • Veneta water line targeted
    LandWatch Lane County has filed a new federal lawsuit aimed at stopping the planned piping of McKenzie River water to the city of Veneta. The city of 4,500 struck a deal last year with the Eugene Water & Electric Board to buy up to 265,000 gallons
  • Cuts close assessor on Fridays
    The Lane County assessor’s office will be closed to the public on Fridays beginning this week as the county starts adjusting to major budget cuts. The new hours for the public to visit or call will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. That w… 
  • Michelle Obama speaks to Oregon State grads
    First lady Michelle Obama is encouraging Oregon State University graduates to live life for themselves, not for anyone else. 
  • Relief Nursery goes over the top
    With a $1 million gift from philanthropist Robin Jaqua, the long wait for a new Relief Nursery is nearing the end. Groundbreaking will take place on Tuesday for the Relief Nursery’s much-anticipated $3.9 million project near South 42n… 

Keep Current: – EDN Headline News, Sports and Weather is updated as it happens!

Tim Chuey Weather:

We will start the workweek with some showers, but they won’t stay long. The clouds and showers will return just in time for the start of the Olympic Track and Field Trials.

High: 75
Low: 44
Forecast: possible showers

high pressure ridge (“Arch” shape on orange line) has  moved past us now. A weak frontal system slid by bringing more clouds and just the slightest chance of showers Sunday night and a better chance of rain today as an upper level low (“U” shape on orange line) moves in. Summer is almost here! It officially begins with the Summer Solstice at 4:09 PM PDT Wednesday June 20th. It looks like a closed (not in the main jet stream circulation) upper level low will move closer to Oregon bringing clouds and a slight chance of showers ahead of it and pushing a frontal system through between Friday night and Saturday AM continuing the chance of showers for the weekend and the Olympic Trials.

[gn_note color=#eee]
The pollen count for the Eugene-Springfield area is:
Grass-Very High (277)
Trees-Low (2)
Data from Oregon Allergy Associates

Forecast for the Southern and lower Mid Willamette Valley including Eugene-Springfield and Albany-Corvallis: Mostly cloudy with a good (50%) chance of showers this AM, a slight (20%) chance of showers this afternoon (under 0.10 in. of rain possible), a slight (20%) chance of showers this evening, just mostly cloudy late tonight and Tuesday, partly cloudy late Tuesday night, a mix of clouds and sun Wednesday AM, mostly sunny in the afternoon, then mostly clear Wednesday night highs 63-75 lows 47-44. Mostly sunny Thursday, partly cloudy with a slight (20%) chance of showers Thursday night, a mix of clouds and sun with a slight (20%) chance of showers Friday, partly cloudy with a slight (20%) chance of showers Friday night, a mix of clouds and sun with a slight (20%) chance of showers Saturday and Sunday and a slight (20%) chance of showers Saturday night highs 80-65  warming to 74 Saturday lows 53-50. (seasonal averages high 74 low 48)

Because weather forecasting is a combination of science, intuition, and timing there can be no absolute guarantees that individual forecasts will be 100% accurate. Nature is in a constant state of flux and sudden unexpected weather events can happen.

Keep Current on the Weather:

May 1 – Morning Headlines



Bonneville Power orders wind power producers to halt production...seems there is a surplus of energy...
  • Judges rules against company’s bid for McKenzie River water
    A Veneta-based company’s bid to channel more than 21 million gallons of water a day from the McKenzie River for sale to south Lane County should be denied, a state administrative law judge has recommended. In his proposed ruling, the judge, Jim Han, …
  • Motorcyclist Dies After Crash Near Hwy 36
    Oregon State Police confirms a motorcyclist is dead after crashing near Junction City. The crash happened just around 9pm Saturday. Police say the motorcyclist lost control of his motorcycle on Dorsey lane just off of Highway 36. We are being …
  • Springfield sewer rates to rise
    Like their Eugene counterparts, Springfield residents and businesses this summer will likely pay more in sewer and storm water fees. Sewer and storm water rates for commercial and residential customers would rise 4 percent in Springfield, effective Jul…
  • Oregon acrobatics and tumbling repeats as national champions
    The Oregon acrobatics and tumbling team claimed its second straight National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association National Championship this past weekend in Waco, Texas. In a rematch of last year’s title showdown, the Ducks (11-0) complete…

Keep Current: – EDN Headline News, Sports and Weather is updated as it happens!

Tim Chuey Weather:

Look for lots of clouds and a chance of showers today through the week. Keep your fingers crossed. The weekend is looking bright and dry.

High: 67
Low: 40
Rain: showers

high pressure ridge (”Arch” shape on the yellow line) that held off storms is moving away to be followed by a trough of low pressure. A frontal system in combination with the trough of low pressure has returned us to wet weather. A couple of upper level disturbances will slide over us keeping the wet weather around.  Another frontal system will push through Oregon Wednesday with more showers. If rainy days and Mondays get you down, cheer up because so far the weekend forecast is for sunshine.

Forecast for the Southern and lower Mid Willamette Valley including Eugene-Springfield and Albany-Corvallis: Mostly cloudy with a good (50%) chance of showers today (under 0.10 in. of rain possible), a (30%) chance of evening showers, mostly cloudy with a slight (20%) showers late tonight (under 0.10 in. of rain possible), AM clouds, a mix of clouds and sun with a slight (20%) chance of showers Wednesday afternoon, mostly cloudy with rain Wednesday night and Thursday AM, showers in the afternoon, then mostly cloudy with showers likely (60%) Thursday night highs 57-67 lows 40-45 cooling to 42 Thursday night. Mostly cloudy with a good (50%) chance of showers Friday and Friday night, a mix of clouds and sun with a (30%) chance of showers Saturday, mostly cloudy Saturday night, then just partly cloudy Sunday through Monday highs 57-66 lows 40-43. (seasonal averages high 64 low 41)

Because weather forecasting is a combination of science, intuition, and timing there can be no absolute guarantees that individual forecasts will be 100% accurate. Nature is in a constant state of flux and sudden unexpected weather events can happen.

Keep Current on the Weather:

Escape to Eagle Rock Lodge


–Julia Crowley, EDN

Last February, my husband surprised me with a weekend get away to celebrate Valentine’s Day. When I asked where we were going, he said, “Vida.” At first, I thought, “Vida? What’s in Vida?”, but when he sat down with me at the computer and pulled up the web site for a bed and breakfast named Eagle Rock Lodge, I realized there must be more to Vida than meets the eye.

View of the lodge from the river

As we began to head east out of Springfield on Highway 126 towards the majestic Cascade Mountain Range, it was another foggy, chilly February morning in the southern Willamette Valley. We passed through Walterville, and we noticed a distinct cloud line in the sky where the white overcast skies instantly changed to an amazing cerulean blue. After several months of cloud covered skies in Eugene, I was thrilled to see the sun.

Our room, Meadow View Haven

Thirty minutes later, we saw the sign for Eagle Rock Lodge and pulled into the driveway that winded down towards the river and the lodge. We parked and headed inside the lobby, which felt much like walking into a friends home. In the great room, where there were dining tables and a family room with a wood burning stove, a father and son played chess at one of the tables. We were greeted by owner, Debbie Dersham, who offered us glass of Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley Vineyards, and we followed her to our room. We were staying in the room named, Meadow View Haven, which had an outside entrance and deck that were on the second floor. The view was gorgeous, and the room had a cozy cabin-like feel with wood paneled walls and a wood stove. Home made cookies and chocolates were on the dresser, and there were plush robes and warm fuzzy socks in the bathroom, just waiting to be used. After we settled in, the peaceful sound of the river could be heard as it flowed along the backside of the lodge.

The ultimate spot for a fire pit

We took our glasses of wine, and headed outside for a walk along the river. The carefully manicured lawn and gardens looked beautiful even when nothing was blooming, and the fog from the valley was slowly heading in our direction. Although the fog crept along the river banks, we could clearly see Eagle Rock, a stunning tall and thin rock formation, rising high above the cedar and fir trees that line the banks of the river. The lodge was named after this incredible rock formation.

Drift boaters, 1940's

There’s a fire pit circle that sits along the river, but this February afternoon was a little too chilly to be outside for too long, so we headed back inside to warm up near the fireplace in the great room of the lodge. Owner Debbie Dersham joined us and shared the story of Eagle Rock Lodge. The house was built in 1946 by John West, and was once known as West Bar because of a natural gravel bar that lined the river banks. From the thirties through the sixties, the areas along the McKenzie, including Vida, drew Presidents, movie stars and well known authors, such as adventure writer, Zane Grey, to a wooden boat festival that continued annually for thirty some years. The festival ended because several lives were lost as people drifted down the river in their boats after consuming too much alcohol. Because the Dersham’s, Debbie and her husband Randy, both love wooden drift boats, they decided they would revitalize the Annual Wooden Boat Festival.

Each year, on the same day as the opening day of the Oregon fishing season, usually the last Saturday of April, wooden boat enthusiasts float down the McKenzie for the Wooden Boat Parade. Floating in their vintage and new McKenzie River Wooden Drift Boats, which were developed specifically for the McKenzie River, they end up pulling out their boats at the lower lawn of Eagle Rock Lodge where the Dershams have recreated the festival. The McKenzie River Guides Association, which is a group of river guides that provide recreational services including fishing and white water rafting trips in addition to working closely with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and other conservation groups to help preserve and enhance the river’s recreational resources, sells food during the festival and all of the proceeds go to a life jacket program that was put in place by the fire department. The life jacket program provides life jackets to every business up and down the river so anyone at any time can get a life jacket for free. In addition to great food, guest speakers come to the festival including representatives from the Cascade Family Flyfishers who conduct demonstrations on casting and flyfishing for amateurs and seasoned pros. This year, Dersham hopes to have live blue grass music included in the festivities. Randy Dersham is very interested in preserving the history of the McKenzie River Wooden Drift Boats; in fact, the Dershams own and operate a shop where they design and build wooden drift boats, and it’s conveniently located across the street from the lodge.

Holiday Farm Restaurant

After a relaxing conversation by the fire, we needed to depart for a short drive up the river to the Holiday Farm Resort where we had dinner reservations. The historical Holiday Farm Resort was built in 1910, and was used as a stage stop until about 1917. In 1924, a restaurant was built along the river in addition to a post office and a general store. Today, the restaurant is housed in the original house that was built in 1910, and the quaint characteristics of early 1900 homes is clearly showcased in this beautiful structure; including, a wrap around porch, hardwood floors, fireplaces, and exposed brick walls. While we waited for a table by the fireplace to become available, we sat in the lobby at a different fireplace and and ordered a glass of wine. Candles were lit along the stairwell that led up to the spa; in fact, the only light in the entire lobby came from candles on the stairs and on the mantle above the fireplace, and from the fire itself. The staff at the restaurant had succeeded in creating a romantic atmosphere for Valentine’s Day diners, and the food was delicious.

The Fireplace Suite

In the morning, we headed down to the great room where the dining tables are, and we enjoyed mimosa’s made with fresh squeezed orange juice along with one of the most delicious breakfasts we’ve ever had.  Our three course breakfast included seasonal fruit to start with, fresh baked scones, and a ‘savory’, which was the main course, including homemade sausage that was absolutely delicious. The Dershams believe presentation is key to the success of their high quality ingredient, made-from-scratch breakfasts, and it was clearly evident in our ambrosial meal.

Eagle Rock

Not only is Eagle Rock Lodge the perfect close-by weekend get away for Lane County residents, but it’s also a popular wedding spot. The Dershams offer weekend rentals of the entire lodge, which includes a Friday check-in, Sunday check-out and breakfast for two mornings, for up to twenty-three people, and their property can accommodate up to four-hundred people for the wedding and reception. Each room at the lodge is unique and tastefully decorated, and two of the rooms have hot tubs. My favorite room is the Fireplace Suite, which is accessible from the large back deck and has the original 1947 fireplace along with expansive views of the McKenzie River and Willamette National Forest. Imagine a riverside wedding, dancing under the stars, and sitting fireside in a room with an incredible view.

Whether you’re a fly fisherman, a wooden boat enthusiast, getting married, or simply need a weekend getaway for you and your family, there’s something that’s sure to please everyone at Eagle Rock Lodge. It’s truly a serene gem that makes Vida, Oregon one of my favorite destinations.

Eagle Rock Lodge
49198 McKenzie Highway
Vida, Oregon 97488

I recently found out some exciting news: one of the episodes for the popular television show, Antique’s Road Show, was filmed at Eagle Rock Lodge, and will be airing on PBS, January twenty-third. I’m looking forward to seeing what bits of McKenzie River history will be shown in the Eagle Rock Lodge episode!

September 19 – Morning Headlines

Shortest summer on record?


  • Bike-crash widower target of lawsuit 
    The widower of a Eugene woman killed last month in a car-bicycle accident has been targeted in a half-million-­dollar lawsuit in connection with his sexual abuse of a Clatsop County girl 14 years ago. In a suit made public last week, the abuse victim …
  • Junction City Man Attempts Suicide By Cop
    Junction City Police are concerned a local man was released too soon from a mental hospital after trying to commit “suicide by cop” early Sunday morning.   A citizen reported that a man was carrying what looked like a semi-automatic pistol a…
  • Accused shooters may have suspected assault on 12-year-old
    Two brothers accused of shooting a man in a Springfield home July 10 were reportedly upset at the man because they believed he had assaulted a 12-year-old boy at the Dorris Ranch area home shortly before the 4:15 a.m. shooting, newly public court docum…
  • Robinson running once more 
    Art Robinson again hopes to challenge incumbent Democrat Peter DeFazio in 2012 for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District seat, which includes all of Lane County, after officially filing his candidacy on Sept. 8. Robinson was defeated by DeFazio last No…
  • Scuba Divers Clean McKenzie River
    A group of scuba divers took full advantage of the warm weather on Sunday but it wasn’t for leisure. The underwater swimmers were looking for trash.   Divers involved with the Eugene Dive Club for the third time, strapped on their air tank…
  • Soccer – Florida International 2, Oregon 1
    The Oregon soccer team falls to Florida International University (FIU) in their final pre-season game on Sunday, September 18. The game was the second of two in the Oregon State University tournament, where the Ducks went 1-1, with a 2-1 win against UC…
  • Volleyball improves to 2-0 in Pac-12 with four set win over Arizona State
    The No. 16 Oregon women’s volleyball team (9-1, 2-0) put the cap on a successful first weekend of conference play on Sunday, defeating Arizona State (4-7, 0-2) on Sunday in four sets, 25-12, 22-25, 25-20, 25-23. Redshirt junior outside hitter Al…

Tim Chuey Weather:

A new week as we look forward to the official beginning of Autumn Thursday.

The jet stream has settled down and will keep our weather pretty stable for most of the week as a high pressure ridge (“Arch” shape) builds in. A frontal system is falling apart as it comes through just like the one Saturday giving us the Autumn weather for one more day anyway. That will change back Tuesday and continue through Thursday when the Autumnal Equinox occurs at 2:05 AM PDT we will still have pleasant sunshine and comfortable temperatures.

Forecast for the Southern and lower Mid Willamette Valley including Eugene-Springfield and Albany-Corvallis: Mostly cloudy with a slight (20%) chance of drizzle or sprinkles with patchy fog this AM, partly cloudy this afternoon, mostly clear and cooler tonight with patchy fog late at night and early Tuesday AM, mostly sunny Tuesday afternoon, partly cloudy Tuesday night, mostly sunny Wednesday, then mostly clear Wednesday night highs 76-83 lows 44-48. Partly cloudy Thursday through Saturday night, then a mix of clouds and sun Sunday highs 80-85 cooling to 78 Sunday lows 48-54. (seasonal averages high 76 low 46).

Because weather forecasting is a combination of science, intuition, and timing there can be no absolute guarantees that individual forecasts will be 100% accurate. Nature is in a constant state of flux and sudden unexpected weather events can happen.

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