Island Lake

The Oregon summer is like a magical rope that slowly pulls people west: the harvest workers, my dear cousin Stephy, Janessa-of-tiny-houses-and-life-advice-fame, and most recently, the delightful shining light that is Sarah Beth.

Of course, being the shining light that she is, she has about 75 people that want to hang out with her every time she comes to Oregon. So when I said, “do you want to go camping with me on Tuesday?” and she said “yes,” I was elated.

Then she added, “Ashlie is getting off work and coming up for a few days, can she come too?” Then I was double elated. Ashlie and I went on all sorts of adventures last summer and fall when we were roommates, but now that she lives down south in Roseburg we see each other much less frequently.

The camping trip was inspired by the fact that my family recently bought a minivan.

“Are your parents having more kids?” my cousin Randy joked to me after seeing it in our driveway and wondering what was up.

I laughed. “No, our old full-sized van died, and mom wanted something she could haul furniture to Goodwill in.”

Every cousin in hearing thought this was hilariously funny. “Your mom really needs to haul furniture to Goodwill that often?”

“I don’t know,” I said. I didn’t realize how strange it sounded until I repeated it, but I am certain I have heard my mom, on various occasions, say that she wants to keep a van around in case she needs to haul furniture to Goodwill. I have never heard her give any other reason.

On the other hand, I hoped we’d get a minivan so that I could borrow it to road trip or camp, sleeping in the back instead of the much less secure and much less comfortable tent.

And so it was that on Tuesday, Ashlie, Sarah Beth and I took our new red minivan on its first adventurous outing. We drove through the Cascades and down rocky pot-holed roads to Island Lake, a tiny hidden gem I only know about because my friend Esta discovered it last year and a group of us camped there.

Island lake has various charms that make it one of my very favorite places. First, it’s tiny and hidden, and on a weekday it’s almost deserted. Second, it’s situated in a charming and eerie burnt-out forest, and through the tall dead tree remains you can see beautiful views of the mountains. The island is just the right size to swim or boat to, to bask on, perhaps to build a campfire on or sit and read for a while on if you’ve brought a boat to transport things like books and firewood.

But best of all, the water is warm and deep. Yes. A place in Oregon that has warm water for swimming.

And that is the first thing we did when we arrived on Tuesday, though the sun was lowering in the sky.


Then we changed out of our swimwear, ornamenting the little baby Christmas trees around our campsite with our dripping garments.


Camping in a van is so low-key compared to the car-and-tent version. You can toss everything in the back without running out of space, and there is no tent to set up.


We were surprisingly tired after our swim, and went to bed early. This was my view out of the back of the van. I thought it looked a little like the shape of Oregon.

When I woke up in the morning, I saw Ashlie sitting outside on the van seat we’d removed in order to lay our our mattress. I thought it looked quirky and delightful so I took a picture, but I guess it my just-woken-up state I put a few of my fingers over the lens.

It’s hard to give a decent recap of the trip, because we mostly slept and ate and swam and read books.

And made a flower crown or two.


But then, what could be more delightful than swimming and reading books and making flower crowns with two of your very best friends?

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7 responses to “Island Lake

  1. This looks so lovely and so fun. What a perfect little camping trip. (A slight correction: I was the one who discovered Island lake 🙂)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The advertisements are back!

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    • Emily Sara Smucker

      WordPress occasionally runs ads on my blog for their own financial gain, but I’m no longer in the WordAds program, so I’m no longer running ads that pay me.

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  3. Louise from Idaho

    I always enjoy your travels and adventures!! Keep sharing your well written blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The minivan is also for loaning out to Girls’ Club, getting a bed frame for Jenny, and all the other things that require something more than a car. Just so you know.

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  5. I lived in Oregon during that time frame, and you’re right, it’s gorgeous. I couldn’t make it out there though. I was on vacation mode more than adult mode %)

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