The Cabin at Lake Billy Chinook – Cove Palisades State Park

18 11 2010

Since I’ve lived in Oregon, I’ve heard about Lake Billy Chinook. I only knew it was some kind of big lake in the canyon of the Deschutes River or something. I also heard lots of motorboats and houseboats plied its waters.

So, it wasn’t all that high on my list of places to visit. If it was full of jet skis I didn’t want to be there. However, I got an invitation to share a cabin post season – and that piqued my interest.

Seems sometime in October the marina and campgrounds close, and therefore the power boats dwindle. Yet, being in Central Oregon, this lake is bound to have some decent weather – it might be a spot to escape the rain on the west side of the Cascades.

Everyone was really stressed out at work the week before we went. Office network upgrades, e-mail server blowups and mid term grading dominated agendas. So it was GOOD to get away to such a quiet spot.

We reserved a cabin at Cove Palisades State Park managed by Oregon State Parks for two nights in early November. The cabins turn out to be very nice! And they have a nice view, and though a bit close quarters, they are suitable nonetheless. Each has a kitchen (no stove) and outside propane grill with burner.

Who's gonna do the dishes tonght?

April, Warren, Jessie and myself quickly settled in and enjoyed the first night’s meal. Mine was soul stuffed with crab (Trader Joe’s) accompanied by green beans/hollandaise, with a baked potato. Then we rallied for a game of “Therapy!” That’s a fun way to learn about each other!

We also went outside to see the 100% clear sky and fabulous stars. We were able to get decent reception on our iPhones, and made use of the star chart software. Plus I brought two powerful binoculars. So we could check out Jupiter and the crab nebula! Way cool.

Suiting up!

Saturday we had omelets and then took off in the kayaks. I didn’t know that Lake Billy Chinook is formed by three rivers – the Metolius, Deschutes, and Crooked Rivers. Each can be followed to its confluence with the lake. Today we paddled out to the Metolius arm, because we knew there was an island where we could have lunch.

The lake is indeed inside deep canyons.

The walls are vertical in places. All along you can see the colonnades formed by cooling basalt during the epic Oregon basalt floods. We were the ONLY boats on the lake pretty much all day. We only saw two other boats.

Skullduggery kayak detailing

Fauna consisted of seagulls, cormorants, king fishers, terns, feral goats, ospreys, bald eagles, falcons, deer and pigeons. We knew other wildlife abounded, though.

We returned to the cabin about 4:00. I showered and then set about preparing the evening’s dinner – a burrito bar. Tortillas, onion, beans, sour cream, guacamole, tomato, salsa, olives, bell peppers and more graced the table. But during dinner prep and following, everyone seemed to collapse. It couldn’t be today’s paddle – we didn’t paddle very hard, or far. The likely culprit was work. Work had exhausted everyone – and their bodies were letting them know it was time to recharge!

Glassy reflections everywhere on Sunday

Only Jessie and April were cognizant enough to play the night’s game, Scattegories. Warren fell asleep on the couch and I tried and failed to follow the game!

Sunday we awoke refreshed and whipped up a feast of pancakes topped with nuts and raspberries, with bacon on the side.

Chefs at work!

Then off to explore the Crooked River arm of the lake. Along the way we were privileged to witness two very healthy coyotes padding along the rocks on one side of the canyon!

I’d definitely recommend the cabins – especially in the off season!


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