Waking up at the Honey Bear Campground was magnificent. A soft drizzle poured down from the sky. The bathrooms and showers were lovely – very homey and warm with pink tiles over the vanity and wood slat walls. We got ready for the day and headed out on Highway 101 at around 10am. We ate granola bars and water on the road for breakfast to keep up with our plan of seeing all of the homes each day. Anxious to get to our other favorite house on the list, we skipped Coos Bay and North Bend and headed straight for Lakeside (we would add these to Bandon and Brookings to see on the way home). Lakeside is a tiny little town off of Ten Mile Lake, about 2 miles inland from the coast. It’s surrounded by lush forest where trees are covered in moss and the ground is covered in ferns. The lake is moderately large with a 42 mile perimeter but rather than an open expanse, it has several large arms and a couple of open areas of water between them. There are two lakes, North Ten Mile Lake and South Ten Mile Lake, that are joined by a canal. We had several houses on the lake that we were excited to see.
Arriving too late in the afternoon for a day of viewing houses, we decided to make an appointment to meet up with the realtor in Lakeside the next day. We had enough daylight left to head over and scope out the campground we wanted to stay in for the night – Sunlake Marina. We drove down the paved road and onto the gravel portion, making a right hand turn onto Sunlake Drive. The forest looked like something out of Jurassic Park. Large, bending tree trunks criss-crossing through each other. Moss and ferns covering the ground and wrapping the trunks. Bright green lichen growing on everything immobile. Sunlake Marina looked abandoned when we pulled in. We weren’t expecting it to be filled with tourists in October but it didn’t look like a soul even worked there. Turns out they didn’t. They are closed in the Fall and Winter – something the woman on Facebook failed to mention when I messaged them and asked if we needed a reservation in mid-October. The woman living on site was kind enough to offer for us to stay in the small, grassy meadow they referred to as their “campground”. No spots marked out, no picnic tables or fire rings… just a meadow. It was filled with thick, black mud and not knowing how deep it was, we weren’t interested in the possibility of getting stuck. We’d have to find another place to stay for the night. I was disappointed because Sunlake was not only right on the lake but it was also kitty corner across the lake from our favorite house. I figured staying there would help us get a feel for what it was like to live on the lake. C’est la vie!
We drove away and headed back out to the main gravel road that had lead us to Sunlake Drive. On a whim, we decided to try to drive out to the house that we were set to see the next day with the realtor. It was a nice road, not too hard to travel even after it had rained for several days straight. We had been nervous that the road would be too hairy – aka too windy, too pitted or pot holed, too difficult to manage in the Blumebulance but it was much more manageable than we expected. Suddenly, we came across a meadow filled with sunlight and Canadian Geese and Appalachian horses. I was overjoyed at the amazing sight! When we got to what seemed like the end of the road, there were two options. One was down into the driveway of a couple of houses and one was up a hill that was marked with a sign that said “The Beavers” on it (name changed to protect the innocent). The addresses for the two homes down into the driveway were not the correct addresses for the home we were trying to find. Dennis walked up the hill a bit to see if it looked like someone lived there and there was an old, rusted truck parked on the side of the road at the top seeming to mark its territory. Unsure of whether we would disturb anyone (and not wanting to get shot for trespassing), we headed back down the gravel, Jurassic Park road and into the town of Lakeside. I got on my phone and searched out another campground on the FreeCampsites.net (they also have paid camp sites listed too) and we found one called Spinreel right next to the dunes. How fun!
With only a couple of campers in the campground, we chose a spot away from the others and Dennis walked over to pay the camp manager for the night. The camp manager was excited to see Dennis – I would imagine the job is more lonely in the off-season – and talked his ear off for a good hour. He told him all about the area, about the dunes, tales of the fire department in Lakeside, and more! He was full of stories. Meanwhile, I was back at the camp site settling in. After some time, I headed over to see what was going on and if I could rescue him from the talker. Selfishly, I wanted my sweetie back so we could have dinner and hang out before it got dark. The camp manager was a super nice guy and he almost pulled me into his tall tales too! But I managed to excuse ourselves and get us back over to our camp site. Having the forested dunes surrounding us was pretty surreal. Both of us had been to the dunes often as kids back in California – at Dumont Dunes and Glamis Dunes. Dumont and Glamis are both desert locations. Miles of sand dunes as far as the eye can see. Very little vegetation or plants. Picture a smaller version of the Sahara Desert. The dunes at Spinreel were surrounded by forest on one side and the ocean on the other with little pockets of water and trees sprouting up here and there throughout the dunes. A real-life oasis!
Dennis walked up the dunes to see if he could spot the ocean from where we were at while I walked around the campground taking pictures and sipping on a glass of wine. He didn’t make it far enough to see the ocean in his trek through the sand – he said the sand dunes were too tall to tell if he got close or not. We made some hot soup and dinner rolls to fill our bellies. Dennis made us a campfire with the firewood we had picked up at the little market in Lakeside. The firewood smelled like flowers – like sweet, floral perfume! I have never smelled firewood with a floral scent before. Of course, I had experienced woods that had wonderful scents, but nothing so floral and so prevalent. It was astounding. We had an incredibly romantic evening at the Spinreel campground surrounded by the wondrous landscape. We were certainly on a roll for finding great campgrounds!
The next morning, we got ready to meet up with Shannon – the realtor in Lakeside. No showers at Spinreel (its only downfall in my opinion), so we just had to spit shine, comb our hair, and put on fresh clothes. I did, however, see my first banana slug in the bathroom at Spinreel – almost stepped on it by accident! I'd never seen one in real life, it was so squishy and alien-like. Shannon had helped us narrow down our list of houses that we were interested in since some of them were lake access only. We knew that living without road access was too large of a leap for us, we wanted to only see houses that were lakefront, but accessible by road. After having viewed so many houses with lake access on Zillow, we had decided that we really weren’t interested in living in town with the lake nearby when we had the option of living right on it with direct access. We had plans to see two houses on the lake. Our favorite house and another really gorgeous house that was well over our budget – just to see if it were something worth having to take out that large of a loan for. We met Shannon at the McKay’s Market in town and after seeing her nice, clean car, offered for her to ride with us in the Blumebulance out to the houses. It was a muddy gravel road after all.
We made the same trek out that we had made the day before only this time, we passed the fork at the end of the road and rather than go down into the driveway with the two houses, we went up the hill where the rusty, old truck was parked on the side of the road and into the driveway of our favorite house. The parking area was more roomy than we had imagined, that was great! We walked down the steps from where we parked, first to the little gardening shed and then to the front door of the house. Walking in, I felt instantly warm and at ease. The ceiling at its highest point was 20 feet up with an open view of the master bedroom/loft. It was covered in warm, earthy wood with six large beams. There were twenty-four windows with breathtaking views out of each one. I took pictures of every square inch and looked in every cupboard and closet. There was a lot more storage inside the house that I had imagined when looking at the photos on Zillow and there was a perfect spot to put my yellow desk near the window, looking out over the lake. What inspiration it would be to have that glorious view all day while I worked! The kitchen was larger than the photos made it look and the bathroom too, although both were still on the small side. The pellet stove was very pretty with a shiny chimney and the shape of a wavy sun cut out of the top of the stove. I could imagine how quaint it would be to have a blazing fire and cozy up to it at night. The guest bedroom was perfect with a large, built-in bed and a slider out to the deck with its own view of the lake. We walked out onto the deck over looking the lake and it was like a dream! I felt like we had fallen into a Thomas Kincaid painting. I walked down the steps, past the outdoor fire pit, and over the ramp onto the dock – yes the house had it’s own dock on the lake! I felt giddy like a school girl at Disneyland – all smiles. I stood on the dock for a bit, taking in the view of the lake and the other homes sporadically dotted around the edges. As we walked back up to the house, we stopped at the outdoor fire pit and noticed its two benches tucked into the hillside. Birch logs were stacked under the benches making a quaint picturesque setting. It was so cozy and cute! I imagined summers sitting out at the fire pit with friends and drinks, laughing and having fun after a fun day of boating out on the lake. Back inside the house, I sat down on the custom built sofa in the living room that was made to match the house – the home was offered with the furnishings. Sitting on that couch, I never wanted to leave. I started to imagine whether or not my family might box up my things and send them to me. I wasn’t sure how we’d sell our old house from afar, but in that moment, all I could think about was making it our home. The house was irresistible to me. I made a joke about asking my sister to box up and ship my things, Shannon and Dennis laughed.
Shannon showed us two more homes on the lake. The next one wasn’t on our list to see - it was too far over budget to consider seriously - but when she mentioned it was her listing, I thought we could at least give it a look. It was also only a few houses down from the home we had just viewed. It was a modern cabin – recently remodeled with a beach-ey decor. There were two homes on the property, the main home and a guest house. And it had a full, mostly flat, acre making it more usable land than the hillside home we had just viewed. The home had a garage and lake access with a dock as well and a beautiful porch overlooking the lake. But the house was $215k more than the house we had just looked at. It was absolutely well worth the money but not within the range we wanted to spend. I did have the quick thought that maybe we could share it with one of our parents – each of us would have our own house!
After seeing Shannon’s listing, we went over to another home that had been on our list for quite some time. It was magnificent in the photos on Zillow and it had 8+ acres. It was $100k more than our favorite house but had all of that extra property making it a must see. We arrived and it was much closer to the small town than our favorite house. That would have been a benefit when needing to get groceries and other conveniences. The house was stunning. It had a large three car garage, a wine cellar, an indoor lap pool with a view of the ocean in the distance, and upgraded fixtures and appliances. The paint colors on the walls, the sink in the master bathroom, and the claw-foot tub in the master were all painstakingly chosen to make the home complete. There were large windows in every direction with amazing views. The kitchen was large and open to the living and dining rooms with a modern look. The home was lacking direct access to the lake but it did somewhat make up for it with a view of both the ocean on one side and the lake on the other. I named this house the “fancy house” because of the indoor pool and wine cellar. We really liked the fancy house but we had to consider whether or not we wanted to overextend ourselves financially for the extra property and the larger house.
We had a lot to think over. We dropped Shannon off at her car in town and sat in the public parking area of the lake. We watched the wildlife go by – ducks, cranes, egrets, blue herring – out on the lake. I think it was in that moment that we began to fall in love with Ten Mile Lake. We sat for a bit and made some notes about the favorite house – the first one we looked at. We did still have some concerns about the drive out to the house. It was a gravel road that narrowed in and out of being one lane to a slightly passable two lane. Our concern was that it could be dangerous in bad weather. It would also add about 15 minutes to our drive anywhere we were going, but on the other hand we were looking for something remote which would add to our drive no matter where it was. The town was very small. Just a grocery store, small motel, a cafe, a bar, a hardware store, and a few other shops. There were two RV and camping areas, which would be great for our parents to visit. Remembering the house itself, it felt so peaceful and calming. The nature surrounding the house was lush and green. The decking and steps around the house were solid and not in need of too much repair, but did need cleaning and maintenance. There was a perfect spot for a hot tub that would overlook the lake and another landing spot for a small storage shed. I was in love but I was determined to see the other places and the rest of the coast to be sure there wasn’t something we wanted more that was still left to be seen.
Click here for Part 4 of Our Oregon Adventure…
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