By Mummy B.
Last year we decided to stay at home for Thanksgiving and enjoy the Black Friday (an exceptional sales day held on the fourth Friday of November, the day after Thanksgiving). This year we chose to drive to … Oregon! A 8 hours drive to a cabin in the woods, located 15 miles from Lakeview, OR … in the middle of nowhere.
We could have driven less than that. You can find cabins in the woods closer to East Bay, in Tahoe for example. But we had a specific idea of what we wanted and we found our gem on the website Home Away. It is called Squirrelville! This century-old cabin, isolated from everything, with an absolutely charming retro decoration seduced us from the first pictures seen on the web. And getting there just confirmed what was love at first sight.
We arrived in the early evening the Thursday of Thanksgiving. The sun had already set, so we got to discover this beautiful cabin by night with Cam and Christine, the owners. They welcomed us warmly and told us what we had to know about the cabin before leaving to celebrate Thanksgiving.
From the first evening, we loved Squirrelville. Nestled in the snowy woods, we could appreciate the quietness of the place. An unusual feeling for city dwellers like us. No neighbors, except the beautiful house of Cam and Christine over the woods and their nearest neighbors 6 miles away! No noise from the city: we had to drive 15 miles to find Lakeview. No street lights and the moon for only light at night. A haven sublimated by the snow which had fallen a few days before and covered the surrounding woods with its immaculate coat.
I let you enjoy for a few moments the only sound we could hear while walking around the cabin … the crunch of fresh snow under our shoes …
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Of course there was no TV, internet nor telephone network. Cut off from the world, Squirrelville offered us a timeless moment. After unloading the car, putting Lenny B. on his baby bouncer near the stove to be warm next to her sister who was watching the books available in the cabin, we inserted one of Cam’s CD in the player and started being transported by his guitar chords. Indeed, Cam is a musician and he left some CDs of his compositions in the cabin, and we loved them.
Cam and Christine were also very kind to offer us to prepare the turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner because there is no oven in the cabin. But they ended up preparing a lot more than a turkey! Actually we’ve been pleasantly surprised to get a complete and delicious traditional meal prepared by Cam. Our host has multiple talents, cooking being one of them! This nice gesture was the first of a long list, Cam and Christine are really great hosts. We would like to thank them once again for having made these days an unforgettable stay.
During the dinner, we decided to explain to Mimi B. what Thanksgiving is about and that we wanted to respect its spirit. Indeed, in the United States, Thanksgiving is a very nice celebration, probably among the least commercial ones. To understand the origin of this holiday (we already wrote about it last year) you have to go back to the beginning of the colonization of America. When the first settlers arrived in the New World, they knew nothing about local products. So the Natives taught them how to cultivate and hunt on their land. To thank them, the settlers invited the Natives to a festive meal consisting of dishes made from these new ingredients. Thus, even today, the tradition is that the Thanksgiving menu is made the same way that this first shared meal. Most families share a turkey often stuffed with cornbread, served with mashed (or sweet) potatoes and two sauces, one sweet with cranberries (which looks like a jelly), the other salted the “gravy” (a thick sauce made with chicken stock). Finally a pecan pie or pumpkin pie is usually served for dessert.
As you can imagine, we had a lot of leftovers. We have therefore eaten this Thanksgiving meal on the following two days to finish it and Doggy B. feasted with the turkey skin and remains from Mimi B’s meals.
If the meal recalls the feast settlers and Natives had, it is the same with the spirit of Thanksgiving during which families are grateful for the happy events of the past year and often express their gratitude to God and / or their relatives for all the good things that make up their lives. This year, Mimi B. was old enough to understand, so we decided to share a moment counting our blessings and thanking each other for the love and the good times shared during the year. We really had a nice evening.
The following days, we somehow had to live the way people lived back in the last century. Indeed Squirrelville is a century-old cabin, which makes it very different from our apartment that has all modern facilities.
First Squirrelville has no running water. So we had gallions of water available but no tap, no toilets inside (only a small shed behind the cabin) and most of all… no hot water! It’s been therefore quite a challenge at the beginning to wash ourselves, clean the cabin or do the dish-washing. In summer, you could enjoy the outdoor shower… but by 20° F, we didn’t try!
Second, if the cabin has electricity, it is mainly heated by stove. By 20°F average at day and 0 ° F at night, it was very important to take care of it. It was Daddy B.’s duty to regularly collect firewood and look after the fire. Despite his efforts, every morning we would find the water for the dog frozen in the bowl and the pipes of the kitchen sink also completely frozen, meaning that we had to throw the dirty water in the toilets outside. Moreover the electrical system of Squirrelville doesn’t stand too many electrical devices operating simultaneously as it may result in blowing a fuse (that happened to us on the first night: the fuse for the bedroom heater blew up and we slept with a lot of blanket layers to keep us warm).
At least, with all the snow, beers didn’t have to stay in the fridge to be cold enough!
It was a very interesting experience which allowed us to delve a bit in harsher living conditions than those that the modern world is providing us. Strangely we immediately took a different pace: we were going to sleep and getting up earlier. But before settling down quietly for breakfast, we had to “restart” the cabin.
This may seem trivial to have no running water or to need to heat the cabin with the stove, but it requires more work than simply turning a tap or setting the thermostat heating … Hardly awake, we had to be active in order to fetch wood, restart the stove which went off in the night, and heat water … Squirrelville is probably easier to tame in midsummer. That being said, if the conditions can seem a little rudimentary, we loved this experience and the cabin had a very cozy side with all the attentions from Cam and Christine. They simply didn’t forget anything. Whether it be cleaning or hygiene products, entertainment (games, books, CDs …), bath towels, blankets or basic food for cooking (condiments, oil, butter, coffee, tea, sugar …), whenever we needed something, we found it!
We just had to enjoy the surroundings and the quiet evenings during which we had long discussions wrapped in our blankets, a good glass of wine in one hand, near the stove.
We loved Squirrelville and we would wish to return this summer… but we will explain very soon why it won’t be possible…
Next time, we’ll show you how we occupied our days and how this remote area of Oregon is beautiful in the snow.
For those who want to visit with a larger family or would like more modern comfort, Cam and Christine have another cabin, Whitetail, open on sunny days. A wonderful destination for those who like to get together in quietness, away from the crowds of tourists, and enjoy the splendor of an unspoiled nature.