Escape 1-3: Doe Point CG, Fish Lake

Posts whose titles begin with Escape will serve as an on-going journal of traveling in our new Escape 21 travel trailer. Searching our site with the keyword "escape" should generate posts describing the myriad escapades with which we hope to continue filling our lives.

Here’s our Escape 21 on its inaugural camping trip to Fish Lake, not far from our home in Ashland.

It’s tough for Sooney to pass up a Reuben sandwich on a lunch menu. Add a cold micro brew and sweet potato fries to the order and it’s a done deal. (Split, of course, because we’re astonished by the portion sizes in most eateries.) That lunch was at Lake of the Woods Resort the day after our inaugural camping night in our custom-made Escape 21 travel trailer. Getting that Reuben was not without some effort, however. We’d ridden 8 miles along the glorious High Lakes Trail connecting Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods, stopping at several birdy spots. It’s one of our favorite bike trails and were we not riding our electric bikes, we’d have opted for a one-way journey beginning at higher-elevation LOW. But our Blix Vika folding bikes were with us, so the 16 mile round-trip resulted in a cruiser day.

Getting the trailer up here was another thing; we’ve had it at home for about a month and took our time familiarizing ourselves with the new rig. Compared to our Four-wheel Grandby pop-up truck camper, the additional 5′ of interior space seems cavernous and we’re quite sure we made the right decision. Truth be told, finding 3 unscheduled days in our busy summer put off our first camporee for bit longer than we expected.

Working with the good folks at Escape Trailer Industries in Chilliwack, BC, was beyond our expectations. Every question, via email or phone and regardless of complexity, was answered professionally and kindly. Since our trailer was custom made to our specifications, we had many inquiries about little things: light placement, cabinet heights, reinforcing some walls for possible mounts, etc. The hand-off at the factory was simple and we pulled our trailer home from Canada on the 4th of July. National holidays are, by the way, perfect days to drive through Seattle.

Passing customs and homeland security was a snap since we didn’t have to do it. ETI is experienced in shuttling their Canadian-made trailers to the US market and took care of it for us. We’d driven from Portland to Chilliwack, BC, spent the night in the ancient Royal hotel (there’s a 1908 photo in the lobby of some cowboy who rode his horse up the stairs looking for his girl—or so goes the story), and the next morning we connected our truck, paid our bill, and drove to Bob’s Burgers & Brew in Sumas, Washington. There, in the Bob’s parking lot, was our trailer, ready to be hitched with the assistance of the shuttle driver who does this several times a day. He handed us the DMV documents required by Oregon, made sure our Escape connected properly to our GMC truck, and returned home to BC. That was it. We celebrated at, where else, Bob’s Burgers and Brews. A Reuben sandwich, of course. Split.

Our first drive was a short one—actually about 10 miles total—to a KOA campground nearby. Our intent was to camp a couple nights, air out the trailer of any unpleasant adhesive smells and other solvent gasses, and test every feature of our trailer. We have cell service to ETI parts and services, so if anything didn’t work as expected, we figured it was a short drive back into Canada for any necessary repairs.

That proved unnecessary so, after 2 nights in the KOA (where we were one of the smallest trailers in the park), we drove non-stop to Gresham, OR, to spend a couple days with Bob and Bev, dear friends and traveling companions. From there, it was a calm drive down I-5 to Ashland and home.

The trailer saga doesn’t end there, however. With nowhere to house it, we unhitched the Escape in our driveway and really got to know it. Even though our trailer was custom made to our specifications, there was much to learn about both the trailer and the art of trailering. Fortunately, there’s a forum of Escape owners who kindly respond online to the most elementary question with respect and professionalism. We found plenty of information simply lurking the site, and made some preliminary modifications (“mods”) to accommodate our needs. More on that later.

Having a new travel trailer parked in one’s front yard for a couple weeks was hard to justify, but social commitments prohibited us from actually taking it out for a maiden voyage. In the meantime, I hired a heavy machine operator to level the space north of our garage and create a pad where we’ll park our trailer during the off-season. That done, our neighbors were happy to see it parked in its new home.

We’d discontinued sleeping outside when the smoke from the Canyonville Fire filled the valley. Fortunately, the air cleared in less than a week and we began sleeping in our trailer instead. For 3 nights we blissed in our new space enhanced by long-awaited rain showers. Sleeping in our trailer at home doesn’t qualify as actually using it, but it made swapping out everything from the truck camper pretty seamless. The GMC is a great pulling vehicle and until we come up with something smaller (and leaves a smaller carbon footprint) we’ll continue using it.

An Osprey coming up empty-clawed right off shore from our campground at Doe Point.

So it’s game time, driving up steep Dead Indian Memorial Road, and settling into site #11 at Doe Point Campground at Fish Lake. What a beautiful place this is, and perfectly suited for our inaugural night—camping in our lovely Escape 21 in a lovely campsite right on the water…or at least 40% of normal. Who could ask for more? (Oh, I suppose one could wish for a full moon…and we had that, too!)

Escape details: site #11, right on the lake facing south. Spacious and not reservable. Best to reserve # 10 as well if a social gathering. Reserve #8 or #22 if available for beautiful views. Hiked ½ mile from Road 37 to Fish Lake Dam along the North fork flowing out of Fish Lake dam. Across the street is the North Fork CG with vault bathroom, no water, little traffic sounds, and wonderful panorama of a fast-moving river. BTW, the Doe Point camp host, Bob, also hosts the North Fork CG. He’s friendly, funny, and committed to providing a family camping experience to all visitors.