Lady of the Lake

My cover photo is a snowy and icy lake. During the Fall of 2014 I had to go to Redmond and stay a couple nights for a regional meeting for my job. I rented a car (we were a one car family at the time) and the rental company made a mistake and I got a huge 4WD Dodge Ram truck quad cab – it was a monster and I loved it. With that kind of rig I was able to take a detour along the way and stop at Suttle Lake, my favorite place in the world. 

Suttle Lake is our family camp spot – we spent a week every summer there swimming, catching fish, playing with the boat, eating and having fun. It was around 3rd or 4th grade when we started going to Suttle Lake, prior we had gone to Elk Lake but once we couldn’t get there because of forest fires. We turned back in Bend and started looking for camp sites but they were full. We were getting close to heading back home when dad and Mark found one at Suttle Lake. The elevation was a few thousand feet lower than Elk Lake (it sits at the base of Mt Bachelor, Suttle is right on Santiam Pass) and it didn’t take long for us to appreciate that there wasn’t ice on the boat in the mornings or that we didn’t have to use doubled up sleeping bags — you could easily get up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night. The fishing wasn’t as good — but that seemed to be a sacrifice we were willing to make. 

New tradition (ask my husband, my family is really into tradition)!!

Every summer it was me and my mom and dad, my aunt and uncle Joe and Kathy and my cousins JJ and Amy, Mark and Suzi and Grant and Lauren and whoever else wanted to join. Sometimes Randy and Joey came (he brought the twins once I remember) and I think Mike and Flo came once too. We’d swim or ride our bikes all day and take change to the little store and buy Laffy Taffy and ice cream bars. Even as me and my cousins and Grant and Lauren grew this camping trip never got old. We looked forward to it every summer and I know our parents did too. It was a week vacation in the woods and

We. Had. Fun. 

My first year in college ended with me being chosen to be editor of the college newspaper the next year. My mom was so excited and proud. She told everybody. That summer I worked for state parks and I couldn’t get the whole weekend off so I had to take my truck and follow her and dad over in their new (it was old but well taken care of) Winnebago they had bought that year. Usually we stayed at the south campground but they were full so we stayed up the south side – it was windy but still a good spot. We had our own beach and the spot was big enough for everyone to stay together. The W (that’s what we called it – it was a Winnebago and our last name is Whisler) was parked up on the road probably about 30 feet or so from the picnic table and our tents. 

One morning after a long night of drinking and having fun we were all up early. I was eating a cinnamon raisin bagel. Mom and dad had been up but they were up in the W. The rest of us were at the picnic table or by the fire. My dad yelled for my uncle and all of us froze. We looked up and dad was carrying mom out of the W and she looked weird. Joe and Mark ran up to him and Suzi and I looked for her cellphone in her glove box to call 911. The details get less here because I don’t know them. Dad yelled “get her out of here!” and Grant and I drive in my truck to the highway to meet the ambulance that came from Sisters about 20 miles away. Mom ended up being taken to Black Butte and she was life flighted to Bend where she died the next day from a brain aneurism. 

So, that’s why this picture is my cover picture. It’s where we spread mom’s ashes. It’s where so much of my life has been and will forever be. And we still go back and camp, every year, just like we always have. Me and my cousins take our kids now — lemme tell ya, the first summer that I took Jack (Charlie hadn’t been born yet) was pretty emotional for me at times. I usually have a moment or two each trip when I need to go for a walk my myself — I think almost all of us do — and that’s ok. It seems like we could all have one really good reason not to want to go back but it’s just the opposit. I love that place, it feels like home. 

Suttle Lake in the winter is a stranger to us – we aren’t snow people. But this trip in the Fall of 2015 it was just me, it was about 20 degrees and it was so quiet and frozen. So much of the fun in Suttle Lake is that it’s all of us — but this time it was just me and mom. 

Hi mom. Miss you. We’ll see you this summer. 

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