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TENINO — There’s something oddly missing from Offut Lake Resort this summer. Gone is the smoky smell of campfires wafting lazily across the resort. Owner Rebecca Pogue likens it to something you don’t realize you miss until it’s gone.
Offut Lake Resort, located about five miles north of Tenino, sits on the 200-acre Offut Lake. Normally bustling in early September with an abundance of campers, the 35-spot campground for tents and RVs sits empty. It’s been closed since COVID-19 restrictions hit Thurston County in mid-March, and will remain so for the rest of the year.
Rebecca found that with the size of the campground and all the restrictions and guidelines that she and her family were unable to adequately meet those guidelines for overnight camping.
“I miss smelling a marshmallow burning,” she said. “But that will be back next year. We’ll be back next year with a vengeance.”
The resort originally got its start in 1939 and was bought by the Pogue family in 1998. Rebecca’s grandson, Tyler Pogue, helps run the day-to-day operations and is the third of four generations of Pogues to be at the resort.
Although campers are non-existent this year, everything else is still open at the resort and it’s still been a popular summer spot for day-trippers. The Pogues have seen record numbers of recreation visitors who are coming to isolate and social distance. Rebecca said they’ve had double the amount of previous summers.
“Everything else is open, with great caution,” Tyler said.
The resort offers fishing of all kinds, including dock and boat fishing, with the boats being sanitized daily. Anglers looking to hook into a fish can find rainbow trout, bass and perch on the lake.
The resort offers pontoons, fishing boats, kayaks, paddle boats and canoes. It has a general store, which offers fishing licenses, fishing tackle and general grocery items.
Tyler, who grew up on the lake and resort, has countless, cherished memories of sitting on the dock and taking in the fresh air and water.
“I have spent many, many great summer days enjoying this beautiful place,” Tyler said. “I couldn’t ask for a better spot in the world. Sometimes it’s hard not to get lost in it all. This place will forever be my home, whether or not I’m here.”
It’s one of the reasons the Pogues decided to buy the place, Rebecca said, as they’ve always been big outdoors people and it was the perfect opportunity to continue doing what they love.
“Recreation means a lot to us and we enjoy people who enjoy outdoor recreation,” Rebecca said.
The resort also has a lakefront restaurant, The Lady Lake of the House, which sits perched near the water and has indoor and outdoor seating. The restaurant offers nightly specials, such as steak, fish and chips, tacos (beef, chicken and fish) and prime rib with prawns.
Every winter, the resort puts on the Polar Plunge, an annual event that’s gone on for 12 years. Participants can ring in the New Year by leaping into the frigid, 40-degree waters every Jan. 1. The number of participants ranges from 50 to 100 with many more coming just to watch. Even Tyler joins in. No one remembers exactly how it started, but they figure it began with a camper wanting to jump into the water and it took off from there.
“Everyone gets to enjoy the blistering waters here,” Tyler said. “You get used to it after a while.”
The general store is open daily starting from 7 a.m. The Lady of the Lake restaurant is open 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday; 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays; noon to 8 p.m. on Saturdays; and noon to 7 p.m. on Sundays.