Robert and Kaitlyn Purdy, and their 1-year-old son, Bryson, walk on the docks Friday at Fish Lake, where they will be operating the resort. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]

Living the dream

FISH LAKE — Dream jobs are hard to come by, but Rob Purdy thinks he's found one.

For two years, Purdy and his wife, Kaitlyn, scoured the Northwest looking for the right opportunity to become resort operators.

They found what they were looking for just off Highway 140 in the Cascades — Fish Lake Resort.

"We looked at a couple of other places, but we've been looking for a place like this and fell in love with it," Rob Purdy said. "It's a beautiful place."

Although the Purdys have been on site for a couple of months, the transaction with long-time owners Jim and Debbi Blodgett hasn't closed.

Purdy grew up going to Yosemite National Park and venturing into the woods from his family's cabin in the California Sierras.

"My backyard there had a creek, instead of a lake," the 33-year-old Purdy said. "We're looking at this as a lifetime commitment. We want to raise our family up here. I'm an outdoorsman and an avid hunter and fisherman."

The Purdys are from Prather in California's Central Valley, not far from Clovis. His background is in construction, and Kaitlyn has experience in the restaurant business and more recently as an elementary school teacher. They have a 1-year-old son, Bryson.

Rob will handle the maintenance and upkeep for the 11 cabins, 45 recreational vehicle spaces and 11 tent sites, while Kaitlyn will manage the lodge.

The Purdys are the 12th operators since the resort opened nearly a century ago. For now, Rob Purdy hopes going to keep the transition simple, adding coats of paint and stain to the cabins.

"The first year, we're going to operate as is," he said. "We'll change a few things here, but for now we just want to get our feet wet."

Once the lingering effects of winter melt away, activity will ramp up, keeping six or seven hired hands busy.

Like many resorts on federal land, the buildings belong to resort operators. But upgrades or reconfigurations require reviews and paperwork. Most of the cabins sleep from four to eight people, and one can sleep nine.

"We can't change the footprint without approval, and we're locked into not cutting trees or building without permission," Purdy said.

One way Rob Purdy sees to get more use out of the 20 acres is attract more winter sports users.

"The cabins are open 365 days a year, but the RV park isn't open right now. I'd like to keep a handful of the RV spots open for snowmobilers and people who want to be in the snow," said Purdy as he peered out into a light snowfall last week. Even with spring in the air, snow depths still ranged from 3 feet to just a few inches.

In recent years, the resort has sometimes suffered from a lack of water, but that's not going to be a problem in 2017.

"It's great starting the year with the lake at 70 percent," he said. "It should reach 100 percent capacity this year. Everyone knows there's going to be water here, whether they want to go out on the lake and fish, or just hang out."

While the cafe offers primarily indoor seating, between Memorial Day and Labor Day the capacity swells to 50 with patrons dining on a covered patio area.

"We're going to keep the menu pretty much the same," Purdy said. "Everyone I talked to the past two months liked it. We'll continue having the homemade pies and stews and soups in the winter; and the good old-fashioned burger is still alive."

The resort rents out seven fishing boats, one pontoon boat, two kayaks and two canoes. Moorage is also available.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him on Twitter at, on Facebook at, and read his blog at

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