Tag Archives: Summer

How to Turn Your Backyard into an Oasis

Most of us have spent lots of time at home this spring, and it looks like summer might not be much different. With many attractions still closed and some states seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, safe travel will be challenging. For many Americans, this means choosing to staycation at home instead of hitting the road this summer.

A stay-at-home summer doesn’t need to be boring. You can turn your own backyard into a summer oasis without breaking the budget. Here is how to cost effectively maximize your outdoor space. From entertaining in style to keeping the kids busy, we’ve got you covered!

Upgrade your outdoor furniture

Chances are, you’ll be spending lots of time out in the yard this summer, and whether that means sunning on the patio or sipping lemonade under the shade of a tree, you’ll feel more of that vacay vibe with the right furniture. It doesn’t have to be pricey; a little ingenuity will really make those dollars stretch.

Make your outdoor space seem bigger by creating different seating areas for different purposes. Think a cozy coffee nook for mornings, a lazy hammock for getting lost inside the pages of a summer thriller, a pair of lounge chairs for catching the afternoon sun and a patio table for entertaining guests. You can even go all out and designate a small area for nighttime fireside fun.

If you’ve already got a nice patio set, freshen it up by replacing the cushions and adding some summer throw pillows for a whole new look.

Don’t forget to take a look at your outdoor lighting as you spruce up your patio and yard. Brighten up your outdoor space with some sconce lights along the walls or string up some old holiday lights for a truly festive feel.

Add a splash of fun

It may be too late in the season to think of installing an in-ground pool, but you can still have your floating fun with an above-ground pool this summer. Above-ground pools can cost as little as a few hundred dollars or as much as a few thousand for a larger, upgraded model. Most take a week or less to install. And then it’s an endless splashing summer!

Make it natural

Yes, you’re already outdoor, but that doesn’t mean you’re surrounded by greenery. Even city slickers can add the natural touch to small apartment porches with some potted plants, a container garden or a trellis with climbing flowers. Stick that greenery wherever it can go for an added layer of relaxation.

If you want to go all-out to get that resort-like feel, consider building your own waterfall this summer. It may not be on your bucket list, but it’s a super-fun project with rewarding results.

Fun for the kids

Don’t forget to create a fun space for your kids in your backyard oasis. The sky’s the limit when it comes to outdoor play; just have fun and let your creativity flow freely. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Put up a rock-climbing wall. If your kids are climbing the walls from being home for too long, try a DIY rock-climbing kit for endless fun that also builds strength and coordination.

Build a swing set. Swing sets provide hours of entertainment, but they can get pricey. Save money without compromising on the fun factor by choosing to build a swing set yourself instead of purchasing it pre-made. You’ll have to buy materials and maybe the tools, but you’ll still come out way ahead. Plus, you can make the construction a family project that will keep everyone involved for days.

Install a backyard splash pad. Your favorite spraygrounds might be closed this summer, but you can have your water fun at home with a DIY splash pad kit. Splash pads promise hours of fun for kids of all ages.

Create a natural playspace. According to a natural playground study by the University of Tennessee, children who play on natural playgrounds, or playscapes, tend to stay more engaged than those playing on brightly colored equipment. Building a natural playspace is easy — think a small pile of sand, a set of logs arranged as stepping stones and some tall grass or plants to act as hiding spaces.


If you’re short on the cash you need to turn your backyard into an oasis this summer, we’re here to help. Our loan terms are flexible and our payback plans are affordable. Connect with us today at 503-275-0300 option 2 or email loans@usacu.org.

Top Boating Spots in Oregon

Brought to you by our friends at getmyboat.com

When it comes to boating in the Pacific Northwest, many people first think of Washington or southeast Alaska. As both of them have extensive inland seas with protected saltwater islands and peninsulas to explore, this makes a lot of sense. However, the state of Oregon also has a number of excellent boating opportunities that are well worth the trip. The state’s climate tends to be a little sunnier and warmer in the summer than its neighbors to the north. One important difference between boating in Washington and Alaska versus Oregon is that the boats are either coastal or freshwater. Another interesting difference is that many of the best lakes here are at altitudes of 5,000 feet and higher, and a few of them are even formed as extinct volcanoes. This can mean a more difficult trip to transport a boat, but it also means more isolated and pristine boating once you arrive. Here is a look at some of the best boating lakes and rivers to discover in Oregon.

Boating the Columbia River

There are many reasons to follow the historic footsteps of Lewis and Clark down this large river that serves as the border between Oregon and Washington. There is beauty and ample opportunity for all kinds of boating here, as freighters, sailboats, ski boats, fishing trawlers, and stand-up paddleboards are frequently seen upon the same stretch of river. There are a few important things to know about the Columbia, however, to boat well:

  • Winds: The winds here can be fierce, particularly in the regions of the river that form a wide gorge beneath the plateaued banks. The view of cut sandstone is beautiful, but this geologic form causes a huge wind tunnel. Sailors should take note that mid-September to late March has prevailing easterlies, which can gust up to 40 milers per hour, and the spring and summer have westerlies which will die for a portion of every day and require motoring.
  • Locks: The Columbia is marked by several dams that require lock passage. The good news with this is that the lock locations are usually great areas to find marinas and other amenities for purchase on a long passage.
  • Current: The wider, lower sections of the Columbia only have a current of 1-2 knots, but regions and rainfall can bring it up to six. The good news about river travel is that there is usually a slack or countercurrent region of the river that can make passage less stressful. It is okay to wander toward the riverbanks looking for an easier route, provided you watch your depth sounders.

Crater Lake

Though boating here is somewhat limited by access, it is known as one of the most beautiful locations on the planet and well worth the trip. Crater Lake is the site of an extinct volcano, and offers views of high mountain peaks reflected in perfect glassy waters. The new baby volcano cone serves as an island in the middle of the water and is great to explore. Crater Lake is open for fishing as well, with proper licensing. If you do not bring a boat with you, rentals of small watercraft like kayaks and canoes are available, as well as chartered boat tours. Just hold on to your stuff, for if you drop something in the nearly 2,000 foot deep water, you are unlikely to get it back.

Snake River/Hells Canyon

Though the Grand Canyon gets all of the press when it comes to size, Hells Canyon has it beat when it comes to depth. The best place to enter is near the Hells Canyon Dam in Oxbow, Oregon. You will find a marina, jet boat tours, and fishing boat charters and rentals here, as well as a boat launch. The water here is not placid, and is home to a number of whitewater and other excursions. The bottom can be unpredictable, so it is always a good idea to speak with a local expert before putting your boat in the water here. If the water tables are too low or high, it may not be the right time for anyone but the most experienced captain. If you have your heart set on boating, however, the shores are full of experienced captains ready to share the beauty of this extreme canyon with you.

Diamond Lake

This stocked fishing lake is near Crater Lake and has a number of resorts along its shores. Though once disparaged because of a high level of trash fish, the lake has been undergoing a lot of restoration and is back to a main population of rainbow trout once again. Five separate boat launches are available along the lakeshore, along with several hundred campsites and three fish cleaning stations. In addition to fishing, campers here enjoy tubing, jet skiing, swimming, waterskiing, and other water sports. This is a favorite location for four-season vacation lake cabins, as Diamond Lake is also very popular for winter and ice sports.

Crescent Lake

Not to be confused with Lake Crescent in Washington’s Olympic National Park, Crescent Lake is located near the towns of Eugene and Bend. It is a great location for canoeing, kayaking, and small watercraft boating and fishing. Several campsites in the Deschutes National Forest section of the lake are available and offer great places to stay, or you can go to one of the private resorts or cabin rentals. If you do not want to trailer your own boat into the mountains to get here, there are several boat rental locations and marinas.

Wallowa Lake

Wallowa Lake is another favorite for camping, small watercraft boating, fishing, and more. It is located near the region of Oregon known as little Switzerland for its architectural style and annual festivals. Those who prefer to camp in comfort will enjoy the large number of cabin rentals available in this area, which are offered year-round for both summer and winter sports.

Mt Hood National Forest Lakes

The lakes here are numerous and small, and known for camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and more. They include Lake Trillium, Timothy Lake, Frog Lake, and Clear Lake. As Mount Hood is closer to larger cities like Portland, these lakes get a bit more traffic. However, not everyone who comes here is here for the boating. These lakes are notorious statewide as important mushroom picking habitat, and you will find many people with guidebooks and sacks looking to score lots of edible prizes along the shores. For those who love to forage and fish, this is an excellent location to gather everything you need for a campfire dinner of hand-caught trout and sautéed wild mushrooms.

No matter whether you love the mountain solitude or the busy river traffic, there is excellent boating to be found in Oregon. If you are traveling from out of the region, remember that the Pacific Northwest is very temperate. Always bring adequate layers – though the days may be in the 90s, the evenings can be in the high 40s, and rain is always possible. Your best choices are light, water wicking layers to stay comfortable here. Once you have arrived, it is easy to discover the extraordinary amount of natural  beauty to be seen and loved in Oregon, particularly by boat.


 Let us help you explore all Oregon boating has to offer with a  new boat during our Great Outdoor promotion happening now through June 30th! Connect with us by calling 503.275.0300 Option 2 to speak with one our loan specialists today. 

5 Travel Tips for Your Summer Vacation

It’s finally here. That magical time of year when the days are hot, the coffee is iced, and the nights are spent dreaming of upcoming vacations and travel adventures far, far away.

We know that dealing with cyber predators and unsafe travel conditions are not on your bucket list, and we also know that dealing with the fallout from identity theft is no fun.

To help keep you safe and informed, here are 5 essential travel tips for wherever your adventures take you :

  1. Make copies of important travel documents.

You should include your travel itinerary, health insurance cards, credit cards and passport. You should then give the copies to someone you trust in case of an emergency. It is also smart to email any important information about your trip to yourself before you leave so it is easily accessible if something gets lost, especially if you are traveling overseas.

  1. Use a credit card that has travel protection

Traveling can come with a lot of uncertainties, which is why it is always important to be prepared. Using a credit card that helps with emergency assistance, car rental insurance and lost luggage can bring you peace of mind while traveling. Our VISA Platinum Credit Card has all those additional benefits and more.  Connect with us before your next trip to get approved!

  1. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access financial information or make online purchases.

It is very easy for hackers to steal information from public internet servers. Further, you should never leave your laptop or cell phone in a vulnerable position (i.e. at the breakfast table while you run to the bathroom, or beach chair while you take a dip); this might seem like common sense, but it is easy to let your guard down when you are on island time!

  1. Research, Research, Research.

It is important to learn the ins and outs of your destination and so some digging to find out what areas are safe and what areas you should avoid. A good place to start? Read hotel reviews online to see what neighborhoods and destinations other travelers recommend. Remember that if a place seems unsafe or makes you feel uncomfortable, you should leave right away. You can also download the State Department’s Smart Traveler app  and sign up for the State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which allows U.S. citizens who are traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

5. Inform the credit unions of your travel plans

To keep your money safe, we automatically block transactions clearing from countries and merchants that have a high risk of fraud occurring. If you give us a call prior to your travels, we can ensure your cards work while you are away from home, giving you peace of mind.


Thinking about your next adventure? Let us help you cruise off this summer with loans for RVs, Boats, and more. Check out our Great Outdoor promotion happening now through June 30th! Connect with us by calling 503.275.0300 Option 2 to speak with one our loan specialists today. 

 

Fleet Week Fun!

USACU is excited to once again participate in the Portland Rose Festival by hosting a booth at this year’s Fleet Week at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. We’ll have a free photo booth, and we’ll be giving away some fun goodies too!

Stop on by our booth with the family, pose for a pic and say hi! We’d love to see you.

When:
June 9th & 10th
9:30am – 4:30pm

Where:
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
(at the Japanese American Historical Plaza, near the ship tour entrance )

Pics from Fleet Week 2016
More info about Fleet Week

Questions? Contact us.