The skies are cold and wet, and staying inside with a case of cooped-up cabin fever soon becomes unbearable.

The skies are cold and wet, and staying inside with a case of cooped-up cabin fever soon becomes unbearable.

It's a little too late in the season for a comfortable swim, and a hike along a muddy trail just doesn't seem that appealing.

Maybe a riverside walk or a romp through the park with Rover might just be the thing to brighten your day.

That's why Lonny and Mary Hymes, looking for a little exercise, bring their dog Buckie, a German Shepherd and Husky mix, to Chinook Park in Grants Pass.

"We live on the other side of town," said Lonny Hymes, "but we come here because we really like this park."

The couple said they enjoy the park so much, they sometimes come twice a day.

"It's really Buckie who brings us here," said Mary Hymes with a laugh. "She has a boyfriend named Butchy, a poodle who lives down the street."

At the mention of Butchy's name, Buckie starts to howl, her head twisting in a search for her special friend.

"She has other dog friends here," said Lonny Hymes. "A lot of people bring their dogs to the park. We don't know the names of the people, but we know the dogs' names."

He said the park is quiet this time of the year, but during the summer the boat ramp sees a steady line of people putting into the Rogue River.

"This is the farthest place you can go upriver, until they finish taking out Savage Rapids Dam," he said. "So a lot of people who want to go downstream launch here."

Not one of Josephine County's largest, Chinook Park has a cozy and family friendly feel.

The gazebo, built by Boy Scouts a few years ago, has plenty of bench seating for pleasant conversations and is the perfect place to keep raindrops from falling on your head.

The playground is small but there is plenty of grass to run on. A climbing fort is the only equipment provided, but that doesn't seem to bother the young ones.

Josephine County has plans to upgrade the park over the next four or five years, adding more picnic facilities, increasing the number of parking spaces and creating a fishing ramp and trail along the river.

The current shoreline path is short and ends at a rocky area that follows along the southern shore of what seems to be a deep and quiet stretch of the river.

The Hymeses said many people swim in the river during the summertime, and all through the year they meet quite a few birdwatchers.

"It's really beautiful this time of the year," said Lonny Hymes, "and it will be for a short while, but we like it even in the winter."

Chinook Park has its own community of regulars; people who may not remember each other's names, but still enjoy each other's company.

"Nobody's a stranger," said Mary Hymes, especially people with dogs.

Bill Miller is a freelance writer living in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com