2011 Trip 7: An amazing stretch of river...

Deep River - July 2011

Another long weekend, gotta love em. Heading to Deep River this trip, as we will be seeing our friends Mark & Donna. They rent a cottage there every year, on a great stretch of the Ottawa River, boasting numerous huge tracks of white sandy beaches. Traffic really heavy, though not unexpected.  We can see some storm clouds off in the direction we are heading, hopefully nothing too severe. Finally pulled into our campsite around 8:30, a slow trip.
The campground we are staying at does not take reservations, which in itself is a little odd. Right from the start, our expectations where pretty low. Paid our fees, picked up the crude site map, and waited for "Bob" to guide us to our site. Given the no reservation policy, I was sort of expecting them to say drive around, find a site, and let us know where you are. Not so this time. "Bob" appeared in his van and told us to follow him. He stopped at the first empty spot there was, right by the main camp road, wide open, beside the swing set. After just dropping $120 for three nights, it is not unreasonable to at least want to see what was available. I asked him if there were any other sites that we could look at, and immediately a cold expression washed over his face. His quick response was that it was 8:30, Friday night of a long weekend, what did I expect?  I expect to be able to see what was available, and make our choice. Obviously not the way this place works. He reluctantly took us to another site, which was a little better, then he disappeared in his van. Forgot to mention that during all this, the storm clouds were now right overhead, and it was looking nasty.

Got backed in and set up, the storm just adding a bit of excitement to the process. At least it did not pour down the rain, but it was sure windy and menacing. Everyone is pretty packed in here, and we seem to be right on top of a big family gathering behind us. It was not until we got set up did we realize how many people were behind us. Lots of adults, kids and dogs, slowly gathering around a campfire, having a few pops and listening to traditional AC/DC campfire songs on the boombox. Last laugh goes to "Bob".
Touched base with our friends and headed over to their place, a good plan. They rent an absolute classic. A small log cabin, built in the 30's extremely well maintained, with a front bedroom looking up the river, a big main room, and a small bath and second bedroom at the back. Sitting right on a fabulous beach. The log cabin has the classic deep red doors and windows, and all the original detailing and artifacts throughout. Truly a postcard. The kids are up this weekend, now adults, and we had a nice visit.

During the storm that blew through, a tree brought down the hydro lines close to their cottage and was arcing back in the bush. The fire dept was on site, waiting for Hydro to arrive. Power was still on, but we are expecting it go off once they start to work on the line. Sure enough, the hydro went off, and boy was it ever dark, and quiet. Headed back a bit later, our neighbours campfire was in full swing. By no means rowdy, but certainly animated. Throw in a few dogs barking and regular F bombs, and the still of the night is shattered.

Not a great sleep, given the drone right outside our window. Walked down to the campground beach this morning. Looks like it is going to be a good day. The beach is huge and truly amazing. Took a stroll around the campsite. Things are looking scruffy, everything seems to be suffering from a lack of attention. Given that we have only really seen "Bob" around, and no other staff, this is not surprising. This is a big place to try to keep on top of...and help is definitely needed. Our neighbours have departed for the beach on mass, so we took the opportunity to pull the Alto about 10 feet forward. Doubt that it will help the noise, but at least it gives us a little more buffer.

Mark & Donna picked us up in their boat, right off our beach, for a run down to Fort William, on the Quebec side of the river (which is in the Pontiac region). The weather is perfect and the river is awesome. Cruised past Deep River and the Chalk River nuclear plant, which is a research plant and only generates medical isotopes, and on down to Fort William, in their nice Thundercraft. Seven of us, lots of room. Great scenery along the way, white sandy beaches everywhere. Fort William is situated smack dab in the middle of a huge beach, and is not really a fort, but a long time trading post going a way back, you can see where probably the horses were tied up in the old days. Now it is a stopping place for boaters on the river. The building is really old, with a huge porch running along the entire front. It has a casual kitchen and a big bar area. There is also a beer hut right on the beach. The place was hopping. Lots of boats and people. We had lunch, our friend's son said it was the best poutine he has ever tasted. Had a couple of pints and listened to the band that was set up and playing from the porch. What a great time.
We then continued on our boat ride towards Petawawa, where they keep their other boat at the marina.  This one is more of a cruiser, their water borne cottage on the river they love. Kind of the same idea we have with our wheel borne cottage. It allows them to enjoy a huge stretch of river, with numerous beaches, and gives them the ability to stop a relax overnight anywhere.

On our ride back to their cottage, we stopped at 'Indian Point' which is an expansive white sandy point and a gathering spot for cruisers and houseboats. It is the perfect vantage point for the evening sunsets. Our friends knew a lot of people anchored there and we ended up moving up and down the beach, socializing as the sun was setting.  Everyone has their barbeques going on the beach preparing their dinners and appetizers being handed all around.  One of the tidbits offered was jalepeno peppers, stuffed with cream cheese, then wrapped in bacon.  They were awesome!  Most live in the area of Deep River and Petawawa.  We pulled up anchor and headed back to the cottage for a classic meal of barbequed steak and salmon with sides of garlic sweet potatoes and broccoli.  Headed back to our campsite around 11:30.  An absolutely perfect summer day cruising the Ottawa River...

Yet another poor sleep. Our neighbours love to talk, all night. Quite the assortment over there, all of them looking pretty edgy and rough. Beer and smokes are the nourishment for the weekend, and probably not just the weekend. Wandered up to the comfort station, an expression used in provincial sites to mark the location of the washrooms and showers. The condition of the washrooms is one sure way to really rate a campsite. In the course of our travels, we have seen many. I think it is a pretty good barometer. Comfort does not apply in this case. The place is a dump. Start with seriously crude construction, think concrete blocks and chip board, throw in a maze of iron piping, several bare light bulbs hanging off wires, all covered with years of slopped on oil paint, and these are the facilities. Of course, 2 of the 4 toliets are broken, and from the faded lettering on the "Out of Order" sign, I would guess the sign is a couple of years old. The showers are simply concrete stalls with dollar store plactic curtains. The floors are a wooden grate of now very spongy 2x4's. The only surprise here is that there was actually hot water. I was truly not expecting this feature. A classic example of where a coat of paint every few years really does not solve issues, or fool, anyone.

Headed into Deep River to check out the place. Picked up a few things at the grocery store, then headed back. We are making dinner at Mark & Donna's place this evening. Put the kayaks in the water and headed out for a paddle. The day is perfect, lots of sun, great temps, and very calm water. Paddled up the river as far as Frasers Landing, which is on the opposite side. A few nice cottages along the way, but really not that populated. We were out for about 3 hours, and went for a swim afterwards to cool off. A G&T finished the afternoon, and we grilled up a big batch of veggies for dinner. They are boating this afternoon, and we headed over after they got back.

Dinner was Montreal thighs and grilled veggies, with a blueberry tart for dessert. After dinner we walked to the end of the point to watch the sunset, and we could see a storm brewing on the other side of the river.
It looks like it will miss us, but sure enough, shortly after sunset, we could see the start of a huge electrical storm. The show was amazing. Sheet lightning, bolts, both vertical and horizontal, and numerous flashes that were almost blinding. No thunder heard, well perhaps some low rumbling, so it was quite a ways off. This lasted easily an hour. We all sat out on the beach in near darkness, watching in amazement.

Put the coffee on, grabbed a bite, then slowly started to get organized to head out. We did put the kayaks in for a paddle over to our friends place. Donna wanted to try out Dale's kayak, so it was agood opportunity for one last paddle. The wind was up, so the water was a little choppy, but totally manageable. Had a visit and a quick paddle while there, then we headed back to our site. Got everything squared away, had a bite to eat, then hiched up.

Bit of excitement lowering the roof. I was at the back of the trailer watching it go down, and Dale was operating the switch, when we heard an odd thumping sound. We stopped lowering the roof and went inside. Seems that one of the back cushions had been up against the window and it interfered with the lowering process. This caused the end panel to go out of alignment, and scraped the aluminum window frame. The thumping sound must have been the two pieces rubbing together. I also heard what sounded like the lift gear mechanism skipping gears. We moved everything well out of the way, and raised/lowered the roof again to check for any permanent damage. All seems OK. A little black paint will easily cover up the scraped metal.  A good lesson learned here to double check that there is nothing in the path of the side walls and roof when it lowers. Dodged a bullet there.

Drive home was quicker as the traffic was light, even for a long weekend. Bit of a hold up in Arnprior because of the bridge construction, but no big deal. Overall, a fun weekend, even if the campsite was really only marginal.


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