2015 Trip 8: a spectacular weekend

Sharbot Lake PP - Aug 2015

Off to Sharbot Lake this weekend, where we have not been to since our tenting days, what feels like and is actually, many decades ago. Scooted home after work, grabbed the Alto, and picked Dale up at work, a little routine that easily saves us a half hour or so. Little traffic on Hwy 7 this evening, so we made great time to the park.

There were 3 trailers behind us most of the way, all cruising by Silver Lake like us, so they were either following us or heading to Bon Echo. All of us turned into Sharbot, our little Alto the smallest of the bunch.

Pulled in behind a massive tent trailer, and I mean massive. I was getting my papers together to go into the office when I noticed the driver return to the Titanic ahead of us. It starts moving backwards towards us, odd, as I know there is nothing ahead of her, inching slowly towards our grill. Still coming, I'm now leaning on the horn with my left hand, hoping that the harder I press, the louder it will sound, and my right hand is now moving for the gearshift, reverse just a flick of the wrist away. The Titanic stopped, barely a foot away. I hopped out, heading for the office, when the window went down and a sheepish "sorry, didn't see you" emerged.

We have a nice site right on the water, one of the benefits of making your reservations as soon as you can. Pulled in and angled the camper so it was facing the water, the perfect set-up.

This part of the park is actually on Black Lake, the interior sites are on Sharbot Lake, a little deeper in off the road. We had always shied away from this park as it is almost right on top of the highway, and the resulting noise, but really, it is not that bad. A little road noise is a very small price to pay for a great water site. Speaking of water sites, we are now hooked. Can't beat them...the water completes the outdoors feeling that the more common woodland site cannot even begin to compete with. We are discovering a collection of parks with water sites that are quickly becoming our favourites. Water is mesmerizing...rippling reflections, captivating your mind in an endless stream of change and stimulation. Mindlessly mesmerizing bliss.

The clouds are looking a little ominous, black and threatening, but as of yet, not yielding any rain. The news tells us this will be a great evening to view the shooting star 'meteor showers' spectacle occurring now in the night sky, but Mother Nature is not cooperating and has thrown a blanket of greyness across the skies. After dark we moved inside and threw on a vid, one of the few times this summer we have had both electrics and the desire to watch. Nice to chill and relax.

Perfect for sleeping last night, just cool enough to be comfortable. Did not even notice any road noise, perhaps the occasional transport, but not anything that disrupted the REM's. Overcast in the morning, but based on the number of sunny patches, it may eventually drift away.

looks grim, but it all flowed away
Slow morning, coffee and relaxing were the arduous tasks we undertook. We did do a power walk, both to get going for the day, and to scope out other potential sites. Had some chats with a few other campers, an older chap across from us was most interested in the Alto, Dale gave him a little tour, and I suspect that he was a tad embarrassed at the involuntary gasp of air that spewed from him when I told him the price. "Probably half the cost of that Airstream Bambi that is on the next site" was my reply.

Took down the numbers of a few other sites that would be nice to stay on, a habit of many that wander the campground. Turning into a perfect day to paddle, so we got the yaks off the Santa Fe and into the water. Black Lake is not that big, but big enough to really qualify as a lake. Too small for powerboats, anything beyond a fishing boat is certainly out of place. This makes for nice paddling, no big wakes or annoying sounds to distract from the serenity.

this guy was losing a layer off his shell

Many years ago, decades actually, childhood era, we were living on Rockcliffe Air Base. Across the street was a buddy of mine, Eric Tremblay, and we hung out a lot...typical kid stuff. Dad worked with his father Ernie, and at some point while our paths had crossed, we went to their cottage, on Black Lake. There was a photo taken that day, a little square B&W, that showed me on their dock with their cottage in the background. Not sure why I remember that photo, perhaps it is because I am now camped across the lake from that same little group of cottages...but it is there, clear in my mind like it was yesterday. My quest this paddle is to identify which one it is. Should be interesting , the power of recollection after perhaps 50 years. Typing that sent a bit of a shiver through me...am I really that old? My mind says no, perhaps my body is not so unequivocal. I'll side with my mind.

Lovely paddle...gliding effortlessly through the water, almost part of the ripples flowing west to east. So far, none of the cottages have shifted the cobwebs of my memory. Chatted to a young man (relatively speaking) who did not recognize the family name. A little further we spoke to his Dad, who filled us in bit more, but again, no recollection of the name. We rounded a point and there it was...at least that is what my mind is saying. Much different now, but the clues are there. Shallow slope to the lake, driveway on the right, short wall of the cottage facing the lake, two windows with centred door. This had to be it, albeit the numerous extra trees. Pretty certain, as best I can be after this long. I spun my kayak around to mimic the view from the dock, my mind filling in another checkbox. I'm going to say this is it. Pretty amazing stuff. Unfortunately, no one around to talk to, to pick their brains, or to actually be Eric Tremblay.

As the nostalgia slipped away behind us, we headed down the lake. The sun was out in full now, the clouds have since departed the sky.

We can feel a swim and noodle float is in the offing, a reward for our efforts. Checked out the sites we spied early, and they look just as good from the water. We plan to book when we get back to our site. Another wonder of technology. I did wonder why were were getting LTE service here, out in the middle of nowhere, but once we were on the other side of the lake, the huge tower looming behind the park made its presence visible...

We pulled the kayaks out at the boat launch, just a short jaunt from our site. The waterfront at our site is very weedy and the bottom is mucky, so with a nice launch so close, it is best to use it. We used our kayak carts to easily roll them back to the site. Such a simple little device, but so handy. These are easily made from a couple of golf cart wheels, a length of reinforced rubber water hose, plastic electrical conduit and an aluminum rod as an axle. I'll post some photos and assembly details on the Mods page shortly.

super handy carts...able to roll over pretty much any terrain

We are ready for a swim, so we grabbed our folding chairs and our trusty noodles and headed for the beach. The water is perfect, just that right combination of warmth with a bit of freshness. Water temps on our travels this summer have been generally cool, somewhat limiting the times we have been able to get in and float around, which is mostly what we do. Nice beach, sandy bottom, and it gets deep relatively quickly. It is well marked off though, safe for kids and Dalle.

I did a lot of swimming, back and forth along the outer marker rope. It felt great practicing various swim strokes, gliding through the water, but I won't say effortlessly. Time catches up, the hundreds of laps done as a teenager are a now a just an unachievable memory. Did some serious floating though, and with the water being quite nice, we stayed in a long time. Gotta love the noodles!

Lounged back at our site, a nice cold beer and a cider for Dale, some tunes, and watching to goings on, rounded out the afternoon.
nice little lunch, very tasty beer

Barley leads Dale around...

Later, as we were getting dinner ready, a couple of park rangers came to the door. When we pulled in Friday night, we had a nice chat with these same two rangers, the older of the two was most interested in our kayaks, and naturally the Alto as well. They asked if they could pop by later to see inside the Alto, and here they were. They stood inside and we gave them a tour. Both rangers were nice, but the older guy was super nice. A classic...friendly, mature wisdom and very engaged in his park. We could see the younger guy absorbing all he could from his mentor, I'm sure he will become a great ranger as well. The older guy was very personable, asking us all sorts about the Alto, how we settled upon the kayaks we use, where we travel. He said he and his wife went through the same sort thought patterns about getting a trailer, but eventually settled on a cottage, as they have a number of grandchildren and a cottage is a great environment to experience them as they are growing up.

A simple stir fry this evening for dinner, just to change it up a bit. Made some rice ahead, and topped it with chicken, red peppers and green onions in a spicy General Tao's type sauce. Sat in our chairs outside, enjoying the meal and the view of the lake. Eventually we moved inside, read a bit, watched some fireworks from across the lake, then called it a day.

A bit foggy this morning, but that burned off quickly. Very few clouds in the sky this morning, and it has the feeling that it will be a scorcher today.

No lazing about this morning as we want to get in another paddle and a swim. Have to watch the clock today, as we need to be off site by 2:00pm.

A bit of chop on the water, but only in comparison to yesterdays glass like surface. The local 'painted' turtles have occupied their log early this morning, five of them vying for the best location, like cruisers staking claim on the best deck chairs. A good photo op, then we headed down the lake.

a whole gang of these guys spending the whole day in the sun

It is a perfect sized lake for non-motorized modes of travel. In fact, beyond the occasional little fishing boat, there are no larger boats or seadoos screaming back and forth. There is not the room for that sort of thing. The sun is hot today, so we tucked in close to shore on the other side of the lake as we made our way around. The shoreline is classic Canadian Shield, huge craggy stone rising up right from the shoreline, punctuated with pine and cedar, seemingly growing right out of the rock. It was cooler in close to shore, the shade a nice relief.

Made our way around to the park side, and we checked out the site we booked last night for September. Not the one we were hoping for, but close by. It looks to have a nice bit of shoreline, with room enough for perhaps a couple of chairs and G & T's. Pulled the yaks out at the launch, back to the site where we grabbed the noodles and headed to the beach for a swim before going home. The water was nice, again the perfect temperature, lots of people were enjoying the water and the sun. Too soon it was time to get back to the site and start hitching up...we could have floated there all afternoon.

Our site is on a bit of a dead end, at least from a trailer perspective, and backing in was no issue, getting out, with no way to loop around, needed a little thought. We finally decided it was best to put the wheel on the jack post and just push the front end of the Alto to an angle where it would be easy to hitch up and drive away. Couple of minutes later we easily had the Alto right where we wanted it. Some people have the Caravan Mover option, and this manoeuvre would have only been a matter of a push of a button. Very convenient no doubt, but still able to do the old school way. Another benefit of a small light trailer. A big fifth wheel could have made it on our site, but getting off would have been a whole other ballgame, and they do not have the option of pushing the trailer around as needed.

As we were pulling out, the new folks for the site were pulling in. We pulled out right at 2:00, this is the first time ever the next campers arrived before we left. Only goes to show you can never take the chance and hang around later than you are allowed, at least while occupying the site. Pretty tough to head out on a perfect day.

Stopped just on the other side of Innisville for some fries. There is a nice little roadside diner/takeout place called Woody's.  It has had a few owners over the past few years, but has always been a good spot to grab a bite. The new owners seem to have the place running like clockwork, and the fries were excellent...really hit the spot. The temperature outside is rising as we are getting close to the city, it has indeed turned into a scorcher of a day. It was certainly a little cooler at the lake, and even nicer floating in the water.

nothing like a bit of political commentary, spotted on the drive home
This has been a stellar weekend. Perfect weather, great lake, wonderful water temps. We have not had many of this combination all summer, it has been a huge bonus having everything line up just right...easily makes you forget all the crappy weekends we have experienced.


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