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Houseboating on the Shuswap

This has been a beautiful summer, spoilt only by an extremely unseasonable snowfall in Calgary which left our yard looking like mid January instead of early September.

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Before this anomaly of nature we were able to make the most of the summer sunshine by taking a few trips around the countryside.  One of these was our trip through the Rockies to BC where we spent a long weekend houseboating.

The scenery alone makes the trip worthwhile. From Calgary to Shuswap the constantly changing view of mountains, trees, lakes and rivers is amazing.

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Once we arrived at Waterways docks our captain(s) had to go for a briefing while we loaded our belongings onto our boat, Shanda, and started to settle in, but not before we were taken on a thorough tour of the boat and required to check off a list consisting of everything from cutlery to waste bins.

Unfortunately we had scarcely started to unpack when we got a call from Calgary telling us that one of the dogs had gone missing. A frantic hour followed as our friend and dog sitter scoured the area together with many of the neighbours and a photo of the miscreant was posted on FB.  Knowing that we would not be able to enjoy the holiday while Shinga was roaming the countryside, Tracy and I drove the 4 1/2 hours back to Calgary, arriving after midnight and ten minutes after our arrival Shinga heard Tracy’s calls and came running in through the gate!

3 hours sleep and, Shinga loaded in the car we headed back to start our delayed boat trip. We took a water taxi to the little bay where the rest of our party was waiting for us.

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The rest of the weekend lived up to our expectations. We drank wine, and other beverages (and blew up floating devices) in the hot tub which is always our favourite haunt on the boat

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… visited the Sea Store – where we bought said floating devices

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… fished, well, some of us did, with varying success. The picture is of Cale, fishing off the back of the boat.

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… swam in the lake which was lovely and warm.

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… and went walking along the sand and through the trees when we beached for the evening. At least the more energetic of us did. The rest of us sat on the beach, sipped on wine and other beverages and enjoyed the view.

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All in all a perfect way to spend a long weekend in summer.  We have already booked our houseboat for next year.

September 10, 2014 Posted by | Boating, Day Trips from Calgary, House boating, Living in Canada, Travels | , , | 3 Comments

Houseboating on the Shuswap

Calgary to Shuswap Lake

We left Calgary at 1.45pm under a cloudy sky but by the time we reached Banff National Park the clouds were starting to disperse and the sun broke through.  The mountains are still summer-bare but a recent fall of snow left the contours striped white on the higher peaks.

Unfortunately the respite was short lived and as we approached Lake Louise a few drops of rain began to fall.  This weather pattern – from sun to cloudy skies and rain lasted throughout the weekend.

Construction is an ongoing problem along this section of the road slowing down traffic considerably for kilometre after kilometre from Banff National Park to Yoho National Park.  Finally we crossed the bridge with the spiral tunnels on our right and left the construction behind.

Path through the trees from Faeder Lake to Kicking Horse River

In BC the bare mountains give way to tree-covered slopes and the rivers are a milky blue/green. We stopped at Faeder Lake for coffee. Sadly the lake comprised a puddle of water in the centre but a short stroll down a pathway led to the river where a strategically placed bench invited us to sit and contemplate nature.   Lovely under the trees which were just starting to turn.

The long downhill to the Kicking Horse rest area is now a beautiful road – they were still busy building here last time we drove through.  We passed a  flock of mountain goats and stopped to take pictures.  They have all completed their moulting and looked quite respectable (Gail, you would have enjoyed seeing them).

Then into Golden, a little town which, in my opinion, does not live up to its name, although the surroundings are lovely.

We continued along a good road flanked by trees which offered brief glimpses of the valley below, crossed the time zone and entered Glacier National Park, Canada (there is another one in the US).  Passed through a series of avalanche tunnels

Avalanche tunnels

and then stopped again to take a photo of the Illecillewaet glacier – might not match those on the Icefield Parkway but the name must be unrivalled!

Mount Revelstoke National Park featured numerous little waterfalls, dense forest and ferns in the undergrowth – a bit reminiscent of the drive up to Hogsback from East London SA.  We stopped at Three Valley Gap to take a photo of their Ghost Town and the famous prospector pulling his donkey – set on a large lake and surrounded by hills.  Three Valley Gap consists of 25 restored historic buildings which were left abandoned when the gold rush ended in the late 1800’s.  This whole area is obviously a tourist corridor judging by the number of guest houses, cabins, campgrounds, adventure tours etc.

Richard at Three Valley Gap

Through Revelstoke itself and then, finally Sicamous and the lake.

Houseboating

The houseboat provided by Water Ways was very well appointed.  We took our belongings onto the dock in large rubber ‘wheelbarrows’ and offloaded quickly.  Three cabins downstairs and a ‘cubby hole’ providing another double bed which the boys commandeered.  Two low ceilinged rooms upstairs completed the sleeping arrangements.

Our houseboat, taken from the forest

The rest of the living area was equipped with a fire place, TV (neither of which we used) a table with 6 chairs, a couch, a gas stove, a microwave, a coffee maker and 2 fridges.    A hot tub on the top deck quickly became a favourite “chilling” spot.

Asher and Cale lost no time taking advantage of the facilities – even while we were still at the dock – Asher casting a spoon to try for the fish which were jumping around the boat and Cale climbing into the hot tub.

By 7.30pm the men had driven into Sicamous to buy fishing licences (Richard and the boys are exempt – too old and too young to need one J )

After a good nights sleep we headed out across the bay, under the Transcanada and up the lake, stopping at around 10am for brunch.  Each couple arranged to supply one meal – this was ours – sausages, bacon, eggs, fresh warm rolls and melon.

Cale fishing

Mark launching the inflatable

We continued up the lake, trolling as we went until we reached a long deserted beach where we beached the houseboat and spent some hours exploring the forest,  swimming, fishing, boating (Asher and Cale in a little inflatable) and generally relaxing.

Later we stopped at the “Sea Store”, a floating shop where I bought marshmallows and sticks in case we got a chance to light a fire.  Trace served tea and cupcakes to celebrate Mark’s birthday as we looked for a suitable place to beach for the night – another little cove which we had to ourselves.

It was Tracy and Mark’s turn to provide a meal and Tracy cooked up a delicious spaghetti bolognaise.  The evening ended with a bonfire on the beach, enlivened by a packet of ‘magic colours’ which Asher threw into the flames after all the marshmallows had been toasted.

Asher taking his turn at the wheel

Awoke around 2am with the boat rocking wildly in what I took to be a windstorm. The men, one by one, wandered out to check. No wind at all, just waves, probably produced by strong winds further up the lake. After being reassured that the guy ropes were holding on the beach everyone went to sleep again.

Breakfast at our beach and then cruised slowly down close to the bank while the fisher-folk fished.  Derek caught a nice rainbow trout and Cale hooked but lost one at the boat.  We tied up at another beach with yet another enchanted forest and Johan, after much trying, eventually caught a large but unidentified fish.

Asher continued fishing off the back with his little homemade rod after everyone else had packed it in and caught a few small fingerlings.

Derek's trout

Barbara and Derek provided steak, homemade sausage and salads for dinner, with freshly caught trout, and then another bonfire to finish off the evening.  An ever-dwindling few worked on a fiendishly difficult crossword puzzle until after 11pm.

After a good night’s sleep on calm waters we woke around 6am to shower and pack.  While Clive and Anne cooked breakfast Derek took us back to Mara Lake where we waited patiently for our turn to dock.  An overcast, rainy day  to end a magical weekend.

September 25, 2010 Posted by | Boating, Living in Canada | | Leave a comment

Floating the Bow

Setting off down the Bow

Yesterday was the second time this year we took advantage of the beautiful weather to take a leisurely float down the Bow River.  All it takes is a few sturdy inflatable boats ( and in this instance, an inflatable kayak as well) and a vehicle or two parked at the start and finish of the float.  We start at Glenmore and ride the river as it winds through Calgary and Fish Creek Park to our exit just below 22X. One big advantage of this stretch of the Bow is that no motorised boats are allowed, other than the river police, so the float is tranquil.

Trees and grassy slopes help you to forget how close you are to a big city and there is as much pleasure to be had from watching the ducks and geese with their youngsters, the pelicans and even, during our last trip down river, a beaver, as there is from watching Calgary enjoying the sun.  Dogs splash in the water on the banks of the river, obligingly fetching sticks and balls thrown by their owners, joggers and cyclists pass by and optimistic fishermen abound.

Sun, water, trees, grass and the mountains in the distance - bliss!

We had planned to take our fishing rods along with us and do some fly fishing as we floated along, but the river was flowing so strongly – it took us 2 hours this time as opposed to 3 1/2 the previous trip – that we abandoned the rods at the last moment.

Next week we plan to take our boat to Lake Newell at Kinbrook Island Provincial Park and try our luck there instead.

Boats lashed together, Richard relaxes in the sun

Pelicans near the bank of the river

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Boating, Living in Canada | , , | 1 Comment