Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Trip Log: Oastler Lake Provincial Park - August 22-24, 2016

Sunday night before our vacation started, we still hadn't decided what we were going to do.  I wanted to do a longer back country trip, the kids suddenly decided they were afraid of canoe camping, and wanted to just relax in the Boler, and Chris seemed to have no opinion on the subject at all.

After scoping out all the possible trips we could do in Algonquin where we could stay on an access lake, or only one portage in, we quickly realized there weren't a lot of sites available that met those requirements, or the portage would be a long one, at which the kids again put their foot down.

Finally we decided to do two nights of Boler camping, then leave the kids to visit my parents, and Chris and I would do two nights of canoe camping...again, not having an actual destination in mind.  At about midnight, we decided to check out Oastler Lake Provincial Park, since there was one waterfront site available and it wasn't ridiculously far to drive (read previous trip logs to hear more about our misadventures towing the Boler over longer distances.)

Packing for two trips, with radically different needs was a bit of a struggle but we were out of the driveway by about 1:30pm, surprisingly in good spirits.  This whole last minute packing for a trip always makes me crabby but I managed to stay up beat this time.  We weren't in a big rush, we had a site booked, and we would be exploring a new park.  All good things.

There was a few minutes of concern as we went through Bala.  There is a place where you turn left and immediately go over some railroad tracks.  In the gap between the tracks, the road has sunk and the trailer hitch bottomed out and sounded like it might have been damaged.  Chris got out and checked it out and all was fine.  This, coincidently, is where the whole hitch ripped off the frame on one side on our aborted trip to Grundy Lake last year.  Once we made it past the little park by the police station, where we'd stopped before and realized the state of the hitch, we all relaxed a little bit.

table with a view: Oastler Lake Provincial Park
We arrived at the site just before dinner time.  Our first impression was that the site was very small and not very private, but what it lacked in those areas, it made up for in scenic views.  We parked the Boler just at the edge of a meter high cliff where a picnic table was perched.  Down the hill was our own little slice of waterfront, where we could launch a canoe or go swimming.  Unfortunately, the whole time we were there it was extremely windy, so we didn't even take the canoe off the roof of the car.

Dinner that night was veggie burgers and salad, which we ate on our table with a view.  The sunset wasn't spectacular, but the stars were bright and many.  After the kids went to bed, Chris and I went down and just enjoyed the peace...I saw a shooting star.

Unfortunately, peace at Oastler Lake is a fleeting thing.  While the campground was surprisingly quiet given how close together the sites were, the trains going by all day and night was anything but tranquil.  For Chris, who had lived for a few months in a town where trains went by that frequently, it was extremely annoying.  For me and the kids, it was kind of a novelty...that made it hard to get a good night's sleep.

Oastler lake has no hiking trails, and with the wind up, we didn't feel like canoeing so we pretty much just relaxed all the next day.  Chris took a nap, played ukulele, and the kids read and drew.  I woke up that morning with a doozy of a cold, so I was quite content to lay in a chair with my feet up and just do nothing.  That worked for a while, but we somehow are down to only two chairs...and guess who also really likes to sit in them and relax...

Can you tell who has pull in this family?
We did walk around the campground and checked out the park.  I took Squatch to the beach, then shortly after we got back, Chris took both kids down for a swim. We saw a water snake sunning itself on the rocks at our site.  I tried to take a picture but it got into the water and then kept poking it's head up at us before swimming away.  It was just one of those trips where you don't do anything...and it was awesome.  In fact, we were so lazy, we ended up driving into Parry Sound for dinner rather than cook.  Okay, part of the reason for this was that in our frenzy of packing, I didn't realized I'd brought pasta for both lunch and dinner.
water snake just off shore at our site

 We actually contemplated staying for another day, but in the end, Chris and I decided we did want to go canoe camping, and so the next morning, after coffee and bagels, we packed up and headed to my parents house to drop off the kids and the Boler.

Our feelings on this trip were a bit mixed.  The park itself was nice, though the sites were small and lacking in privacy.  The trains kept everyone from sleeping, but then again, so did Biscuit.  The comfort stations were great, and there really isn't anywhere that you aren't close to them (maybe the river side lots?)

Some of the river side lots were better for privacy, but calling the little creek a river was stretching it a bit.

I think, over all it was a good trip.  And I think I could convince Chris to go back again, provided he got some ear plugs.

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