Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mado's Birthday and Camping Lac Ha Ha

We have met many Quebecers at Betty's over the years and have visited Jean Paul and Celine at their home in St. Omer.  Every spring at Betty's a group lead by Mado and her husband Rick stop at Betty's on their way home from wintering in Mexico.  Over the years they have encouraged us to come north for a visit and this year fit perfectly into our travel schedule.  Since we were coming to Vermont for the Escapade, it would only be an extra 600 miles.  As an added bonus, we would be there for the celebration of our friend Mado's 80th birthday. 
The drive from Quebec City to Camping Lac Ha Ha was only 117 miles, but as you can see there where many ups and downs.  Our GPS chimes when we are coming up to a steep hill or sharp turn.  It sounded like church bells on Sunday morning for most of the trip.  Look at the grades, I don't think we even encountered anything like this going to Alaska.  The good news, most of the steep hills were  short and we could opt for the longer, flatter, but less scenic route on the return trip.
We arrived on Friday and were greeted by many of our friends from Betty's.  We all gathered in the camp hall that evening for supper.
Mado, Jim, Rick and Nanc at the celebration that started at noon with the roasting of four large roasts on a spit, an afternoon of games, and a party with a band that lasted late into the night. 
You know it is going to be a fun time when someone is wearing a hat that has been modified to carry jello shots.
The evening started with a great meal.  They even had salmon for those like Nanc who don't eat meat.
A few of the revelers.
People we have met at Betty's. Top, Remi, Lucie, Lionel and Flo.  Bottom Yvon, Mirna, Alain, Denise, Michelle and Michele.
Some of Mado's family. Top, her husband Rick, daughter Isabelle, Mado and sister Monique.  Bottom, daughter Suzanne, son-in-law Rejean, their daughter(?), sister-in-law Claudette, brother Ramon (whom we met at Betty's) and brother Christian.
Party time!!!!
Even a Mado hat.
Nanc and Suzanne.
Alain, Remi and Mado.
Mirna, who is from Mexico, and Ramon singing in Spanish.
Things got a little wild:-)  You never know what to expect from Mado.
Lucie, Mado, Michele, Mirna and Nanc.
Dancing the night away.
A big hug for the birthday lady.  Thank you for making us part of the celebration.  What a fun, fun party!  Since many people were just here for the weekend we all gathered for a good-bye breakfast Sunday morning.
We were staying a week to spend more time with Rick, Mado, their family and Lionel and Flo who were staying for a month.  We got to go out on their pontoon a couple times to enjoy Lac Ha Ha.
Talk about a party barge.  I know many people in Pennsylvania and Louisiana who would love this set-up. 
On Monday we drove to La Baie, where Rick and Mado live, and took a boat tour on the Saguenay River through the fjord.  This is the auberge (hotel) overlooking the river that Mado and a couple of her brothers built and ran a few years ago.
The boat made three stops along the way.  This is the village of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, a small place that was originally only accessible by boat. 
The second stop, Trinity Bay, was to drop off and pick up people who hiked to the top of the mountain to the statue shown below.  The climb included a rope bridge to cross the cut between the two peaks.  No Thanks!!
This section of the tour was through Saguenay Fjord National Park.  The statue of Notre-Dame du Saguenay was placed here in the 1880's.  Because of its weight it had to be cut into pieces and hoisted up the steep cliff from two small boats below.  It was restored in 2008.
It is a beautiful cruise on the river through the beautiful fjord with its towering cliffs.
Michele, Rick, Michelle, Nanc, Mado and Jim aboard the boat.  I sure was over dressed in a sweatshirt as the weather went from a cool and overcast weekend to hot and sunny for most of the remainder of our stay. 
The boat landed in L'Anse-Saint-Jean where we went to lunch and then explored the village before boarding a bus for the return to Le Baie.  Along the way back we made several stops including this bakery where they bake everything in a wood fired oven.  We sampled a sweet roll and gave it a thumbs up.
The covered bridge is interesting for the works of art about the village that line the interior walls.
At another stop there was a park with many different nativities designed and made out of a variety of materials.  They ranged from the traditional to abstract and were very interesting. 
We spent the rest of the week at beautiful Lac Ha Ha where we went out on the boat, fished, hiked and gathered around the campfire every evening with Mado and Rick's family and friends.  This is the view of the lake and campground from the top of the that last 14% grade we drove down before entering the park.  The next day Rick, Lionel, Nanc and I climbed to the top of Mt. Du Four, that peak on the other side of the lake.
To save us six extra miles Rick used this small boat to take us across the lake to the bottom of the mountain where we started our climb.  It was only a mile to the top but it was all up hill and very, very steep most of the way.
We were rewarded with this beautiful view of the lake, campground and mountains.  That is the road we drove in on coming over the mountains.
Tradition is that those who climb to the top should leave something on the flagpole.  There was no way I was going that close to the edge, but Rick volunteered and tied my bandanna to the pole, so we have left a bit of ourselves at Ha Ha.
Lionel, Nanc and Rick celebrating at the top.  Rick is holding half of a memento that an earlier climber had left tied to the tree.
While most of our friends left after the weekend party, Lionel and Flo were here for the remainder of the week.  They have not been to Betty's for a couple years, so we had a fun time getting caught up with them.
On our last day Rick, Nanc and I took a hike through the woods to the other side of the lake.  It was an easy and beautiful walk but we paid a big price with all the mosquito bites we got.
When we got to the other side of the lake look who showed up in the kayaks, Lionel and Mado.  The locals spent a lot of time on and in the water, but it was too cold for us.
We had a great week at Lac Ha Ha and enjoyed our time with friends.  We were rewarded with this beautiful sunset.  Once again meeting people on the road has become the best thing about our lifestyle. We want to say thank you very much to Mado, Rick and their family for their hospitality and the wonderful time we had in their little piece of paradise.  It would be a beautiful place to return to some time in the future.


Jan Mains said...

I know how excited you were to be going to the birthday party. Looks like it was all and more than you expected. See you soon.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

A 15 percent grade oh my!

The Hesters said...

Loved reading this post, what a good time. And what a beautiful and interesting place. Thanks for sharing.