Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lake Fest and paddling on Kerr Lake, Clarksville, VA.

Location: Gypsy Beach (Private Beach), Kerr Lake, Clarksville, VA. Temperature: 75F Wind: Moderate 5 - 10mph Conditions: Overcast

Rachel and I spend this past weekend in Clarksville, VA. to visit her mother... attend Lake Fest... and of course, get in some paddling at Kerr Lake!

Lake Fest is known as one of the top 20 festivals in the Southeast. Thousands of visitors travel to Lake Fest in July, to view lots of attractions including hot air balloons, arts and crafts, live entertainment, local and ethnic food, and the traditional ‘Gathering Of The Boats’ and fireworks show! Lake Fest is always held in Clarksville VA, a small town of  approximately 1,200 folks, that is located on Kerr Lake. Clarksville has hosted Lake Fest for thirty-five years!

Some of the 100K individuals who attended Lake Fest this weekend! During Lake Fest on Saturday, Virginia Avenue, the main street that runs through Clarksville, is closed to vehicular traffic. Vendors setup on either side of the street and folks get to sample their wares - everything from arts and crafts, to some good old southern cookin! Yum!

Lots of people bring their boats to Lake Fest and the few docks and marinas near Clarksville, get filled up quickly. Here, weekend "captains" can tie up their boats, within yards of downtown, and than can quickly be walking the streets of Clarksville, enjoying Lake Fest! The fireworks show, was held Saturday evening, and the huge sky rockets are launched just on the other side of the bridge, seen in the background of this photo. Many of the boat owners, anchored their crafts in the lake Saturday night, "The Gathering of the Boats," to view the fireworks display. I heard that the fireworks show cost $30k to put on... but it was worth the cost! Great show!

Of course, Rachel and I were able to get in some paddling Sunday morning! Rachel's mother, who knows (and is known) by practically everyone in Clarksville, got permission from a nearby homeowner, for us to use their private beach as our put in / take out area. "Gypsy Beach" has a moderate slope down to the lake shore, so I was able to park my truck street side, and Rachel and I carried our tandem Mainstream Escapade kayak to the beach. Note to self; next time, bring and use my kayak cart! The 65lb kayak gets heavy, even lugging it less than 75 yards!

Gypsy Beach is a great private beach, complete with chairs, shade, and all the "big boy and girl water toys" that make a day at the lake so much fun and relaxing!

Rachel, strapping on her PFD and surveying the local weather conditions. The weather was ideal for paddling; overcast, with temperatures in the upper 70's.

Approaching the abandoned train trestle that spans Kerr Lake near Clarksville.

Instead of freight trains rumbling over the trestle, the rusting structure is "home" to flocks of  crows and other birds who nest among the support beams.

Spotted this Blue Heron, standing like a sentinel, on a jumble of rocks near the train trestle supports. The bird allowed us to get quite close, before taking to flight, and moving farther down the lake from us. We were using our "older" Cannon pocket camera for the photos in this blog post, instead of my more expensive Fuji one, because of the threat of rain on Saturday.

I was a little shocked at the large and expensive houses that graced Kerr Lake. Million dollar homes with million dollar views! Manicured yards, terraced lots...

... with elaborate floating docks that housed multiple water crafts, including pontoon boats and jet skies.

I was reminded by my mother-in-law, that Clarksville and Kerr Lake are favorite areas for retirees, who have both the money and time, to make their "dreams" a reality!

This "modest" home, in addition to floating docks, boasted an in ground swimming pool. What a life!

The remains of a large tree, that once stood proudly on this bluff, a victim of a lighting strike.

Early on Sunday morning, the skies were overcast and a slight ground fog was evident in the distance. It made for ideal paddling conditions.

A large bluff, formed by wind and water erosion. We estimated that from bottom to top, at its highest point, was over 25 feet.

The "next victim," to topple over into Kerr Lake, from the bluff, will most likely be this grand tree.

Rachel and I paddled to a friend's house, located approximately 1.2 miles from our put in area. We landed at their beach, next to their boat. Our friends had a bunch of folks visiting for Lake Fest, so their house was crowded. Fortunately, we arrived just as breakfast, in the form of a sausage and egg casserole, was coming out of the oven. We, of course, being polite, could not refuse the offer for food. Coffee and casserole "fueled" ourselves for the return trip!

A photo that suggests there is always something more around that next bend. It was a relaxing and reflective paddle for me.

Not all the water craft we encountered were pontoon boats. We also came across several large house boats. Everything, including the kitchen sink, can be found on these boats! This craft was slowly motoring across the lake.

The local law enforcement was very active this weekend, checking for intoxicated "captains" and safety violations. Stay safe out there!

Rachel and I had a wonderful weekend, spending time with her mother, visiting Lake Fest, and paddling on Kerr Lake. I plan to bring our kayak back to Clarksville and Kerr Lake in the near future.

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