Skinny Dipping in Oathill Lake in March is a “Once in a Lifetime” Experience

After a relatively warm and dry winter, the weather keeps on acting strange. I think temperatures like we had on March 22/2012 only occur once in a lifetime, it was almost 30°C and some local teens went skinny dipping in Oathill Lake.

Skinny dipping in Oathill Lake in March 2012

Skinny dipping in Oathill Lake in March 2012

Salt Marsh Trail – 2011

Revisiting the Salt Marsh Trail. This time we decided to hike the Salt Marsh Trail in summer. The forecast called for 29°C, so we left early and started our 2 hours hike at 9:30 am when it was still pleasant.

Salt Marsh Trail Hike

Salt Marsh Trail Hike

We walked all the way past Conrad Brothers bridge, had a little break and then came back. The tide was just coming back in and the current was quite strong coming under the various bridges.


At the beginning of our walk we met a man with binoculars looking for a bald eagle, but we did not see one. Then when we came back there he was perched on a tree.


Trip to Appenzell, AI, Switzerland – October 2006

When we visited Widnau, our hosts offered us a Sunday drive and let me choose to either go to Lake Constance or to the mountains.

I chose the mountains. Even though as a kid I always got car sick with all those turns, the view is just unbelievable.



The following info is from Wikipedia

Information about Appenzell

Information about Appenzell

The city of Appenzell is the capital of the canton Appenzell Innerrhoden. Originally there was only one canton and it was called Appenzell. In 1597 after the reformation the canton was split into two half-cantons called Appenzell Innerrhoden, which stayed predominantly Catholic and Appenzell Ausserrhoden, which is predominantly Protestant. Apenzell Innerrhoden is the second smallest Swiss canton and has the lowest population density of only 87 people/km². The whole canton has a population of only a little over 15’000.

History of the city’s name: Appenzell from Wikipedia:

In 1071 the town was referred to as Abbacella. By 1223 this changed to Abbatiscella, meaning the Abbot’s cell or the landlord of the abbey.

Check out also my page about the Sylverstercläuse, a typical local traditon.

Hotel Appenzell

With the sunny warm and mild October weather, we could not resist to have a lunchtime snack in the garden restaurant of the Hotel Appenzell. Just walking by the display windows of the hotel made our mouths water.

The Säntis Mountain

The following info is from Wikipedia:

Information about the Säntis Mountain

Information about the Säntis Mountain

The Säntis is a mountain in the Swiss Prealps, part of the Alpstein range. It can be reached by cable car from Schwägalp.
The peak is the highest point of the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden, and is also shared by the Canton of St. Gallen.
From the 123.55 m high Swisscom transmission tower, various VHF radio and television programs (SF1, SF2) of SRG SSR idée suisse are broadcast.

For the more adventureous there is an over 3 hour hike straight up to the Säntis from the Schwägalp. Read the discription of it here. Proper hiking gear is a must.

In winter take the cable car to the top and ski down. What a rush. I remember skiing down the Diavolezza (English) glacier (German) in the Grisons when I was a kid.

Wildhaus, SG, Switzerland

Our last stop on our Sunday drive was Wildhaus, 1095 m above sea level. I have fond memories of spending the winter ski week with school here. All the classes of the elementary school went away for a week to the ‘Skilager’ (ski holiday). We didn’t have snowboards then and every skied. We were only allowed to use the ski lifts after lunch, must have been cheaper that way. In the mornings we had to create our own runs by walking up the hills with the skis and flattening the snow.

In the German Wikipedia of Wildhaus I read this tidbit:

The “Pisten-Funi”
From 1937 to 1949, Wildhaus was home to a very special means of winter transportation: the Funi (short for “Funiculaire”) or sled cable train. Like a cable train with a center pull cable, a sled drove up and down the hill, but instead wheels on tracks to run on it ran on sled runners on the snow.

Appenzell Reference Info

Maynard Lake Revisited – July 2011

Where has the time gone. I just realized that the last time we walked around Maynard Lake was September of 2002. This time the water level is quite a bit higher than 9 years ago. There are many reasons for that, but the main one is that it is at the beginning of summer and the last time it was September after a full summer, also we have had a very wet past 2 months.

The big difference we found was that the boardwalk at the North end of the lake has just about totally disintegrated and we had to step carefully. But all in all it was a delightful walk.

It is the Canada Day weekend and I decided to start the picture with chair with the maple leaf.


Maynard Lake – September 2002

Map Maynard & Oat Hill Lakes

Map Maynard & Oat Hill Lakes

Maynard Lake is the twin lake to Oat Hill Lake where I live. They are separated by a hill. Joffre Street is the top of the hill and Maynard Lake and Oat Hill Lake are on opposite sides of the hill. Maynard Lake is slightly higher above sealevel than Oat Hill Lake. Some of the water from Maynard Lake drains underneath the hill into Oat Hill Lake. All the houses along Oat Hill Lake have special drainage pipes in their yards between every 2 houses that funnel the water directly into the lake.

Unfortunately, Maynard Lake is not swimable. The water is too poluted and the reasons for it are not known right now. At the beginning of summer I heard that there were tests being done to figure out if the pollution could be reversed. So far I have not heard anything about the results.

I started my walk on the eastern side of the lake, by taking an almost hidden path down from Lakefront Road. For a long time I did not realize that it was also possible to walk around this lake. Not many people are aware of it either as in places the paths are quite overgrown. The children in the area are, however, well aware of the paths and the woods around the lake and use them as their playground.

I don’t know where and how the lake drains. I imagine that it drains into lake Banook that is to the North of it. The far end, as I call it, is kind of marshy and there’s where there is this old boardwalk. Some of the boards are old and brittle, but it is still safe to walk on them. It is really pretty there and quite protected.

Now I am continuing on the path on the western side of the lake. Here there are houses that have backyards that come all the way down to the water. Too bad, that the water isn’t safe to swim in any longer.

At the Portland Street end there is a lovely beach with lots of ducks. There is no public swimming at the lake as it is too polluted. This is also the end of the path around the lake as at the end of the beach there is no path visible any longer.

Groceries and Hiking – Portland Lakes Trails

Knowing I did not need a big order of groceries, I had to decide what else we wanted to do on Saturday morning. That’s when I remembered that near the grocery store is a hiking trail that we had never explored because we did not realize that it even existed.

So join us on our excursion on the Russell Lake portion of the Portland Lakes Trail in Dartmouth, NS, Canada:

Portland Lakes Trail - Russell Lake

Portland Lakes Trail - Russell Lake

We parked the car in the Portland Street Superstore and walked a short distance to an entry of the trail. We decided to go West direction Baker Drive. We quickly realized that this is a paved trail, which makes it great for families with kids and people in wheel chairs. There are sections where you can get off the paved trail which is closer to the lake. The city did a fantastic job with this trail.
Portland Lakes Trail

Portland Lakes Trail - Superstore, Library and Lake

The squirrel was busy eating bird seeds that someone had put on the rock. It and the ducks must be so used to people that it didn’t run away.
Portland Lakes Trail - Squirrel and Ducks

Portland Lakes Trail - Squirrel & Ducks

Once we were at Baker Drive, I remembered that the Parkland at the Lakes seniors complex had a labyrinth. I have always wanted to walk it and now I had the opportunity.
Portland Lakes Trail - Labyrinth

Portland Lakes Trail - Labyrinth

After walking the labyrinth we walked the same way back this time facing East.
Portland Lakes Trail - Looking East

Portland Lakes Trail - Looking East

We will go and explore the other direction of the path towards Morris Lake some other time.


Transportation in Switzerland – 2002

June 2002

The ‘Smart’ Car

Driving from the airport to my aunt’s house I noticed that most of the cars were much smaller than what I was used to from Canada.

There was one particular car that caught my attention. It looked so cute, but was also really tiny. It is called a “Smart” and is a 2 seater city car. The girlfriend of one of my cousin’s has one and said that it was a lot of fun to drive in the city, but not so much on the Autobahn. Even though, it could go 100 km/h quite easily. It is only 2.5 meters long and 2 would fit into an average parking spot.

I got my first real good look at the car, when I saw the blue one in the Tessin near my mom’s house. These cars seem to be quite popular and come in many colors. Towards the end of my trip I came close up to another one and this time I could take close up pictures.

May 5, 2004 Update
MSN Canada just had an article that the Smart Car is coming to Canada.

Rinspeed Roadster

Rinspeed Roadster

Rinspeed Roadster

Both my cousins like cars. The have a number of them. The one I was most impressed with is this one. My younger cousin came with it to pick up my daughter to go swimming in Lake Zurich. It is called Rinspeed Roadster. It is car that is produced in Switzerland.




When I first saw this motorcycle-trike, I had to look twice. I thought it looked really strange as I had never seen one in Canada. So, once I got back to Canada, I went on a search to find some information on the Internet. So here is the link to the page from Germany.

Bus System in Locarno

We found the name of the bus stops funny. It turns out that it is the abreviation for ‘Ferrovie autolinee regionali ticinesi’. English translation of Fart: ‘Tessin regional railroads and buses’

Gas Prices in Switzerland in 2002

The price for gasoline is for 1 liter or 1/4 of an US gallon in Swiss Francs. One Franc was just about equal to on Canadian Dollar and a Canadian Dollar is worth around 65 cents US.

Bicycle Storage

When I went to school in Switzerland I had to take the train. To get to the train station I took my bike. I could store my bike like this there. Now over the years I have trying to explain this without much success as most people just could not imagine something like this. So now when I saw this in my mom’s appartment bulding I just had to take a picture to show. This way the bicycles take up the least amount of space and are earily accessible.


The Verzasca Valley – 2002

June 20/2002
Villages in the Verzasca Valley

The village of Corippo at the end of the lake lies on the western side of the the valley and is only accessable by the foot bridge over the Verzasca river. Typical buildings, houses and barns, in the Tessin are built from stone. They are called ‘Rustici’ (plural) or ‘Rustico’ (singular) and the translation means stone house. They are very popular and many an old barn has been converted into a vacation home.

Ponte dei Salti at Lavertezzo

Ponte dei Salti

Ponte dei Salti

Lavertezzo, 536 m above sea level, is a quaint little village. It has the only baroque church of the valley. The stone bridge called ‘Ponte dei Salti’ (bridge of the jumps) is famous. The bridge dates from the 17th century but is generally known as the ‘roman bridge’. Here the Verzasca river has formed unique creations in the stones over time. Some of the stones look almost polished and the stratification has created fantastic patterns. The water in the pools is a deep turquoise. There are, however, warning signs in 4 languages (Italian, German, French and English) stressing the dangers of swimming in the river. As you can see with the hot weather people still gather on the rocks and dip into the refreshing waters to cool off.


Lavertezzo Warning sign on the river

The sign says in English:

  • This river’s beauty hides its danger.
  • The wet rocks are very slippery.
  • Slipping could cause you to get stuck between the rocks or you fall into the water and drown.
  • The water, which has its source in the nearby mountains, is cold. The risk of hypothermia or vascular congestion is very high.
  • The currents are invisible and unpredictable. Assess the danger of your surroundings and the amount of flowing water. If the current grabs you, you cannot escape the strength of the suction.
  • Supervise your children, one second can turn a lovely outing into a catastrophe.
  • In case of an accident call SOS-Number 117 immediately. The telephone in the orange posts will connect you directly to the rescue station.


<br class=”spacer_” />

The Verzasca Dam – 2002

Verzasca Dam

Verzasca Dam

June 20/2002

The lake of Vogorno is an artificial basin, whose waters are used for hydroelectric power plants. It extends from the Verzasca dam to the village of Corippo. The construction of the dam, owned by the Verzasca SA and based on a project prepared by the Lombardi and Gellera engineers of Locarno, which started in 1960, and was completed in 1965. The dam is one of the highest in Europe; from its 220 meters vertical drop it is even possible to bungee-jump from the dam all the way down to its base, just as James Bond did in the opening scene of the movie "Goldeneye". Access to the dam is possible by postal bus and by car. Parking is provided nearby and at the Info-Shop Valle Verzasca there are artefacts and souvenirs for sale, and snacks and beverages as well. You may also take a stroll or a bike-ride along the dam, which is 380 meters long. A beautiful view of the valley and Lake Maggiore below rewards every visitor.
Information from

Below is the view of Lake Vogorno from the dam. The lake is 495 m above sea level. The level of the lake is down quite a bit. In 1987 when I was visiting Switzerland after strong rains the lake was full to the brim and the sluice gates had to be opened to release all that water just like in the picture to the right below.

Bungee-Jumping of the Verzasca Dam

Bungee Jumping off the Verzasca Dam

Bungee Jumping off the Verzasca Dam

“The prologue of the film Goldeneye, in which Pierce Brosnan made his debut as secret agent 007 alias James Bond, takes place in an unidentified area in the Russian mountains. Everyone knows though that the dam from which the heroic English agent jumps with an elastic cord on his feet is not lost in the middle of Asia, but rather in our region: it is the dam in Vogorno, situated at the beginning of the Verzasca Valley. The shoot for the great jump lasted two weeks and in the end the stuntman Wayne Michaels had the courage to jump from the height of 220m, breaking the world record for a jump with an elastic cord from the ground.” Information from

The jump off the Verzasca Dam (720 feet) takes about 7.5 seconds and is about as exreteme as it gets. Check out the links and pictures. Unfortunately, there was nobody bungee-jumping when we were there. The main season only starts in July.
For more info check out this site Trekking CH