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Lying in a boat on Lake Burton, it's easy to forget the troubles that plague your life. Comfort is inevitably found in the gentle rocking motion of the vessel and the sound of lapping waves as you stare into the robin's egg blue sky and watch the Red Tail hawks and an occasional Bald Eagle soar overhead. The quacking of ducks is heard softly in the distance, as are the deep, throaty rumbles of inboard motors and the high-pitched, whiney cries of the outboard motors as boats cruise around the lake. Whether in a rented john boat, a classic wooden Chris Craft or a brand new pontoon (likely referred to as 'our party barge'), the people who live and vacation on Lake Burton year after year, offer the same wave of the hand and kind smile in greeting as each boat passes by.
Life on Lake Burton is simple, yet sophisticated. The mix of lifestyles is as easy to see as the variations of architectural styles of both the homes and the boat houses. While some houses are large and elaborate, others are quaint and their humble beginnings as mere fish camps are evident. It's always fun to take first time visitors for a tour around the lakeshore to look at the boathouses. Many are more elegantly constructed than the houses to which they belong. Others are built to 'match' the houses that rest on the heavily wooded shore. Some offer outdoor fireplaces and others possess that most coveted of features - a 'jump' deck on the second story from which the bold and the brave ( and mostly the young and fearless) plunge over and over into the deep clear water until exhaustion (or their mothers) claim them and they have to stop.
Then there are the small docks composed of boards that have dulled to a soft grey and become splintered due to years of exposure to the wind and water. No matter the size or grandeur (or lack thereof) of each dock or boathouse, many have brightly colored flowers spilling over the sides of a multitude of containers that decorate the posts from which hammocks are strung and over old clothes lines, faded beach towels are spread, waving in the bright sunshine.
Small or large, old or new, impressive opulence or faded glory, each house on Lake Burton sports its own name. From 'Sticks 'n Stones', an elaborately detailed Adirondack style home with 7 bedrooms and 9 baths to 'Uncle Fred's', a rundown bungalow 'up the river', directions can be followed by those in the know simply by going past 'Uncle Fred's' up toward Camp High Harbor or by taking a right turn at 'the water safety man'.
Hungry fish wait for fishermen at the Cat Gap 'put in' in the Persimmon Valley and visitors to the lake can hire a local guide who promises a day filled with fun and rewarding fishing. The regular lake-goers and locals have their favorite spots to eat around the lake. The snack bar at Anchorage Marina serves hotdogs and enormous hamburgers cooked and topped however you request. Joanie's, located just off the lake near the southern entrance to Laurel Lodge Road Road, is noted for the fresh seafood that arrives weekly. Families crowd around the outdoor tables to share delicious food and laughter. Situated on the mountains to the north and overlooking the lake is the Lake Burton Club. Many Lake Burton home owners are members of the club and find it a welcome respite for activities - especially on rainy days. A number of indoor activities allow families the opportunity to enjoy the lake area even in inclement weather. A junior Olympic swimming pool, basketball court, volleyball court, golf cages and an indoor tennis court provide lots of choices for those who would otherwise be limited to watching videos while waiting for the weather to clear. Golfers love the award winning 18 hole golf course that wraps around the mountain area known as Burton's Ridge. The most enduring name on Lake burton has to be that of LaPrade's. Originally a fish camp opened in 1925 by the LaPrade family , LaPrade's is now a full service marina with slip rentals, boat rentals and the only water front dining on the lake at both the Lakeside Grill and the Water's Edge Restaurant. In keeping with the long established traditions of LaPrade's, hungry folks can drive to dinner by boat and tie up at the marina where there is plenty of boat parking available. LaPrade's is also noted for the famous faces that show up from time to time. While these folks may be notables, no one takes much notice. It's just that kind of place.
For weekend lake-goers who want to keep their church attendance record intact, boat church is the happy option. Held every Sunday morning at the tip of Moccasin Creek State Park, people drive their boats from all over the lake to be a part of the unique, yet reverent, atmosphere. Attendees choose to wear the oddest assortment of attire. Worn reverently are bathing suits, pajamas, skirts or khakis, but seldom a coat or tie. No one cares how others are dressed; everyone is just happy to be there! A different guest preacher gives the message each week, adding an extra element of excitement to the whole adventure. Will the preacher be funny? Will he be dull? Most importantly... will he be brief??? One of the best parts about boat church is the setting. Perched right on the shore of the lake, church goers can look out and see green, cloud-covered mountains rising above the glittering waters of the lake; they can see the tiny waves on the water that the wind creates; they can hear the children playing on the playground; they can smell the combined scents of campfires and breakfast cooking as well as the special scents so evocative of spring, summer or fall. After church, people jump back in their boats and ride out into the wider section of the cove, whereupon they tie on their tubes, don their lifejackets and hop into the water for the ride of their lives.