136 Newark, NY to Britt, Ontario

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A month evaporated as we snuggled and enjoyed the warmth of being back with family. Between visits we squeezed in doctor and dentist appointments, had Odyssey’s bottom painted and even discovered that having lived in the area for over twenty years there were new discoveries to provide a sense of adventure without doing much traveling.

We docked at Palmyra and explored on foot a town we’d spent 20 years driving through. Up across from the library we found a gem of a Victorian home beautifully restored and so interesting we stopped for several minutes to just take in all its charms. Shorties, a tiny-tiny unique restaurant where everything including the jam was homemade was a find that merited several visits. We even found the coverlet museum and a store where the owner had walked away from 30 years earlier leaving it as a sealed time capsule until it was turned over to the historical society.

A thump and then a trail of sparks announced the start of Newark Fest’s fireworks display. The trail arched up over the center of the narrow canal just at treetop level and burst into mini display just down wind from Odyssey’s position. For the next minutes we watched our first treetop level fireworks display.

Slowly the itch to be on the move became overpowering. We said our last sad good byes and started getting ready to travel. Returning the rental car gave us a great feeling of relief. While convenient for doing all chores and visiting family it interferes with our life afloat and was a real hassle as we moved between ports during our stay. Lines came off the canal wall, and we made an easy day’s run backtracking along the Erie Canal to Baldwinsville.

One by one the old and sometimes vacant buildings of Baldwinsville are coming back to life. It’s been fun watching the change and see the town regain its vitality. Heading west a month earlier we’d watched the deconstruction of the old warehouse just across the canal from where we were tied up. Now heading east, its post and beam construction stood bare ready to be transformed into a planned elegant inn. Dean and Linda joined us for visit, and we showed them some of the fun spots like the Bville Diner. Popular for over 50 years, its 50’s atmosphere remains even after a number of expansions. Evening found us catching up on each other’s travels as a Billy Joel Tribute band provided background entertainment from the waterfront park concert across from our spot on the lock wall. In the morning we spent quite a lot of time exploring a cemetery where the graves ranged from early settlers to present day. It was fascinating to see the evolution of tombstones.

Just a hint of light in the gray, misty sky provided added visibility as we slipped out of Oswego harbor into Lake Ontario’s gently rolling swells. Following the 30-mile invisible line to the next waypoint became the autopilot’s responsibility. We fell into our comfortable routine alternating helm responsibility each hour. Whoever is at the helm watches for anything ahead. Typically during boring runs, like the lake crossing, the off watch mate reads aloud from a jointly chosen book. On this crossing it’s Shrub: The political history of George W. Bush. A bit over half way across increasing following wind kicked up following seas which the autopilot has never learned to handle so the autopilot got some rest as we started manual steering. We’re a bit better than the autopilot in anticipating the seas that throw the stern around. Things smoothed out again as we turned the corner into the Bay of Quinte.

Long Reach was a study in grays, muted greens and black sheltered waters. We thought we had it to ourselves until the VHF came alive with a call to Odyssey. Looking back as we answered we saw two PDQ 34’s in the distance quickly overtaking. One was Folly with Gene aboard. He’d recognized our distinctive shape as we came into his view out of the mist. Cruising is indeed a small world. We’d met and parted on the Erie Canal over a month earlier with very different cruising agendas. Hours later we met up in Trenton and continued building our friendships. The next morning we all wandered over to Tim Hortons for our doughnut fix. Gene headed west, and we headed north up the Trent-Severn Waterway knowing that we’d probably cross paths again one day.

Cambellford had just dedicated the new suspension bridge they’d build. It spans the river gorge, provides a view of the falls and makes a nice loop walk out and back from town. The walk was great, the bridge interesting and the falls a bust. The power plant we passed was sucking up most of the water leaving the low falls with just a trickle.

Just past Peterborough three sailboats and a 50 foot power boat were just entering the lock ahead. One sailboat and the powerboat completely filled the port wall. The two sailboats tucked forward on the starboard wall providing just enough space for us to squeeze into the lock. It was so tight we had to swing Odyssey’s stern off the wall to allow room for our dinghy to clear the lock door ram. The afternoon dragged as we repeated the lock packing for three more locks before getting enough space to pass and break the cycle.

Young’s Point Lock is now a favorite. A great breakfast is available at a nearby resort. Two stores catering to the high-end cottagers are fun to explore. Our poking resulted in a new rag rug for the galley floor, new coffee mugs plus some great snacks. It was an added treat when Terry and Cindy, a couple we’d met at Lovesick Lock last year showed up. We partied late into the evening.

 Cindy and Terry at front of Kirkfield Lock

Cindy and Terry at front of Kirkfield Lock

To us Kirkfield hydraulic lock is more dramatic than the Peterborough hydraulic lock. It sits alone out in the country. Being newer the massive supporting concrete structure that gave a feeling of security has been replaced with a steel framework that leaves you feeling very exposed. However the biggest kick is that you enter at the top with the whole lock chamber extending out into space ahead of you. Once secured the chamber rides down on it’s hydraulic ram as the other chamber goes up. Loving the quiet of the area we stopped and stayed the night watching the parade of boats using the lock. Terry and Cindy moved on to visit family.

We stood with Tom and Marilyn listening to immigrants reciting Canada’s citizenship oath. What a perfect ceremony on Canada Day at Orillia’s celebration party. Reflecting Canada’s bilingual heritage the oath is recited twice; first in English, then in French and includes pledging loyalty to Queen and her descendants. Tom and Marilyn had joined us for a day, and added a special treat, a tour of the OPP headquarters. Later we sat with Marilyn and watched as OPP Commissioner’s Own Pipe Band made its grand entrance with Tom playing his pipes as one of the band members. It made for quite a day.

We’re still thinking about traveling in an RV some day so we spent many hours learning all we could about John and Barb’s experience pulling a fifth wheel trailer to Newfoundland and Arizona. It made for a fun and educational reunion. Some day we may give serious land travel a try. We also enjoyed a delightful dinner at their very special home.

At Parry Sound we learned a lesson about movies in cottage country. One bright sunny day we watched Spiderman II with six other people. The next day was cold and rainy and Shrek II was the second feature in the oneplex that is now a twoplex theater. Linda and Steve stopped off for a “preview” visit as we were going to see them in a couple days. Off we went only to discover a huge lines and both theater full of kids. The management gave us our money back, and we enjoyed a nice lunch out instead of a movie.

Steve, Linda and Ruth looking for birds on Rogers Island

Steve, Linda and Ruth looking for birds on Rogers Island

Steve and Linda joined us for a few days in Britt. It afforded us a rare opportunity to act as tour guides and show off some of our favorite spots in the remote reaches of northern Georgian Bay. The narrow twisting passage around the massive boulder in the middle of Parting Channel provided the perfect introduction to the French River and our anchorage for further exploring by dinghy. The jumble of granite rocks with the wood planked portage trail made for great exploring. As we explored some of the rocks, Steve detected a sound. On hands and knees peering into a crack in the rock, we saw bats scurrying deeper into the crack to get out of the sun that had just penetrated to their tiny crevice home. Exploring twisting rocky channels by dinghy revealed tiny waterfalls and islands of flowers blooming from the shallow pockets of dirt collected in depressions in the rocks.

Off to explore on Rogers island

Off to explore on Rogers island

Working on maximum exposure in minimum time we headed for the Bad River for more dinghy exploring and then poked around in the Bustards before returning to Rogers Island. It felt good to again tie Odyssey along side the rough granite island wall without leaving any fiberglass on the rock. It’s difficult to walk the island at anything but a slow pace, not because of terrain, but because of the pleasantness of the changing view with each step. Looking down, the color and swirls of pattern in the granite generates wonder as to how all this formed. Pines bent by the wind framed sky, water and rock. Water in a small rock depression reflected the bright blue sky. Moss grass and blooming blue bells lined the tiny pool making the perfect still life any painter would love to capture. Reluctantly time was short, and we returned Steve and Linda to Britt. To our surprise, the little restaurant in the Canadian wilds had four star atmosphere and food making a perfect ending for our travels together. In the morning Steve and Linda headed for home. We being at home moved home toward Collins Inlet and new adventures.

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