Friday, June 4, 2010

Anna, do you smell peppermint gum?

What a week it has been. The Erie Canal has surprised us at every turn. As Anna and I left Waterford we approached what is known as the Waterford Flight. This refers to a group of five locks that in one and a half miles will lift our boat 169 feet. Once entering the first lock, you are not permitted to stop till you are at the top of the flight. As we entered the first lock, Anna and I quickly found that there was going to be a fast learning curve if we were going to get through it. Thank god for the assistance of a couple we had meet the day before on the dock. After narrowly avoiding injury and damage to Blue, we were given the pointers needed to safely pass through the locks. It seems that locks are either equipped with pipes, wires or ropes. My assumption was that the best method would be to wrap a line from the mid ship cleat to the wire recessed in the lock wall, this would hold the boat in position and up we would go. Well I was dead wrong, as soon as the lock started to fill the turbulence from the water flowing into the lock caused the boat to get pushed hard onto the wall of the lock. The rope I had wrapped around the wire started to bind from the friction of the boat against the water. As the bow angled toward the lock wall the keel caught the flow of water wedging Blue into the wall. I was sure the bumpers would pop. Anna quickly did her best to take a rope near the stern and pull Blues stern toward the wall. As the stern continued to move away I had visions of Anna being pulled clear off the stern on the boat. Falling into the water in a lock would surly be an extremely dangerous situation. If you got caught between the boat and the lock wall you would surely be crushed, the pressure was unbelievable As we exited the lock feeling more than a bit shaken the boaters around us gave us a crash course in locking. We now know that the best method is to grab the lines hanging from the lock wall, with one person standing in the bow and the other in the stern, you use boat polls to keep the boat parallel and off the wall. Anna and I were so appreciative to those that helped us, without their pointers we would have surly done damage to Blue. Leaving the Waterford Flight, we were rewarded with some of the most spectacular scenery we had seen thus far on the trip. The Canal is not what we expected. It is more like taking a country drive through the hills of VT than it is piloting a boat. I can only imagine what the canal must look like in the fall, it must be spectacular. We have been making short jumps each day, the Canal offers many free docks that Anna and I have tied to in the afternoons and enjoyed peaceful nights. We ended up staying in Canajoharie and had two wonderful evenings with four other Loopers. Once again advice was given and great stories were shared. Canajoharie is home to Beech Nut, and is also the home to a wonderful art gallery. The Arkell family whom founded Beech Nut, have put in place a trust to maintain a fine art museum for the town, at its heart are 350 paintings by various American artists. It was in a word spectacular. There was also a wonderful exhibit focused on the history of Beech Nut. We were shocked to learn that Mr Arkell wanted his employees to be enriched by art and music. As the workers worked, classical music would be played on a piano. The lunch room was filled with priceless works of art, and the woman were given free manicures at the end of their work day. In a picture taken outside of the factory in the early 1900's, you can clearly see that the workers were truly happy, they looked like a large family filled with pride for what they did. Today this town like many others on the Canal has fallen on hard times. Most of the buildings are empty and there seems to be very little hope for recovery. It is a constant struggle for Anna and I as we make our way down the Canal. These towns are so beautiful yet they tell a tale of hardship and struggle that can not be ignored.

We loved the address for the docks in Waterford.

Our approach to the first Lock in the Waterford Flight. Little did we know how tough the next two hours were going to be.

Anna and I were glad we didn't have this at hand after our first Lock.

As the lock doors close you are left with a feeling that there is no turning back.

At the top of each lock we were rewarded with wonderful views.

Farmhouses can be seen on every horizon.

Remains of an old aqueduct running along the side of the Canal.

This guys dog couldn't wait to see what his dad was reeling in.

The views are just wonderful.

Kayaking is a constant activity on the Canal.

This hawk was absolutely huge. We have been told to keep our eyes peeled for Bald Eagles that have been nesting on the banks of the Canal.

Now that is something you don't see every day. That VW was on top of a 80 foot smoke stack.


"Low Bridge everybody knows"

The dock at Canajoharie.

The garden at the Arkell Museum.

Truly a must see on the Great Loop.

This poor guy asked his wife to bury him high up on the hill so he can look down on the Canal for ever. I turned to Anna and said this is why I want to be cremated. It did convince me not to eat at McDonalds though.

The bridges seem to hang on nothing.

What a great spot to play Beer Pong.

Lock 17 was the biggest lock on the Canal. It is one of two locks in North America where a concrete wall is lowered into place seal you into the lock. It was a ominous feeling to pass under this massive wall and watch is close like the gates to a castle.

As you can see we are now 363 feet higher than we were at the beginning of the week. Lock 17 was just huge.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, hurry up- I can't live vicariously through you guys if you don't post every couple days.