Inching Our Way Home

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June 27th 2017
Published: June 27th 2017
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Well, I have no excuse for not having posted for a while; I have been just plain lazy! That, and perhaps, deep down, I am not ready to acknowledge that we are so close to the end of this chapter of our life. It seems surreal that we have been gone for 10 months!

We continue to meet new people along the way and it serves to demonstrate just how many nice people there are in the world! I know “Canadians” have a reputation of being so friendly and helpful, but honestly, everywhere we have travelled, we have met locals who are so willing to befriend you and go out of their way to give you a hand. It goes to show you that no matter where you are from; your nationality, religion, politics, culture, has nothing to do with your capacity for graciousness, respect, kindness and love. These characteristic inherently exist within all humanity and it is only a matter of choice whether they bear fruit. A choice to act with good intent and a choice to perceive other’s with good intent.

When we first left Port Dover, we definitely felt as if we were setting off into the unknown; a couple of crazy adventurers. Yet as we cruised through the rivers of America and crystal blue waters of the Bahamas, we met many people on the same adventure. Traveling long distances and living for extended stretches of time on their boats. Slowly, what we are doing started to seem like a “normal” way of life. For as outside the box this adventure seemed when we set out, it loses it’s “crazy” when you spend your time with others who are “in the same boat” (oh, yes, you have missed my cheesy puns haven’t you??).

However, as we have moved into the canal systems, the tide has shifted (oh ho, another one!). The majority of the people we are meeting are casual “weekend” boaters and most of them are fascinated and amazed by our story. Some speculate that they could never actually leave everything behind and just go for it. Others wistfully speak of a dream to just pick up and go. However, almost all express admiration that we followed our hearts, not letting fear or uncertainty hold us back. Doesn’t matter what your dream is: to travel the seas, climb a mountain, or anything in between; it matters more what you do about it. Maybe, somehow, our tale has inspired people to take a little leap of faith.

Lukus brought up an interesting observation, with which I agree. He and I are both “helpers” by nature; a main goal of this trip was to reach out to those who were in need. Often times, I have felt a little frustrated that it seems like I haven’t been able to do that. However, that feeling stems from my idea of what “helping” is. Stereotypically, I considered “helping” as feeding those who are hungry, clothing those who are naked, building homes for the homeless, and digging wells for the thirsty. But when you break it down, these are merely physical needs. And what we have discovered is that often the people who are in physical need are still rich in spirit and soul. Their needs are simple to meet, and once they eat or drink, the day is good. Worry about tomorrow does not drag them down, they rejoice in the provisions of today. Somehow it seems the more basic the needs, the less complicated overall life is.

Where we actually see more need is among
Ruins of an AqueductRuins of an AqueductRuins of an Aqueduct

The original Erie Barge Canal used aqueducts when crossing over a natural waterway. Aqueducts are like a bridge for barges to float across a river.
those who seem abundantly blessed in the material. They may not want for food in their belly or a roof over their head, but still, they are searching. Their needs are not met in the physical because they have always had everything they physically “need”, yet they are missing something deeper within. And those “somethings” seem a lot more complicated; purpose, fulfillment, joy, peace, inspiration, happiness. So in the end, maybe the “helping” begins right where you are, and in ways that you may not even realize. A smile, a listening ear, an encouraging word, or sharing your story. Hopefully, we have done that along the way.

So, now with all my philosophical ramblings out of the way, the question is where are we, and what have we been doing?

We are meandering, soaking, enjoying, relaxing. Compared to an average travel day of 8 hours and 40 miles over the past few months, our movements now are typically 4 – 10 miles over an hour or two. That is, if we move at all!

The Erie Barge Canal, as I mentioned in a previous post, is very accommodating to boaters, and almost every town, as well as lock, provides a free wall or dock to tie to. These free docks are not only convenient for us, but they entice boaters to stop in and support local businesses and the community. A win-win.

Since our last entry, we tied up in Rome for a short respite during a deluge of rain. Later that evening, we made our way to lock 21 where there was a dock wall that according to our cruising guidebook is so quite “city folks won’t be able to sleep here”. This is where I docked Abigail for the first time! After which we slept, no problem!

From there, we passed through Sylvan Beach, across Oneida Lake and docked at Brewerton where our good friends on Tranquility 2, Andrew and Jack, were waiting to meet up. We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon with them, and later that evening we ventured out to the Brewerton Raceway, a 1/3 mile dirt track. It has been a while since I have watched any racing live, and I felt like a little kid. The high pitched roars of the engines, the lightening speed, the cheers of the crowd, and the huge billowing dirt/dust clouds (my ears, nose, even my scalp was caked with dirt!) all added to the excitement.

The following day, we finally parted ways with Andrew and Jack for the last time. Their route home would take them up the Oswego Canal into Lake Ontario, while we would continue on the Eastern portion of the Erie Barge Canal into Lake Erie.

Not wanting to rush things, we have made a few detours off the Erie Barge. The first has been into Lake Onondaga a 3 mile jaunt south off the canal. There we met a riotous, boisterous and very welcoming group of locals with whom we spent the evening. One in particular, Captain Bob, a great jokester (everyone knows how much I love a good joke!!), has kept in touch, sharing information about the local area. The marina itself is located in the Onondaga Lake Park only a couple blocks from Liverpool’s downtown, and so I was fortunate to be able to get in a few runs on the park trails, as well as stock up on provisions.

From there, we pushed ourselves a whole 5 miles to Baldwinsville (back on the Erie Barge canal). According to our friends from Onondaga, this used to be a “hopping” place as there is a Budweiser Amphitheatre located on a small island right beside the free docks, which used to host live concerts every weekend. Apparently, due to noise complaints, the concerts have come to an end (although the local school band had a rocking performance the one night we were there) and the docks are scarcely used anymore. A shame as these docks must have been a bit of an investment to first outfit. But we certainly took advantage of it.

A few days later, we made a big leap and pushed ourselves a whole 24 miles, leaving the Erie Barge Canal in the last 4 miles to head down the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. This canal takes you into two of the NY Finger lakes, named….Cayuga and Seneca (wow, bet you didn’t see that coming!!) The finger lakes are a series of long, skinny lakes that appear as if a giant claw has lashed out at the earth and left its mark. The canal is like a little road from the Erie Barge to Cayuga Lake and then over to Seneca.

The canal between the lakes has 4 locks, 2 of which are consecutive. As you approach lock 2 and 3, the infrastructure is imposing when looking up from your little boat. But what another amazing experience. You enter the first lock, are raised 25 feet, and then immediately enter the second lock for another 25 foot lift. Once you leave these two locks, you are in the town of Seneca Falls, where we docked for two nights (again for free!! Yay NY Canal System!).

Seneca Falls is a lovely town, rich in history. Often termed as the “birthplace” of the Women’s Rights Movement, there is a park dedicated to the movement, as well as a National Women’s Hall of Fame and museum. The town also played a significant role in various industries including irons, pumps, tube TV’s, wooden rulers and dustless chalkboard erasers (this information brought to you courtesy of a visit to the Seneca Museum). And, it is believed to be the inspiration for the fictional town, Bedford Falls, in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (FYI, they have a museum for that too!).

We left Seneca Falls on Sunday and made our way into Seneca Lake. Seneca measures a mere 1 mile across by 34 miles long and it in excess of 600 feet deep! Since the surface level of the lake is at 445 feet above sea level, the bottom 160 feet of the lake is actually below sea level. It is surrounded by hills, lush vineyards, stone cliffs and gorges.

There is a small town on the northwest side of the lake, Geneva, where there is again, a free dock. And so we have spent the last couple days there just walking the streets, relaxing and meeting more people (and hiding from the rain…what is with this weather? Our 10 day forecast has 2 days with partial sun. The rest is rain, thunderstorms, we even had hail yesterday!)

Today, we are headed the whole 30 some odd miles all the way down the lake to Watkins Glen. Big day for us, might be on the water 5 or 6 hours! Talk about exhausting…oh wait, I don’t’ have to do anything but write and enjoy the scenery. But it’s a long day for my stoic counterpart – I thank God for Lukus every day!

Additional photos below
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Ice cream shop in Geneva, NY

27th June 2017

Inching along
Well today I got the grass cut between 3 rain showers so we are in agreement that the weather is not the best. So what ever you do. DO NOT RUSH it has to get better. Our neighbours have a sail boat in Dover and this week the only good day is Wednesday. Enjoy your last few days normal will be here all toooooooo soon!
29th June 2017

Great advice!
We are intent on doing just as you have said Tom, taking our time and enjoying every last minute! No rush :)
28th June 2017

Can't believe you are almost home - what an adventure Em. I am just reading a book about a family from Ottawa that spent several years sailing around the world with their 3 kids (steel boat too)...
29th June 2017

Life is an adventure
I can't believe how quickly this time has passed; it has been quite the journey. But there are so many more possibilities out there! We are looking forward to what is next - maybe it will be a circumnavigation one day!! What an experience for those kids! We have come across many young families, and honestly, their children are some of the most open-minded, well-adjusted and mature young people we have ever met.

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