Sunday, August 3, 2008

Belleville to Orillia

Sunday, July 20 - We picked up David yesterday at the Toronto airport.
Interesting trip for us. We saw the highway dividing ahead as we
approached the set of lanes marked "express" and the other
marked "collectors." I vaguely remembered something about a toll road
in the map I viewed on Google so I was ready to head for the
"collectors" area to shell out some coins. Wayne talked me into going
for the "express" lanes, though...and it was the better choice. Turns
out the "collectors" road was really more an access road running
parallel to the "express" lanes.

SO THEN...we see the road number I'd been watching for that would take
us to the airport: Hwy. 407. But wait! Looks like this is a toll
road. OK, we'll pay. As we get on the road (with oh, so few other
cars) we're reading signs that say "your license plate must be visible"
and "non-Ontario license plates will be billed." We went for a couple of miles, no toll booth in sight, until we started wondering whether this was really
the way to the airport. We decided to exit and ask the way. The new
directions took us a little further west by "normal" highway and then
south to the airport. Turns out if we'd stayed on Hwy. 401, the
highway that we caught in Belleville, it goes right by the airport.
Well, at least we know that for the return trip! We were in plenty of
time for Dave's flight, though, and were back in Belleville in time for
an early supper at the Boathouse and a walk around town. (Later in the trip...when we rented the car in Peterborough to take Dave back to Toronto...we found out that we will probably be billed through the car rental agency for the time we spent on the 407 toll road. Hey! We've been on North America's first automatic billing toll road, eh?)

Today we left Belle Harbor Marina at around 8:30 the rain. Our
new roof on the bridge is leaking some, but we were assured it would
quit once the thread swells and seals up the seams. Hmmm. But we look so much better with the red top...

As we went into Trenton from Lake Ontario we passed under the bridge marking the entrance to the Trent Severn Waterway.

We slogged through 6 locks to the upper side of the Frankford lock before we tied up for the night. Nice setting in a residential neighborhood with "hydro" (hydroelectric) hook-ups for $9.80/night. I was so wet when we got there that I had to put on dry clothes before I could get comfortable.

It was still raining 45 minutes later...but we were all hungry and ready to try out the Chinese buffet we'd heard so much about from lock tenders (and others) as we came up that day. So we took off walking in the pouring rain with our wet raincoats and the two umbrellas we had on the boat. By the time we reached the restaurant we were soaked for the second time that day! But the buffet hit the spot, including the hand dipped ice cream for dessert. And when we left the restaurant the rains had stopped for the day so we had a nice evening at the lock.

Monday, July 21 - Another day with about 20 miles and 6 locks as we made our way on to Campbellford. The rains held off until we got into the flight locks just before the town...and Dave and I, the rope crew, were soaked again by the time we finished the locking through.

Here's Dave, in a raincoat, tending lines....

But the blue skies came out and we had a beautiful afternoon in Campbellford. After lunching at the Riverview Restaurant, Wayne went back to the boat for a nap and Dave and I checked out the town. We found the bakery mentioned by Skipper Bob's book...and recommended by nearly every lock tender we'd seen that day. They were to open the next morning at around 7 AM so we planned to be back then for fresh donuts and the sourdough bread one fellow called "Bob" bread... "Good to toast and then rub with fresh cut garlic..." Yep. We'd get some of that.

Campbellford is a pretty little town...and friendly. We picked up some Empire cheese, a Campbellford product, at the grocery store with thoughts of a cheese and sourdough bread sandwich tomorrow for lunch. I'd intended to stop at the book store for a browse that afternoon, but it closed before I got there. In fact, most shops closed at 4 or 5. We saw lots of people out walking that evening, taking in the beautiful weather.

Tuesday, July 22 - Dave and I walked up to the bakery at around 7:15 AM. They were open and baking...but the donuts wouldn't be ready until about 8:30 AM. No problem! We'd come back. We were tied up to the canal wall in town on the side with "hydro" and water...and right next to Macmillans store and service station. They have a pump on the street side and on the water side so we pulled the boat back to top off the fuel, then filled up with water. By the time we'd finished that it was 8:30 so Dave and I went back up to the bakery. I guess we were hungry that morning. We came away with 6 cream filled donuts (highly recommended by the lock tenders) and 6 assorted others, 3 meat pies, 3 sausage rolls...and a loaf of thick-sliced sourdough bread. What with the caffeine and sugar that morning we were all flying for a couple of hours! But we did have great sandwiches for lunch of Empire cheddar cheese, turkey, and horseradish mustard on sourdough bread. We know already that we should have come away with more sourdough bread!

Wayne had his share of the cream filled donuts...

About 20 miles and 6 locks later that day (see a pattern here?) we were through the Hastings Lock and tied up on the upper side. For a small town, Hastings had about one of everything, all within an easy walk of the boat: grocery, post office, hardware, video/book store, beer store and liquor store.

We were situated right behind a house and we talked with the owner some about the town. He said it was a very safe spot now, but that wasn't always the case. He had moved in around 4 years prior and had been the "mean ole guy" who called the police if anything funny went on at night.

Dave has enjoyed some fishing on this trip. Here he is with one of his catches. It really wasn't quite big enough to "kiss."

Fortunately for Wayne, Dave is leaving his little fishing rod and a collection of accessories he put together for fishing... Now if I can just keep the authorities away! See the sign??

Wednesday, July 23 - We were out of Hastings at the usual time...around 8:30 AM. Today we would do around 40 miles to get to Peterborough...go across Rice Lake...and we would only go through three locks. Well, that's an understatement. We were spending the night at the Peterborough Marina, which falls between locks 19 and 20. We wanted David to see the Peterborough lift lock (Lock 21) so we planned to go past the marina to Lock 21...turn around and come back down to Peterborough. It was well worth the effort!

"The Peterborough lift lock," according to Skipper Bob's guide to the Trent Severn, "was completed in 1904 and was considered an engineering marvel at that time. Each of the two pans weights 1300 tons when filled. With one pan up and the other down the two balance each other. It does not matter how many boats are in either pan. A boat displaces its own weight in water. When it is time to lower one pan and raise the other, one extra foot of water (130 tons) is allowed to enter the upper pan. this extra weight allows the upper pan to push down and raise the lower pan to the top level. The two pans are locked in place and the extra water is let out of the lower pan. Boats enter and exit the upper and lower pans and the process is repeated."

When we got up to the Peterborough lift lock I jumped off and took pictures as Wayne and David entered the lock and rode to the top. They turned the boat around, then, and...after allowing me to jump on...we went down through the lock. What a ride! It's almost as good as an amusement park! We had no idea the lock would move as swiftly as it did.

Segue entering the lock...(taken by the lock assistant, nice guy!)

Segue up top and ready to come back down...

And here's the view from the top after I'd jumped back on the boat...

Peterborough has a Festival of Lights every Wed. and Sat. evening during the summer...but it was raining so hard that evening, the festival was cancelled. Just as well, I guess, because we were "toast." We ordered a pizza and crashed early.

Thursday, July 24 - We had a car reserved today so we could run Dave back to the Toronto airport. Dave and I walked the two miles to the Hertz location that morning and made it back to the boat in time for the three of us to walk into town and check out Peterborough. Wayne and I made mental notes of places for supper that evening.

We packed up Dave's goods and left at around 10:30 for the Toronto airport. We were there by noon....and reluctantly left our third crew member for his trip back to Raleigh, NC. We loved having Dave come with us...and look forward to the time when Alex and Heather can join us on an adventure!

After dropping Dave at the airport, Wayne and I decided to grab a snack in Toronto so we could lunch back in Peterborough. We exited the 401 and found a McDonalds for fries and yogurt (not in that order). We stumbled through some really neat looking neighborhoods on the way...looked sort of like the Queens area in NY where Tris and Charlie Sicignano lived. Beautiful homes, too.

Back in Peterborough we went to the Indian buffet we'd seen in town. Good...but we got there towards the end of their lunch hour and the selection on the buffet was a little slim.

A houseboat had pulled in next to us at the marina with the nicest family. They rented the boat in Bobcaygeon and were traveling two weeks...some houseboating, some camping. When we first met them they asked if we had a mask for snorkling. We did...and an underwater flashlight. Their daughter had dropped her wallet into the water...and it was wedged up against a pole. The father was able to retrieve spite of a cut on his hand in the process.

Friday, July 25 - Alex Prichard is 2 today! Happy Birthday, Alex!!!

We'd thought about staying another day in Peterborough...but were ready for new territory. I took the car back and on the walk back picked up breakfast sandwiches at Harveys (so-so, for you food critics out there) and an external hard drive for my computer to hold the pictures we're taking on this trip! We ate the sandwiches...then decided we'd better try out the "local dairy" ice cream, Kawartha, at the marina office. Two cones later, we were totally stuffed and ready for the day!

We didn't leave until around 10:30 AM...and it took us an hour to go through Lock 20 and 21...a-gain. It was just as much fun the third time around, actually! We went through both locks with the tour boat out of Peterborough that does lock tours. Wayne and the captain of that boat had a great time talking about our Caterpillar engines...same engines the tour boat had. And we were introduced to the entire boatload of people as a couple from Tennessee who were doing the Great Loop.

We had a pretty long day planned, considering we left so late. We planned to do 30 miles and 10 locks to get to Buckhorn, Ontario, where we'd stay on the lock wall. The guide books described this area as one of the best cruising areas on the Trent Severn. We could see why. We went through an area called the Kawartha Lakes, a series of lakes connected by locks. Summer cottages everywhere...many on little islands all out alone in the lake.

Somewhere along in this area of the Trent Severn we passed Trent University, located right on the water and with a very distinctive architecture. We'll put this on our list of places to see in detail someday.

I know I've mentioned before how nicely tended the lock grounds are with clipped lawns and flowers everywhere. Here's a lock that went a little further with the idea and gave us a view of flowers from inside the lock, too.

Actually, they are probably trying to take your mind off the view of the lock walls. As Elaine would say, "Euwww!"

Along the way we met a couple in a SeaRay, Phoenix IV. They live in Orillia and were going to Bobcaygeon for the night. We were stopping short of that at Buckhorn. Since they ran faster than we, they kindly checked out the lock walls at Buckhorn and arranged to have people help us tie up on the wall below the lock. We'll try to catch up with them when we get to Orillia next week. They have plans to do the Loop, too.

It was around 6 PM by the time we got into Buckhorn so we saved our looking around town for the next morning.

Saturday, July 26 - Again we lingered this morning...looking around Buckhorn. Checked out the bakery located at the convenience store and bought some sandwich rolls and a Chelsey roll for breakfast. It was probably around 11 AM before we left, but we only had a couple of locks today and 16 miles to get to Bobcaygeon. The issue, on this pretty weekend, was whether we'd be able to find space on the lock wall at Bobcaygeon. Buckhorn Lock called ahead to see what the availablity was before we left...but a whole new fleet of rental houseboats would have gone out on Friday so our guarantee of a space was questionable. Bobcaygeon is a resort town who's claim to fame (from our sources) is Bigley's Shoe Store. Kind of like the shoe store in Asheville, NC. You want a particular shoe: it's there. And on this weekend everything was at least 10% off. (The REAL sale starts next weekend, though, a long weekend for Canadians.)

So...we passed through more pretty country. Cottages, rocks and evergreens. When we reached Bobcaygeon we could see the space for mooring below the lock was full. We paused on the blue line while Wayne went to talk to the Park personnel about space above the lock. Turns out, one of the boats below the lock was leaving in a short while so we were able to wait on the blue line until a space opened up. We've had great luck finding lock walls so far!!!

We no sooner got tied up than a thunderstorm came though. We napped during that time, then got up and walked through town. Wayne went back to the boat early while I checked out the shops, including Bigley's Shoe Store.

One of the art galleries in town (closed, unfortunately, when I walked by) had what looked to be an oil painting in the front window. I don't know whether this house actually exists somewhere up here or not...but having seen the cottages built on tiny stone islands so far, I'm going to watch out for it!

That evening we talked with a man who's biked across the US and Canada to raise money for autism. His oldest son, now 15, is autistic. He biked across the US in 2001 and was on the Today Show with Katie Courrick (and Rod Stewart was there for a concert!) It took him 90 days to do the US and he raised 1.3 million dollars. What an amazing story. He's a police detective and was given time off to do the biking. He isn't a "biker". He got help from an Olympic trainer who helped him prepare for the trip. The trainer told him to shave his legs so that if he fell, he wouldn't get an infection from the hair. He told of shaving at work because he didn't want his wife or family to know...and how there was so much blood around the bathroom afterwards that he had to wash the place down. Then he got in the shower and OUCH! the cuts were hit with water. All of that...and in the last week of his US trip he was lamenting the fact that he had shaved his legs all this time and hadn't had a fall. You guessed it. Next day he fell...went over the handlebars and cut his leg in the process.

He told us the Kawartha Dairy is just a little ways down the road. Guess what's for breakfast tomorrow??? :-)

That evening I finished up an Anita Shreve book, All He Ever Wanted, and started Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye in honor of being in Canada. Wayne read on Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation Speaks. Oh, yeah...and we prepared ourselves for the noise we might get from the houseboat behind us with the "Bachlorette Party" banner. How convenient for them that a houseboat load of guys pulled in two boats back. Stay tuned....

Sunday, July 27 - Up early, as spite of the fact that we both heard a little activity during the night from the bachlorettes. :-) Apparently a good time was had by all.

We wanted to pick up a few groceries this morning and do some more walking in town. (Yes, we nixed the ice cream for breakfast thought, on consideration.) It was a beautiful We walked around the town area and wound up at the Subway for lunch sandwiches. I hit the local grocery for a few items, knowing we'd be at lock walls in remote areas for the next few nights. We locked through at Bobcaygeon around 11 AM and set off for a 20 mile ride to Rosedale Lock. As we got out on Sturgeon Lake the wind picked up giving us more a feeling of "open water" than we'd had in some time. It wasn't bad...just different. I made some coffee and we had our Subway sandwich...topped off by warm Chelsey bun from the day before. YUM!

We only went through two locks to get to Rosedale Lock...and we decided to stay below the lock, saving the locking through until tomorrow morning. The site is remote with cottages nearby. Very comfortable. We settled easily into the afternoon...a little painting for me, a little cleaning on the boat for Wayne. We grilled chicken out that evening and had a salad with it for supper.

Monday, July 28 - We were in the lock at about 9 AM this morning...when we noticed a pay phone at the lock office! Hey, we needed a pay phone! We pulled over to the mooring wall below the lock and I made arrangements for our stays in Orillia and Port Severn...and arranged for our mail to be delivered before we hit the Georgian Bay. We probably won't get mail again until we get back to the states.

Having all of that business taken care of...we left Rosedale Lock at around 10 AM. We crossed Balsam Lake, highest point on the Trent Severn Waterway, and made it to Lock 40 by around 2 PM. On the way we saw more beautiful cottages and some really narrow canal areas!

We moored on the upper wall at Lock 40 right in front of Shoebox from Florida. Janet and Bob have been cruising for 23 years and are now living partly on their boat (which is trailerable) and partly on their 5th wheel. We talked that afternoon with Janet and got some great advice on the upcoming trip to the Georgian Bay.

We got the bikes off and took a ride down to Lock 41, the last lock before we cross Lake Simcoe. The evening was wonderfully cool at the lock and we enjoyed sitting out on the back deck and watching boats come through.

Tomorrow we plan to cross Lake Simcoe to Orillia and stay there for a while before we head up to Port Severn and the Georgian Bay....

Tuesday, July 29 - Shoebox and Segue were ready to lock through at the earliest opportunity this morning. By about 9:30 AM we were out on Lake Simcoe...and it was completely calm. We took a picture of Shoebox on the water that morning...

You'd think I would have had my fill by now of water and cloud shots...but you'd be so wrong. They all look just a little different, and so beautiful.

We were in Port of Orillia Marina by 12:30 PM. There we met Lilo and Lou Wegner who were visiting Orillia that day by boat from their home port about an hour and a half away. We struck up a long conversation with the couple and ended up visiting with Lou later that day and ordering some wine from a Canadian winery with which he's affiliated.

Just as we've sought our the "best" burger on this trip, we've also been on the look out for the best fish and chips. We may have hit it in Orillia. Tor's Seafood fish and chips was wonderful for lunch...and the slaw was almost as good as the Vidalia onion slaw we had with Carla and Jay in Beaufort, SC. We took a walk around town and spotted places we'd visit later in the week. I took a nice, long walk along the boardwalk and the trail that runs along the Couchiching Lake up here by Orillia. There are some nice biking trails here that will take us for miles along the lake. We're going to enjoy our stay here!

While I was out for a pre-dinner walk, Wayne met a man on the dock who brings a hawk down to the marina twice a day to let it fly around and clear out the seagulls. "And, sir, what do you do for a living???"....

We were out on the deck that evening, enjoying the cool breezes, when Rick and Sharon from Phoenix IV came by for a visit. We'd met them in the locks above Buckhorn and knew they lived in Orillia. They'd spotted Segue that afternoon as they came in and came by to say "hi." Rick was a captain in the Toronto firefighting department in charge of hazardous materials containment. He and Sharon are ready to start the Loop so we spent a nice evening sharing experiences with them. They've invited us to their house for dinner on Friday evening.

Wednesday, July 30 - We woke up to rain and decided the laundromat might be our best stop this morning. We loaded up and walked up a couple of blocks to the site. By the time we'd finished (and made several phone calls) the sun was back out. That afternoon Lou stopped by with our wine sampling and we spent an enjoyable hour or two talking with Lilo and Lou and tasting one of the wines.

We talked later that evening with Ted from Interludes. Ted and Maricha have purchased a small farm in Panama and are leaving their boat in Wisconsin this winter to go down and live on their new place. This is the second time we've met someone who's moving to Panama. Jim, the harbormaster at Adventure Yacht Harbor in Daytona, was the first...and he believes Panama will be the next big retirement place for many Americans.

Thursday, July 31 - Another load of laundry this morning, and Wayne worked on cleaning the outside of the boat. Then we hopped on our bikes and went to the movies! We'd checked out the route and it looked very doable. When Wayne asked the young man at the marina if it was a reasonable route he was told it had two hills in it...but he allowed we looked healthy enough to do it. Hmmm. What he didn't say was that the two hills are consecutive...and there's not a lot of breathing room between. We made it just fine, but we walked those little one-speed beach cruisers up a couple of sections!

The weather for our stay in Orillia has really been very nice. It seems there's always the remote threat of rain...and if you're not in a breeze the sun can get very warm. But there's a cool breeze blowing most of the time that is very refreshing.

The marina, the Port of Orillia Marina, is owned by the city and has probably a couple of hundred spaces. This coming weekend being a holiday, almost every space has a "reserved" sign on it. Today we're seeing more boats come in by the hour. It will be interesting to see the goings on this weekend.

Friday, August 1 - August already!! The month of July has flown by!

This morning we took the bikes out to find a couple of hardware stores and check out the large marina at the Narrows to Couchiching Lake. Orillia has several biking trails that made this trip very easy and a pleasant ride. Having found the few things we needed, we went back for lunch at the Chinese buffet before I took off for a closer look at the shops in town and the local library.

At 4 PM Rick came by to pick us up. Rick and Sharon live in a beautifully renovated home on a canal just off the Narrows . Their new boat, Phoenix IV, is parked just off their back yard. They had lived nearer to Toronto for many years before finding this house and moving. Rick worked very long days as a firefighter (on four days, off 14) making his commute back to Toronto feasible. He has finally retired and they are planning to leave on the Loop in August of 2009. Like us, they can untie at their home and travel for thousands of miles by water.

We had such a good time visiting with the Chaykos and getting to know them better. They cooked a delicious meal on the "bar-bee"...and topped it off with Sharon's homemade Black Forest Cheesecake. Yummm! We're hoping we get to return the hospitality when they travel the Loop down our way.

Sunday, August 3 - Well, in spite of a threat of rain almost daily, the weather in Orillia has been wonderful. Today, as I sit outside the marina office to finish this blog segment, I am in shorts and a sweatshirt. The cool breeze can almost be too cool if you're in the shade or not moving around a lot.

The marina was packed last night. There's a carnival going on in a park nearby and people are out picnicking and walking/riding/skating. We've enjoyed having a few days to recollect and get some things done while positioning ourselves to pick up mail in Port Severn before we hit the Georgian Bay. We'll leave tomorrow morning for the Big Chute Lock and possibly go through (or at least stay there). Tuesday we're off to Port Severn, not far, where we'll receive the mail (hopefully) that day. As soon as we have that, we're ready to take off for big waters. We anticipate being in upper Lake Michigan in about 2 weeks time...and it may very well be that long before you see a new blog post. Don't worry...I'll be clicking away as we go....


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