Well, we have not been here 4 years yet, but we're starting to get an idea of how Tom Hanks felt on his "Castaway" island. For the record and as you can see above, we have been in Amsterdam for 17 days now. The longest Rhonda and I have ever been delayed in this past 5 and 1/2 years of boat travel is 18 days in Memphis, TN on the Mississippi River at Mud Island Marina in 2008. As is the case here, we had to wait for high water, strong current, and debris to subside. There are no locks or dams on that stretch of the Mississippi River, it was just mother nature on steroids. We expect to break that record here on the Erie Canal in Lock #11. We have actually been on the Erie Canal since June 5th (21 days) when we arrived in Waterford. We waited out high water there for several days before reaching Amsterdam.
Right after we got to Lock #11, we noticed a bright blue soccer ball caught in some of the debris building up around the west side of the dam. We jokingly began to refer to it as "Wilson" even though "Wilson" on "Castaway" was technically a volleyball - trivial point considering everything. We could not get to "him" but "Wilson" was always there. "Wilson" has drifted around the locks now for 2 weeks, starting out above the locks, then he went over the spillway at one point, and he has been hanging around the downstream side of the dam for several days now at the entrance to the lock in another debris field. We've tried to devise ways to rescue "Wilson," but he has always been just out of our reach. We were awakened early this morning with shouts of "Wilson, Wilson" around the lock area - sure enough, "Wilson" was gone. Increasing amounts of water flow through the dam overnight had apparently changed the currents in the area and all the debris, along with "Wilson," was gone. You cannot imagine the despair among the group. We had become attached to "Wilson" even in just a joking way. Our next thought was an optimistic one - after "Wilson" was lost in "Castaways," Hanks was rescued soon afterward. So, maybe this was a good sign. But we really missed "Wilson" and then the Looper spirit kicked in and we decided to walk along the banks downstream in hopes he had washed up on shore. Sure enough, we found him about 1/4 mile downstream along the bank. Fellow loopers, I am not kidding, the above story is true. So, meet "Wilson" and his counterpart from "Castaways."
He will be traveling with us now as a constant reminder of what we've experienced here and giving us hope for the future.
Galen was especially glad to see "Wilson" again. Seriously, he has tried to figure ways to get to "Wilson" on many occasions. BTW, Galen needs "something to do" all of the time and we appreciate any ideas you might have to keep him "busy."
On a very sad note, I walked up this morning and joined a conversation between Ken and Galen. Their excitement for the morning was watching logs float down the river and placing bets/odds on if those individual pieces would make it over the dam. Sad, so sad to see, but this is what we have come to.
We've eaten at Russo's across the street 3 times now followed by left-overs each time, been interviewed by all 3 newspapers in Amsterdam, know many of the locals on a first-name basis, Rhonda is a member of the local library now, we're rotating/sharing our movies among the castaways here, and I'm personally getting very tired of counting the number of railroad cars each time the train rolls by - you get the idea. BTW, if I never hear another train whistle in my life, it will be too soon!!!!
Yesterday, we played an "imagination" game. The guys played like we might get to leave here one day and took a course from Ken (from Canada) on what to expect in the North Channel and Georgian Bay. He's boated these areas all of his life and gave us lots of pointers on favorite spots, caution areas, etc.. It was a fun game and we just hope now that the information will come in handy one day.
Now I don't want you to think we're just wasting our time here. I managed to tackle a "pending project" I've had for some time now. The dinghy davit has been in a sad cosmetic condition for a long time with peeling paint and really needed an update. So, I managed to get that done in between rain and thunderstorms. She now has a metal primer, marine primer, and marine topcoats on her. Voila!
I've also completed 43 engine room checks and changed the oil 6 times, just in case.
Hey, got to have a little fun in the process. The latest forecast is that we will be leaving on Friday but similar forecasts have come and gone. We average more than 100 hits per day on the blog so I know many loopers behind us are probably checking in for updates in addition to our family and friends. Y'all hang in there and we'll be moving soon. Now, wonder what's on the menu at Russo's tonight? Don't forget to send suggestions for Galen!