Friday, July 19, 2013

Fenelon Falls to Orillia

We had planned to make this a short day, but with a stormy weather forecast for the next couple of days and very hot temperatures, we decided to press on to Orillia.  As I have noted previously, you lose some of the best cruising hours of the day with the locks not opening up now until 9 AM with all of the government cutbacks.  One of the lockmasters handed me a "comment" card and encouraged us to fill it out and mail it in.  He said they have become known as "complaint" cards now, so it's not just us noticing the problems with the new system. Cruisers like us, especially on a hot day, would normally be moving at sunrise around 5:30 AM for 2 reasons - to beat the heat and we normally like to arrive at the destination of the day sooner than later to be able to sightsee a little and have the extra hours at the end of the day in case we have mechanical problems. You can't do that anymore. You also can't stop for lunch and sightseeing and then later travel in the evening since the locks now close early rather than around 7:00 PM. The last lockage for some locks is 3:00 PM now. Leaving Fenelon Falls we only had a three-mile run to the first lock.  As you can see below, there were already 5 boats waiting for the 9 o'clock opening and one more waiting behind us. 

After these locked through, there were two locking through the other direction, but we were in the next group locking up.  More airplanes along the way today.

The next stretch is known as the Trent Canal - several miles long, very narrow, and in some spots only enough width for one boat.  It is also very shallow.  There is a reason for both of these - it is solid rock and was dug by hand in the early 1900s - it took 10 years!  You are requested to make a se'curite' call at either end to announce your position and entrance.  If others are already in the canal, they should inform you so you can wait.  We made the broadcast twice, got no responses, so off we went and we did not encounter any opposing traffic.

 A tight squeeze at times.

Wilson was even a bit nervous.

Now the exciting part - a real live black bear!  As we went by, he/she stood up and Galen and Becky got the picture.  Pretty cool.

Not quite as exciting but still interesting is the coloring of this butterfly - blends in perfectly with the rock walls of the canal.  At picture level, our boat is about 13 feet tall, add another 6 feet for the depth and try to imagine digging a 19-20 foot canal by hand.

And just about the time you think you can't handle any more excitement....(well, that's probably an exaggeration.  I just finished the Larry The Cable Guy book and he confessed at the end that all of his stories and jokes are not 100% true.  Well, that was a huge surprise in itself [not that he confessed, but that it isn't all true], but I guess I should clarify as well that this blog may contain some stretches of the imagination also). Anyhow, just about the time you think you can't handle any more excitement, you approach another lift lock, this one at Kirkfield.  The cruising guides say that if you thought Peterborough was a pulse-raiser, hang on for Kirkfield.  In the Peterborough lift, you feel a little bit protected and enclosed.  In Kirkfield, it all hangs out in the open.  Also, since we are now locking down, we will be driving into the pan that is already hanging out over the water - sure hope the locks on the gates are working, and we darn sure don't want to get forward and reverse confused as we approach the end of the tub.  High RPMs would probably be a bad idea also.  Here's the approach with both sides closed.

If you look closely, you can see the yellow arrow in the middle directing us to the left side, the green light on the left approving our entry, and the left gate now open. It's a fifty-foot drop over the end!

We're in the pan and secure.  Here are some views from up high.

Looking back at Mooring Dove behind us.

Once we are down, the gate lowers and off we go.

Not quite the engineering marvel of Kirkfield Lock, the Hole In The Wall bridge is the next attraction and is still cool.  Galen and Becky got a shot of us going through.

More cows for Rhonda.

Lots of open farmland in this area.  We actually had a little dust storm blow up, maybe from cutting the hay fields.  I could suggest that the wind was so strong that it had the tree leaning to the right, but that would be an exaggeration. 

The next stretch was a killer - 5 successive locks in the hottest part of the day - takes about 3 hours.  They had us packed in tight also - 5 boats total.  

The last adventure of the day was crossing Lake Simcoe.  The cruising guides say it can exhibit 8-foot seas in certain conditions.  That sounds like an exaggeration to me but we probably saw 3 to 4s.  The lake is about 10 miles by 16.   

After a long day in the heat, lots of miles, lots of locks, and more excitement than we probably should try to handle in one day at our age, docking at Orillia was no easy task either.  There was a very strong 90 degree crosswind, and it took me 3 tries to back into the slip.  When our boat turns broadside to the wind, it's like trying to walk down a windy street holding a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood in the air.  But we got her docked and all was well again once we got in the water to cool off. Later we read the marina information packet - NO SWIMMING in the slips. Galen, Becky, Rhonda, and I decided we could just play dumb.

Speaking of docking, there were easier slips to get into, but when we were checking in before arrival, I specifically asked for a slip that would ensure good WIFI reception, knowing that we had a lot of internet catching up to do.  What do you think?  (That's the WIFI antenna on the deck immediately behind the boat).  I can imagine them in the office saying, "The man wants WIFI, let's give him WIFI."  Funny.

Everything is within walking distance from the marina.  (Well, now that would be one of those exaggerations - I've learned over the years that not many "everything" or "nothing" descriptions are actually accurate.  Think about it.)  Anyhow, here's Galen returning from grocery shopping.  Rhonda just returned also, and we now understand why Canadians are pretty fit - they can't afford to eat here!!!  Seriously, the food prices are outrageous.

And here's a picture of the bagged milk we mentioned a few blogs ago.  Why????

We have noted on numerous stops, the neat things cities do to "specialize" their towns.  Along the waterfront, Orillia has wrought-iron sailboat hull frames and very colorful sails - and lots of them!

Downtown they have these very large and colorful letters of the alphabet dispersed throughout the city streets.

This is also pretty unique and definitely "special."  They have trained the Canada geese to perform synchronized swimming for entertainment along the waterfront.  Actually, that would be an exaggeration. They are diving for the seaweed below the surface, but the picture is still unique and special - well, have you ever been mooned by a goose??

The waterfront is very pretty, lots of flowers, a nice beach, statues, great kids' playground, etc.  The crowd here seems a little quieter than the Peterborough bunch, but it's not the weekend yet.  Maybe it picks up.

You get the idea.  And for our older son, dog lover and Great Dane owner, Adam - an English Great Dane.  (Scott, the airplane pictures have been for you, and yes we know you have a birthday next week).  The owner says the English Danes have a more square build than the others and are much larger.  Square build or not, these dudes are huge.  Look at the size of the feet and legs - as big as the owner's.

OK, I'm about blogged out - 3 in 3 days, but I'm all caught up!  But before I close, two things.  Why do the environmentalist tree-hugging wacko "experts" have to try and screw up a perfectly good thing to do like feeding bread to the birds?

And, if I ever feel inclined to go back to work (AND THAT REALLY IS THE EXAGGERATION OF THE DAY), I want this job.

Got to go, there is a tornado watch out, no exaggeration (wait a minute, aren't we in Canada?).  Assuming we survive this afternoon, we still have no idea what our plans are for tomorrow.  We need to get moving again, but we don't like to fight the crowds on the weekends for lock access or good spots to spend the night. Regardless, "Help Me Rhonda" is all rested up and ready to go.  

By the way, hello to all the Dunmire clan - Galen says he's got y'all reading the blog too. We'll check in next time probably at Port Severn, the end of the Trent-Severn for us.  

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