Trent Severn Waterway (part 1)

After Trent Port Marina at Trenton, we started the Trent Severn Waterway.   The water way is over 240 miles long and has 44 locks.  The first obstacle after the marina was the second bridge before the first lock.   Even though we called and were told “yes” there is 22’ of clearance that is not what we found.  We quickly lowered the mast on Sanctuary so we could fit under the bridge.  Then we traveled up to the wall and waited for Lock #1—the first of six in a row for the day.

As we entered lock #1, they set up four boats to travel together and raft off each other going through the locks.  We locked with Tag Team a friendly looper couple from Texas.  We first met them in Clearwater, Florida last year.   The other two boats in the lock were Vega and Bucket List.  Our two friends, Moon Shadow and Southern Cross, were in the next set of boats to lock through.  So, all day long we were being followed by a Moon Shadow and they caught us when we stopped for the day after lock #6 in Frankford.   We all ate a nice home-style breakfast at Mama Bears near the lock.

As soon as we tied up on the city wall in Campbellford, we were automatically presented with brightly colored cupcakes by one of the attendants.  There is a great park next to the tie-up wall where power is available.  We rode our bikes back to lock 11/12 to view the gorge and swing bridge.  Due to all the rain and high-water levels, we saw a dramatic show of rapids through the gorge.

We left Campbellford and traveled to a nice anchorage at Steam Mill Island.  Since Moon Shadow and Southern Cross stayed another day in Campbellford, we had the anchorage all to ourselves.  They later caught up with us in Peterborough for the festivities there.

We scored in Peterborough with a BBQ festival where we thoroughly enjoyed sampling a variety of ribs and chicken.  The grills were supported by semi-trucks in very elaborate set ups.  Looking at the photos, you can see the signs towering over the crowds announcing the grill master’s menus.  The fountain we saw in 2004 is still operating in Little Lake bay next to the marina.  In the large park area, next to the marina is a concert stage where we enjoyed a free concert in the park by Tom Cochrane (“Life is a Highway” song).

Peterborough is home to the world’s largest hydraulic lift lock built between 1896 and 1904.  Instead of filling a chamber like most locks and then opening the doors to let the boats out, the Peterborough Lift Lock is comprised of a set of gigantic tubs that lift and lower boats.   When one tub goes up, the other goes down so they counter balance each other.

We decided to ride our bicycle over to the lock while staying at the marina before doing the lock with our own boat and check it out from the land viewpoint. Other loopers were entering the lock, so we took pictures of them being raised to the higher level. We wanted to watch them on the top side and then exit, so we again hopped on our bicycles heading toward the upper viewing area.  Steve made it just fine, but Teresa experienced a crash and burn on the rocky street. My Knight on a Motorcycle (Ed, I found out later was his name) was coming down the hill from the lock. He saw me sprawled out on the pavement, took pity on me, and dismounted his motorcycle to help me up. Ed pulled out a radio from his leather jacket and radioed a gal name Kathleen back up at the lock. Apparently, I fell at the right place because I soon learned that Kathleen was a medic and had the tools to clean and bandage a boo-boo. Just so happened that Ed was also the boss at the lock operation there at Peterborough. I was thankful he was so kind to take the time to assist a damsel in distress. We told them our story of being on the Loop for almost a year now and that we planned to go through this very lock in two days. BONUS: Kathleen would be on duty that day AND she took some awesome pictures from her perch above the lock. We’re also friends on Facebook now!

It is an amazing feat to see the lock in operation, and a little scary when you are at the top and look over the small barrier behind the boat out into open air. We visited the lock in 2004 by motorcycle never imagining then that we would be traveling through the lock on our very own boat.

 

 

Kathleen fixes Teresa’s knee at the Peterborough Lock

 

 

Peterborough Fountain in Little Lake

 

Peterborough Festival and sling shot chair

 

Peterborough Lift Lock

 

So many locks…………..

 

Falls and Rapids at Campbellford

 

Scenes along the water way

 

Burliegh Falls Anchorage

 

 

Part 2 will look at the second half of the trip thru the Trent Severn Waterway.

 

Canada Day Celebrations

From Prinyers Cove, we traveled a short distance to Picton and docked at Tip of the Bay Marina.   There is a lot of flooding on Lake Ontario because the water level is about 3 feet above normal.  Many marinas on Lake Ontario are closed because their docks are under water.  Picton has a nice shopping district and is where we tasted our first Canadian butter tart.  How many of you recognize this cubical glassed in structure with a phone inside? We spotted this booth at the Picton Marina— something we have not seen in a while.

Waiting out rain storm

 

Rainbow after the storm

High water at Picton

 

We traveled from Prinyers Cove to Belleville (Crates-Belleville Marina) and then on to Trenton.   Trenton has a new marina called Trent Marina and the facilities are fantastic!   They have new floating docks and the nicest club house bathrooms we have seen on the trip.

Our Looper peeps did their homework to search out a logical, location to celebrate Canada Day—and we found just the right place! July 1 is Canada Day and we celebrated with the Canadians on their 150-year anniversary with competitions in the park, craft and food vendors, community bands, concert stage, and much more to see and do.   Boy, do they know how to celebrate in style with good, clean, family fun! The celebrations included strongman competitions where contestants pulled a huge tow truck and later threw heavy kegs over a tall goal post. There was a fireman competition, where in full gear, they climbed flights of stairs caring a 42-lb. fire hose, then pulled up another hose with a rope, used a sledge hammer to move a heavy weight, ran to hit a target with a full fire hose, then pulled a 165-lb. dummy to the finish line.  The celebration was complete with an outstanding display of fireworks over the bay.   The fireworks displayed directly in front of the marina, so we watched them from the deck of our boat right at the dock.  What a great day of celebrating with the Canadians!

 

Celebrating Canada Day

Celebrating Canada Day Fire Works at Trent Port Marina – Trenton Canada

 

Dave and Colleen with Canada flag and all the states from the trip

 

 

Kim Russo from AGLCA and Mike from the Perch with Teresa and her book

 

The Canals

The beginning of the Erie Canal is at Waterford where you leave the Hudson River.  The Erie Canal starts with lock #2, because the Federal lock at Troy on the Hudson is not counted as being part of it.  The Troy Lock is called the “government” lock and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Locks are like elevators for boats since boats cannot go up a water fall or dam.  The locks lift and lower boats as they pass through the canal system.  Once we passed the Troy lock, we no longer needed to be concerned with tides and their varying water levels or brackish/salt water. The Flight of 5 locks at Waterford raise/lower boats over 150’ which is the greatest lift in the shortest distance anywhere in the world.

Entering the Troy Lock

 

The Lower Place (Charlie and Robin) in the Troy Lock

 

The canal system is celebrating its 200-year anniversary, so there is no charge to use the system this year.  Until we get to the Oswego Canal, we are passing by familiar territory and get to visit places we enjoyed on our previous trip through the Erie Canal.    Waterford is one of those places, so we made a point to have breakfast at Don and Paul’s which is the local diner.  Just like we remembered, it was a unique experience and has good food at inexpensive prices.  We explored the park over the river which we missed last time.

 

 

Scenes from Waterford

 

We also made some stops at new places like the town dock at Canajoharie and Isle of the Oneidas Anchorage.  Isle of the Oneidas Anchorage is in an oxbow of the river just below a dam and lock #8 on the Erie canal.   It was a nice quiet anchorage. Our boats were held straight in the center of the river by the current pushing past.   Our looper flotilla was up to five boats in that anchorage. (Moon Shadow, Sandy Gal II, Southern Cross, The Lower Place, and Sanctuary)

Isle of the Oneidas Anchorage

 

Canajoharie is a free dock provided by the city.  The town was celebrating their 150th-year anniversary while we were there.   We participated in activities such as a car show, concerts, and chicken barbeque.  Over 15 looper boats ended up in that small harbor. The locals said they had not seen that many in their town before at one time. Many folks came down to the docks just to see the “show” and ask,

“What is going on? Why are there so many of you in here now?” Their questions were followed by one of us explaining The Great Loop trail and that this is where boaters on the Loop pass through in order to set ourselves up for the next system of locks.

The town has a very unique stop light mounted on a block of cement in the center of the street in the center of town.   The town was once home to Beechnut, but the factory closed leaving an abandoned factory building and lots of lost employment.

 

Scenes from Canajoharie

 

 

Sanctuary at Canajoharie

 

Scenes from Erie Canal

 

On our previous trip though the canal, one of our favorite stops was Ilion.   There is a very good Italian restaurant there and an Aldi grocery store.  Teresa was very excited to visit her first Aldi grocery store on the trip—just like going home again.   Crazy to miss a grocery store, but am finding it’s those take-it-for-granted places and people I miss the most.  There is also a large Remington factory with a gift shop and museum.    Steve loves it because the marina has an ice cream shop right next to the docks.

ILion Marina

 

When we arrived at Sylvan Beach on Oneida Lake, we tied up on the wall in the same location that we used in 2014.   We also caught up with Scott and Karen on Last Call.  The amusement park was open this year, but not the day we were there so we still did not ride the roller coaster.

Docked at Sylvan Beach

 

Sylvan Beach

 

We crossed Oneida Lake and docked at Winter Harbor Marina—the cleanest boat yard any of us has ever seen!   Most boat yards tend to have lots of old boat junk around, but not at Winter harbor.   We had a cutlass bearing replaced while we were there.   They quickly pulled the boat and set about completing the repairs very speedily.    Part of our Looper Flotilla decided to stop early. Dave on Moon Shadow was not feeling well and visited the ER while they were docked at Amsterdam, NY.  The group was back together at Winter Harbor Marina and celebrated with a Looper potluck. (Moon Shadow, Sandy Gal II, Southern Cross, The Lower Place, Songlines, Seaquest, and Sanctuary)

 

Looper Potluck

 

Soon after leaving Winter Harbor Marina, we turned off the Erie Canal and entered the Oswego Canal.   This was all new territory again for Sanctuary, even though it seemed very similar. We stopped the first night at the town docks in Phoenix which proved to be one of the nicest free docks we have seen.   The docks have power and are all brand-new composite decking.   We explored town and had a nice lunch at Duskee’s.

Phoenix Town Dock

 

After one more stop at Oswego on the wall, we were ready to cross Lake Ontario.   The weather was predicted to be good on Monday for the crossing and it turned out to be perfect. Clear skies and almost no wind with calm seas.   When we crossed the US/Canadian border, we turned a complete circle to mark the spot on the plotter and Steve played the Canadian National anthem on his trumpet.

 

Crossing Lake Ontario into Canada

 

Crossing Lake Ontario into Canada – Note loop at border line

 

We stopped in Canada at Prinyers Cove and completed the required check in with Canadian Border Customs.   Thankfully, the check-in was easy and painless, over the phone, answering a number of questions, and supplying our documentation numbers. We now have visited 16 states and 2 countries on this trip.

 

Some of the graffiti is well done, I liked this one – Boatin Down the River Feeling Glad

 

The Hudson River

We left the New York city area and started traveling again.    The route from Half Moon Harbor took us past Stoney Point—the first light house we saw on the trip home when we purchased Sanctuary.  We are retracing our route until we get to the Owego Canal and turn north off the Erie Canal.  The scenery quickly turns much more rural and mountainous as you head north on the Hudson River.  Instead of sky scrapers and the hustle and bustle of the big city, we see hills covered with green trees and rock ledges.

One of the first major sights is West Point, the United States Military Academy.  The gray and black granite buildings are an impressive sight on the hills beside the Hudson River.  The academy was established by Thomas Jefferson in 1801.  The main campus is a national landmark and has an extensive museum. We were fortunate enough to tour the campus last time with our good friends, Bob and Vicki.

As you travel along the Hudson River and the Erie Canal, trains also travel the same route.  Along part of the Hudson River, there are tracks on both sides. On one side, you will spot passenger trains and the other side runs freight trains.   Often, we see trains running the tracks next to our route on the river or canals. If you do not see them, you will hear them in the distance.

We stopped at an anchorage near Rondout Creek Light House called Port Ewen.  The Lower Place and Southern Cross were already there at the marina in the harbor.  After dinner, we took our dinghy in and visited with them. We planned our next destination and expectantly watched the recording of when we visited the Today Show.

We also passed by Esopus Light House, Hudson City Light House, and Saugerties Light House.  We saw more lighthouses in this short journey than in many miles along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

As we continue north on the Hudson River, the hills are getting smaller and the houses are more like cottages.   Our planned stop for the next couple nights is Starbucks Island Boat Club.  The facility is built on an old barge with attached floating docks.  It reminded us of Hoppies on the Mississippi river but in better condition. The owner, Joe, is very accommodating and provides a courtesy car.  Many marinas provide a courtesy car, but most are old with well over a hundred thousand miles on them.  Here the courtesy car was a brand-new Ford Focus loaded with every available option—the nicest courtesy car we have seen. Joe noticed the distance we needed to climb to get into our boats and mentioned that he had some leftover gym equipment that might prove useful for us. Bless his heart, Joe volunteered to meet us up the river in Waterford where he dropped off complimentary aerobic steps for us to use on low docks to climb into our boat. They have proven to be a lifesaver to us—handy and safer when we do so much in and out on our boats.

We grilled dinner and had a pot luck on the barge for dinner with all the loopers there. Moon Shadow, Sandy Gal II, Southern Cross, The Lower Place, and Sanctuary were there which represented Canada, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Each person and couple bring a different flavor to the table and add additional spice to gatherings. It amazes me with such a diverseness in our backgrounds we can still mingle and complement each other so well.

The looper group we are traveling with have mascots on their boats.  Those mascots have been known to show up in various locations and events. They even have been known to hold their own mascot meetings. To date, Frog (from Sanctuary) has met a few characters along the way:

  • Tator Gator from Southern Cross
  • Molly the Mermaid and Polly the Pirate from Moon Shadow
  • Margo, a real white Cockatoo, from The Perch
  • Inky a black Lab from Panacea
  • New additions to Sanctuary: Popeye the Sailor man and Ben from Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream parlor

When we say we are traveling with loopers, it is a lose attachment.  The group may stay together for a few days and locations, but often someone needs to stay behind to meet friends/family or attend to some other task.  Since the route is a loop, eventually they catch back up and then we celebrate and share happenings experienced apart.   Often you meet back up with loopers that you have not seen in months.

 

West Point

 

 

Hudson River Light Houses

 

Bannermans Island

 

Bannermans Island was once a munitions storage facility

Hudson River

 

Anchorage where we spent first night on the trip home with Sanctuary in 2014

 

 

 

Strange place to park your truck….

 

Grill masters on the barge at Starbuck Island Boat Club

 

Froggy and friends…….

 

Up the coast to New York

Our Looper flotilla headed out from Delaware and New Jersey and traveled to New York to visit the city that never sleeps. On the way, we picked up one more traveler at Cape May, so now The Lower Place has rejoined our group.   We last saw Charlie and Robin McVey in Washington DC.   Once we conquered the Jersey coast, with only a little drama on the Atlantic Ocean from contrary wind and waves, we set our sights on New York.

We stayed at the Staten Island Yacht Club then traveled by car, train, ferry, and subway to get around the city.   We were able to visit many sights and locations.  One of the most moving and difficult was the 9/11 memorial.  Everyone usually can tell you where they were the day 9/11 happened.  Steve was just across the river watching events unfold, so seeing the memorial was extra significant.  We also saw the bull on Wall Street, the NY stock Exchange building, Battery Park, and this was just the first day.

One of Teresa’s goals was to visit the “Today Show” so we worked out a plan to make that happen.   The owner of the local restaurant at Great Kills knew a guy and put us in touch with Carl who willingly drove us right to Rockefeller Center at 4:15am to get in line for the show. We were right up near the front of line and secured a spot on the rail in the center of filming.   Moon Shadow made signs for us to hold along the railing.  One sign highlighted our 6000 miles on a boat and the other promoted Teresa’s book. What a treat to have our friends see us on TV!   After a mid-morning breakfast at a local diner, we rode up to the top of the Empire State building with Enterprise.   The New York library was a stop Teresa could not skip.   The huge building is very ornate and noteworthy to tour.   She loved seeing the vast reading areas, books, and architecture.

Once back on Staten Island, we visited Nonna’s—a local pizza place which came highly recommended.  The recommendation was absolutely right. The New York style pizza was fantastic and our Looper Group of 10 enjoyed the food and company very much.

Leaving Great Kills Yacht Club meant we were going to travel by the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor.   We planned for our Looper group to travel togather and take pictures of each other in front of the Statue of Liberty.  What a treat to see the statue from our own vessel!

Once past the lady and the city, we kept traveling north up the Hudson River.   The planned destination for the night was Half Moon Bay Marina at Croton on the Hudson.  We saw the new Tappan Zee bridge construction passing under the new spans along the way.   The river scenery quickly turned from dense high-rise city scape to hills and trees.  The hills cliffs and trees are scenic north of the city.

On the way into the marina, we passed by the anchorage and park we were at when we purchased Sanctuary in May 2014.  Sanctuary has passed by her own wake, but is continuing home to finish the Great Loop and receive her Gold Flag.

From Croton on the Hudson, we rode the train back into the city to Grand Central Station.  Exploring that huge facility was overwhelming.  You could look around and see the locations from many movies in the building.  We walked from Grand Central to Times Square.   Street entertainers, yellow cabs galore, lights, horns—it is all there.  We found a great lunch spot just off Times Square and then made our way to the Majestic Theater.  Teresa had planned to see Phantom of the Opera when it was in Grand Rapids, but had to go out of town.   While in New York, if possible, she wanted to see her first Broadway play. Phantom of the Opera was available as a Saturday matinee, so we were able to attend.  The theater, the sounds from the orchestra, the organ, the costumes, and the whole show were fantastic!  A couple we met on the way into the theater saw Phantom in Toronto.  They said this version was 100 times better than the Toronto one which was very good.

After the play, we walked and took a cab to the High Line, an old elevated railroad line converted to a park.  We returned to Grand Central Station, explored that area a little more, and then took our train back to Croton on the Hudson.   From the train station, it was a short cab ride back to the marina, where this group of very tired loopers crashed for the night.  One more night in this marina, then we plan to continue traveling north on the Hudson River.

Teresa and the Bull on Wall Street

 

 

New York Public Library

 

 

Today Show

 

 

Times Square

 

 

St Patricks Cathedral

 

 

NY Stock Exchange 

 

 

Empire State Building

 

 

Hudson River passing NY

 

 

Statue of Liberty

 

 

Freedom Tower

 

 

 

9-11 Memorial

 

Grand Central Station 

 

 

Majestic Theater – Phantom of the Opera

 

 

Lady Liberty with Sanctuary

 

 

On to Annapolis and Swan Creek

From the Potomac River, we re-entered Chesapeake Bay and traveled toward Annapolis.  Not too far into the bay, we caught up with our looper friends on Southern Cross and Moon Shadow. We followed them the rest of the way into Annapolis.   Earlier, we communicated with them and set up to meet in Annapolis Landing Marina.  We had a great stay as we toured Annapolis, celebrated Steve’s birthday, and visited the Naval Academy.

The Naval Academy was extra special because we attended Sunday services in their chapel.   The chapel is a beautiful building with many stained-glass windows, each of which depict a biblical story.  Below the chapel is the crypt of John Paul Jones who is considered to be the father of the US Navy.  The staff were friendly as the chaplains and pastor greeted us as we were seated. Afterwards, we shook Pastor Bart Physioc and gifted him a copy of Teresa’s book. We were pleased to receive an email from Pastor Bart the next day saying it was good to meet us and thanking us for the book. He had already began to read it and found out that he and Teresa have something in common. They both have had brain surgery—what a small world!  This stop on the Great Loop and attending service at the Naval Academy was definitely a divine appointment.

Water Taxis are available right from the Annapolis Landing Marina where we stayed. Our marina office staff gave us $1 off water taxi rides, so we used them to take us to Ego Alley dockage in downtown Annapolis (our first water taxi ride). A special parade to celebrate Steve’s birthday (most people thought it was for Memorial Day) also took place that day.  The parade opened with an amazing Navy band, continuing with brightly colored dancers, more bands and music, yellow fire trucks, classic old cars, and much more. On the Water Taxi returning to our marina, we met Peter VI. Just a young tyke still being held by his mother. On the boat also was Peter V (young Peter’s dad) and Peter IV (dad Peter’s dad). What a nice family and quite the legacy! The dad Peter V graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis and the family decided to meet here.  Two other loopers caught up with us later while we were in Annapolis, Last Call and Aqua-Fennatic.  We ended the day celebrating with a special dinner for Steve with about 12 Looper friends.

While in Annapolis, we visited a Target.  The Looper crew was impressed with the special escalators for your shopping cart after you load it up with supplies.   The Target was on the second floor of the building with its own attached parking ramp.  To enter the store from the parking ramp, you ride an escalator up. Then when you leave, you push your cart onto the special cart escalator and ride next to it on the people escalator.  Amazing: modern technology!

From Annapolis, we traveled across the bay to Swan Creek where the town of Rock Hall Maryland is located.   There is a very nice marina we found while exploring with our dinghy flotilla of four. We anchored out in Swan Creek and traveled to Harbor Haven marina by dinghy, docked the dinghys, and borrowed bikes to go into town.  The town has a nice grocery, ice cream shop, and a West Marine store. What more could you ask for?

After our dinghy trip, it started to rain. The rain shower finished with a beautiful full rainbow from left to right.  One of the boats traveling with us, Enterprise, looked like they were at the end of the rainbow … but they did not find the pot of gold.

We now have 4 boats in our Looper Flotilla: Enterprise, Moon Shadow, Sanctuary, and Southern Cross.   The Looper Flotilla plan to head for Cape May, New Jersey next as we make our way toward New York City. That will mean that we traveled from Maryland, next night spent in Delaware, and the next day in New Jersey—which will make our total add up to 14 states.

 

Naval Academy at Annapolis

Scenes from Annapolis

 

Happy Birthday Steve

 

Happy Birthday Steve

 

 

Memorial Day Parade in Annapolis

 

Shopping at Target in Annapolis

 

Scenes from Chesapeake Bay

 

 

Rainbow at Swan Creek with Enterprise

 

 

Moon Shadow at Swan Creek

 

 

Washington DC (part 2) and back down the Potomac River

On our last full day in Washington DC, we visited the WWII memorial and the Lincoln Monument.  We enjoyed our days in DC while touring together with Charlie & Robin from The Lower Place. We either walked a lot or shared an Uber ride with our Looper friends.

While in DC, we stayed at Gangplank Marina in Washington DC. Most of the boaters at Gangplank are live-aboards. Viewing the many unique “house” boats in the marina proved most enlightening. Costs to live aboard your boat are considerably less than to rent or purchase a land dwelling in DC.  We were shocked to discover that the national sights were free to visit. You just need to stand in line to receive your ticket for your tour. In the case of the Capitol tour, the ticket will be time stamped for the group you are assigned to follow. Other items such as restaurant and grocery foods are priced more than we are accustomed to in the north.

To get to Washington DC, we traveled up the Potomac River which covered over 100 miles up and then 100 miles back—a slight detour off our main route, but well worth the trip.    On the way back down the river, we stayed at Cobb Island where we enjoyed Maryland Blue Crab for the first time.  Our waitress was gracious enough to give us a live tutorial on the art of undressing the crab to best uncover the detectable morsels within the crab itself. Crab tastes similar to Maine lobster, but with much more effort to get to the meat. The crab was served with melted butter. The Maryland Blue Crab is also called the Atlantic blue crab or Chesapeake blue crab. It is the Maryland state crustacean and is also the state’s largest commercial fishery.  The crabs are blue when caught, but magically turn red when steamed.  They were very good especially since they are fresh off the boats which dock in the marina.

We passed the St. Clements Lighthouse and noticed the extremely tall cross on the island next to the lighthouse. The first English settlers arrived on the island in 1634 on the sailing ships named the Ark and the Dove. The island consists of a 62-acre park with a memorial 40-foot stone cross dedicated to the memory of the first Marylanders.

As we were approached Smith Creek where we planned to anchor for the night, the clouds immediately began to darken. Warnings about possible severe storms broadcast on the marine radio.   We anchored in the bay and battened down the hatches for the storm.   Over 40-mile winds blew in the bay as the storm passed by in two different sections. We were thankful our big (used to be shiny) Mantus anchor held.  During the storm and 24 hours later we took pictures. Comparing the two groups of photos, it was hard to believe what a difference just a day can bring! The very next night, we witnessed a beautiful reddish-orange sunset painted over Smith Creek.

 

Lincoln Memorial and WWII Memorial

Houses on Capitol Hill

 

Umbrella Crowd – Steve Teresa Charlie and Robin

 

 

House Boats at Gangplank Marina in Washington DC

 

 

We see lots of Osprey nests along the waterways.   Most of the markers for the waterways seem to have a nest built on them, which are a large collection of sticks.   It is nesting time now so we see them sitting on the nests waiting for their eggs to hatch.

Osprey Nests

 

Cobb Island

 

Crabs for lunch

 

Storm in Smith Creek

 

In every state Teresa takes a picture of a license plate. Some how this just seems perfect that in this area with more government employees than anywhere else the motto complains about taxes and the plate is held on with zip ties.

 

 

On to Washington DC (Part One)

Approaching Washington DC, you can see the Washington Monument from a long way away since it is the highest structure in the area.  Numerous planes and helicopters flew over as we approached the city.  Busy Reagan International Airport is next to the river. Many helicopters fly along the river and we continue to sight an abundance of aircraft all around us. Neither Teresa or Steve have ever traveled to the Washington DC area, so we saw everything with fresh and amazed eyes.

Once we arrived at Gangplank Marina in Washington. we met our looper friends Charlie and Robin McVey from the motor vessel The Lower Place.  They arrived a few days before us and scouted out the lay of the land. It was wonderful to re-connect with them again in a different setting. We toured many of the Washington DC sites with them.  We saw the Capitol at sunset, the White house, Washington Monument, Arlington National Cemetery (such a moving, humbling place), Trump Hotel (refurbished home of the Oldest Post Office), and the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress. Books lined shelves and alcoves–many old volumes protected within a temperature-controlled environment. Of particular interest to Teresa was the quote: “I cannot live without books!”  We had the privilege of indulging in appetizers and drinks at BLT Prime inside the Trump Hotel.  Warm popovers graced our table at the start, followed by an appetizer, Clothesline Candied Maple Bacon featuring four slices of thick bacon suspended from a mini copper wire held on by wooden clothespins, and a dill pickle. How bad can it be–it’s BACON?! The presentation was worth it all as our server torched the bacon and a spring of herbs prior to serving. The food was absolutely remarkable!

We were thankful our wait for the US Capitol tour tickets was minimal. Normally, huge busloads of school children and adults filled the lines to the max. We just made it through before that happened. Experienced a good tour through the Capitol lingering in The Rotunda—heart and center of the Capitol. Paintings depict various events associated with the exploration and settlement of the United states such as “Embarkation of the Pilgrims” and “Baptism of Pocahontas.” Many of the larger buildings have gift shops with postcards and most any memorabilia you might desire.

The changing of the guard at Arlington is an amazing sight in precision and reverence.   The steps, uniform, and each detail are exact in every aspect.   We watched a changing of a ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and heard a soldier play taps as part of that process.

On Sunday, we worshiped with Christ Church Episcopal Washington Parrish where we understand Thomas Jefferson attended back in the day. A plaque on the outside church wall states the Christ Church was founded in 1795 and was the first church in the city of Washington. Friendly church people. We met Rev. Cara Spaccarelli who now owns a copy of Teresa’s book. Afterwards, we toured the neighborhood with a recommendation from Charles (gentleman we met in the front foyer of the church), walked past the barracks and commandant’s home.  Walking on the sidewalks in front of such varied colors and architectural design proved a treat all by itself. Homes created from various materials stacked next to each other, house next to house, without space in between; only rod iron fences separate families. Their mini yards often bore bricks or small vegetable plantings and flowers. I’m told families exercise and play together in numerous community parks sprinkled throughout the town. This particular section of town reminded me of back home, a place called Eastown in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The first restaurant we stopped at said they had a 2-hour, 15 minute wait—we declined and moved on. Walking a few more blocks we came upon various diners and chose to satisfy our hungry tummies at Ophelia’s Fish House. Urban living to the fullest degree.

We walked between 5-8 miles daily while in DC. We also took advantage of Uber, and rode the Metro train for the first time. Hop on and hop off buses are popular. Also, our friends Charlie & Robin from The Lower Place highly recommend the Segway narrated tours which can be seen rolling here and there among the streets and popular buildings.

Thoughts while sitting on the Amphitheater steps of the Unknown Soldier:

Oh, the tears, the blood shed
Represented here in this place.
Row after Row after Row
White tombstones
Representing sons, fathers, uncles.
Real live people.
Real live losses.

Days gone by.
Ancestors, family, friends.
What sacrifices!
All to secure my freedom and yours.
Words cannot describe
The debt we owe
To the many who’ve gone on before.

I am humbled, speechless
Driven to my knees.
My only response
Is Thank You.
And then the tears flow.

I doubt that many other Loopers can claim they saw the sixth annual Running of The Chihuahuas. Dog lovers actually race chihuahuas in Washington DC. There were 16 rounds leading up to the race to determine the overall winner. The top three winners receive cash prizes.  There is so much to see and do here it is overwhelming, and we only sampled a small portion. We are thankful to be here and experience a taste of big city life and urban living.

 

Arlington National Cemetery 

 

Library of Congress

 

White House

 

Capitol Building

 

Washington Monument

 

Trump Hotel

 

Washington Train Ride

 

Running of the Chihuahuas

 

 

More about Washington DC to follow…………

Through Norfolk Naval Shipyard area and up the Potomac River

Once we returned to the boat, we visited Norfolk and toured the new Waterside area and the Nauticus Museum with Scott and Mary from the motor vessel Jaycie Lynn.  The battleship Wisconsin is on display at the Nauticus Museum. The Battleship Wisconsin served in World War II, Korea, and Desert Storm.  It was launched in 1944 and decommissioned in 1991.  It is 887’ long and had a crew of up to 2800 men.

We continued our trek north from Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) where the first encounter along the water way is a lift bridge and a lock.   The lock is a small 2’ drop, but it was the first lock we traveled through since last year on the rivers. We will not see another lock until the Erie Canal at Waterford north of New York City.

The trip through Norfolk Naval Shipyard area seemed overwhelming with all the war ships undergoing refurbishment and construction.   One of the aircraft carriers was heading out to sea as we passed through the area.  It was nice of them to put on a show for us. We also saw ocean going container ships in the harbor.

Once past Norfolk, we traveled up the Chesapeake Bay which is very wide and reminded us of Lake Michigan.  The bay was calm and flat on our way to the Potomac River.  We left the Bay to travel up the Potomac to visit Washington DC.  It took two days to make the trip up the river to Washington DC.

Our trip up the Potomac took us past the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge at Newburg Virginia.  The bridge has 135’ clearance above the water in the center.  There were workers suspended in bucket booms below the bridge.  They would be a candidate for the worst jobs television program.

We stayed at the Colonial Beach Yacht Center marina where we ate at Dockside Restaurant & Tiki Bar right off the Potomac River. The restaurant had a small beach with old skis fashioned into benches, old power boats as art, and sand boxes for the children. Very rustic, but we received good service with tasty food.

The trip continued past Quantico, Mount Vernon, Fort Washington, and many additional sights.  Our next blog post will be about visiting Washington DC.

 

Battleship Wisconsin

 

 

Norfolk Waterside Area

 

 

 

The lift bridge at Great Bridge just past Atlantic Yacht Basin

 

The Lock at Great Bridge

 

Norfolk Ship yards

 

Calm Seas on the Chesapeake Bay

 

Working on Bridge over Potomac River

 

 

Fort Washington on the Potomac River

 

Next post our visit to Washington DC…………

Atlantic Yacht Basin, a quick trip home, and on to Minnesota

From Belhaven, we traveled to Alligator River and then on to Chesapeake near Norfolk VA.   The trip was smooth and uneventful along the water ways.  A nice contrast to the last few days.  While we were at Belhaven, there was a severe storm in the night.  The wind blew from the east at over 40 and then switched around and blew over 40 from the west.   A sail on the boat behind us started to tear loose, so we worked to tie it up to keep it from doing more damage. After all that, we were thankful for a few calm days.

The plan was to leave the boat at Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) and rent a car to travel back to Michigan.   We planned to drive so we could off load several things picked up along the trip.  It was great to visit with friends and family back at home.   After a few days at home, we traveled to Minnesota to visit the grand kids.  The grand kids were having a dance performance and Nanna told Liberty that this year we were coming to see the recital in person.  Two of the grand kids and their parents were all in the dance performance.  We had a delightful time seeing the performance, going hiking, eating ice cream and s’mores, and experiencing a couple cookouts while visiting the grandkids.

After the visit in Minnesota, we drove home, and then flew back to Norfolk.  We had scheduled a quick haul and bottom wash at AYB to have the running gear and underwater zincs checked.  So out of the water onto the travel lift came Sanctuary.   Everything looked good except one of the zincs needed to be replaced.  When you have dissimilar metals in water and especially in salt water, they will corrode by a process called electrolysis.  If you put a sacrificial metal (zinc) on your under-water metal, the sacrificial metal (zinc) will dissolve, protecting your bronze propellers and stainless steel shafts.   With a clean bottom and new zinc, Sanctuary went back in the water ready to continue the journey.

While here at AYB, a fellow Looper, Susan from Suzy Q was hit in the night by a barge crushing her against the T-dock. Fortunately, she was not in her boat at the time so she was not injured. She’s understandably shook up. Susan just began the Great Loop 21 days ago single-handed. The barge company admits full responsibility and is paying for a room, food, and clothing for her in the interim. She’s in need of prayer as she navigates through the many tough decisions she needs to make.

At AYB, there are many unique and interesting boats to look at.   This boat yard specializes in taking care of many older one-of-a-kind boats.   They have a track type lift that can pull very large boats out of the water.  While we were at AYB, there was one on that lift that measured at least 100’ long.  The storage buildings are over water and the boats are pulled into the sheds.  After the haul-out, we were directed to dock Sanctuary inside one of the buildings, which worked out well because it has been raining for a couple days and more rain was predicted.

 

Dock at AYB where Sanctuary stayed while we went home

 

Spring has sprung up north

Visits with Amanda

Grand Kids Dance Performance in Minnesota

 

S’mores by the fire pit

Fire pit to cook S’mores

 

Grandkids

Some of the unique boats at AYB

Sanctuary gets a lift