What to do...where to go.
Every year we try to think of what to do on our summer vacation that will create wonderful memories for the kids and allow us all to have a ton of fun. This year we decided, with Richard’s love for being on the water, to do a houseboat trip.
Next: where to go. After exploring a few options, Richard decided that the Trent-Severn waterway in Ontario, about an hour and a half northeast of Toronto, was the place we ought’a be so we packed up the kids and moved to Beverly...Hills, that is...oh! no, wait! This is not the Beverly Hillbillies’ tale (though parts of it might have felt that way).
The Trent-Severn waterway offers a unique challenge...locks. To contrast the languid, putt-putting that dominates your time on the lakes and rivers the locks require “ALL HANDS ON DECK!” Getting ready for this trip I told all (Richard, Jonah, Sarah, and Hannah) that I was looking forward to taking on the role as the 'official lounger.’ It’s a tough job and I knew that no one else was quite experienced enough or prepared quite like I was so I volunteered to designate myself the position. Little did I know about what it takes to maneuver through locks. So much for lounging.
We rented a vehicle that would accommodate all five of us plus ALL our gear. Did you know that as of August, 2009, car rental agencies are having a tough time supplying enough cars for the demand? Apparently, more people are renting vehicles for their long-mileage trips (just like us!). The owner of the Budget agency where we are a frequent flier loses sleep at night, he says, because he never knows if the company is going to provide enough cars for the amount of reservations he has. So, when you think you are set with a reservation...think again. We were lucky; our Expedition was ready and waiting for us when we arrived on Sunday, August 16th.
There was a lot of reading done on the way out to Bobcaygeon, Ontario.
We left on a Sunday but the houseboat reservation wasn’t until Monday so once we arrived in Bobcaygeon we stayed at a – shall I say – ‘quaint’ motel.It was just what could be expected from a motel with the added feature of flowering plants hanging around the exterior entrances of the rooms. Nice, yes. Anyone who has been to my house knows I love gardening and growing flowers. But flowers would not exist without bees. And I HATE bees (except for honey bees – so fuzzy and sweet and uncaring about humans). Needless to say the plants around the rooms on the end that you see here (children on the second floor, end unit; parents on the ground floor, end unit) attracted way too many yellow jackets for my taste.
We had a very relaxing time in the town of Bobcaygeon. The city is located on the water, part of the Trent-Severn waterway, and runs a lock. Here are some pictures. Hannah and Sarah watching the functioning lock.And the cute (but not as cute as Richard) lock warden.
We bopped around Bobcaygeon for a while looking for a place to have dinner.
The local Bobcaygeon bear sculpture.We decided on THE AWARD WINNING Lock 32 Pub and Restaurant. Well, it wasn't really award winning but we chose it anyway. It can be seen behind the bear, above, with the red awning. A few pictures taken in the restaurant.He's so happy that he's finally got a beer!Here’s a picture of Jonah drinking a non-alcoholic beverage.There’s a comical story to be told here. Before we left for this trip Jonah, 19 years old, raised the point to me that he was going to be of legal drinking age in Canada. Together we decided that we wouldn’t remind Richard of this but watch his reaction when Jonah ordered a drink in a restaurant. Well, in this first restaurant we went to in Bobcaygeon Richard ordered a beer. The waitress then looked at Jonah for his order and he said, "I'll have one, too." to which Richard IMMEDIATELY piped up "No, he will NOT!" We all laughed so hard at Richard's reaction. Richard didn't realize what was going on until we clued him in on the fact that Jonah could order a beer if he wanted to. Unfortunately, Jonah had forgotten his wallet with ID back at the hotel.
The cute local Bobcaygeon store.
We took a stroll at night and found the place for breakfast the next day. The sign is what sold us.
The cafe in the morning.Some restaurant pictures of all of us. First the boys.And then the girls.Here is a rough map of the waterway system. We started just south of Bobcaygeon, lock 32, renting our boat from Happy Days Houseboat Rentals. We decided to head east with the intent of making it as far as Peterborough to experience the dual lift locks there, which are the highest hydraulic lift locks in the world. Our first lock experience was at Buckhorn lock, lock 31.
When we arrived at Happy Days Houseboats our boat was not in from the previous renters so it was going to be a while before we were able to board our boat. While we were waiting Jonah and Richard had to read up on the rules of the boat and water since they were skipper and first mate. Sarah was designated first deckhand and Hannah was SUPREME deckhand. (That was done just to irk Sarah because she is so easily irked. Private joke.)While they read Sarah and Hannah played.
We still had lots more time so we took a drive and saw some cows.
The Happy Days Houseboat rental office.
We finally got a look at our boat. It came in a bit late and still had to be cleaned and checked in. This was going to be home for the next 5 days. Looks like a palace! That's the 'master luxury loft' you see on the top left. More views of the houseboat, inside and out.The ladder leading up to our 'luxury room' was totally vertical which made it very difficult to climb up or down with anything in your hand and even worse if you tried after a cocktail or two! But challenging is spelled f-u-n!
Here's the view at the top of the ladder. We did have windows on three sides which helped keep things cool up there.Jonah's room.And the temporary home of Princess 1 and Princess 2. They were as neat as they could be in the tight space. So cozy!
Looking into the kitchen from the hallway leading to the bedrooms and the back door. And beyond the kitchen to the front of the boat.Of course, one of the most important rooms on the boat. Happy Days tells you that yes, you do have hot water for showers. Well, the water for the taps and shower are pulled from the lake. The hot water is heated instantly from a manifold heater when the boat is running. The first morning we decided that Jonah and Richard would shower first and second (of course we had to have the motor running to produce the hot water) and then they could get us moving while I jumped in the shower before cooking breakfast. What we didn't realize is that in order to get cold water the boat must be sitting still so that the tube or hose that sucks the water is actually in the water, not being pulled on top of the water. After a dance in scalding hot water, I managed to yell loud enough to be heard over the hum of the engine. We then had to slow to a snail-pace crawl until I finished my shower. The girls were then assigned evening showers after we docked. You know how long teenage girls can take...well, Hannah I should say.
Richard had to get a quick lesson from the master of Happy Days. Now we're on our way! Jonah checking the navigational charts. Hannah was still hooked-to-the-book as we took off. You can see that she was at the end of her book...you know how that goes. It's pretty hard to put it down at that point. I interpret this shot to mean she didn't like the ending of the book. (It's really a typical Hannah face when the camera is pointed in her direction.) Ha! Caught her with her guard down. Much prettier picture, I would say.
This is a typical marker used to navigate. It sure made the trip easy as all the markers were on the navigational charts. Some markers were in the shape of large orange and white triangles and located on the shores of the many islands in the waterway.The first day we only traveled for about an hour and a half to Morissey Island. This was because we didn't leave the dock of Happy Days until about 4 in the afternoon and had to dock before it got dark.
Richard enjoying the view, happy after a great day at the office.
Here's a video of Jonah doing most of the work pulling away the next morning.
Our first night on the boat we decided to play games after dinner during which Jonah finally got to enjoy that long-awaited beer in Canada and it was even a Canadian beer - Molson.
Richard indulged also. But Sarah couldn't have any. We started with Perudo, a fun dice game. I'm thinking hard about my next call. Hannah's waiting to see if Sarah is going to doubt her call. Sarah doubted Hannah and Hannah wasn't too happy about it. We also played Train.Sarah says "I'm looking at you!"
Hannah says "Don't look at me!" There was a lot of singing on this trip, especially by Sarah and Jonah. Here are two songs they regaled us with after a couple hours of games...or maybe during the games.
This video is hilarious at the end when Richard pipes in. Listen closely.
The girls are chillin' after getting ready for bed. The next day (which would have been Tuesday, August 18th) was pretty wet. As a matter of fact, we had a lot of cloudy days on this trip but it didn't dampen the fun we had. Here's a picture to prove the greyness.Our first lock experience was at Buckhorn lock. I thought I would capture our first lock on video. This was our rainiest day.
One of the nice things about each lock is that you have the opportunity to moor your boat at the lock and get off your boat to do whatever you need to. We decided to have lunch at the Buckhorn lock. It just so happened that there was a little 'market' being held as a fundraiser at the Cody Inn just up a hill from the place where we docked so we went and looked around at the booths set up selling all sorts of things - from Indian spices to chamois cloths. There was even a guy whittling boat oars. The kids all decided on crystal and wire trees. Here are a bunch of pictures from Buckhorn lock as we shoved off. We started on the high side and were lowered down. Note the green algae walls that were pretty slimy (I actually touched them).
Our second day was warm and less wet. Richard and Sarah opted for a swim.
They also had fun on the slide.
Jonah got a chance to swim also.
Hannah found other things to do with her time. When she was packing for this trip I tried to talk her out of bringing her nail design kit telling her this was a trip similar to camping and you didn't need to bring primping things. It was a good thing she didn't listen to me because it sure kept her busy. She wore a different color nail polish every day and even came up with the idea to paint the ear buds from Richard's and her ipods.
Jonah used some of his spare time to work on his chain maille. Hannah is wearing a helmet he made.
Here are just some random pictures from the trip.This guy was jumping off a bridge into the water.
We saw a lot of blue herons.
And also osprey.A happy skipper.Sights on the water.
This rock sticking out of the water is called Hannah's rock. Too bad it's used to post an advertisement. But I guess the positive thing is that it makes it easy to see and easy to miss hitting.
More silliness on the boat.
This is Vito and his wife on their rental in a lock as we all head back to Happy Days. Just so happens Vito is a good friend of the owner of the Holiday Inn that we planned a stay at 2 days later. I never got the opportunity to drop his name though.
This was the one bridge that had to open for us.Our second night was spent docked at Lakefield lock. There was a downtown area within walking distance so we walked to town and had dinner at the Thirsty Loon.
Inside the restaurant.
Sarah, Hannah, and Richard wanted ice cream after dinner. We stopped to indulge them at Hamblin's. The owner was the only person in Canada we encountered that wasn't TOTALLY friendly. On our trip we were so impressed with Canadians and how laid back and hospitable they were. We decided that we had never met friendlier people. But the owner of this establishment was suspicious when I wanted to take his picture, especially when I told him that I wanted it for my blog. (He did have an accent that wasn't Canadian so we didn't change our opinions of Canadians one bit!) There were hundreds of spiders on the railing of a bridge we crossed on our way back to the boat.Queen Anne's Lace is pretty against black.Please read the following 4 posts for the rest of the trip. Blogspot was being cranky when I tried to include everything in one post so I had to break it up into installments.