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Trip Report In A Boat 65 Feet In The Air

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At almost 1pm, with a blast of its horn my cruise ship pulls away from the dock and we are on the way for one of the shortest cruises I have ever taken. It is not a 7 day, 5 day or even a 3 day but just a 1 hour and 50 minute cruise, give or take a few minutes. I can't wait to get to the buffet.

Under clear blue skies and across calm waters we are sailing on Little Lake towards Lock 20. As a beautiful fall scenery surrounds us, we can see from a distance that Lock 20 is welcoming us with open arms (gates).

Like cruising the Panama Canal, this cruise for just US $23 will take me up and down a couple of locks. However, one of them is very interesting and historical.

Inside of Lock 20 we are given a bit of history about locks as we watch the lock attendants go around and around in circles. Somehow, they manage not to get dizzy or fall down as they close the gates behind us in a “V” formation upstream.

Did you know that the painter of the Mona Lisa has a part in canal lock history? Although some form of a lock system was used as early as the first century, Leonardo da Vinci is believed to have invented a pound lock.

My vote is for all canal locks to be called “da Vinci's!”.

With all the gates of Lock 20 securely closed, the flooding process of the lock begins. In about 10 minutes we have risen about 12 feet to the next canal level.

As we leave Lock 20 another obstacle must be removed along our path. No problem as a bicycle wheel starts spinning at almost full speed. A lock attendant is racing ahead of us to open a car bridge that crosses the canal in front of us. Further down is a rail bridge used by the Quaker Oats company.

The water ahead of us is as smooth as glass and nicely reflects the beautiful landscape along its edges. Part of the reason for this tranquility is a canal system set up similar to that used in Venice, Italy. A barrier system along the edge of the canal which is made of rocks and meshed barbed wire dampens out any waves and prevents canal erosion.

I am fortunate to capture a geese as it breaks the smooth canal surface while taking flight. A simple but awesome sight.

Soon we are faced with the final but a welcoming obstacle along our patch. At about 100 years old, we are looking at what once used to be the world's largest concrete structure. Made entirely of concrete in the days before rebar was used and meant to last only 80 years. We are slowly approaching the now 108 year old, Peterborough Lift Lock.

Some careful maneuvering and our about 40 foot long ship is soon in a giant bathtub filled with about 8 feet of water. An announcement is made from above us and in a few minutes we start ascending skyward. I walk from one end of the ship to another in exciting amazement.

Our ascent slowly comes to a stop and I am looking over the back of the ship to the canal we were just cruising along. It is about 65 feet below us. I have just experienced the world's tallest hydraulic canal lift system.

I am 65 feet up in the air in a boat. How cool is that?

We leave the Peterborough Lift Lock headed towards Trent University for our turnaround point. Along the way we are again fortunate in our wildlife sightings. This time it is watching a blue heron take flight towards what is called the “Blue Bridge”.

The Blue Bridge is a popular sight along the canal especially during the summer months as it is an area where the locals go swimming. It also has an important piece of canal maritime history. You see it is here that a canal boat captain ran over a car six times in one day.

“Lucy, you got some explaining to do.”

Many years ago as a prank some local teenagers late at night pushed a stolen car into the canal near the bridge. At home watching the local news, a canal boat captain recognizes the scenery on the screen as the police and a towing company are retrieving the car from the canal. This captain had made three tours that day similar to the one we are now taking. Unknowingly he had made canal maritime history or at least became a local legend.

Our return trip back down the canal is just as awesome as the sunlight has added a new touch to the browns, reds, yellows and oranges of fall.

As an American I am teased and tested on my knowledge of the local birds. “Sir, what are those big black birds along the canal called?”

My response (as a naturalized American) surprises my inquisitor, not just geese but “Canadian Geese”. However, did you know why are called Canadian Geese? Not because they are from Canada but because they are named after a man called John Canada.

Being on this canal in the winter can also be interesting but you would probably need another form of transportation. In winter the water level is lowered upstream in the canal and areas of the canal are lite up at night for your midnight ice skating pleasure.


Video:http://youtu.be/wEoqeKY6-xY

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