Monday, August 28, 2017

We're Going on a Boat!

For a while now, Carter has wanted to go on a boat.  We finally got to go on a train when we took the subway in Toronto last winter, though he really wants to do it again--probably on a more traditional train, but we'll see what we can do.  But when he started asking to go on a boat--probably ramping up after our time at the beach when we saw a bunch out on the water--I was at a bit of a loss.  We didn't go anywhere with a duck boat tour this summer, and my main boat riding when I was a kid was in my late uncle's boat, so I was a little short on ideas.  But then I remembered that we have the Sam Patch here.  It's a packet boat that goes in the Erie Canal on the other side of town.  I've wanted to do it for years, since I went on its former sister vessel, the Mary Jemison, four years ago as part of a work outing.  That one went from downtown Rochester, up the Genesee River and into the Erie Canal, ironically right near the University of Rochester campus.  The Mary Jemison was bigger, with plenty of roof top seating.  That boat has since been retired.  I discovered the Sam Patch is a bit smaller, with only some indoor seating and some standing room at the front and back.  But going in a different part of the canal was intriguing, and the highlight of the trip involves going through one of the canal's many locks.  So, with Craig and Jacob on the road this weekend, going on the Sam Patch became one of our main activity goals.

We originally wanted to go Saturday, but I purposely waited until the last minute to get tickets because I wasn't sure how our Saturday would go.  And sure enough, after a fun morning at the library, tickets for the later sailing were already sold out.  So it became Sunday's activity instead.  Saturday afternoon turned into Hot Wheels stunt track setup, a couple errands, and a yummy dinner out followed by a little time outside before bed.  Sunday we went to church, had some lunch, did some Duplo building, and then left for our boat trip.  Carter had spent the weekend telling people about going on a boat, and it was finally time!  Someone was very excited (and so was this kid...haha!)...

We got on the boat and settled into our seat...

We got a nice lesson about the history of the canal and some little tidbits about past boat guests and their odd connections to the canal.  Eventually the boat set off, and as we listened to more commentary, we looked out the window at the scenery and other passing boats, and kept our eyes peeled for blue herons along the shore.  About 15 minutes in, we entered Lock 32.  We moved to the back of the boat to catch a glimpse of the lock doors closing. 
The doors are closing as we float in.  Notice the height of the walls...
In case you're unaware of how locks work, they are in place to allow boats to, in essence, change elevation with the canal.  Picture that in some spot nearby there's a waterfall, and how does a boat manage that?  Well, that's what a lock is for.  The boat moves in between two sets of doors and the water level adjusts inside until it is even with the other part of the waterway.  In this case, the other side of the canal was 25.1 feet higher than where we came from. 
We moved to the front of the boat as the water rose.  Note that these doors weren't quite as water tight as the other set!
About 10 minutes later, the water had risen and the doors were open!
 
It was very pretty as we sailed out into the next section.  There were some houses just beyond this on the shore straight ahead that had to have a gorgeous view.  Can't imagine what those cost!  Oh, wait, just looked on Zillow.  Half a million.  Anyway...

As the boat was getting ready to turn around, we saw this guy...

And then we got to see him fly away!  Huge wing span!

Back into the lock we went, and we got to see it all happen in reverse!  The big doors you saw first are straight ahead...
Oh, and that little white building on the right has a guy that moves between ends of the lock to manage the process.  He had a faithful dog named Camouflage.  And yes, her fur looked like it!
As the back doors closed us in, the waterfall from the leak in the doors grew bigger.  They call it the Angel Falls...
Notice the water mark on the wall...crazy to think we were up there just a few minutes earlier!
And finally, the level was back down and the doors reopened. 
Note the greenish stains on the wall.  That's the approximate spot where the lock master keeps the water level in between uses, so it only takes half the time to fill or empty it, depending on whichever is needed.
We headed back toward the dock, but we were only passing by this time to go in the other direction. 
The big tower is a former grain tower that now has offices (and possibly a condo) in it.

This boat was docked right near our original launching point, and at first I thought it was a little tugboat or something...but in the end I think it was someone's boat.  The wood was gorgeous, and you could just see a bed through the portholes in the back.  It was so cute!

This boat added an item to my bucket list.  You can rent it for a few days or a week and sail it up the canal pretty much the entire length of the upstate portion from North Tonawanda (yep!) to past Syracuse.  You don't have to have a boating license or anything!  It's not cheap, but there's a kitchen, sleeping and living areas, and even bikes!  It looks awesome.  A week of the canal life sounds pretty cool.
There were small personal docks all along the canal and it just seemed so peaceful to go out and watch the world go by from your dock.  I've seen it in North Tonawanda, near my parents, at the far western point of the canal...and it's even better during Canal Fest.  But this just seemed so perfect and serene.

They started playing the old Erie Canal song during this part of the trip, which added some atmosphere, and it was such a pleasant day with perfect weather.  Carter just hung out at the front of the boat where he could see over the edge, and I happily presided above him.

Eventually our trip was coming to an end, but the scenery as we approached the park was lovely.

Renovated flour mill
Back on dry land, we'd had a great time!

Front of the boat where we hung out most of the trip

Back of the boat where the captain was, and where we watched the first set of lock doors open
We considered getting gelato, but my cold averse little boy decided he wasn't interested so we headed out.  I snapped a random photo of the grain tower on the way back to the car...

...and then we headed to the Trader Joe's nearby to see if there was anything worth buying.  We came back with a few fun snacks and Craig and Jacob were already home when we got there.  Aside from a couple momentary lapses, Carter was a really great little boy for the weekend.  We had a lot of fun and some good quality time.  While it was hard to say goodbye to one of the last weekends of the summer, it helped to know we only had one day to get through before a couple more days off.  Seabreeze is on tap for tomorrow!

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