This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chateau Montebello - Ottawa River

The Ottawa River runs south toward Montreal, where it flows into the St. Lawrence Seaway.  The banks of the river are tree lined with a few small towns scattered along the way.   The eastern bank is French-speaking Quebec and the western bank is English-speaking Ontario.  About halfway between Ottawa and Montreal, Chateau Montebello lies on the Quebec shore.  It is an upscale resort, housed in the largest log structure in the world, set on the river's edge of the 65,000 acres of property.

Even the marina building is constructed of logs.  Boaters are afforded all the same amenities as guests staying in the large lodge.  And, there is a seemingly endless list of activities and services.

The lodge has five wings arranged in a star pattern.  It was built in 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression, with a labor crew of 3500 men.  This image is the end of one of the wings.

Where a sixth wing could have fit, a large restaurant and meeting hall is nestled between two of the wings.  The Last Dance crew was fortunate to have been on the property on a Sunday for the reservations-only Sunday Brunch - an amazing display of delicious and artistically displayed food from every category.

The center of the building has a huge rotunda anchored by a six-sided fireplace and surrounded by two mezzanines.

The fireplace rises six stories high through a hexagonal roof structured with intricately formed log beams.

The list of activities ranges from the normal resort-fare of swimming pools, saunas, and massages, to some activities unusual for Florida natives, such as ice fishing and dog sledding.  This sign lists the winter activities that are headquartered in one of the buildings, but only references a few of the cold climate offerings.

This outbuilding housed the unique resort activity most appealing to Glen.  Sadly, it was not operating during Last Dance's visit.  The Land Rover experience.

There is a video display in the rotunda explaining the Land Rover experience.  It is an off-road driving school covering a wide variety of terrains.

Learning to drive sideways on ice would be a blast.  But, summer is the wrong season for that experience.  Will have to return.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal runs from Kingston, ON, at the western end, to Ottawa, ON, on the eastern end.  Kingston was the first capital of Canada; the capital is now located in Ottawa.  The image above is downtown Kingston.  During the first foray into the Rideau, a brief history and the unique operation of the locks was documented in a post on the blog of the first Loop.  Click on the link below to read that post.

Locks on the Rideau have docks at either end.  If a boat moors along the blue line on the dock, that communicates to the lockmaster that the boat wishes to lock through.  If the boat ties to the brown segment of the dock, the lockmaster knows that the boat intends to stay for a while, or overnight.  Sitting along the brown segment at the first lock up the river from Kingston, was another DeFever, a 53 POC

The Rideau locks are operated by Parks Canada and every lock is a park, both in definition and in appearance and amenities.  This image is at Washburn lock, where Last Dance spent a night on the lock wall.  A great advantage at this lock is that the Park service provides hydro (Canadian term for electricity) to the boats.  Washburn is an interesting stop as there is a metal artist on one side of the canal and an apple orchard on the other.  A piece of metal art now hangs at home and the many apple goodies from the orchard enhanced the food offerings aboard.

Jones Falls is always a favorite as it has a museum with the history of the lock system, a blacksmith shop, and the always great park setting.  Another feature here is that an old hotel still functions, offering delicious meals in a fine, historical setting.

Cruisers well acquainted with the Rideau Canal, Dave and Jan Hinman, were dockmates and dinner partners at Hotel Kinney.  It was Dave who insisted that the Rideau was too amazing an experience to not squeeze into the schedule that got Last Dance cruising up the canal on Loop One.

While there are many lakes, some quite large, the canals dug in the 1830s with crude equipment resulted in some narrow canal sections connecting the lakes and rivers.

And the canal section the boat must travel, the underwater portion, is even more narrow than the width of the apparent waterway.

Davis Lock is a favorite of the cruising Canadian boaters.  The lower end does not look that much different than many of the other locks.

However, the pool created by the lock and dam on the upper side has been turned into a wonderful marina by the lock staff.  Floating docks, with water and hydro, located in another beautiful park setting.  Last Dance not only found a slip at this most popular spot, but lucked into the best slip in the pool.  The shade provided by a big tree was most welcome as a couple unusually warm days occurred.

And, a great view of the waterway.  One does not have amenities in marinas such as park setting right next to the boat, picnic tables on the dock, great views, and summer shade.

All of the Last Dance crew found the Davis Lock to be an enjoyable pause along this journey.

Some Canadian boaters spend their summer on the lock walls and Davis is a favorite.  Although the park only allows a 2-day stay at this lock, they seem to be able to stretch it out a day or two, then travel off to another lock, returning to Davis soon thereafter.  A major form of entertainment is sitting under the shade trees by the lock and watching the boats be raised or lowered.

And, of course, watching the lock staff operate the lock, all by manpower, or womanpower in this case.  The flagpole in the background is reported the only place in the park where a cell signal can be captured.  This is remote.

Chaffey Lock is another that has a road bridge crossing the lock chamber.  The swing bridge must be opened to be able to get Last Dance into the lock.

The upper side of Chaffey has walls with hydro and the always present park setting.  There is also a museum at the lock, a few houses, art studio, and a small general store.  The store, though small, has an LCBO, the largest section of merchandise by far.  LCBO is Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the state-operated alcohol distributor/retailer.  The smallest of communities always seem to have an LCBO, and where too small for a stand-alone store, they allow a local retailer to handle the goods.

Entering Upper Rideau Lake from the canal one is guided by two very large markers.  The canal is well marked with small floating buoys.  Many a boater must have missed those small markers and found shallow water for Parks Canada to have installed such large floating day marks.

At the end of a bay off Upper Rideau Lake lies the small town of Westport Harbour, three streets two blocks long.  Although a small town, they have a large town marina, a number of interesting restaurants, and three outstanding bakeries.  Canadians love fresh baked goodies and the crew enjoys helping the Canadian economy by leaving the bakery shelves a bit empty.

Through a narrows and under a bridge is the connecting Big Rideau Lake, filled with many islands.  One of the islands, Colonel By Island, named for the British commander in charge of the construction of the Rideau Canal, is now part of Parks Canada.  Once a summer retreat for a wealthy entertainer, it is now a park reachable only by private boat.

The smallest of the crew enjoyed the large grassy areas of the island.

The trails offer a view of the wilds of the island, including reminders of a tornado that once crossed the island.

A lock and dam is in the heart of the small village of Merrickville.  Here, Last Dance moored on the upside of the lock, actually higher than the road crossing the earthen part of the dam.

A stop at this lock is a different experience than the remote locks with only the park and wilderness for surroundings.  Merrickville is an old and interesting community with restaurants, shops, and early architecture.

The shops in Merrickville were not of the tchotchke-filled, tourist-trap variety, but ones as interesting as a museum with quality, unique items.

The travel east runs along the Rideau River, through a few locks, and park-like settings.  Then, it is apparent that a populated area is being approached.  The river branches off to the right and a walled canal veers left.

The canal leads to Ottawa, the Canadian Capital and end of the Rideau Canal.  The lock station also manages the waterway running through the middle of town, providing dockage for boats.  The Parliament Buildings can be seen to the left of the canal, and an old, grand hotel on the right.  As a bit of contrast, the new glass-fronted convention center also juts into the picture.

The Parliament Building was constructed in the late 1800's.  The tower was added just after World War I.  It is called the Peace Tower to commemorate WWI as the "War to end all Wars."  If that had only proved true.  The building is an outstanding work of art.  Following are a few images from inside the building and views from atop the Peace Tower.

On the back, river side of the Parliament Building, is a large flying-buttressed room - the Library of Parliament.

As the Capital, there are many monuments in town.  One, quite whimsical, commemorated the building of the Rideau Canal.

Ottawa sits on a bluff high above the Ottawa River.  To transition from the Rideau Canal to the Ottawa River, a system of locks was built combining 11 locks in a stair-stepped manner.  And, each lock is still operated by hand.  By the time a boat transitions these 11 locks, the lock staff has had a workout.

A view from the Ottawa River looking back up the stair-stepped locks.