When we finished Lake Superior we had staged our car in Orillia, Ontario, to have it ready to get to Toronto for my (Brenda) dad’s memorial service in mid-August.
When we got to Orillia, the question was…to where do we move it? Vermont? The Hudson? New Jersey? Where?
We prayed a little prayer and God brought to mind a former co-worker who moved to a small farm in south central Pennsylvania. He still commutes occasionally to Washington, DC, so it would be relatively close to the Chesapeake, once we arrive there later in the fall. And it was only around eight hours from Toronto where we would depart for our trip home.
I sent an inquiry…would he have room to park our car? ABSOLUTELY was the answer! Yay! And bonus, we would get to see him and his family.
So we drove to Toronto, rented a car, and headed south with our two vehicles. We crossed the border near Niagara Falls and had a reservation in Tonawanda, NY, near the western end of the Erie Canal.
The harbor host in Orillia had sent us a link for a Nexus only bridge where there was hardly ever a backup crossing the border. Since we both have Nexus cards, and are trusted travellers with both the US and Canada, we were able to use the “Whirlpool Bridge”. It was slick! While the Rainbow Bridge had an hour back-up, we were able to go a mile or so downstream to the Whirlpool Bridge and there was only one car in front of us.
For whatever reason, the hotels in Tonawanda and Buffalo were double price the Saturday night we were there. A hotel which showed in the $90 range for Friday, was $170 for Saturday. We didn’t ever find out what the reason was, but it was very frustrating to have to pay big bucks for something that should be under $100.
We looked at google maps, and the Erie Canal was less than 2 miles away from the hotel. We drove over and walked the waterfront. We were so glad we did! We found a sister-ship there, a Bayliner 3587, who routinely cruises the Western Erie canal.
The Western Erie canal has many of the low bridges you sang about in grade school…”Low bridge, everybody down…Low bridge, for we’re comin’ to a town”. A boat must be able to clear 15’6″ in order to make it under the lowest bridge and cruise the western section of the canal.
We had measured our boat and calculated that if we were to take down the radar, the gps antenna and the anchor light, we would be able to make it. We thought. But you never know for sure. It was wonderful to see that a boat configured just like ours, without all those things on the radar arch, could easily make the trip.
The trip through New York and Pennsylvania was scenic. There were many small towns. We went past the Little League World Series headquarters.
I knew some of my ancestors were from the part of Pennsylvania we were going to. As I was studying the Rand McNalley map, I noticed a state park entitled “Conrad Weiser Homestead State Park”. That name looked familiar so I looked in my family tree and, sure enough, Conrad Weiser was my 7th great-grandfather. It was only a little way out of the way, so we planned our trip to take in the site.
Then, once there, we saw a sign for “Charming Forge, 2 miles”. Another ancestor, who married Conrad Weiser’s grand-daughter, had a forge there which provided bullets and things for the Revolutionary War. We took the little detour and saw the “mansion” that is still occupied today.
This was deep in Pennsylvania Dutch territory as we drove twisty small roads through historic towns. It was very interesting.
It was great to see my former co-worker and those of his children who were home that day. One of the great things about this location is that it is only another 8 hour drive to North Carolina where we plan to spend the winter.
On the way back, we stopped at Lockport, NY, the last lock on the western Erie Canal. There is a visitors center with some of the history of the canal. One interesting fact: the rock that was chiselled out to make the canal was used to build nearby buildings, including homes for many of the men working on the canal. It makes sense. You don’t want piles of rock lying around. Might as well build things.
We made it back to Toronto to fly out to SeaTac for a couple of weeks at home. It was good to see lots and lots of family at the memorial service and to have some quality time with our kids and grandkids in their home.