Drop the curtain on the Rideau, or Back to the Great Lakes

The early bird catches the first lock, as the old saying goes.  Plus, not much left to see of Smiths Falls.  The Wednesday morning plan was to head up to the blue line at 8:30 for the first opening at 9, but then we saw that Dog House already was there, so we hustled around and pulled into the number two slot shortly after 7, which in turn triggered everyone else, and thus by 8 a bunch of Loopers were piled up at the Smiths Falls lock.  That’s Lock 31 for those scoring at home.

Waiting for two hours did give us time, however, to ponder a plot twist to the age-old question about roads and chickens.

Anyway, at 9:30 they put us through with Dog House while everyone else waited.  If we wanted to, we could post a cool photo at all 47 locks.  We don’t want to, but here’s one.

Remember all those cottagers from Georgian Bay?  They’re all here as well, although maybe not the same ones.  Damn near every island has a cottage.

We may or may not have mentioned that the two-year Covid-related Canadian border closure created enormous pressure, such that the opening this year released a stream of Loopers like water from a fire hose.  It’s all good for the Canadian economy and good for meeting great people, but not so good for finding parking spots.  The entire armada leaving Smiths Falls, for example, was headed to Westport, a touristy town with restaurants and shops and a small marina.  At the last minute we decided that a huge cluster of Loopers was one boat too many, so instead we headed to the Newboro Lock.

This stretch is crazy.  In the span of minutes we went from four hundred feet of water—which is like six hundred Canadian—to five feet.  The narrow and shallow stretch leading to Newboro, however, was as cool as anything we’ve seen by boat.

Not much social life at the lock, but damn picturesque.

Newboro isn’t at all touristy, but Newboro does have one thing the Westport Loopers missed out on.  That’s right.  The famous Newboro Loon, which we walked a full five-hundred yards to see in all its deteriorating glory.

Okay, it’s possible that the list we found about things to see in Newboro was a bit outdated.  But Newboro also has an indescribably bizarre and wonderful store that sells fudge and designer shoes and high-end furniture and books and wall art and kitchen implements and authorized gear from the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.  Crazy, and pretty nondescript from the outside.

We actually thought about scootering the five miles to Westport to see everybody but then it looked like another downpour was looming, so nah.  When the rain settled in and the temperature dropped into the low 60s, we were much happier enjoying our view of the park in pajamas and fuzzy socks after hot showers than we would’ve been, say, scootering back five miles on a busy road whilst being pelted and mud puddled.  So basically we made two entirely different brilliant decisions to skip Westport.

And then it stopped raining and the lock was even extra cool.

Yesterday morning we woke up to loons making loon sounds and an awesome sunrise.  We know they were loon sounds because while we were enjoying the rain in our pajamas Wednesday evening, Dana pulled up some loon audio clips on her phone.  Even with no phone help we knew it was sunrise, because the sun was coming up.

Yesterday, just more fabulous countryside visible only by boat.

To any folks who think “Wow, these morons post a lot of pictures that look exactly the same,” tough noogies.  This actually is a very small sample of the ridiculous number of pictures we took that look exactly the same.  Because when you slowly pass cool stuff, you take pictures of it.

When we were last boating through Ontario, we commented on the ubiquity of LCBOs.  LCBOs come in handy when you need to buy alcohol, but dang, is there a law that every place with three residents has to have one?  This very small fishing camp not only has an LCBO, but also The Beer Store.  Yup, we love Ontario.

As we traveled south, we started seeing more and more swan families.

These are mute swans.  For obvious reasons Dana did not pull up any audio clips on her phone.*

Mute swans—as opposed to trumpeter swans—are considered an invasive nuisance up here because—among other things—they poop a lot.  Which is ironic since Canadian Geese not only stop traffic willy-nilly, they poop three times their own weight every four hours.  Okay maybe that’s not a scientific fact, but it looks that way when we’re trying to walk across grassy areas in Canada without sinking our shoes in the massive piles.

Wait what?  What the hell is corn doing in the middle of our gorgeous scenery?  One minute we’re enjoying a narrow jungle cruise and beautiful invasive waterfowl and the next minute we’re in frickin’ Iowa?

No offense to our dear Iowegian friends Sharon and Angie, but mercifully the cornfield either was a mirage or an anomaly and we quickly returned to Ontario and cool stuff like Dog and Cranberry Lake.

We tried to research how the name came to be but the best we can surmise is that there’s a Dog Lake and a Cranberry Lake and they’ve kind of morphed together, which doesn’t really explain either one.

Yesterday we planned to stop above Upper Brewer Lock, because they have hydro, which is what Canadians call electricity.  Except when we got there we discovered that each pole only had one 30A outlet, and thus our reverse-Y wouldn’t work, so we went to the bottom of Lower Brewer Lock and parked under a huge willow tree instead.  Which was even better.

And which also set up a short run to Kingston.  Meaning the last of the 47 locks, which is a lot of locks.

Well here’s a plucky dude, peddling around the lake.  On one hand he’s got a canopy and a coffee mug, but it still looks like a lot of work.

Then we met a Dude with a capital D, waiting on the blue line.  We took some photos for him when he shoved off.  Ryan is paddling, by himself, all the way to Ottawa, catching fish to eat and camping along the way.  It doesn’t look like he has air conditioning, or a refrigerator, or even canopy.

With hindsight and Ryan for context, pontoon-guy is kind of a wuss.  Probably had potato salad in his basket.

Then on into Kingston and Lake Ontario and a reunion with Confederation Basin.

Which means we’ve done the entire historic Rideau Waterway.**

Check that bad boy off the to-do list.  Now let’s see if Kingston is more enjoyable than last time.  Last time it was hot and muggy and mosquitoey and miserable.  Kind of like Oklahoma, except not ugly.

We’ll be here all weekend.


*We know, we know.  Mute swans aren’t actually mute.  It’s a joke.

**Special thanks to the hundreds of guys who died of malaria and construction accidents before the locks were completed in 1832, just so the canal could become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we could cruise through it.  Some of those guys were from regiments of Royal Sappers and Miners, which sounds like a fun bunch.

4 thoughts on “Drop the curtain on the Rideau, or Back to the Great Lakes”

    1. Hi Jack. And thanks again for looking after the homestead and vehicles while we’re away. We don’t know how to add anybody manually. Just tell Tom to open the page and use the Follow button.

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