Judy Baumer's version of the Boat trip through the Welland Canal, June 2001

Here is the story of my trip: After getting lost in St. Catherines because Canadians don't know how to design, mark, and map highways, I followed the lake until I found the St. Catherines Marina.  I spotted Rich's white head from the road above.    They had just gotten in and were refueling. I thought that Pete Castranova and his family from Williamsville were supposed to come but just Pete showed up.  Another family from Cleveland was coming, too so Rich and I were going to bunk together.  I stepped on board and was given a bath by Sam and Cassie the black labs.  Cassie also tried to perform the Heimlich maneuver on my intestines which I enjoyed (NOT)! She also gave my tongue a greeting with her tongue when I turned my head.  It was like having Mandy and Snickers around.    Rich took me below to stow my gear (sounds nautical doesn't it!) and Cassie had peed on the floor in the salon.  Cap'n Greg was cleaning that up and Rich was struggling and sweating through making a bed for me in the aft-berth.  I looked down and realized that I was standing in dog poop (hey, it blended in with the oriental rug Rich had just vaccumed)!  I told Greg that Cassie had done something else on the rug and that I was standing in it.  (I had only been there 30 minutes!)  Greg wiped my shoes off and then had me take them off and carry them up on deck where he gave me a bucket of water and a scrub brush to clean them with.  As I was standing there in my socks, which got wet from the bucket water, he told me that this was the poop deck - literally!  That is where the dogs go while at sea!  AAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGG! In the meantime, the Cleveland family called and said they couldn't make it.  So Rich, Pete and I drove down to Port Colborne to park Pete's truck for the ride back.  On the way down we were in front but we missed a turn so we followed Pete.  Then Pete became unsure so we stopped.  The 2 guys were looking at a map outside while I waited.  I  then picked up a map and found where we needed to go so Rich got back in and Pete followed us.  Then the numbers on the map were too small for Rich so I had to stop and read the map again.    Thanks, again, to the Canadians' highway designing and mapping abilities a 1 hour trip turned into 2 1/2 hours.    The men had not eaten so at 10:50 when highway 58 disappeared, I pulled into McDonald's.... as they shut the light off!!!!!  I drove a little farther and found a pizza place.  We met a couple a couple of Canadians who could have been straight off of Saturday Night Live.  They told us about every road in the area that ends abruptly and then starts somewhere else miles away, eh.  Sounds pretty funny, eh?  We then had to wait for the pizza to be made and cooked and these guys just kept on going with the roadway trivia, eh.  We got back to the marina and the gate was closed.  Pete ended up climbing over the barbed wire to open it.  When we finally reached the boat, Greg had made up the v-berth for me after Rich had struggled through making our bunkbeds!  They ate their pizza and Rich and I went to bed in our separate berths.  Then, Greg accidentally left Cassie on deck all night.  Everybody but Greg heard her all night long.    Click, click, click, THUNK!  And of course, I was sleeping under the poop deck!  She sleeps all day so she was wide awake.    She finished off the pizza and some of the box, too.  I had about 2 hours of sleep!  We got under way at 6:00 am.  We had to boat over to the waiting area for the canal and call them from a land line.  We did and they told us we had to wait 2 hours.  So we did.    Then the radio crackled to life and sent Greg back over to the land line.  Now it would be another hour because they wanted us to wait and go through with a Coast Guard ship.  In the meantime, Cassie is showing Rich that he doesn't need Maggi.  Rich kept fending her off but to no avail.  She licked him on the mouth, neck, and ear, rubbed him, and chewed on his feet.  This was not Rich's fantasy date!  Finally, we got the go ahead!  It was cold at first and then it warmed up and I got sunburned.  Yes, I had sunblock on.  It was great!!  It was all worth the trouble!    We zipped through, which they said never happens.   There is about 2 hours between the last 2 locks.  We got to last lock and we had to park and wait for a freighter.  What are the odds we would have to sit in front of a flour factory for an hour?  We did!  Finally, we made it through the last lock and docked in Port Colborne.  While Greg and Rich took turns showering, we heard this terrible banging which made the dogs bark.  It turned out under the pier was a hinged manhole-type lid that was unfastened.  No way to reach it.  Then I read a sign on the bar across the street that said 'Live band every Thursday night'.  So I have a feeling Rich didn't get much sleep, again, last night.  Greg says he  sleeps through anything.  You should have seen these guys trying to help me up onto the pier.  We were sitting about 4 feet below it so I had to climb on over the boat railing, onto a wooden ledge, up a foot onto the concrete and then over a railing.  Ugh!  We had a nice dinner, though.  Then Pete and I left to go back to St. Catherines. Pete took a wrong turn when I wasn't looking and didn't believe me when I said we weren't on the right road.  We ended up doing the 1/2 hour trip in 1 1/4 hours.  Again, the marina gate  was closed and Pete had to climb over.  When we left, my highway entrance was closed, Pete went the wrong way again so I ended up working my way to another highway entrance.  I did make it home!