Sunday, August 20, 2017

Oh, Canada! Canals and Capitols (Past and Present)

Our last installment was long, with more narrative and fewer pictures.  This one will tell the story with more pictures and fewer words. We cleared Canadian customs with ease, and when we reached the free dock at St. Jean de Richelieu, we tied up even though it was only about 1:00.  The next good stop was too far away, and we enjoyed exploring the town. Wayne and Vicki went one way, and Mike, Midas, and Marian went another. It was a HOT July day, so we looked for shops with air-conditioning. We're not really shoppers, and when we found a doggy boutique, we hung out there until time to return to the boat and meet Wayne and Vicki for dinner.  Midas made himself right at home and quickly learned where to get treats.  The friendly manager even allowed us to use their grooming facility to trim Midas's toenails, then did another of the visiting dogs.                                                 

The next day was windy again, and getting tied up to the lock walls was a real challenge for Cocomo.  Wayne and Vicki always entered the lock first and took the port side, although the wind was blowing them away from the wall. The Parks Canada lockhands are friendly and helpful. At several locks, we had to tie up to the wall and wait, as shown below, and since Wayne and Vicki and perfected the skill of snagging a cleat, they would tie up, then come back to help us.  THANK YOU MORE THAN WE CAN SAY! 

Most of the Richelieu Canal is a narrow ditch that runs parallel to the Richelieu River.
Thunderstorms are followed by beautiful rainbows, like this one at Sorel, on the St. Lawrence River.


Our second stop on the Richelieu was the town of Chambly, with the marina located at the bottom of three contiguous locks.  Start through, and you have to finish.  We had to wait on the south side of a bridge for a thunderstorm to pass, and we were the last boats to lock through that day.  The marina is at the bottom of the locks, to the right in the photo above.
Wayne (and Mike) enjoyed one of the local craft beers at the restaurant where we had dinner in Chambly.  Mike had duck poutine - french fries covered in gravy, cheese curds.
Canadian towns along the canals are always full of pedestrians.  Like many towns, Chambly has ice cream parlors, and we indulged.

North of Lake Chambly and the Chambly Canal you'll see Mont St. Hilaire to starboard.  According to the Waterway Guide, it's a relative newcomer at only 125 million years old. It's the result of volcanic activity and the source of more than 250 different minerals.  It is clearly visible from Montreal.

Left, approaching Montreal, about 45 against the current miles from Sorel, with wind creating a chop on the St. Lawrence.
Cocomo led the way past the sight of the Montreal World's Fair to the Montreal Yacht Club, where we were lucky to get dock space.  The municipal marina was closed due to a strike by many city employees, but the Marina Manager Debbie checked with a couple of their slip holders and found they would be leaving, making room for us.
We followed Cocomo to Montreal Yacht Club, passing the site of the 1967 Montreal Expo along the way.

The interior of the cathedral is more beautiful than
the exterior, and even non-churchgoers like us 
were overwhelmed by a feeling of reverence, plus
total admiration for the workmanship of the
craftsmen who built this amazing expression of 
Right, the imposing edifice of the Cathedral de Notre Dame, a beautiful church in the heart of Old Town Montreal.    

Above, a friendly local took this picture of us enjoying Place Jacques Cartier, lined with restaurants, stalls, and shops and buskers to provide free entertainment.
Below, Old Montreal's streets are narrow, but this semi managed to make a right turn from this tight spot, with construction (in preparation for Canada's upcoming 2017 150th Birthday) taking place all over Montreal. We watched the maneuver until we knew the truck would make the turn.  

Below, Montreal's portal to its past, the Chateau Ramezaywas built in the18th century as a prestigious residence.  It was the first building in Quebec to be classified a historic monument.  
 The exterior garden is more impressive than the front facade, and the rooms were lovely.   
This guy, who looked imposing and official, really suckered us in.  When we moved closer after he spoke to us, he flashed us - sort ot.  He was wearing a flesh colored unitard under the kilt and jacket, but it took a moment to realize that.  Out of sight was a film crew, recording us in a Canadian version of Candid Camera.

We turned to the modern side of Montreal when we visited Phi, a virtual reality experience that left us both open-mouthed. Below, Marian is wearing goggles with a smart phone screen that engulfed her in a vivid world of bright pastel scenes - hot pink, turquoise, yellow, and orange. It's the story of a little girl and her imaginary monster. As the beast walks up behind her, you can feel his large, heavy feet shaking the ground with every step.  


Below, the sound and scent drawer; we had to sign a waiver to confirm we're not claustrophobic before we could lie on the table and be rolled into a box that felt like a drawer in the morgue.  Marian chose Dallas, and she heard and smelled the assassination of JFK, including the aroma of Jacqueline Kennedy's perfume.  

Mike chose Houston, thinking he would experience the town.  Instead, he heard Whitney Houston's final minutes, including the splash of water in her bathtub and the scent of her bubblebath.

August 20, 2017 - we're back in the USA:

We're inexcusably behind with our Loop II blog, and there's more to tell about Montreal, our visit to Canadian Looper friends Francis and Hélène, then Ottawa - another amazing city - and our trip down the Rideau Canal.  No excuses - just a heartfelt plea for understanding.  WIFI got sporadic at best, Marian got lazy, and we just let it drop.  
Today - counting travel time from Dahlonega to Clayton, NY and prep work on the boat after it went back in the water - we're two months into Loop II/Part 2.  Eventually, we'll finish this blog, and we appreciate your understanding while we continue to cruise down Lake Michigan, through Chicago, and the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennesee Rivers to Hales Bar Marina near Chattanooga.  Meanwhile, feel free to follow us on Facebook. 

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